Feature / Interviews
Holy Ghost Revival

Words: Jonathan • October 16, 2010

Following a blistering set at the Dionysus Club in the basement of Oberlin College's student union, my friend Ted and I got a chance to sit down and chat with Seattle's Holy Ghost Revival about music, touring, sex, and sickness.

SPB, Jonathan: So, how's the tour going?

Conor, vocals: It's been pretty good. We've been going with our friends in Two Gallants and the two of us pooled together our resources and put together a really cool tour. It's been awesome being with those guys every night.

SPB, Jonathan: What made you guys come back to Oberlin?

Conor: We had a really good time here last time and the parties are really fun and the kids are really laidback and smart and kind of crazy.

SPB, Jonathan: Where, when, and how did the Holy Ghost Revival form?

Conor: We're all from Bainbridge Island, which is near Seattle. It was a concept before it was a band and we slowly gathered members. We were really into movies and visual kinds of stuff- visual ideas and things other than music. We kind of synthesized it all into one thing and made a band. So, it was maybe 2 ?, 3 years ago that that actually formed out of a bunch of ideas.

SPB, Jonathan: Are you guys working on a new full-length release?

Conor: Yeah, we did an EP with a friend of ours and we really liked the way that turned out. So, we're going to try to go in and record a full-length album probably at the end of the summer. We don't know who's going to put it out yet.

SPB, Jonathan: Have you guys been approached by any labels?

Conor: Not really. We were on a label- they're nice guys but they ran out of money [laughs]. So, we're kind of looking for a label now. We've just been putting stuff out ourselves. The guy who recorded the EP kind of got together with us and we pulled our resources once again and put out the EP he recorded ("The Peacock").

SPB, Jonathan: How has the Internet affected the band, creatively- and professionally-speaking?

Conor: The Internet has affected us quite a bit. We put together our web site and we spend a lot of time- even though not lately- putting things together on there. We all kind of collaborate on what [the site] should look like. And our drummer, Mico, has all the talent and technology, so he does that. And we can kind of monitor how many people are visiting the site and it's kind of a weird way to see what your visibility is and how many people know of your existence. Then, also, the whole networking thing- linking to friends' sites and finding out about other bands and touring, etc. [Asking guitarist] What do you think?

Trent, guitar: Well, yeah. You said pretty much everything I might've said. It's kind of a good way to measure how many people are looking to find out more about you.

Conor: Yeah, we post videos from live shows sometimes.

SPB, Jonathan: Yeah, I saw that footage from the... uh... the Pegasus.

Conor: Yeah! Which is amazing because you're from Oberlin, Ohio and you know about the Pegasus Caf? in Bainbridge Island. So, yeah, [the Internet] definitely makes it a small world after all [laughs]. There's so much creative ability with it, it's so much better than television because it's so interactive. We're going to try post more videos, free songs, that kind of stuff up there.

SPB, Ted: How do you feel as a band that maybe identifies as "gay"? Despite the fact that something like that is almost completely accepted, there aren't as many bands that are as out in the open, I guess. I wonder how that affects sort of the way the band goes and the lyrical quality.

Conor: We like it. I guess it has to do with trying to deal with things that are from the other side, from... I don't know. It's hard to describe, but I think it has to do with our whole self-image and sort of like... forced alienation, in some ways? Even though homosexuality is more accepted now than ever, even though in a lot of places- like in the South and even in Washington- in smaller towns, people are less open-minded and I think it's something that we can get around and we all can come together as opposed to assaulting audiences. It's also a way of delving deep into romance. Like, most love songs are like "boy, girl, blah blah blah", but there's so much more to love and beauty than just hanging out at the drive-in on a Saturday night [laughs]. I think using all forms of sexuality as a way of telling stories just makes things more potent, richer. I don't know why more bands don't get into more kinds of sexuality.

SPB, Ted: Do you know Behead The Prophet, No Lord Shall Live?

Conor: Oh, yeah! They're fucking awesome! They had a huge impact on me. So, you're from Seattle?

SPB, Ted: No, actually I'm from Philadelphia. But, I saw them live when they played Philly and they were fucking great.

Conor: But, yeah... just flamboyance, the gayer side of things is so much more interesting on a live stage in a lot of ways.

SPB, Ted: I have the 7 inch and the EP and you've got sort of a parade/punk/gay/weird thing going that's really awesome. I listen to the EP a lot, actually. What would you say were your major influences in terms of forming a band? Because I must say it's a pretty unique sort of sound.

Conor: Well, I don't know. Everyone in the band has a different background in the sort of music they like. But, as far as what formed the band at first, it was kind of dark, cinematic, theatrical kind of a sound... heavily influenced by glam-rock. We aren't as heavily into it as we used to be because... there's so much else out there that we can play around with. Now, it's sort of evolved into a dark folk kind of sound. Like on songs like "Death Rides" on the EP there's a really heavy metal folk almost. When I write that kind of stuff I think we're almost writing for movie soundtrack. I don't know. [asking Trent] What do you think?

Trent: I don't know. I think you're doing pretty good on this thing.

Conor: Who are your guitar heroes, Trent?

Trent: Pete Townsend, Brian May, nobody too obscure, I guess. [Pause] I don't know. I might as well go sell merch or something.

SPB, Jonathan: How has the reaction been to the live show across the country?

Conor: This time around- 'cause I'm playing keyboards- we're not as confrontational. But I was kind of worried that audiences wouldn't be as involved because I usually go out and get them. We can have a lot more space to play around, literally. But I've been happy 'cause it's mostly just about the songs and whether the songs stand or fall on their own. We've felt pretty good about it. It's kind of intimidating being on tour with a band like the Two Gallants 'cause they're, like, the most amazing songwriters I know. And to play after them or before them in context to them has been kind of scary. But, it's been really good. We encourage each other a lot. It's been really inspirational. So, yeah, the reception's been really good.

SPB, Jonathan: Didn't you guys have a keyboard player the last time played Oberlin? What happened to him?

Conor: We kind of parted ways with our old keyboard player. But, we're kind of looking for a new keyboard player. We have some prospects. It went on behind closed doors.

SPB, Ted: How does it feel coming from the west coast and playing the east coast? Because a lot of west coast bands have a different sort of reception on the east coast. Has the reaction felt somewhat different on the east coast?

Andy, bass: I don't think the reception is any different. It's easier to tell you're from the west coast, but I don't think it affects how people listen to or how they respond to the music at all.

Conor: In some ways it might be different from a lot of bands they're used to seeing. But, I don't know because I'm not from the east coast.

Andy: What I'm saying is as far as how people treated us or how people responded to the music, I don't think it's really affected by the region. People didn't have any pre-conceived notions about anything because we're from the west coast.

SPB, Jonathan: How do you guys deal with sickness on the road?

Conor: We just deal [laughs]. We're just miserable for a little while. We just try to take care ourselves. I mean, obviously, you'll go for days of eating lots of junk food and drinking lots of beer and then you get sick and your diet has been nothing but crap [laughs]. So, you try to get healthy food. But, it's kind of hard getting healthy food when you're eating at, like, gas stations. I usually have salads and that kind of stuff. But, it's usually not so bad. There's usually one or two individuals- usually Tyson and Andy- who are chronically sick. But we just try to mother them as much as possible and give 'em good lovin'.

Photos courtesy of: http://www.falloutrecords.com/gallery/holyghost.html Website: http://www.holyghostrevival.com Interview by: Jonathan.

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