EMQ’s with GHOSTBOUND
Hi everyone! Welcome to a new, very interesting, EMQ’s interview with New York City based Multi-Genre (Blackened Torchsongs) band, Ghostbound. Huge thanks to vocalist/guitarist Alec A. Head, for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
Hello there! My name is Alec A. Head, and I am the vocalist, guitarist, and all-around end-level-boss for Ghostbound.
It is hard to determine exactly when Ghostbound started, as a concept, but I would like to think that it has been with me since I was in my late teens, which is when I first started to compose the music for what would eventually comprise our debut record (2018’s “All Is Phantom”) as well as a couple of songs on our new EP. Many, many years later (I am, as Peter O’Toole might have said, “tottering towards antiquity”) I would meet Noah Shaul, who became my erstwhile sounding board for my myriad and often nonsensical musical ideas. This would have been around 2013. After several stops and starts, we would eventually enter the studio as a duo in 2015 to record “All Is Phantom” with the help of session musicians (including our now-permanent drummer David E. Richman), which we would finish in totality in August of 2016. By early 2018, we had procured a second guitarist (and invaluable contributor vis a vis keyboards, arrangement, and audio engineering) in the form of Talha Alvie as a means to play live and finally release our debut record in June of 2018. We would intermittently play live and arrange the music for our new mini-LP, Extended Play For My Sweet Mary Thyme, in the years since.
How did you come up with your band name?
“Ghostbound” stems from a song title that resulted from my aborted attempt at an acoustic solo EP from well over a decade ago. The song in question would be re-tooled and retitled ‘And We Are Already At Sea’, which is the lead-off track for the new EP. Like most things, it just came to me, presumably from a misheard song lyric or a random fit of inspiration; I cannot recall which. In any case, I loved the images that the (invented) word painted in my subconscious. In a way, we are all “ghostbound” in the sense that death is the great unifier, and that it comes for us all, but I also loved the more positive affirmation that there might be something in the great beyond; somewhere safe and peaceful, towards which we are always sailing. It encompasses everything I want to accomplish musically.
What country are you from and what is the metal/rock scene like there?
I am from the maligned and altogether silly place that is otherwise known as The United States of America, though we are based in New York City, specifically.
To encompass the entire scene as it pertains to the US would be a mammoth task, but speaking in terms of NYC and its surrounding areas, I am of the opinion that the scene here is filled with some of the most forward-thinking and truly unique bands in the entire world. Now, I cannot really comment as to Ghostbound’s place in the scene at large, as we are not exclusively a “metal” band, and we have always been a round peg in a square hole, as it were, but if someone were to lump us in with the many great bands that the greater New York area has to offer, I would not be mad.
What is your latest release (Album, EP, Single, Video)
We are very proud to be releasing our new EP, Extended Play For My Sweet Mary Thyme, via Red Nebula on 26th March. There are plans for a music video, but I do not wish to give too much away until it is closer to completion.
Who have been your greatest influences?
That, as they say, is the million-dollar question. My influences are myriad and ever-changing, and I borrow as much from my own experiences as an Earthling as I do from cinema, music, and literature. Musically speaking, I am a fan of anything that has an expansive atmosphere and/or is performed with passion and honesty. This includes artists as diverse as Killing Joke, Ulver, Faith No More, Kate Bush, The Gathering, early-Christian Death, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Stephen Sondheim, Jeff Buckley, Arcturus, Scott Walker, The Smiths, Crowded House, Swans, The Waterboys, Talk Talk, XTC, Darkthrone, Failure, Dissection, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Cocteau Twins, The Church, Immolation, Gorguts, Nick Drake, Hum, Miles Davis, In The Woods…, Root, Amebix, Alcest, Anathema, Arvo Part, Henryk Gorecki, Thomas Feiner, and David Sylvian, to name just a small amount. I could name thousands, if given the chance.
It bears mentioning that I am a massive film nerd, and the films of Ingmar Bergman, Werner Herzog, Andrei Tarkovsky, Zhang Yimou, Wong Kar Wai, Béla Tarr, Akira Kurosawa, and Hiroshi Teshigahara (again, among many, many others) are forever etched in my mind’s eye.
What first got you into music?
My first musical obsession was probably Phil Collins and Collins-era Genesis from when I was 5 or 6. My memory is hazy, but the first CD I ever received might have been “Face Value”. There is something so wonderfully personal about that record. The sparseness of the arrangements really go far to create a tense and lonesome atmosphere, and while I necessarily lacked the vocabulary to describe the music in those terms, I definitely remember the images the music conjured up. This was driven home even further by the time I received the cassette tape of Depeche Mode’s “Songs of Faith and Devotion” when I was 8 or 9. I have always listened to music in a synesthetic way; my own goal as a musician is to create a singular vision with sound, and I am always searching for music that will take me to another place or otherwise show me glimpses of it.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
In terms of my contemporaries, I feel like I have a pretty deep musical affinity with Mark Norgate of Dawnwalker and Second Son. Dawnwalker’s new record, “Ages”, is absolutely terrific and accomplishes everything that I hope to with my own music. Additionally, I would love for the opportunity to sing a duet with either Mary Fahl or David Sylvian, provided the latter ever comes out of retirement.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
Probably Roadburn, as there tends to be a very diverse collection of bands on display. Granted, playing live in any appreciable way is a pipe dream at best, given the current climate.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
Who are these “fans” you speak of? We are, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), not at such a level where our fans would ever give us anything beyond their attention, for which we are eternally grateful.
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
We wish there were more of you!
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
Mark Hollis, as I felt that he still had another album in him that would have been on the level of Talk Talk’s “Laughing Stock”.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
I absolutely love writing and recording music. I feel like I am my best self when I am recording, arranging, composing, cutting things, bouncing ideas off of collaborators who probably know better than I, et cetera. It is simply a blast to record one’s own music, and I wish I were able to do it all the time.
I hate, with the fire of a thousand suns, the “business” aspect of music. I hate the anxiety that comes over me in the wake of a release; I put entirely too much on myself in an effort to ensure that the music can fly once it leaves the nest, and I am almost never satisfied.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
I would love it if we musicians were paid commensurately by extortionate bitch-goddesses like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube. The current business model is designed, almost intentionally, to fuck over independent and underground musicians, and I remain grateful for platforms like Bandcamp, who are trying to reverse that trend.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
Faith No More – “Angel Dust” – This is the probably the most bewildering album to ever be released on a major label, or to follow a hit record, for that matter. No two songs sound alike, and the entire record is cloaked in this cinematic, blue haze. It also was the first instance in which Mike Patton fully came into his own as a frontman, to boot. It is like walking through an abandoned mansion where every door leads to a new, unusual place. Essential.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
I am going to go with vinyl on this one, as I love the ritual of putting a record on the turntable and watching as the stylus comes down to fit the grooves. I certainly love the ease of dealing with downloads, though. While I am not one to denigrate growing trends in music like an old man yelling at clouds, one thing that I do feel is missing from a lot of current listening culture is the personal connection one had with buying a CD or record, putting it on, and reading the lyrics along with it. It seems as if most music is designed and put out as a means to distract or to be listened to passively or whilst engaged in some other activity. I would prefer to be an active listener.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
We played a terrific gig at Saint Vitus in June of 2019, here in Brooklyn, with Gyre and Gates to the Morning. I feel like we were firing on all cylinders, performance-wise, and we were on a bill with two bands that fit the show as a whole. I really hate being shoe-horned into ill-fitting bills as “room meat” in an effort to fill a roster by promoters who otherwise have no idea what to do with us.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
I am also an actor for film, TV, voice over, and theatre, so I would probably be on set in some form or otherwise recording lines for some manner of VO project. Additionally, I would probably like to do some manner of archival or writing work for The Criterion Collection. That would be a dream day-job, to be sure.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
I would love to pick the brains of Ingmar Bergman, Stephen Sondheim, Robert Anton Wilson, Douglas Adams, and Chuck Tingle.
What’s next for the band?
Aside from promoting the new release, we are continuing work on the next full-length record in lieu of any plans to tour or play live post-Pandemic. We promise that this next record will be VERY different from anything we have done thus far.
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?
They are most definitely a cake. The very description says that the base is a Genoise sponge, and I watch enough Bake Off to know what that is. I bet Paul Hollywood or Mary Berry would agree.
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Thank you so very much for the kind attention! We are, as the Brits say, chuffed.
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.