Ghostland Obervatory Interview
Interview with Ghostland Observatory
Thomas Turner, Aaron Behrens, Monty “Moe” Wiradilaga
Friday, August 3, 2007
Lollapalooza – Chicago, Illinois
Moe: We’re sitting backstage with Thomas and Aaron from Ghostland Observatory. How you doing guys? That was one of the best sets I’ve seen in a long time.
Thomas: Thanks a lot.
Moe: You guys started off with three people right?
Thomas: I think Ghostland, like the first official Ghostland show, we used two people. We were in other bands before but…
Moe: How did you guys get together, what was your meeting?
Aaron: We just met in the bands previously that we did. He answered an ad in the paper and we hit it off. The other guys went and took a break for a while and me and him just kept going at it and we found what me and him love to do together, you know?
Moe: Absolutely. You guys are from Austin correct?
Thomas: Yes, yeah.
Moe: And they’re saying that it the “live music capital of the world.” Is Austin really that strong of a live music scene?
Thomas: When we tour other cities, you can kind of tell like, in Austin, you can go out almost every night and see any kind of genre of music you want to, at almost a hundred different clubs. And most cities don’t have that you know. If want to see blues you can see blues, you wanna see rock, indie rock, punk rock, electronic, DJ shit, whatever, you know, you can go see it in Austin almost any night of the week.
Moe: You guys definitely have an interesting combination of styles. First of all, what’s with the cape? I gotta know what the cape is man! (Laughs)
Thomas: My wife made it for me, so I wear it you know, I sport it.
Moe: I was lookin’ for what stage you guys were playing on, I saw the cape and said, ‘Oh there they are.’
Moe: What did you guys grow up on, what were you really listening to? ‘Cause it sounds like you go from little bit from the dance genre, but then you go from rock, then you have a little rap, just a combination of so many different styles. Aaron, what’s your take on this?
Aaron: I grew up listening to, you know, my dad had a lot of like seventies, sixties-seventies rock, like Jimmy Hendrix, Zeppelin. Grew up listening to them… And then I got into eighties, and my mom had like Huey Lewis and The News, Prince, you know, all that good stuff. And then, you know, in the nineties I got into gangster rap…
Moe: There you go. (Laughs) NWA!?
Aaron: Snoop Dogg, NWA, Onyx…
Moe: Eazy-E! Yeah, there you go!
Aaron: Eazy-E, yeah all of them.
Moe: What happened to Onyx anyway? (Laughs)
Aaron: I don’t know dude. I think Sticky Fingers got into acting for a while, so I don’t know… But then I, you know, then I moved to Austin, and Thomas introduced me to electronic music, so yeah.
Moe: Yeah, it’s just the blend, the blend happened right there.
Aaron: Yeah… The beautiful blend man, you know, so..
Moe: Did you listen to a lot of James Brown?
Aaron: Oh, a lot, yeah, I love James Brown… I love James Brown… Yeah.
Moe: I know you know everyone says it… They draw your dancing style to James Brown…
Aaron: Oh, that’s a huge compliment, I love J.B…
Moe: It is. Those are big shoes to fill, but, tell you what… You never stop, you never stop! (Laughs)
Aaron: Oh man, I’m tryin’, I’m tryin’. (Laughs)
Moe: I could tell through the set, people were getting into it more and more. You guys know everything was just starting to build up, and I don’t know if you noticed the crowd, but the hands started going up and by the end everyone was just rockin out. Ahh. It was great.
Aaron: Yeah! That’s good!
Moe: You guys basically just leave it out, all on stage, just balls out…
Aaron: Yeah, we really try. I mean, like I said, me and Thomas, “The Wizard” over here, dude. You know, he just throws down all this, it’s just, everything crazy on top. And it’s just, like we’ve said before it’s like, he just allows for me to get crazy on top of that, but he’s just pushing me man. With all those sounds…
Moe: Just feeding off each other.
Aaron: Yeah! It’s just real feeding back and forth. It’s just not talking, it’s feeling between both of us, you know.
Moe: What do you feel about the musicians that are doing that little shortcut with laptops and all that in their music?
Thomas: Yeah, I guess people do whatever they’re comfortable with. Maybe, you know, they started out with a laptop, and using virtual synths and things like that, and that’s just how they do it. I mean, I don’t hate on them for doing that. I just prefer having a synthesizer and, like, really getting inside of a synthesizer, and learning it inside and out. It’s the harder way to do it. You know, that’s just what I feel comfortable doing, and I like it. I enjoy it a lot.
Moe: Did you grow up more with the rock stuff, ’cause you’re playing drums, and you’re doing the synths, doing them together, just meshing the two. Did you grow up more in rock, or did you grow up more in the dance styles?
Thomas: Well I guess when I really started getting into music I really fell in love with electronic music, that’s where my heart is. But I played drums when I was younger… I used my knowledge of playing the drums and creating beats, but I never thought that I’d have to play drums again. It just so happened that I got the opportunity, and we just rolled with it, you know.
Moe: Does it feel natural though? I mean, if you were doing the drums, and you were doing the beats… Was the going back and forth, working with the synths and the drums… Was it natural, or how’d that work in?
Thomas: Yeah, yeah I think so. It feels good to be able to do both, you know? I like it.
Moe: Well like I said, we’re gonna see you guys at Vegoose… The rest of my crew’s coming tonight. What should they expect when they see you guys for the first time? How would you describe your set?
Thomas: You just have to be there to witness it. I would say, go in expecting nothing, and be the judge for yourself, and see how you feel when you leave. Hopefully, you’ll really, really love it. Or you’ll really hate it. There will be no in between, like ‘Ahh… It was okay.’ None of that. Its either you’re really into it or you’re not, you know.
Moe: Aaron, your dancing is obviously very, very sexual.
Moe: You don’t doubt that right?
Moe: Not whatsoever. (Laughs)
Aaron: It’s a very powerful energy!
Moe: Yeah, so what’s the craziest thing a girl has done to try to get in your pants after a set like that? (Laughs)
Aaron: Well, honestly, I haven’t really had to deal with that, because I really don’t put myself in situations to deal with it, you know. A lot of times people will try to get on stage, and you know, dance with me and stuff. But the thing is, it’s like, that’s cool, but I’m like in my own world. I mean I definitely do it for the people and I like entertaining up there, and it’s wonderful that they get inspired to get down with me and everything. A lot of it, it’s a lot of personal release. You know, it’s a lot of personal energy getting out, flowing out of me. So, I really haven’t had anything crazy, you know, or anything like that. And I think a lot of my fans know that. A lot of our fans know that. They respect it. And it’s the same thing; I don’t expect anything from them after the show.
Moe: However, you should have heard the comments from those girls that were standing next to me. Oh shit, you would’ve been like…(Looks and points) Yeah, point to em’… (Laughs)
Aaron: (Laughs) Girl, you’re dirty! Girl, you’re nasty!
Moe: Yeah exactly!! They were getting dirty nasty, that’s right. You guys are very independent…
Thomas: We don’t have a manager. We hired a publicist just for a short period of time, just to help promote the upcoming festival season, the new record that’s coming out, and just like to help the press-related things kind of go our way as opposed to just random things happening… Have a little bit more control of that. But, yeah, we’re very independent. We don’t answer to anyone. We agree on things and that’s what we do. And we just stick with that, you know. And we really don’t do many press-related issues either you know so…
Moe: Well, thanks for… thanks a lot, I appreciate that!
Thomas: Yeah! Yeah! So we stay under the radar, we basically leave the people to decide whether they like our performances or like our albums, and that’s that, you know. We just let them figure it out for themselves.
Moe: I definitely see a trend in music today. “They” want control of their catalog. I spoke to Ziggy Marley at Bonnaroo, and he went independent now. He was saying how he wants control of his things. Slightly Stoopid, who I just spoke to, also said the same thing. So, what do you guys think about the trend of music? Is it people taking the power back from the labels? Why is the trend like that?
Thomas: I don’t know. There are some bands that are very comfortable being on a label and they enjoy that lifestyle and the perks that come along with it, and having tour support, and having a marketing team and publicists and everything like that. And than there’s other people, they just really wanna do things their own way. And I think if you really want to do your own thing bad enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen, and I think that’s what a lot of bands are doing.
Moe: So you have a new album coming out soon?
Thomas: Yes, yes. We’re finished writing. Now we gotta get into the studio the end of August, early September and then bang it, bang it, bang it, bang it!
Moe: Yeah man. If you guys could collaborate with anybody, Aaron who would you collaborate with? Anybody, doesn’t have to be dance-related, anybody. You’re biting your finger; you’re probably like, ‘I don’t know.’
Aaron: I really don’t… I really don’t know. Because, it wouldn’t be the same, you know? The thing is, I think, Thomas and I enjoy the kinship we have with our music you know.
Moe: That’s a good thing.
Aaron: To add another person in the room, or someone else in the collaboration, I don’t know if we’d function the same, I don’t know if… It breaks up the connection.
Moe: Do you think it would water it down?
Aaron: I think it would water it down. I don’t know. Certain circuits run a certain way, Thomas and I have to be alone and in silence, and if anybody’s added in there it doesn’t work the same. It doesn’t.
Moe: So when you guys are doing your writing sessions, is it just like you’re on stage? You guys just start rocking out?
Aaron: There’s a lot of silence and then a lot of sound.
Moe: A lot of rockin?
Moe: You guys definitely have a real big sound for just two guys. I thought you guys were gonna blow out the PA system, did you hear it popping at one point?
Thomas: That’s good! I like that! (Laughs)
Aaron: Yeah, that’s good! (Laughs)
Moe: Yeah! I heard it, I was like, ‘Oh shit, there goes the set.’ ‘Cause you guys did blow out a set, where was it?
Moe: That’s right!
Thomas: We blew out the entire power in the whole freaking festival.
Moe: No shit.
Thomas: Yeah… It wasn’t too fun though when it happened. We were like, ‘Oh, that’s not good.’ You can’t even talk in the microphone, nothing.
Moe: Did they get it back and going?
Thomas: Yeah, but it took a while. It was just like, at first, it’s cool, like ‘Oh, yeah they blew out the power’, but then you can’t crank it back up you know, you gotta wait. Then they get the power running again and you’ve got to start over and try to get back to where you were. But the crowd seemed to respond really well to it, so it ended up working out.
Moe: That’s cool. So you guys gonna be around for Daft Punk tonight?
Thomas: Man, we have to play another show tonight! So we gotta go sound check…
Moe: Oh, where is that by the way?
Thomas: Schubas? So we gotta go sound check right now.
Moe: Maybe I’ll show up for that one, after I figure out where the hell it is.
Thomas: If we can’t make it, we’ll try. Man, we drove all night to get here, and it’s pretty crazy, yeah.
Moe: (To Aaron) If you we’re gonna be there, you should be on stage as a dancer for Daft Punk, and suddenly you show up on stage, and people are like, ‘What the fuck is going on here!‘
Aaron: (Laughs) They would probably blow me up with their electronic stuff. And that’s the same thing, ya know… Daft… They would, yeah… I don’t know what would happen. (Laughs)
Moe: (Laughs) You just might have to show up for just like a couple minutes and then head out! Guys, thank you very, very much. Can’t wait to see you guys at Vegoose…
Thomas: Thank you!
Moe: And maybe we’ll see you guys tonight.
Thomas: Okay, sweet deal man!
Moe: All right guys, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.