Coming up on our next live stream show, we’ll be sharing the live session we recorded with New Ghost at Theatre Deli Sheffield. Normally a six piece live band, songwriter Chris Anderson and Nic Bowden performed a stunning set as a duo for us. I had a chat with songwriter Chris Anderson to find out more about the Sheffield collective.
Tell us about the background to the band – what led you to form New Ghost?
New Ghost as a tangible thing came together during a particularly tumultuous time in my life. I was chipping away at a project that had been a struggle to complete for a long while, but I was in a difficult place personally so couldn’t really enjoy it. I had played John (Sephton – producer and head honcho at Old Pig Farm Studios) some music I was working on which he immediately jumped on and wanted to do something with, I also reached out to Ari (Malekpour – Hidden Mothers) during that time and sent him some demos I had been working on in the middle of the night, that I thought (at the time) would remain unfinished (I’ve a pathological fear of not being able to finish/put down material in a finished form in some way). They’re both wonderful cheerleaders, and Ari took those demos and reached out to a few friends and that was really the seed of the collaboration.
The intention, at least originally, was to have a “Desert Sessions” type set up of sorts, where players from all different bands and backgrounds would come in and throw ideas at and elevate the material. All of the contributors are people I’ve admired from afar for years, and shared stages with (Caroline Cawley of Dystopian Future Movies, Taz Ali of AWOOGA, Gareth Hughes previously of 65daysofstatic), so it was a joy to ask them, and for them to then want to get involved and help create something new. All of the time we’ve spent recording/playing together has just been so much fun.
It’s a weird time to be a musician, but tell us about what you’ve been up to this year and what’s on the horizon.
We put out our new EP Future is Dead in July, which received some really wonderful coverage. It’s exposed us to quite a big new audience, having gotten some airplay on the BBC and on DKFM (shoegaze/dreampop station in the US). On that front the last few months have been really fantastic for us, but it goes without saying, COVID has totally destroyed every band’s ability to get out and play in front of an audience, which is what we were hoping to do this year. During lockdown, certainly during the early stages, I spent a lot of time writing new material which we have begun recording so that has proved a much needed distraction. We will continue to write and record until we have the next thing, whatever that turns out to be. The stuff sounds exciting though.
If you were going to try and convert someone to your most recent musical discovery, what track would you play them and who is the artist?
There are two – Weedipus (from Barnsley), is perhaps the best local band I’ve heard recently. They’ve just released an EP, it’s scuzzy and super DIY, but an excellent showcase for what they can do. The melodies are really off kilter, and I think they’re going to do some great things. I’m trying to get them to come record with us, so hopefully they’ll read this and it’ll tip them over the edge. Their best track is perhaps “Broken Boy”, it’s a cross between Silversun Pickups, Wolf Alice, and Hole.
The second one is Loathe, a band I had not heard until Gareth in New Ghost pointed me in their direction – go listen to “Two Way Mirror” and tell me it isn’t one of the best rock songs of the last few years.
New Ghost wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for…
If it were a person – It would be John Sephton (producer on Firesuite‘s Outlive Your Body and New Ghost’s New Ghost Orchestra). He’s a really wonderful captain, and if you’re creative, the exact kind of person you want in your corner. He pushed us all to create more, do more, work fast, make it better. He is uniquely gifted as a producer in that way and he helped birth the project in that way.
If it were a band, there are too many to mention, but certainly Mew would be a band that, certainly when we started meeting up to discuss writing and recording, were a band that we all agreed would be a big influence on how we approached putting the material together. Their song “Am I Wry? No” changed my whole life. As soon as I heard it I knew I had to write music.
How do you go about discovering new music?
We have had so much support from Christian Carlisle at the BBC so I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention his show BBC Introducing in Sheffield, which is always choc full of extraordinary talent from around South Yorkshire. My favourite podcast (currently) is probably the Adam Buxton one. It’s very, very funny, and he has on some really interesting guests from across music, film, journalism. Playlister, Sean Adams (Drowned In Sound) usually puts together some really interesting playlists, there are a few DJ’s over at DKFM who always put together great playlists (Krissy and Girl Afraid).
I love Bear Tree and Spinning Discs in Sheffield. There’s a real community that’s sprouted up in Sheffield over the last few years with the opening of a few new record stores. They are an absolutely vital part of any local music scene, so seeing two new stores which appear to be doing so well has been fantastic, and they will hopefully survive the COVID nightmare.
I’m a regular on the Drowned In Sound boards, and there is a lot of new music chat on there, similarly the reddit forums can be fertile ground in stumbling across your new favourite musical discovery.
Which artist would you say is an underappreciated genius?
Again, I will always struggle to just pick one, and I can’t do one OR the other! In terms of artist that I think is perhaps the most underrated, it would have to be Annie Clark (St Vincent). I would put her up as a Bowie/Prince level genius.
There are lots of underrated/underappreciated bands though. I think Aereogramme are criminally underrated, they’re one of the best Scottish bands ever IMO. Mew I think are perhaps one of the all time greatest bands, and one that most people haven’t even heard of. Same with Oceansize.
Which live act would you cross hell or high water to see?
Mew, Vennart, Foxing, Mitski, St Vincent. Those just off the top of my head. Live music is an obsession, so if there is something I think will be emotionally fulfilling, I will try and move heaven and earth to get to see them.
Which cover version do you really rate and why?
Favourite is probably My Bloody Valentine – “Map Ref. 41N 93W”, originally by Wire. I didn’t peg it as a cover initially, and it’s always been one of my favourite MBV tunes. It’s transcendental, and I’d urge anyone to seek it out.
Tell us about another bit of art / culture outside of music that has made a big impact on you recently (could be book, film, tv, theatre etc etc)
I rewatched Rectify recently. It’s a show about a man convicted of a violent crime, who suddenly gets released from jail after 20 years. It’s got echoes of the West Memphis 3 case and is just one of the best things I’ve ever seen. It charts this emotionally destroyed individual who is trying to reintegrate into his small community, and trying to reconnect with his family. It really is a beautifully written and performed piece.
What sort of tracks would make it onto a New Ghost tour bus playlist?
Here’s a nice chunky selection for you, though sadly couldn’t include Dirty Boy by Cardiacs as it’s not on Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3ErwdOHrJJ6kMvI7KPuOd3
Chris Anderson from New Ghost joins us on our live stream show on Thursday 10th December along with a.P.A.t.T. We’ll be premiering the exclusive live session they recorded with us along with live chat and opportunity to ask your burning questions!
Tickets range from FREE (for low / no waged) to £10 (50% of these Scene Champion tickets to be donated to Theatre Deli Sheffield, as they would have been hosting the original gig) but you will need to register for a ticket at budsspawn.nutickets.com in order to receive the live stream URL.