Ghostland Observatory | Ghostland Coast to Coast

"When you’re just listening to an album there’s not lasers shooting all over you and it’s not so incredibly loud, so it’s just a completely different experience."

How does one go about describing or recommending Ghostland Observatory to a friend? It is a rather perplexing pickle. If you’re a fan of the group’s albums (despite critics panning) then you may point out one of their better-known tracks like “Sad Sad City,” off of 2006’s Paparazzi Lightning. However, the band has since shifted to a more minimal style. 2010’s Codename: Rondo features the hilarious titular track wherein lead singer Aaron Behrens asks for a “drank” because he is “real, real thirsty.” Constant across all the band’s albums are the fun, catchy beats of Thomas Ross Turner. I spoke to Turner right before the duo’s show in Seattle, WA.
I’ve heard many comparisons between you guys’ live show and that of the Flaming Lips and U2, in that people who aren’t necessarily fans of your music attend the shows just for the spectacle. Are you okay with being known primarily as a live band as opposed to being album-oriented?
Either way it doesn’t matter. It’s cool that people buy the records and it’s cool that people come out to shows. When you’re just listening to an album there’s not lasers shooting all over you and it’s not so incredibly loud, so it’s just a completely different experience.
How do you stay on the road for such an incredible portion of the year?
You get into a routine, and when you’re that busy you don’t think about getting bogged down. You’re tired every day for some reason or another and once you stick to the routine it kind of just becomes daily life.
With your incredible onstage multitasking abilities the music is pretty well interpreted live, but would you ever consider adding another musician live to lessen your load?
No, I mean I think it’s pretty cool the way it is. We have just done it this way for so long.
Do you prefer playing your own shows or festivals?
When we do our own shows we have a lot more time to set up with the crazy production, and we don’t get any of that at festivals unless we are really lucky. Sometimes playing festivals are just kind of throw-and-go type things—normally sets aren’t as long either. Our own shows are cool and the production’s not as rushed, but playing in front of tens of thousands of people at festivals is amazing as well. You can‘t really choose between the two.
How does a general recording session go?
We lay down the tracks and have everything sequenced and then go in the studio and lay down the tracks. Then our engineer, Mark, and I go in and get everything laid out. And he yells at me a lot. Nah, I’m joking, he’s sitting right here. Then we go in and get the vocals laid out and take a break, listen to it, take a break.
Is there a possibility we might see your tracks on a video game?
I guess; I don’t think we have ever been approached about it, but we are cool with video games.
What outside of the music world inspires you?
I like architecture a lot—buildings in general, abandoned buildings, old smokestacks, mid-century architecture.
What is your favorite track off the new album to perform live?
The last one on the album, “Kick Clap Speaker.”
Any bands you would like to tour with, either headlining or supporting?
I’d love to play with Daft Punk, we really wanted to on their last tour but it just didn’t work out.
Speaking of, I’ve read Daft Punk is a major influence for you. Could you ever see yourself scoring a film like they did with Tron?
That combination is just so cool and seems like a perfect fit, but if an opportunity presented itself it would definitely be something new and a challenge. Or maybe it wouldn’t be a challenge as much as just fun.
Touring plans for 2011?
December is our East Coast, then a break, then festivals probably in the summer. | Bruce Matlock

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