Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Interview With Jukebox The Ghost

Jukebox The Ghost has been slowly gaining popularity over the past few years or so. In addition to touring with Ben Folds and Barenaked Ladies, the band also played on Letterman. They most recently wrapped up a tour with Jack's Mannequin, and are planning to release a new record in 2012. All of Jukebox The Ghost sat down with me at the penultimate date of their tour with Jack's Mannequin, and we discussed timetables for the new album, new quirks on the album, the differences between opening and headlining, the origin of donuts, and much more, which you can read below.

Alright, can you guys introduce yourselves?

Ben – Yeah, let’s start on the right.

Jesse – I’m Jesse, I play the drums.

B – I’m Ben, and I play piano and I sing.

Tommy – I’m Tommy, and I play guitar and sing.

You guys have been touring with Jack’s Mannequin for a few weeks now. How’s the tour been so far?

B – It’s a great tour, great tour. Super nice guys, amazing audiences, great crossover, just good vibes, one of our favorite tours we’ve ever done hands down.

You guys have been playing a couple of new songs every night. What’s the reaction to the new songs been so far by the crowd?

T – Well to be honest, I mean, the crowd, you know, 90 percent of these people at these shows are Jack’s Mannequin’s fans. So it’s kind of the same reaction as to all of our stuff.

B – As in they haven’t heard the songs before.

T – Yeah so they haven’t really heard our stuff before, so it’s great to play the new songs in this kind of setting ‘cause they seem to go over just as well as the old songs, if not better. So it’s exciting.

As you might have said, most of the people are mostly Jack’s Mannequin’s fans, but for your actual fans, how is it like? Is it different playing songs that the crowd might not have heard before? Do you feel like the reaction is different?

B – You know, there’s a fine balance because if you’re playing for an audience that has never heard anything, a new song is the same as a song that is five years old. But to our fans, I don’t think they have that experience because they’re so excited to hear a new song because if they’ve been seeing us, they’ve heard the other songs before, so it’s a something new. It’s new experience. But I think on both accounts I think the songs have been very well received and it’s really encouraging for the next year of touring and the new album.

You guys have been working on this new album for quite some time now. Do you guys have any new information about it? A possible release date or album title yet?

B – We have both, but we’re not saying it yet. We’ll be announcing it all soon but we’re looking at a May or June release. We’ve just finished up mixes. We’re getting our ducks in nice little rows and once they’re perfectly lined up, we’ll let everyone know about it.

You guys also worked with a string section for the first time on the new album.
How was that experience?

B – It was amazing. It was something that we’ve all wanted for a long time and thought we would have done on the last record and wish we could have done on the first record.

T – Although, wait should we spill the beans?

J – What?

T – That it’s not technically a string section.

B – It’s a string duo…

T – That are really good at overdubbing…

B – Who play over themselves. Yeah, it’s a low budget way to do it. It’s much easier, cleaner toget. Because we essentially have a chamber orchestra, if that’s what you want. It’s six violins, three violas, three cellos, sometimes more. So one person did the violins and viola, and one person did the cellos and it just sounds amazing.

Other than the string section, are there any other new quirks that we’re going to hear on the new album?

T – I personally just kind of feel like everything’s a little more focused than it used to be.

J – We did kind of venture into hand drum territory.

T – Oh yeah, that is a first. The way that I’ve sort of have been trying to explain this record to people is that the fun songs are really fun and the sad songs are really sad and everything feels like it’s hitting the bull’s eye of what it’s supposed to sound like, which is kind of a first for us. So we’re really excited about this record.

C – So do you guys currently have a favorite song out of the ones that you’re putting on the new album?

J – I do, but I don’t want to say names yet.

B – Jesse’s biased.

J – It’s easier for me because you guys write the stuff.

B – Well yeah, ask us after a year of touring and we’ll see what the staying power is of some of these songs after we’ve played them 200 times.

And you guys also recently wrapped up a headlining tour, which is one of the first times for you guys headlining bigger clubs such as, actually this one here, the 930 Club. How different is it to be headlining the bigger clubs rather than be opening them, like this tour?

B – It’s a different experience. There’s a different goal. When you’re headlining, it’s your show, it’s your audience. You’re there and the people are there for you. When you’re opening, you’re trying to win over a crowd verses when the headlining show comes in, they’re already on your side. Both are rewarding in their own unique way and both have their unique issues. Well not really issues, but pros and cons of both.

T – A balance of the two is nice because when you play a headlining show, it’s amazing and it seems more creative in a way because you get to really dig deep and play songs that you know not everybody is 100 percent gonna love. The only downside is that you don’t get the satisfaction of getting someone to go from having no idea who you are to liking you, which is really a rewarding feeling to finish an opening set and have a group full of people who are just like “Yeah I like it!”

What are your plans for the next few months after the tour is done?

B – It’s gonna be a lot of getting the album ready, doing music videos, planning touring. We’re also touring to SXSW and back and after that, it’ll just be setting everything up to have a great album release.

Do we have any timetables on when we might hear one of the recorded songs for the album?

T – Not yet.

B – Not yet. But within the next few weeks, things will start trickling out. Not the album, that won’t start trickling out, but news and maybe we’ll preview a song and that sort of thing. So keep your eye out, ‘cause it’s any minute now sort of.

Any final things you guys have to say?

B – Viva Chavez? I don’t even know what that means.

T – Really?

B – Yeah, no I do.

T – Oh, good.

J – I have something. So, on the way here, we had a discussion about donuts that lasted much longer than it should have.

B – This is better than Chavez.

J – And we learned some things about donuts. ‘Cause we passed a donut place and we were like “A donut. It’s dough, but not a nut. I don’t get it.” So we looked up the Wikipedia, and we learned that, and this is sort of like myth/whatever/kind of truth, but we learned that the “nut” referred to the donut hole. What’s known as like a munchkin or a…so that’s where the “nut” from “donut” comes from. The part that isn’t eaten.

T – And the spelling D-O-N-U-T is just an American bastardization of a common international word for dough. We learned a lot today, it’s pretty good.

J – And doughnuts were actually created in the 1800s.

T – All of them.

B – They were invented. All of them were created.

J – Especially the ones at Dunkin Donuts.

B – Donuts and Twinkies had like three golden years and we’re still riding it.

J – Donuts and Twinkies also…well that’s not very PG so...

B – You haven’t said anything so I wouldn’t know.

J – Donuts and Twinkies. Think about it.

B – Oh, ‘cause you can put the Twinkie in the donut hole.

B (to J) – Can you explain more?

T – I don’t get it Jesse.

J – They were like donuts and Twinkies, they were like…

B – No, no, no, no, no.

T – What are you trying to say about Little Debbie?!

J – That she was a whore.

B – I think that’s a good closing piece.

J – Please don’t include the whore thing.

I'd like to thank the band for taking time out of the show preparation to answer these questions and give us their expertise on the history of donuts. The band knows how to make an extremely quirky pop-rock song, and their new record could easily be the one that pushes them into the mainstream. Follow the band's progress on their Facebook page, and be ready for the band's new material to be released very soon.

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