Interviews
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Interview: Thomas Ross Turner (of Ghostland Observatory)

on December 07, 2010, 12:01am
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When you say you want to stand out, is it just the lasers, or is there a specific thing you do when you perform that you think you’re doing that other people aren’t?

It’s just everything, from what we sound like to the production, the choreography, lasers, Aaron. There’s a character and the costumes, just everything, you know. Whether people love it or hate it, at least it will stand out in their mind, like, “Aw, I love that. That was an awesome show,” or “Aw, I don’t like that at all. I never wanna see it again.” You’d rather it be something that people either love or hate than just like, “Oh, that was a pretty cool show.” A lot of people like walking away really excited or really happy and knowing that they got, you know, everything worth the ticket price.

Do you guys have any favorite venues or cities? You’ve been pretty much everywhere in the country.

I like the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.; I like the Crystal Ballroom in Portland. There’s tons of places; There’s even places that will really surprise you. You know, maybe they’re old or they kinda look rough or whatever, and then the people get in there and the energy of the crowd just takes it to the next level. There’s some really cool places to play all over the place. A lot depends on the crowd, the energy of the crowd. It’s always great playing Texas or playing in Seattle and New York. I don’t know, everywhere. I really can’t say there’s a place that I don’t like playing. I’ve never…hardly ever, like, “I don’t want to go back there again.”

ghostland8forweb Interview: Thomas Ross Turner (of Ghostland Observatory)

Would you say that the Texas fans are still a little bit crazier for you than the rest of the country?

No, it depends on the night of the week. Friday and Saturday night, people are just going crazy anyway, no matter where we are. In the South, you know, some of the Southern states? Doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, people are just going crazy. They’re like, “Look, I paid however much to get in here, and I’m allowed to have a good time; I don’t care what day of the week it is.” Some other states — we just did San Diego, that was a Friday night and people went all berserk in there. So, a lot of them it depends on the night of the week in certain areas. But most of the time it’s just the Friday and Saturday night and Thursday night in most places, people are going nuts.

So you guys are starting to wrap up your U.S. tour.

Yeah, we did a West Coast leg, and then we’ll finish up with the East Coast, and then we’ll try to take a breather.

Do you have anything planned for 2011? Gonna do any festivals or anything?

I think so, yeah, probably do some festivals, and then probably do a spring/summer tour. Our album just got released, so we’re kind of releasing it at the tail end of the touring season. Most of the time, touring occurs spring, summer, and we released the record late fall. So we’re kinda reaching the tail end of the touring season, but we should be able to do that, a short fall tour, and then come back and do a spring and summer tour with some festival dates.

At Consequence of Sound, we’re really big on festivals. Can you give me any specifics? Do you have any festivals booked already?

I think there’s one in Toronto; I don’t know the name of it. There’s a couple more going on, but they’re not confirmed yet, so everything’s gotta get squared away. By the end of the deal, they all kinda start to come in together, right around the same time.

Let’s talk about the album. A lot more lighthearted than Robotique Majestique. How was your approach different on Codename: Rondo than your past albums?

It’s real easy, especially when you release several albums or you know the fanbase…it’s real easy to fool yourself and to start thinking, “Oh, we gotta make a record that’s better than the last one, or it needs to sound like this, or this is the current trend of music and we need to make sure it fits into that.” And it’s real easy to just try to start making music. And that wasn’t the way we started making music. We just started making music to have fun and to do a live experiment and not worry about if people love it or hate it, or if it fits in with what people are making right now or whatever, you know? Years ago, you go back, nobody was making music like that. When it came out, people were like, “Who’s this crap?” So, now they’re reading some review and they’re like, “Oh, wish they’d go back to making music like they used to” or whatever. And we’re like, well, when those reviews were happening, they were like “This is garbage.” [laughs] It doesn’t make any sense.

But the main thing was to just really focus on– like, try to pretend like, all right, let’s pretend we’re making a record for the first time again and there’s no rules and we’re not worried about what anybody’s gonna say about it or how anyone’s gonna…You know, whatever you worry about when you’ve already had several records. Is it gonna sell well? Are people gonna respond to it? We just threw all that out the window and had the best time. Tried to make things more minimal. Cause the other three records, there’s tons of layers, tons of just noise that doesn’t stop; it doesn’t ever stop because there’s no release. In this one, we tried to make it a lot more linear and have more space and less sounds and choose the sounds wisely. I think we accomplished that and tried to make it sound like an actual record. You know, there’s five tracks on side A and five tracks on side B. There’s a fade out. Once the vinyl comes out we’ll see…It’s perfect; It ended up being exactly the way we wanted it to be. I don’t know. I know we had the best time doing it and it was a lot of fun. It was just great, and I would recommend making a record like that.

You can’t make music for other people. You can’t make music to try to please anyone or try to make music that critics will like or whatever. You just gotta make music that you enjoy making. Because once you start making music for someone else, you might as well just start doing commercials or selling yourself to ads. You know, let them tell you what to change and how to make it better or whatever so you can sell products. We don’t do that when we make records.

Speaking of critics, do you think the blogs have given you a cold shoulder for Codename: Rondo? If so, does that bother you?

What I’ve noticed is that people either love the new record or hate it. There’s no, in between, like, “Oh, well, that’s good.” People are just like, “I can’t believe they did this,” or “I love it, it’s brilliant.” That’s the first time that we did the right thing because that’s what we’ve always wanted to do. Like, go back and look at interviews from seven years ago…we’ve always done that. We want people to either love it or hate it. We don’t ever wanna make music that’s just kinda, like, mediocre and that anyone can just get into and kinda listen to at a low volume and then, you know, not have any kind of opinion on it.

We want people to have a strong opinion on whether they really liked it or it’s just really not for them, because that means we’re pushing ourselves. I think that’s a good sign. I don’t know if we’ve ever had any kind of love or respect from critics or bloggers or anything, you know. Maybe the ones who go to the live shows or have come to see our festival performances or whatever. They’ll be like, “Oh yeah, the crowd was going nuts.” Because you can’t really lie about that. But as far as the records we’ve put out, none of our records that we’ve put out have been like, it’s never been across the board bloggers or critics or anything just saying that we’re the greatest band or just made the greatest record that normally only, like — “Look at these guys that are, you know, out of left field trying to bat.” You know, so…par for the course. [laughs]

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