Interview: Jukebox the Ghost
Fri, 16 Jan 2015 10:12:09
Jukebox the Ghost Videos
On their self-titled fourth full-length, Jukebox the Ghost progress once more. They take their artfully robust indie pop sound and expand it once more with even bigger and brighter hooks and melodies. Moreover, the lyrics stand out as thought provoking and passionate, allowing both Ben Thornewill [vocals, keyboards] and Tommy Siegel [vocals, guitar] to vocally hypnotize like never before...
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Ben Thornewill of Jukebox the Ghost talks the new album and so much more.
Did you approach the album with an overarching vision or vibe in mind?
We came into this album with fifty-odd songs. We whittled it down more and more. We chose the songs we knew worked together. They all exist in the same world both from a songwriting perspective and a production standpoint. As we're in the process of choosing the songs and recording them, we're making decisions so that it works as a cohesive whole. Towards the end, we start thinking about structuring the album. Even though we're leaving the age of what a record is and listening to it from front-to-back, we still want to make sure it works, and that it has a narrative arc. It moves from beginning to end. It was definitely a decision. It didn't happen by accident.
Is there a thematic thread?
On this record, part of our goal was to approach it like a pop record that you can put on at a party and listen to all the way through, excluding the last two songs. In the past, we put more audacious compositions in the middle and orchestral things. It was a pretty good listen, but you couldn't put it on at a party and dance all the way through. We wanted to go for that. We didn't really shy away from the pop thing this time around. We still ended up making weirder aesthetic decisions and trying to not be conventional about it, but we were definitely working on songs in that sort of pop medium.
What's the story behind "Show Me Where It Hurts?"
There are two songwriters in the band. That was the other songwriter Tommy Siegel, our guitar player. What's interesting about the song is it's about a breakup, having suicidal thoughts, and the emotion going through that. Tom had it on guitar, and it was one of the first things we worked on with our producer Dan Romer. He was like, "What if you played piano on it, and there was no guitar whatsoever?" That was a first where the person writing it wasn't the person playing it. It was new for us. A lot of the album was like that. We were taking songs and finding new ways to deal with them or arrange them. There's something simple about that song. It's just the piano, strings, and Tommy's voice. It works really well. It's definitely a big emotional point on the album.
Where did "Undeniable You" come from?
That's about love, wanting to be changed by love, and losing faith in it. It ended up being one of my favorite productions on the album.
Is it important for you to tell stories and paint pictures with the songs?
Absolutely! I think a song should put you in a place that makes you feel something. I want every song to exist in its own unique space not just narratively or lyrically, but musically so it all works together. I want the songs to paint a picture. What the picture is to each individual person is different. I want to make every song give a singular and definitive reaction. We want to unify the sound, of course, but we want every song to be unique and exist in its own world.
What inspires you outside of music?
I read a ton. As far as inspirations, I think a big part of it is paying attention to the world and the things you do and experience, trying to funnel that. I spend a lot of time reading books. I do watch a fair amount of TV and movies. That's more of a pastime than a way to be creatively inspired. I go to museums a lot too. I'm a member at the MOMA so I go and look at modern art. I like to go look at the titles of paintings and essentially steal painting titles and use them as a way to funnel lyrics and song ideas. It's a way to get out of my own head and into someone else's creative mindset.
If your new album were a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
That's a really good question. I have no idea. All I can think of are really bad sarcastic answers so let's say halfway between Dumb and Dumberer, which is the sequel to Dumb and Dumber not this last one, and Pretty Woman.
Have you heard Jukebox the Ghost?