The internet is a beautiful thing. You can meet new people, listen to some cool music, and spend hours upon hours doing nothing. You may wonder what this may have to do with a band write-up, but I will soon show you. Back in late 2004, Steve Juliano signed online for one single purpose… to create a band that would help him convey the feeling and emotions that he was unable to before. Enter MYSPACE: A Place For Friends. Steve searched day and night for people who have similar musical influences and the same aspirations as him. A few days later, I Am Ghost is born. Taking some of the best musicians from different bands, vastly different cities in So Cal and from many different walks of life, Steve may have finally found what he has been searching for. A few months later a demo is recorded, and a buzz is created over a band that has yet to play even a single show. Thousands of emails and requests for the demo, and numerous people promoting for this band has led to the biggest buzz So Cal has seen in a long, long time. April 15th, 2005. A sold out Chain Reaction, hundreds of people swarming the parking lot all for one reason – I AM GHOST. I haven’t witnessed anything like this in a long time. You would never guess this was only their 3rd show EVER. They sold the Chain Reaction out in less than two weeks, something that isn’t done too easily. Shortly before the show, I had a chance to interview Brian (bass/piano/backing Vox) and Kerith (violin/vocals) via the information superhighway. This is the outcome of that conversation.
Racket: How did you guys all meet? Were there any particular resources used to find people for this band?
BrianGhost: Steve (lead vocals) recruited every member of the band over Myspace. We all submitted our musical resumes and influences to him over Myspace and he liked what he saw, so he had us come out to Long Beach and audition. He found Gabe and Tim (guitarists) first, then Kerith and I auditioned after that, and about a week later they found Victor. The rest is history.
KerithGhost: It’s amazing that our band got together because of the internet. Myspace is an incredibly efficient way to meet people. Gabe and Tim already knew each other because they’re in the same town [Victorville] and had played together already. Brian and I already knew each other through past involvement in touring music and performing arts groups, even though he grew up in Colorado and I grew up in CA, near San Francisco. We’ve kept in touch for 6 and half years, and were dating by the time Steve auditioned us. In fact, I wouldn’t even be in the band if Brian hadn’t mentioned to Steve that he knew a female vocalist/violinist, so I’m grateful that Brian was looking out for me and knew how much I would love being in this band. Victor was the hardest one to find; we auditioned drummers for months before we found him.
Racket: I Am Ghost have been creating a buzz, even well before you ever played a show. Has this put any stress on you or the band members to live up to the hype that has been placed on you guys?
BrianGhost: There have definitely been times, especially during the writing and practicing processes, where we have felt the pressure of all of our fans and friends. But when that stress comes, we usually take a breather and try to refocus on the music.
KerithGhost: There have definitely been times when we’ve wondered if everyone would like us as much as the hype was letting on. But when our EP came out and kids went crazy, that was a huge affirmation that we were doing something right. And then when we were able to win over the crowd at the Tsunami Bomb show, that just affirmed again that our music is unique and we put on a good live show. I’m feeling the most pressure for our Chain Reaction show because tons of kids that know our music REALLY well will be there, and people are coming in from hours away–some even flying from the East Coast!! I don’t want them to be disappointed, but I have to trust what we’ve heard from fans at our first show that we will, for sure, rock!!!
Racket: Who does the main contributing to songwriting? Is it a group effort?
BrianGhost: We all contribute to the writing process. This is one thing that I Am Ghost is really great at. Usually one person will come up with a riff or chord progression and the rest of the band will give their input on it, and if we like it then we start writing. We all have creative freedom to try things out during the writing process, and once we find things that work, we keep it and start writing the structure/different parts of the song based on that first riff or chord progression. During this part, Victor and I concentrate a lot on the rhythmic motifs within the song, because Bass and Drums must always be together. Once we have all of the structure of the song established, then we move on to the transitions between the different parts of the song. Next, Tim and Kerith decide what leads are going to be written and who is going to have the lead in what part of the song. Then Steve writes all of the lead vocals, and after he has those done, Kerith and I write the harmony parts around the melody. After the basis of the song is done, Gabe and Kerith decide what effects they are going to use, and then the song is done. Once a song is complete, we practice it with the rest of the set until it sounds up to par with the other songs, but even then we can get moments of inspiration and completely change a part or add a solo or try new things. We are constantly tweaking and fine-tuning our songs.
KerithGhost: Brian answered this question really thoroughly already, but what stands out to me is the trust that all the band members have for each other. When we practice in the studio, we don’t always hear what the others are playing. Later, after we’ve already written and learned our parts, someone will hear someone else playing their part while just messing around, and say, “Oh that’s cool, what’s that from?” And they will say, “That’s from our song…” Sometimes that leads to more writing, if someone else wants to write a part that harmonizes with what they just heard the other play. That’s happened with Tim and me a lot, actually. But yeah, everyone trusts the others’ musicianship so that even if we can’t always perfectly hear what the others are writing, we trust that it’s awesome. Very rarely have we had to cut out parts that sounded too busy…it usually just all fits together somehow!
Racket: When you first started this project, what were some of the aspirations you had? Have you achieved any of them?
BrianGhost: When we first started I Am Ghost, we sat down and figured out what our band was going to be about. From the very beginning we decided that we wanted to give kids hope and let them know that they are not alone in this world. You can see this reflect on the way we treat our fans, the way we interact with a crowd, and the way we interact with each other. At our fist show, when we opened for Tsunami Bomb, we made every effort to interact and make ourselves available to the kids. In this respect, it was a huge success. Another aspiration we had was to put out the best EP we possibly could. After 7 days of tracking and 4 days of mastering and mixing at Love Juice studios in Brea, I think we came out with a very professional and passionate recording that expresses the heart and soul of I Am Ghost. We couldn’t be happier with the response that we have received from our fans, and to repeat what many of the kids have said, “At first I was skeptical about all of the hype, but it was well worth the wait.” That success speaks for itself.
KerithGhost: Brian said everything I would have said, but I want to stress the importance we place on our fans. We are not doing this to make a wad of money, or to become famous…we truly want to impact people’s lives through our music, and we have already heard specific examples of how people are gaining hope to move on in their lives as a direct result of our music. We couldn’t ask for more.
Racket: What have been your main influences (both musically and personally) in creating IAG?
BrianGhost: Musically, each individual member has his or her own influences that come out in each individual part of our music. For the band as a whole, Thrice, My Chemical Romance, Coheed and Cambria, and AFI have all been very influential in our sound. For myself, I am heavily influenced by the melodic bass playing technique of Ed Breckenridge from Thrice, Joey Demaio from Manowar, and Mike Herrera from MxPx. My piano technique and style stems from my theory teachers and other keyboard players that I have worked with, like Tad Sellers. My singing technique has its classical routes, but I also look up to Eric Adams of Manowar, Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge, and Chris Tomlin.
KerithGhost: Brian forgot to put Under Oath in our musical influences, but they definitely are a huge influence. Personally, I think I’m the odd one of the group. Obviously, Yellowcard is a big influence for me, because they combined electric violin with punk rock music, and their violinist puts on a killer live show. He also showed me that it’s possible to sing and play at the same time, which is something I hadn’t ever tried before. I don’t think I’ll be doing any back flips on stage, though. Other influences are the violinists of Jars of Clay (the reason why I didn’t quit in 9th grade, and my inspiration for playing by ear), and of Dave Matthews band. I have been playing since I was 9 years old, and went through rigorous classical training until I was 17. Although not my favorite style of music, I owe a lot of my technique to those teachers, orchestra conductors, and parents who pushed me, even when I was rebellious and wanted to play “my own way”. Any band with a chick singer who totally rocks out (No Doubt, Pink, Tsunami Bomb) have been an inspiration to me, both vocally and in terms of stage presence. In terms of writing vocal harmony parts, I have been influenced by Southern Gospel music, if you can believe it! The majority of this genre uses intense, solid 3-part harmony to express the deep emotion of the music. I directed a 200-voice gospel choir in college and had the experience of arranging and teaching vocal parts, and this was a big help to me in the band, especially trying to come up with harmonies for myself, and sometimes for Brian, in the studio.
Racket: What can fans expect to see at a typical IAG show?
BrianGhost: This is another classical aspect I Am Ghost wants to bring back to the stage: a live show. Too many bands these days just play their set and call it good. Kids come to a show expecting to see a live performance, not a duplication of the CD. We try our hardest to give the kids what they want. Although our resources are limited, we are trying our hardest to bring some stage antics and classical elements (lights, banners, fog machines, etc.) back to the stage.
KerithGhost: Besides what Brian said, fans can also expect that they can approach us in the crowd or at our merch table and we will talk with them, and sign anything they want signed (well…not ANYTHING, but yeah…) We want to be available to them and, as much as we can, want to get to know who they are. Ultimately, their stories will help us write better music that relates more to them, and ultimately we’re there for them, not ourselves.
Racket: Any plans for a tour soon?
BrianGhost: Everyone in I Am Ghost would love to tour, and there are talks of touring, but I think they are only hopes and dreams at this point. There are some exciting things going on with agents and managers checking us out, but at this time we plan to stick around So Cal and build up a local fan base. Besides, we are seeing a crazy response down here in Orange County, so we would like to be loyal to these fans until we branch out. But at the same time, we use Myspace to do almost all of our promoting, so we already have a world-wide fan base. We’d love to get out to them so they can hear us too.
KerithGhost: Since we’re such a new band, I’m getting the feeling that we can’t really PLAN for anything. Things are moving so fast and so spontaneously that no one knows where we’ll be in a year, or even in a month. I think that all of us would love to tour, though. Racket: Do you guys hang out outside of band duties?
BrianGhost: Since everyone from I Am Ghost is so vastly separated by distance (Gabe and Tim live in Victorville, Victor is in Downey, Steve resides in Long Beach, Kerith lives in Santa Barbara, and I go to school and live in Fullerton), we only see each other on the weekends when we practice, but we hang out before and after practice all of the weekend. I would say that everyone in I Am Ghost is quickly becoming a tight knit family.
KerithGhost: Gabe and Tim do because they live in the same town, and Brian and I do of course, but since distance separates all of us, it’s hard to get together outside of practice. I’m hoping that eventually we’ll all be living closer to Long Beach (where we practice) so we can hang out more. But I’d say that for never seeing each other outside of band stuff, we’re already really close.
Racket: What is your favorite thing to do outside of IAG?
BrianGhost: I write acoustic stuff for my emo side project, jokingly called “As I Lay Crying.” I also love snowboarding, (I grew up in Colorado), but that has had to take a back seat to I Am Ghost and I haven’t been on the slopes for a while.
KerithGhost: I’m a 5th grade teacher in Santa Barbara, and since it’s my 1st year teaching, that and IAG are pretty much my life! I do love teaching, though, despite the immense pressure of test scores and loads of paperwork. These kids are great, and we get along really well. I think all 31 of them would now say that punk rock is their favorite kind of music, and 75% of them wear Converse to school now! I love talking with them outside of class and finding out about their lives, many of which have been broken, even at such an early age. It reminds me why I’m there, and why I have such a passion for making a difference in the lives of kids. I’m also a total science nerd, so I enjoy thinking up cool lab experiments and demonstrations for my 5th graders.
The Chain Reaction show was intense. Every single band were on their A game, but it’s clear to see why so many people were lined up for I Am Ghost. The band took the stage like seasoned veterans; you would have never guessed this was only their 3rd show ever. With their intensity and charisma, they controlled the crowd through a blistering set of heartfelt music that hits close to home. The temperature was rising above 120 degrees, but no one seemed to care. For that one moment in time, everyone was a family, singing in unison and dancing their hearts out. It’s clear to see that was not just some hype. I Am Ghost are the real deal and are going to be a huge mainstay for years to come. If you see a flyer with their name on it, be sure to check out that show, you will not be disappointed. Check out www.myspace.com/IamGhost or www.iamghostmusic.com.
By Jeff Curtis