The Ghostland Observatory laser and cape extravaganza at 930 club on Saturday is completely and utterly sold out. Figures. Anyway, we wanted to rerun this interview we did with them a while back (in March of 2008) and 930 club kindly gave us a pair of tickets to giveaway with it. To enter to win just wittily comment and we’ll pick a winner on Friday, cool? Cool.
In one of those rare BYT kismet moments about a month or so a go I became obsessed with a youtube clip of Ghostland Observatory performing “Sad Sad City”, Joel sent out pleas for doing “something/anything with this band”, 930 Club booked them for a freakin’ Saturday dance show (Will Eastman is opening), and Pitchfork gave “Robotique Majestique” a 1.5 score.
Obviously, WE WERE going to interview them.
Phone calls were made, the record, in all its “Freddy Mercury has sex with Daft Punk” glory was listened to ad nauseum, and arrangements were made. So, last Friday, at noon sharp, a little nervous (they wear capes! they braid their hair! they’re from Texas?!) I called Thomas.
“Can I call you back in 30 seconds?”-he said.
I waited patiently for about 30 times that and then went on with my (business)
Two hours and a hungover lunch at 5 Guys, plus some other activities in between, I had given up on being called back when I realized that my ringer was off and that I had 3 call backs.
Phone tag should be an Olympic sport.
In any case, when we finally established contact here is how it went down:
BYT: Hi! Finally!
Thomas Turner: (in a wonderful Southern accent, I for some reason was not expecting, laconic and relaxed): Yes, finally. I did try to call you back.
BYT: I know, I know…my voicemail has not worked in a year.
TT Sometimes that’s for the best.
BYT: I certainly think so, so lets just take this from the top. HOW ARE YOU?
TT: I am great. I’m home in Austin, relaxing, the weather is wonderful, everything IS great.
BYT: So, you’re taking a little post-SXSW break?
TT:Yep, till Monday, then we leave and are on a six shows a week schedule.
BYT: That sounds intense.
TT: Probably because it is.
BYT: And DC is your first weekend show. You’ve played here before, right?
TT: Yes, we’ve been to DC once before, to RNR hotel and it was terrific. We hear 930 Club is just amazing though.
We think its pretty special. And so rarely do we get a foot stomping danceable act there on a weekend. We’re in that constant “en-route-to-New-York-DC-show-on-Wednesday” flux.
We’re glad we get to catch you on a weekend. And with a club this size, from what I hear, we’ll get to bust out all our lasers and light show and go all out.
BYT: Yeah, I’ve seen some of your performances on YouTube-it always looks like you’re playing the biggest of arenas, even in small spaces.
TT: Well, I used to throw parties in the 90s, here in Texas, so I love a good laser show. I mean, we want to give people the most bang for their buck we can. Go for the gold. The more lasers the better.
BYT: Amen to that. Lets backtrack a little, I got asked to ask how you guys met….
TT: Through an ad…
TT: In the Austin Chronicle. We were both chosen to be in this experimental electronica band…an electronic jam band, 45 plus long songs and stuff…
BYT: Sounds…..(attempting to phrase this delicately) interesting?
TT:Yeah, it certainly was (laughs) but then we moved on.
BYT: You’re both life long Texans
TT: Yes (proudly)
BYT: The music you play is not necessarily what Texas music is known for…I mean, not to stereotype Texas music….
TT: (laughs) No, you’re right, its definitely more blues and americana and singer-songwriter predominant around here…
BYT: So, are you kind of the lone purveyors of dance music there or is there more of a scene?
TT: I would say as a band we’re pretty unique in Austin, which is fine by us, but there is definitely as a scene, much like in any other (relatively) big city of people that like to dance, and seek out this kind of music, whether from us or from bands that are visiting…
BYT: You own the label (Trashy Moped records) that Ghostland releases under and you’re your only client…
TT: Yes, well, I always wanted to go the self-release route. It just seemed like for what we wanted to do, it was the right was. I am also always listening to new bands and was hoping for a while to maybe expand but now, what with touring, and writing, and recording, and the label actually being IN my house
BYT: So, its fully homegrown?
TT: Oh yes, my wife is most definitely sick of all the packaging and CDs and the chaos in the house.
BYT: Haha. My condolences to her. So, no plans of moving to a label, not owned by you?
TT: We see absolutely no reason for it.
BYT: Ok, so lets talk about the record…I read most of the reviews and I have to ask this….
TT: About Pitchfork?
TT: Go on, its cool
BYT: So, Pitchfork gave you a 1.5. That was….hmmmm, harsh.
TT: True, but we’re cool with it (at this point, Thomas is exhibiting such relaxedness that I either thing he’s the coolest/calmest man alive or…). I mean, we don’t really shoot for any middle of the road reviews. We want you to hear Ghostland Observatory and either LOVE it or really HATE IT. They apparently really hated it.
BYT: They called you “Daft Punk for Frat Boys”
TT: Right, because, you know, frat boys don’t (already) listen to Daft Punk and/or Kanye. They needed us.
BYT: Zing! But that comparison aside, the Daft Punk comparisons do keep popping up. As well as Freddie Mercury/Queen comparisons when it comes to Aaron.
TT: We’re flattered with that. Those two acts are some of the best live energy shows the world ever saw. I mean, what Daft Punk did in the mid-90s with their live show is revolutionary.
BYT: Yes, the more lasers the better.
TT: The more lasers the better.
BYT: You should make t-shirts that say that. You all (restraining my urge to bust out my Savannah y’alls here), lasers aside, obviously have a very specific look. I’m sure you get asked about it all the time : Aaron’s braids, your cape….what’s the backstory?
TT: Well, truth be told, braids were always Aaron’s thing. Since from way before we even started. I think he’ll keep at it forever. As for the cape, I just asked my wife, probably 5 or 6 years a go to make me something that is so out of fashion, and has nothing to do with fashion, to wear on stage so that I could wear it forever. And so she made me a cape.
BYT: And now, with MGMT and Of Montreal and…capes are all over the place…you started a craze
TT: (just laughs)
BYT: Ok, so, time is running out but… before the show on Saturday, share with us what your favorite touring moment thus far is.
TT: Hmmmm…don’t get me wrong, DC was great last time…
BYT: I’m promise not to get you wrong…
TT: But once we played this teeny little Mormon town somewhere in Idaho (Fricksburgh) and we walk in…and they tell us: no drinking, no cussing, no smoking, no drugs…
BYT: Sounds thrilling
TT: Exactly. And we’re like…”That’s fine by us” and then we go on stage….AND THEY GO INSANE. Insane. The dancing and the release of energy there was amazing.
BYT: Did you go back?
TT: Of course we went back. We’ll go back anytime.
BYT: Well, I certainly hope DC at least manages to stand its ground next to memories of Mormon towns in Idaho.
TT:I am sure you guys will do great. We’ll try to help.
BYT: Thank you. And see you Saturday.
Befriend Ghostland socially
Purchase Robotique Majestique
and see them this Saturday at 930 club.
all photos: Chad Wadsworth