all words by: Paula Mejia
Everyone has to start somewhere: A few years ago, Jukebox the Ghost test drove their particular brand of sunshiny but very clever piano driven pop by playing open mike shows to scattered audiences at the grungy downstage in the basement of a GW dorm, attached to a 24 hour 7-11 notorious for providing some of the best drunk munchies on campus.
What followed next is sold out shows in REAL DC venues, European tours, moves, playing on David Letterman, and this Thursday December 1st, the homegrown favorites will kick off their nine-city tour with the ultimate sign of “making it as a band in DC”, by headlining the 9:30 Club, along with DC’s own Deleted Scenes and The Spinto Band. Watch this video and you’ll know it’s well deserved:
The band, comprised of Tommy Siegel, Ben Thornewill and Jesse Kristin, fuses piano-based indie pop songs characteristic of acts of the likes of Free Energy and Phoenix. With the difference that the uplifting, insanely catchy tracks embody “happiness with depth,” as described by keys man and vocalist Ben Thornewill.
I was able to chat with Thornewill, who had a few words to say regarding the creative process, the new album in the works, and 90s covers:
BYT: So how weird is it headlining 9:30?
BT: It’s a little bit terrifying and a lot of exciting. It’s a huge jump for us as a band, we’ve been wanting to headline there for a while.
BYT: How did you get your start?
BT: We all met here in DC, when the three of us were going to school at GW and started out by playing crappy charity events and open mike nights. We were one of the first bands to play at the Mitchell Hall theater when they built that stage in the basement. First we played a lot of shows to nobody, then all of a sudden there were tons of people there and we started selling out ticketed shows. As the guinea pigs for that venue, we got really lucky.
BYT: So you released your second album, Everything Under the Sun, last year (check out our listening party about it here-ed). Is a new album in the works?
BT: Yeah, we’re working on a third album right now in the studio that remains untitled. I feel really good about it, it’s hands down our best record. It’s not over or under-produced, the songs are stronger and coming from a better place. We’ve spent a few years figuring out who we are as a band, so now we’re just relaxing and making a new record. We’ll be debuting some of the new songs at the show at 9:30 this Thursday, so that’s exciting.
BYT: How does the live show compare to the record?
BT: Honestly, I would much rather someone be introduced to us live as opposed to the record. We arrange the live band first then record. Our live performances have been much, much better than our studio efforts- we’re able to show so much more energy and our individual virtuosities.
BYT: How does playing in DC differ compare to playing anywhere else?
BT: Even though at this stage we’ve managed to establish a pretty solid fan base in other major cities, DC has an energy that is unplaceable. Whenever we play DC it feels like a hometown show. The energy of the crowd is unbelievable.
BYT: Any surprises we should know in the works for the show on Thursday?
BT: I don’t want to spoil it, but we’ve spent a while preparing an awesome 90s cover for the show…
Later in the interview, Thornewill revealed to me this fantastic 90s cover song they’ve been plotting. What could it be? Guess you’ll have to trek over to 9:30 on Thursday to find out.