THE GHOST INSIDE
Time waits for no man, not even Jonathan Vigil.
I’ ve always been kind of intrigued by the idea that time flows no matter what happens,” muses The Ghost Inside’s Jonathan Vigil. “You could be doing the same thing for so long and then you wake up one day and realise that all this time has passed.
“A big thing for me was when I left for a run of tours one day and my father was exactly how I remembered him, and then when I came back he had all these grey hairs on his head. That was a big turning point in my life, where I realised time was going to keep going whether I liked it or not, and that comes out in the songs. So I feel like the concept of time is something that I keep wanting to explore in our band, a recurring theme.”
A recurring theme that now takes centre stage on the band’s fourth record, aptly titled Dear Youth. For the vocalist, it serves as a letter to his younger self, a cry of longing for the fire and determination of seeing the world as a place of boundless opportunity – a fire he thought for a while he might have lost.
“I reached a point where it felt like things were stagnant, stuck in a bubble of ‘ This is who I am, this is what I do’,” says Vigil. “I felt scared, and I wanted to feel that sense of wonder again that you feel when you’re first getting out of high school and the world is your oyster. There’s an angst to the record, a sense of wanting to shake yourself up and say, ‘ You used to feel like this – why don’t you feel like that anymore?’ It’s a really powerful statement for the record and I’m glad it came out the way it did, because the title track ‘ Dear Youth’ is a really big song in terms of where we’re at as a band.”
That same hunger for the drive and freedom of being young is part of what keeps the band almost constantly on the road. When we sit down with Vigil and guitarist Aaron Brooks, it’s in a Sydney hostel on a very rare day off in the middle of one of their most hectic Australian adventures yet – The Rise Of Brotality Tour. A whopping 22 shows taking the band to towns far off the beaten track, with venues of all shapes and sizes ranging from theatres to youthies and gyms, it’s a throwback to The Ghost Inside’s early days ( and those of most bands of their ilk).
“It’s been awesome, literally playing shows on the floor,” says Brooks. “We don’t do that as much anymore. That was all we did for like four years earlier in our career, so it was really awesome to do that, but I can’t even remember the last time we did that! And it’s just cool to play some of the littler cities sometimes because they don’t get bands coming as often, so they’re just… hungry for it!”
Given the nature of the tour, it’s also somewhat fitting for the band to be embarking on it as a co- headline with old friends I Killed The Prom Queen – the very same band that brought them to our shores for the first time in 2008, sparking a long and strong relationship with Australian hardcore fans who have since welcomed them as one of their own on each return visit.
“We’re very lucky in the sense that we’ve come here a lot of times and we’ve come here with a lot of very big Australian bands, so I think it’s a very rare opportunity to have things line up like they did,” says Brooks. “The first time we came with I Killed The Prom Queen, then we came with Deez Nuts, then we came with Parkway Drive, and then with The Amity Affliction. You can’t really do any better than that!”
“Australia was the first place where we saw people singing along and getting into our band, even before America,” adds Vigil. “The first time we came here our shows were significantly better. So for us it has always been a great place to come back to and grow our band.”
With a schedule as consistently chock- full as theirs, it’s a wonder the non- stop touring machine that is The Ghost Inside even found time to write Dear Youth at all.
AUSTRALIA WAS THE FIRST PLACE WHERE WE SAW PEOPLE SINGING ALONG AND GETTING INTO OUR BAND, EVEN BEFORE AMERICA.” JONATHAN VIGIL
“Even when you do have the time set aside, it’s hard!” explains Brooks, the band’s main creative brain in the instrumental department. “Since we do tour so much, if we only get two months at home out of the year, it’s really hard to force myself to play guitar for two months straight. I’m like, ‘ I just wanna go to the beach!’” he laughs.
Not only was the album written in short respites between long legs of tours, it was recorded in much the same way. Despite their good intentions, setting aside all of January and February with producer Andrew Wade in Florida to smash out the record, old father time once again got the better of them. With Dear Youth still unfinished, Soundwave season came around, followed immediately by an American tour, and it was April before the band could re- enter the studio. April came and went, more hair was pulled out, but sometimes you can’t put a time limit on getting things right.
What followed was another crazy couple of months of back- and- forth between the studio and their touring commitments, with Brooks recruiting The Devil Wears Prada guitarist Chris Ruby to cover his spot for almost the entirety of their jaunt around Europe while he flew back home to sink his teeth into the rest of the record, eventually to be joined by the rest of the band. While you might think the on- and- off process would be a drag, Brooks explains how it turned into the perfect recipe for getting the creative juices flowing, allowing the band to make sure they were in the right mindset for recording each instrument.
“The last album we did a bit more conventionally; we wrote all the songs and then recorded the drums, then the guitars, bass, vocals in the usual order, but this time we didn’t do it that way. We kind of just recorded whatever we felt like recording at the time. We actually recorded all the drums last, which, for anyone who knows anything about recording, isn’t really very normal! But our number one thing in the studio this time was that we worked on whatever was feeling inspiring. If you weren’t feeling it on the day, that’s cool, do it next week! It really helped to create a whole different vibe.”
Of course, you can’t live life at the pace that The Ghost Inside do without making your share of sacrifices. With so little time spent off the road and away from the band, friends can sometimes be left by the wayside, and relationships tarnished. It’s something Vigil is still coming to terms with – as usual, his lyrical output proves to be the greatest catharsis.
“There’s a song called ‘ Mercy’ on the new record, which is about how for a long time I wanted to please everybody, I wanted to make everybody happy,” he says. “Being so involved in this band I have so little time at home to see close friends and family, and some people took offence when I didn’t get a chance to see them when I was home, and felt like I was putting other people above them. But I realised there were always going to be people in my life that inevitably I would let down without intentionally doing it. That’s been really hard for me to deal with, and that’s something that doesn’t just apply to me and being in a band, it could apply to anyone in different situations. You will let people down and you have to come to grips with knowing that is a thing that happens.”
Brooks concludes: “As positive a thing pleasing other people can be, if you go overboard to the point where it affects you negatively, then you need to keep that in check.”
THE GHOST I NS I DE