Lennon takes a psychedelic trip
The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger in T.O. this month
Sean Lennon, 38, son of late, great Beatles musician John Lennon, was dating Charlotte Kemp Muhl for a year before learning of her musical talents. Given Muhl is a stunning 26-year-old model and musician, we can surely forgive the young squire his preoccupation. But since the musical inclinations of Ms. Muhl came to pass, the two have been making beautiful music together. Their band, the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (the GOASTT), plays in Toronto on June 3 for a show at the Hoxton.
“It sort of started organically, we’d been dating a little while, but I didn’t realize she had already been writing songs,” says Lennon. “She played me a couple, and they were really brilliant, and we were keen to try and write something together.”
The name GOASTT was plucked from the title of a play Kemp had written when she was eight years old.
“All the cool band names are taken so we needed to take something weird, find something new,” Lennon explains. “We thought of it as a joke at first, but as the years progressed, we took it more seriously and stuck with the weird band name.”
Originally, the band was more of a folk duo, strumming their acoustic instruments with reckless abandon in Muhl’s New York City apartment or at Lennon’s upstate studio.
“I mean the sound has evolved quite a bit actually,” says Lennon. “We started off just writing songs on acoustic guitars in Charlotte’s bedroom and touring as an acoustic band just the two of us.” The band just released their latest album, Midnight
Sun, and although it’s the band’s third recording, Lennon describes it as being the first true GOASTT record, and it is a far cry from the acoustic duo heard on the first two albums.
“It’s really true, both of the first two records were almost unintentional, incidental,” says Lennon. “We wanted to do an electric record, but we thought we should first introduce ourselves to the world as a folk duet.… Midnight Sun is the first proper album the way we envisioned the band to be.”
The album wears its influences proudly. It’s a nod to the British psychedelic scene of the 1960s: bold and explosive with layers of sonic adventure.
“I mean, even from the beginning, with the acoustic sessions, we’ve really been obsessed with the underground psychedelic scene of London in the ’60s, the UFO Club in London, the footage of my dad watching Pink Floyd playing,” says Lennon.
“That period is something Charlotte and I are really obsessed with. It’s our Sonny and Cher version of the psychedelic alternative underground scene of London.”
It’s no surprise the era holds an allure for Lennon, given his musical heritage. And not shying away from that heritage for the sake of just doing something different is refreshing.
“Ya, I can’t be preoccupied with, or worried about pre-emptively anticipating. I’m certainly trying not to think too much about that,” Lennon explains. “I tend to be very myopic and focus on what’s in front of me in the moment and just sort of work on music one step at a time. You just need to do what you feel.”
In addition to GOASTT, Lennon has a number of projects under his record label Chimera Music, including his work with his mother, Yoko Ono.
“I feel very lucky to be able to be on good working terms with Mom,” he says. “I think of it as a real blessing. I get to spend time with her and make music that will be here long after we’re all gone. It feels like we’re doing something with purpose and meaning.”
Charlotte Kemp Muhl and Sean Lennon named their band the GOASTT after a play by Muhl when she was eight