An Interview with Jukebox the Ghost
by Bryan Berlin (Communications), published June 24th 2010
Jukebox The Ghost has been touring almost constantly since their first album, ‘Let Live and Let Ghosts,’ released in the beginning of 2008. Amidst working on their second album, Jukebox The Ghost came to The Middle East in Cambridge, and I managed to sit down with them to talk about their tales on the tour and man crushes.
TMM: Who would you say your man crush is?
Ben (B): Well my answer is going only to my favorite cartoon crush, which is a female, but the girl from The Goofy Movie?
Tommy (T): That’s a girl.
B: I know I’m gonna figure out the other one, but I’m thinking about’¦I’m sorry it’s the only answer I can think of.
Jesse (J): I’m oddly prepared to answer this. Morrisey, Scott Avit, of the Avit brothers, who’s a fine looking man, and Ben Bridwell, who’s the singer of Band of Horses. I met him and I was blushing for an hour. I’m straight I have a girlfriend, I swear.
B: That doesn’t actually mean anything.
TMM: It doesn’t mean you can’t have a good man crush.
J: I just felt I should jump in and say that I have 3 man crushes. You may not know them, but that’s who they are.
T: Frank Zappa is sort of a man crush. I’ve been watching a lot of interviews with him on Youtube, and Yoni Wolf from Why?
B: I can’t do it, I’m gonna keep thinking about it. My answer right now is Kevin Spacey.
T: Really? Did you see Superman Returns?
TMM: It’s ok we’ll come back to it. You’ve pretty much toured consistently since your last record release in the beginning of 2008. How’s that gone overall?
B: Good, but it’s exhausting. Last year we did like 150 160 shows and this year we did 80 and we stopped in June. Yeah touring’s great.
T: It’s kind of nice to have an extended period of time when we’re not touring. But after the winter it’s going to be nice to get back on the road in February or March.
TMM: So what were some of the highlights of the long tour?
T: Well the Ben Folds tour was pretty insane because we’d go on tour and there’d already be 3000 people like waiting because it wasn’t like normal rock shows where they’d have assigned seating and stuff so people would get there like two hours early and then be really excited that someone was going to play music in front of them which is very different from your usual bar atmosphere.
B: And as far as that, that whole collection of tours, it was Ben Folds for three and a half weeks, and then immediately in the UK for two weeks with dear friends of ours Nightmare of You, which was, everything from being in London in this huge theater which was beautiful, then all the other shows were much smaller like the JaRock club. We did like the supporting Ben Folds, supporting our friends, and then co-heading the six weeks through the whole country where its our fans in support of our deal, and those were alongside Jenny Owens Young who is a good friend. So we really ran the gambit of the types of tours that we do.
T: We saw the whole array of like really crappy bars in Indianapolis to the most beautiful theater you’ve ever seen in Indianapolis.
B: To a stadium in Boston, to a shit hole in Glassgow.
J: That place may have even been called The Shithole.
TMM: I know you mentioned your second CD. How’s that been overall? Are there big changes in sound or your music from the first CD?
B: I think the changes are inherent in us just getting older and the songs on the first record are songs that we wrote 3 or 4 years ago. It’s a lot more mature; it’s a lot stronger. The songs on the whole one are fantastic but this is a bigger record.
T: We weren’t consciously writing bigger or anything like that, but I think a lot of the differences people will perceive might be caused by just working with a different producer. By nature of the producer it may be a little darker from what we’d normally produce.
B: But on the same end the songs are a little darker, but not necessarily in topic but in sound. Everything on the first record was totally spazzy and all over the place, which is great you know we’re having fun everyone’s having a great time. This one has moments like that. Like afternoons were we had tea instead of coffee type thing. Cause Jesse drinks a lot of tea, and I drink a lot of coffee, and Tommy drinks…
T: A lot of coffee.
B: Yeah a lot of coffee. It’ll sound like a record that’s slightly older, but in a good way. Like compared to your usual band we will still sound very juvenile and excited.
TMM: You guys do have a lot of energy overall and just look like you’re having a great time. Is that just natural?
B: It’s really part of the songs. If we were doing really sad, depressing songs we’d probably be really sad and depressed. I think a lot of bands get up and they’re really serious with a stoic face and don’t have a lot of fun.
T: I think we’re all just pretty psyched to be on stage.
B: We’re doing something that’s really fun so why wouldn’t you be happy and having a good time?
T: And even when I’m having a shitty day on tour, the show is the only good part of the day. Those 45 minutes that are songs.
B: People are there to see you and you want them to have fun. And if they are going to have fun you should be having fun.
TMM: In creating your second album have you come across and huge difficulties?
B: The only major problem has been having too many songs to go onto the record and having to figure out what would be on the record by navigating the opinions of everyone of what should go on the record. Other than that though, not much.
T: We have so many songs that we tried to get opinions from everyone involved, from all our Jukebox mates and it just ended up getting really complicated because everyone had different ideas, kind of what they like and what they don’t like, because that’s how people are. Some people like songs more than other people. It got a little complicated.
J: They’re around 21 songs so the odds of everyone around agreeing on 12 on one record, well someone’s going to be pissed.
B: And we practiced 5 or 6 weeks straight for the record to get it ready and worked our asses off on it, and every song we had on the table we thought went towards the record.
TMM: What are you plans after coming out with this second album?
B: The hope is finish the record, find a label or someway to put it out, and tour our faces off. The old record just came out in Japan and will be coming out in England, so we’d like to tour in Japan and England. We’ll definitely be touring in England again soon, but I don’t know about Japan. Yeah just touring, playing as much as we can, and building on what we’ve already built.
TMM: Great. And have you thought of an answer to the man crush?
B: Oh shoot I wasn’t thinking about it.
T: Just say Bono.
B: That’s NOT true. I know I used to have one.
T: How about Brandon from Nightmare of You?
B: Brandon from Nightmare of You. He’s got a thing for me. He’s the only many I’ve ever kissed on the lips.
TMM: So you guys have a mutual man crush.
B: That was one of the first bands we’ve ever toured with and he went out of his way to make me exceedingly uncomfortable. Cause when you’re on tour you become like ‘Road Gay,’ and you just break down the barriers of who you are as a human. When you spend eight hours a day in a car with anybody for weeks at a time, it doesn’t matter. You’re all pissing in bottles you’re all sleeping in the same bed. You all wake up to each others urine and it’s fine. And he was used to it because they were touring 8 9 years and we were only a year in, and he was comfortable and it was just awful. But he taught me a lot about myself.
T: What about the term ‘Road Gay?’
B: ‘Road Gay?’ I think it’s widely used and recognized.
TMM: This is the first time I’ve heard ‘Road Gay.’
J: I think Kerouac coined it.
B: Yeah that’s good Kerouac or Ginsberg. One of the guys in a band at the Bowery used the term ‘Road Gay’ so I know it’s been used.
TMM: Alright well thanks guys.