Posted On 17 Sep 2014
Formed in D.C. in 2006, the three-piece Indie-pop band, Jukebox The Ghost, consists of Ben Thornewill (vocals & piano), Tommy Siegel (vocals & guitar) and Jesse Kristin (drums).
Earlier this summer, they released their latest single, “The Great Unknown” from their fourth record which will be released on October 21st.
Check out the lyric video for the song:
Learn more about these guys in the following interview:
Can you remember the moment you all decided to start a band? Was it scary or more exciting coming to that decision all those years ago?
It was less of a decision and more like something that just…happened. Ben and Jesse had already been playing together their freshman year of college in 2004 when I put up a flier in the music department to try and join a band. They called me, the three of us ran through some songs, and it’s been the same three members ever since! Becoming a “real” band was a very gradual process. Recording a studio album didn’t even occur to us as a serious thought until we had been playing for a few years.
What exactly does your band name mean? In general, how difficult was it to come up with something that you all agreed on?
As far as its meaning goes, we’re very open to new interpretations. For us, it was a combination of words that we thought were cool. Somehow it seemed to express the simultaneous wide-eyed poppiness and cynical lyrics that had always characterized our songwriting.
Of course, as a band continues to make music, their sound evolves and can change entirely too. How exactly have you guys grown since you started?
Most notably, we’ve had to learn to play less notes. A lot of our early material (most of which was never recorded, thank god) was defined by a lot of showing off — it took a lot of time for us to learn how to let the songs speak for themselves. I think our writing has become a lot more direct and concise as a result, almost always for the better.
More times than not, influences tend to bleed through. What bands have been the most inspiring to you guys as a band?
Overall influences are a tough thing to describe for us — they tend to be song-by-song. Individually, we’re very different people in our musical DNA. Jesse tends to listen to a lot of 70’s and 80’s music (Harry Nilsson, The Replacements and The Smiths come to mind), Ben tends to skew classical, jazz, and guilty-pleasure EDM, and I tend to listen to a lot of spastic, guitar-driven stuff these days (Deerhoof, Pretty and Nice, XTC). It might sound strange, but we can generally never agree on what music to listen to, but we can generally agree on what our own band should sound like. I think people tend to be surprised that we don’t listen to the artists they think we do (Billy Joel and Ben Folds, to name two that always get referenced by others as our perceived “obvious influences”).
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something quirky that’s taken place with the band (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere)?
Hm…That’s a very tough question. Personally, what’s coming to mind at the moment is a random show in Connecticut in 2009 where I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience onstage. The crowd energy was through the roof and for whatever reason it was a totally magical opening set.
How has your tour with A Great Big World been this summer?
It was fantastic! Great band, great people. We had a blast as expected — we’ve known those guys for a while.
Did you guys have any pre-performance rituals?
Somehow, in 800+ shows we’ve never developed a pre-show ritual. Open to any suggestions. Goat sacrifice, etc?
Tell me about making your music video for “The Great Unknown”. You put a call out on Facebook to anyone in the SF area to come be a part of it. How did it turn out?
It was really fun! We had a “fake” show on the roof of a building in downtown San Francisco where we made the crowd dance to us lip-syncing over and over again. Total blast.
You guys will be releasing your new album this fall. How is this fourth album of yours different or similar to your previous albums?
Stylistically, it’s our biggest departure as a band to date. It’s the first record with as many demos as we came in with (we started with around 50 songs) and our first record where we didn’t worry about live arrangements in the studio. Drum samples, sound effects, crazy synths — they were all on the table like they’d never been before. We also became a lot more serious about editing and chopping our own material without getting egos in the way. The goal from the start of the recording process was just to make a front-to-back killer pop record, with absolutely no filler.
We’re not a particularly preachy sort of a band — We’re very comfortable being a pop band. We generally just want people to feel good, ya know?
Can you offer any advice to bands just getting started?
Write as many songs as possible, and don’t hold your creations too close! The more you do anything, the better and easier it is — the same goes for songwriting. Most of the battle is just showing up to put in the work every day, and not getting too caught up in your own ego.