Interview: Holiday Ghosts

‘We’re not very studious with our arrangements or musicality, we just go with what comes naturally… most of the time,’ says Holiday Ghosts’ Sam Stacpoole.

Holiday Ghosts started life as the solo project of Black Tambourines’ Sam before evolving into a four-piece garage rock outfit.

The Falmouth-based band have pursued the DIY practise of self-recording all their material, and since their self-titled 2017 debut the group has evolved into a fully collaborative project between Sam, Katja Rackin, Ryan Cleave and Charlie Fairbairn.

Ryan and Charlie are new additions to the line-up, and the band’s second record, West Bay Playroom was further shaped by change due to the closure of their previous base for operations, Troubadour Studios, in their hometown.

Retreating to Sam’s childhood home in Maenporth, Holiday Ghosts recorded their latest album in a playroom, which lent its creation a rare autonomy and in turn captured the band’s freewheeling spirit.

We caught up with Sam about the band’s developments and how that fed into their latest record…

What’s the thinking behind your new album West Bay Playroom?

The thinking behind this album was pretty much to just write bunch of songs as the four of us and try to capture the live sound of it. We wrote these songs after a line-up change and had a lot of fun with them. We wanted something light on its feet and not too uptight.

So many bands are based in big cities, how do you think your location feeds into the music you make?

I’m not sure it does a huge deal, we still have the same access to music that inspires us as you do anywhere, and you can get a vibe from any room. Falmouth is certainly a great place to be creative, it leaves you to your own devices.

You have a couple of new members for this album, what have they brought to the band?

Ryan Cleave brings a steady, solid backbone to our sound which we didn’t have always before. On our first record there wasn’t a great deal of bass guitar as we had no bass player at that time. I always loved Ry’s bass work in The Red Cords and The Golden Dregs. Before we asked him to play in the band, I think I was writing basslines that were just rip offs of his.
Charlie of course brings his style of songwriting which really was a game changer for the band. He writes in a very different style to Charlie Murphy who played before him. They both have even used the same guitar but the way they play is very different.

Can you explain a little bit about the songwriting process for this record?

We tend to write an idea separately and then bring it to the band, and within four or five goes it normally feels about right. We’re not very studious with our arrangements or musicality, we just go with what comes naturally… most of the time.

The recording of this album was different to that of your debut, can you tell us a little about what affect that had on the songs?

The debut album was layered multitrack in a studio with a control room. We recorded this new album live in a single room without any isolation of instruments. There are a lot of ambient mics in the room to blend things even more. Also, I recorded this record on my computer whereas the last was on an 8-track tape recorder.

How do you think your music has developed since your debut record?

I think we are a lot more lively on this record. There are a few more up-tempo and major sounding songs.

Did you feel any kind of pressure to follow up your debut?

No, I didn’t feel any pressure from the first album. That was a very long process which spread over a few years. In the time between doing that we had written so much new material to continue with, it was really easy to just go on to the next thing without a real break. Same as it ever was.

What were your primary influences and inspirations when making the album?

We definitely talked about a few albums at some points in the process. Face to Face by the Kinks felt like it had a really great sound that we were into. I was really into Like Flies on Sherbert by Alex Chilton at the time, which is a smash up of really scrappy, almost studio out takes. I really liked the way he just sounds kind of crazy and appears to be making a completely throw away bunch of tracks, but it’s still got amazing songs, a great sound and killer guitar parts.

What’s your worst musical habit?

Most likely it’s when I listen to a ‘new’ album for the first time that I have been anticipating without plugging in headphones or an aux cable. Just streaming someone’s hard work out of a laptop speaker, it’s somewhat sacrilegious and shit.

I also have a pretty expensive habit of breaking guitar strings when I play live.

What else do you have in store for 2019?

So far, we are going on tour of the UK for a week or so in March and we’re going to be touring with Calvin Johnson in May.

And making a new album!

Forthcoming tour dates

Mar 20 The Hope & Ruin, Brighton
Mar 21 Rough Trade, Bristol
Mar 23 Yes, Manchester
Mar 24 Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Mar 25 Nice n Sleazy, Glasgow
Mar 26 The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle upon Tyne
Mar 27 Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds

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