Interview: The Ghost Inside

We sat down with Jonathan Vigil and Jim Riley from The Ghost Inside to talk about the Eastpak Antidote Tour, their new record and guest vocals.

You’re currently touring across Europe on the Eastpak Antidote tour with August Burns Red and A Day To Remember. How has the tour been so far?

The tour has been great man! A Day To Remember is obviously doing really well and August Burns Red is killing it too. Living With Lions is just starting to get a name over here, so they’re doing well too. The tour has been huge man, also good for us.

Eastpak also did some sort of contest for openers, so about 5 out of 18 shows had local openers, which is cool. It’s cool to see who made the cut and we’re used to seeing all the bands every day, so it’s cool to watch like a fresh band play.

You’ve toured Europe numerous times. What are the best places you have seen or things you have experienced?

We toured a lot of the major cities here, like Paris, and every time we do some sightseeing. There’s always one thing that we miss, and every time we go to Paris it’s the Catacombes. This time we had a whole day off there, so we made a mission to go to the Catacombes. It was really cool and we nearly made it back to the bus in time. We were waiting in line and realized we weren’t gonna make it before the certain time limit… So there was actually a fan of The Ghost Inside higher up in line and he recognized us and came back to us to talk. So were like: “we might not gonna make it”, so we ended up cutting in line, haha. We barely made it back in time, so yeah, it was awesome.

And also, we went to Japan in January. That was one of the most magical places on earth; it’s like nowhere else in the world. Everywhere else we’ve been is kind of westernized, and there’s stuff you’re comfortable with. And then in Japan, it was like a whole different world and it’s like stepping into an anime comic book. It was wild.

Another place was South Africa, this year too. We went down there to do a little headline tour, and it was awesome. It’s like a whole different culture and you just don’t think you’re ever gonna go to Africa. We were able to do a safari on the tour and see zebra’s and stuff in the wild and we did a great white shark dive on the last day, which was awesome.

Is touring here much different from the U.S.?

Yeah, the venues here accommodate you more. There’s always a shower in the venue, there’s usually a big green room for the band, they cook you dinner… Whereas in The States they don’t even bother. They’re like: “okay, here’s your room, and here’s money for you to eat”. It’s cool, it feels more hospitable over here.

As far as the shows go, kids come to the shows with a different mentality. In the U.S. a lot of times kids have like an elite mentality and they’ll go to a show with 8 bands and only see one band. Here, especially on this tour the bands have four very different styles, people come to a show early and even though they might not know Living With Lions, they’ll check them out and be nodding along with the songs. And then we’ll come up and they all swing their arms around like ninjas. Then ABR comes up and everybody head bangs. And finally A Day To Remember plays and it’s the same people watching the show all along, singing along and jumping up and down.

In the U.S. it will be hard to find a kid that comes to this tour and would enjoy all 4 bands. They’re more open minded up here. They don’t care about as much stuff as in The States.

Returners was released in 2010; I think a lot of people are interested in the next step. Can you already reveal some information of the upcoming record?

Yeah, we just did a record with Andrew Wade, who also did the newest A Day To Remember record. It’s not entirely finished yet, but it’s about 80% done. After this tour, Vigil will fly to Florida in January to finish some last vocals. The record is a definite step above what we’ve done so far, but not so far that people are gonna think: “what is this”? It’s definitely a The Ghost Inside album, and, I hate to use the word “more mature”, but that’s pretty much what it is. The first album we sort of wrote not knowing what was going on… Returners was a more refined follow-up and this is more The Ghost Inside sound I guess.

The record will hopefully come out in spring 2012. As said, the record is not completely tracked yet and will be finished in January.

Returners received some great press. What can we expect from the new record? Any comparisons to the first or second record?

The thing that has change the most is the way we think about song structures. We know the songs that are successful to play live, and it’s not a formula, but in a way the songs have more verse-chorus parts. There’s a chorus part that’s repeated in a song… We used to play a cool part one time and then never play it again, but we’re old and humble enough now to play the cool part twice. And we don’t write a hundred parts for every song.

You, Jonathan, mentioned on stage that you gave up pretty much everything to live this lifestyle. What makes it so good that you keep going?

It takes a lot of dedication and sacrifices. You’re away from home 9 or 10 months per year, this becomes your life. And when you go home, it kind of feels like you’re visiting, that you don’t belong there. It’s just hard to make that adjustment, but it’s definitely worthwhile. This is what I dreamed about and all I ever wanted to do when I was a kid. Being on the road, sing the world for free, or even get paid a little and to see fans that don’t even speak the same language sing along to the songs and to connect with them. It’s wild man… It’s a trip and I know I’ll never get sick of coming to Europe, talking to someone who enjoyed The Ghost Inside and who can barely speak English. That will be always cool to me.

And our worst day on tour is usually someone’s best day at home. Like yesterday we had the day off, we had to hang out in our tour bus in the middle of Cologne. It was a little bit cold outside, so we had to use our free wi-fi in the bus. I mean, that’s our worst day… What we did only in 2011 is what most people do in a lifetime. To travel to Japen, South Africa, Europe three times, play for crowds that are 5000+ four or five times. We’re doing the most high profile tour we could at this time right now and although that might be our worst day on tour, that’s what 99% of guys in bands dream of doing.

Is there an ultimate goal, things you still want to do or places you want to go, or is there a line where you’d decide to stop?

We’ve long surpassed anything that we thought was possible. You always have a next level you want to reach and I think this band is always gonna strive to keep growing and get a bigger fan base. But as far as a goal, we’re way further we thought we’d ever be. There’s places we’d love to play but can’t because of the way the country or government is, but we’ll play anywhere. I mean, South Africa is a good example… Before we went there, we only heard that Have Heart and Shipwreck played there, and Horse The Band on their insane world tour. Bands just don’t go there, and even our friends in Parkway Drive, who’ve traveled all over the world, haven’t been to South Africa.

What have been true highlights for The Ghost Inside since the last release?

Groezrock festival. We had the expectation that it was gonna be good, but when we went on stage we were completely blown away. No barriers, kids singing every word to every song, stage diving, and everyone just going crazy. That was the best show we ever played and the most fun I ever had on stage.

When we did the Returners headline tour last November we played a sold out show at Chain Reaction, which is the bands home venue. It’s a place where we were the opening band for years and we saw bands that we love playing big shows there, like Bleeding Through. So to go there and play that shows that was sold out pre-sale… The minute we went on stage it was absolute chaos. To play a show like that, at a place where you grew up, going to shows, that was definitely the highlights since the release of Returners.

You, Jonathan, have done quite some guest vocal performances in the mean time. One of our readers was wondering which one you enjoyed most.

I get asked a lot, and I don’t know why people like my voice so much, because I’m literally just yelling at the top of my lungs. I did Close Your Eyes, Stray From The Path, Heights… I can’t really say that I favor one over the other, as all bands have such different styles. I guess they chose me, because of my raw/low voice and it just balances well with their vocals.

Do you prefer playing in a small, packed venue or big festivals/halls?

This is a hard question for us to answer, because we all grew up in the local hardcore scene. So to us there is a familiarity with playing a short stage with no barriers and if there are 200 kids in the room it feels crazy. We’ve been really lucky to come in this world where we play for 2000 kids and there’s barriers and security. You’re 10 feet up in the air and that’s amazing too. Or a big festival like Full Force Festival, there is no way to replicate the feeling of playing for 5000 people yelling: “what do you stand for?” There is nothing that matches that, but at the same time there is nothing that matches the feeling of playing in an oversold bar, super sweaty, the kids literally in your face while you play. There’s something magical about that too. They’re two completely different worlds that we both love.

Which upcoming band would you recommend to our readers?

I would say… for hardcore bands we’re a little bit out of the loop, as we listen to a good amount of pop-punk bands. But I’d say Betrayal and Deserters. Both bands are on Mediaskare Records. And I’m (Jonathan) boring; I listen to the same Saves The Day record every day. [Everyone laughs]

All photos are taken by © Jens Quasten •

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