If you know anything about me at all it is that the genre of pop-punk and alternative rock is my absolute go-to. But every now and then I vibe with artists that choose to employ noise and melody a bit differently than distorted riffs and gang vocals. I came across spookyghostboy recently and my mind was immediately put at ease upon hearing the mellow Noise In My Head, and I was delighted to find out there's quite a substantial discography on Spotify.
Since a video interview didn't work out due to scheduling while he toured the UK with Cavetown earlier this month, I had the chance to ask Austin Thomas, the Nashville-based indie rocker behind the project, a few questions about his music and live performances via email. Enjoy!
Eyes Closed: You just put a new song called Hello It’s Me and the story behind it is pretty unconventional. Can you tell me about how it came together and whether that was while you were struggling with the headaches or in the aftermath of it?
spookyghostboy: Yeah, I actually wrote the song a long time after I experienced that. I hadn’t planned on writing about it, but was working on the demo for the songs & all of the lyrics came kind of naturally. I feel like most of the time I don’t consciously choose my subject matter, it just kind shows up.
I read that another recent song of yours, Two Door Car, is based on your experience of sleeping in your car when you felt too claustrophobic in your shared apartment and that you romanticize the experience now. What about that time is it that you feel nostalgia for? Did writing the song help you get over that a little bit?
Hmm, I don’t really feel nostalgic about anything specific in that period of my life. I’ve just always felt very strong nostalgia in general. I wrote that song about how for me even when there isn’t anything worth remembering fondly, time passes & that alone makes it feel romanticized.
I'm a mega nostalgic person myself so I can definitely relate. And are you the sort of artist who is completely transported back to the feeling they had when a song was created when playing them live?
Honestly no, not at all! At least very rarely. I usually am pretty focused on the technical aspects of performing whenever I’m on stage. Occasionally I zone out a little bit & see myself from 3 miles up. When that happens I can sometimes feel like I’m really living in the song.
I can imagine, you're pretty busy multitasking up there. I heard you say you prefer playing with a full band rather than solo. What’s the dynamic like when you’re with your band and what do you miss about them the most when they’re not on the road with you?
I definitely enjoy full band more. It’s a more enjoyable experience just on a personal level, having all of my friends around me on and off stage. But more than that, most everything I’ve written is written to be listened to with a full band arrangement. I’ve found some ways to get around that a little bit, but you can never replace the energy of a full band.
I'd have to agree! And so I tend to see people who write songs that are quiet and dreamy (which, I hope is fair to say about your music?) rather than noisy and shreddy as serious, introverted people. This isn’t always the case - where do you fall on the spectrum, and how does this affect your work and life as a musician?
I think that’s fair to say about my music! I don’t know exactly where I fall on the spectrum. I definitely recharge by spending time alone, but I like being around other people as much as I can. Sometimes I feel serious, but other times I feel the complete opposite. Right now I feel pretty serious. As for being a musician, touring socially drains me pretty fast so perhaps that’s one of the ways I get affected.
I'm 100% with you there, I find being around people 24/7 very draining. My next point might touch upon that as well a little bit, you moved around a lot before settling down in Nashville. Do you feel you’ve found where you belong, both in terms of music and maybe personally as well?
Well, I really don’t think I have. Both in music and personally. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I think that maybe the byproduct of moving around every few years growing up is that you feel like you have to move on to the next thing. I’m feeling that now a little bit.
I read that on your previous European tour, you spoke to random people near the venue of each city, just to have a conversation with a stranger. How did you pick which person to talk to, and what was an amusing, interesting or insightful encounter?
Haha yeah I did do that! I mean, usually they were people that had just been at the show so it was easy to start a conversation. I just walked up to whoever was standing around and started talking (maybe seemed crazy). Hmm, I remember having a conversation with a guy after a festival in the 10 minutes before getting off stage and getting in the van to drive off of the site. We got into a really intense philosophical conversation and then I had to immediately be dragged off to leave. I just thought the intensity and brevity of that little conversation was really funny.
Sometimes you have those encounters that really feed you, although in the grand scheme of things, they don't mean much, but they leave you with a great memory. I really don't have a great segue for this last question, so last but not least - on your Instagram you posted some pics and the last one when swiping through was a framed picture of Tiger Woods and a blond lady - what’s the deal with that?
It’s Tiger Woods & his ex wife! Do other people not have pictures of Tiger Woods & his ex wife?
I’m choosing an extravagant picture frame for the purpose of this as we speak! Seems like I've missed out! Thanks for the chat, I’m excited to see what the new year brings for you!
Check out Hello It's Me right here, right now.