Thursday, 10 November 2011

Interview: Ghost Outfit

You may have heard Manchester buzz band Ghost Outfit causing a clamour on Wilmslow Road buses, in art galleries or on record; all very lo-fi, guerrilla, DIY so far. When Now Then’s Ben Robinson decided to investigate further, frontman Jack Hardman told him about the ghosts of the band’s past, present and future.

Hallowe’en was the perfect time for the aptly named Ghost Outfit to release their new single Tuesday through Sways Records – hand knitted ghosts and all. Early in its musical life, the duo comprising Jack Hardman and Mike Benson has been branded with the currently trendy ‘lo-fi’ and ‘DIY’ tags, but the poltergeist-loving pair is now trying to move away from such labels by setting sights on taking the distorted shoegaze noise-pop further afield.

“I understand why we’re called [lo-fi], you can’t exactly call the earlier recordings anything but lo-fi; it was kind of lo-fi by necessity rather than associating it with the genre. It wasn’t really an attempt to recreate that genre it was more making what we could with the equipment that we had.”

Ghost Outfit are part of the Salford-based Sways Records and have also been championed by local promoters Underachievers Please Try Harder and MCR Scenewipe. They have been associated with the lo-fi re-emergence in Manchester of late along with countless other distortion loving, budget-sounding bands, such as Sex Hands, Former Bullies and Milk Maid; a trend owing a debt to love of nineties American indie.

“I’d have to say it’s all stemmed from the re-emergence of that scene of bringing back nineties American indie rock. And I like the fact that a lot of Manchester bands are putting a completely unique spin on it – they’re not trying to recreate the sounds of these American lo-fi bands.”

Ghost Outfit fell into this ramshackle DIY scene through a combination of need and bad experiences in the recording studio as they were starting out. After that experience, Jack says the band are heading to the studio for a lengthier process with their sights on moving away from previous lo-fi efforts.

“We want to get stuck into something a bit lengthier because we’ve not done that before, the two EPs we put out before this single are online. They were all sort of compilations we did over the space of nine months, so we want to do a long EP; that’s our next call.”

“We’re actually talking about polishing off a couple of songs and then going down in a couple of weeks to start recording at the Sways studio in Salford. Because it’s their studio we can kind of do what we’ve wanted to do for ages which is move in and stay there for like three or four days while we live there and do all the recording then fall asleep and stuff.”

“With the old EP we had no interest in going into a studio because we went into a studio early on as a band – one of those pay-per-day studios – and we just had a horrible experience of it. So we thought everyone’s doing it DIY at the moment so we’ll give that a go. We took that and sort of pushed that as far as we could go whilst still trying to be pop and yeah it was great, we had a great time doing it, but because the scene at the moment is very heavily lo-fi sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the people who’ve worked really hard to get it to sound interesting and lo-fi.”

Jack insists though that the band is wary of finding themselves as part of a ‘trend’ for the sake of sounding a particular way. For their future planned recording sessions they’ll be aiming for a sound that’s “nice and live”. So expect to hear a slightly different Ghost Outfit sound in their next releases.

“People like Chad VanGaalen have really tried to use lo-fidelity to their advantage, but then you get people who are the other way around. Like bands who stick a microphone as low as the reverb and distortion in the room and play into their microphone and they’re done in an hour or something.”

“And there’s merit to that but at the same time it allows bands to sound really trendy at very little effort on their own part. I think we’re looking at disassociating ourselves from lo-fi completely, we don’t want go for a really slick sound just nice and live in the studio.”

Words: Ben Robinson
Images: Simon Bray (Music photography)

No comments:

Post a Comment