Music interview: Ghosts of Sunset

The fourth band to feature on my Music Interview Marathon is American rock n’ roll duo Ghosts of Sunset, who tell us about their love of music across the decades and their hope to perform live again in the near future.

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Band Name: Ghosts of Sunset
Members: John Merchant (vocals, guitar, co-writer) & Todd Long (drums, bass, guitar, co-writer)
Genre: Rock n Roll
Founded: 2019
Originated From: Ludington, Michigan/Anchorage, Alaska USA
Discography: Miles In Between (single), Never Goodbye (single) & Headed West (EP, 2020)

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How would you describe your music?

Our music has its roots in the 1980s “Hair Metal” scene in Los Angeles California, but encompasses all the influences we have acquired over 30+ years of making music and lifetimes of listening.

We definitely pull from many different styles and influences but, together we have a love for the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s hard rock scene.

What is your musical creative process like?

Typically, we will start with a riff or idea then start to build on it. Once we get a musical foundation, we’ll work on lyrics, melody and storyline. As we work on those respective areas, we’ll simultaneously add instrumentation that moves our storyline forward or creates movement and tension.

Since we both live in two different states, we send files back n forth via file sharing. Sometimes we even use the voice memos on our phones to bounce ideas off one another.

How did the band form?

John – Todd and I have been friends and bandmates since high school. I approached him with the idea of a concept EP based on the 1980s “hair metal” scene we grew up on and all that it took to make the gamble to move to Los Angles and make music on the Sunset Strip.

Todd – Since we both grew up together, I obviously knew what John was going for. I immediately jumped on board and said yes! Then once we started asking other “established” musicians to come in and contribute it even got more fun.

How did you come up with your band name?

Our name is first an homage to the artists of the West Coast scene we grew up on, but it’s a tip of the hat to all the great music that sprang from the Sunset Strip. That includes artists as diverse as Motley Crue and Ratt, to the Byrds, the Eagles, and the Doors.

Who influenced you within the music industry?

Certainly, any artists we listened to who made great songs. We grew up in an era where sometimes image was placed above content, but the artists who endured were the ones who wrote great songs. We will always bow down to great songs. It didn’t matter if it was The Beatles. Duran Duran or Poison. You can’t deny a good song!

Have you performed live much and what was your favourite gig to play at?

John – In the past 30 years Todd and I have made music across several genres and been able to tour the country. I think my favourite gigs are always the ones where there’s a true exchange between the artist and the audience. When it has a personal feeling to it and the energy on each side of the equation is positive and focused in the same direction.

Todd – John and I have always loved being on stage together. Sometimes we didn’t really fit in with the other guys on stage. Musically we did but we both love to be animated and sometimes we stuck out like a sore thumb!

What is the best thing about being in a band?

John – People. Sharing something personal with other human beings. Meeting strangers who become friends based on a love you both have for music.

Todd – I love the stage and being creative. I love being in a “studio” but sometimes tensions seem to rise, and it makes it less fun for myself. I don’t do well in those situations.

What’s the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome so far as a musician(s)?

The usual things. Money is a huge issue in our business because the revenue streams are so erratic. Trying to keep quality high and set yourself apart from others in a world where anyone with a laptop and recording software calls themselves a songwriter.

What plans have you got coming up this year?

We’d love to see our country get a handle on the coronavirus and get out on the road for some limited dates and touring. We’re working on a full-length album right now, which we’re hoping to release on Golden Robot Records in 2021.

What is your ultimate dream as a band?

To make a comfortable living writing, recording and performing music. To always keep pushing and bring joy to other humans.

You can find out more about Ghosts of Sunset by visiting Golden Robot Records’ website or by following them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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If you’re in a band or a musician and would like to appear on this blog, please contact me and I’ll forward you an interview template.

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