I always find the first line of these introductory pieces to be the hardest part, and this week was a lot harder than most. Trying to get any of you lot to pay any attention to me is difficult at the best of times, so for me to convince you to listen to the side project of a drummer who wears a plant pot on his head is going to be pretty tricky. Trust me though it’s worth it. Honest it is.
In case you don’t already know, Ghost Pants is the side project started by Paul Carlin of Dananananaykroyd and American Men fame. Back in May he released his first Ghost Pants EP, ‘Analogue Hearts’ as a free download on Bandcamp. If you haven’t already checked it out, then I would urge you to do so as it’s an awesome wee EP filled with a whole lot of lo-fi loveliness.
For me personally it takes me back to a time when I had just left school and I had just discovered the wonders of seeing Urusei Yatsura at King Tuts every other month.
His second EP, ‘Static Hearts’ followed swiftly after in June, raising the bar higher once again. Now with his latest EP ‘Active Hearts’ just released, and a full band behind him, Mr Carlin has decided to ‘release the beast’ as he and the rest of his cohorts will be making their debut live performance at next weeks inaugural ‘Peenko Tea Party’. As for why he chooses to sport a plant pot on his napper, you’ll just have to read on to find out…
Would you care to introduce yourself?
Greetings, my name is Paul, I’m possibly 32 by the time this goes to print and I’m a musician in a few bands.
How would you describe the music you make?
It’s definitely lo-fi, at least in nature. I grew up on the idea of home recordings… Thankfully, now I have a pretty great laptop that simplifies the recording process, but still allows me to indulge in my deepest, darkest 4-track tendencies. It’s basically indie rock with melodies based entirely in the spirit of lo-fi.
How did you come together as a band?
I recently decided that I wanted to start writing songs again after a 5 year break so I picked up my guitar and wrote the first EP in 2 days. The second EP took more time but was effectively a home effort and, buoyed by the lovely things people were saying about them, I decided to put a band together. Steve (bass) is my best pal and has been in bands with me before. I was keen to play with him again because I trust his ability to make magic happen on the low frequencies. Ally and Dave (guitarists) are cool dudes I met in the last couple of years who loved The Go-Betweens (Ally) or Low (Dave) and were better at guitar than me. It all made sense. EP3 was written with a full band in mind… i.e. I didn’t layer 39 guitar tracks on all the songs!
How did you start out making music?
Well, I’m a drummer first and foremost. First time I played a drumkit was in second year at secondary school. I played along to some Donna Summer song in music class (no idea why it was Donna Summer – perhaps my teacher foresaw the future) and the school decided I was the next Karen Carpenter. Although before that, I remember arranging six or seven pillows on my parents’ bed and whacking them in time along to a Big Country best of when I was about 8 or 9… I was, at least, aware of music from a very early age as my parents are musicians. As for guitar… I was about 15 before I even picked one up and hamfistedly taught myself… I’m still learning! I play ‘shapes’ rather than chords!
What process goes into the way you write songs?
The three EPs came together very quickly. Analogue Hearts was written in the shower! I just had some guitar riffs in my head and wanted to get them down before I forgot them… I usually write songs by accident… I’ll hear a melody or a riff and attempt to make a song out of it. Ghost Pants was originally meant to sound like Trans Am without the synths but it didn’t quite work out like that. I think I’m too ingrained in ’90s indie rock. I always write the music first and lyrics afterwards. For me, the guitar melodies are far more interesting the stupid lyrics about a dog going on holiday to the beach or Giorgios Samaras scoring a hat trick against Rangers or a Jacobean Revenge Play gone wrong or fancying Danny Dyer (actual lyrics).
Who are your big musical influences?
Gah… where to start? I grew up on Sebadoh, Pavement, Number One Cup, Urusei Yatsura and Lemonheads. Recently, I’ve been inspired by the success of Beach Fossils and Wild Nothing, only in the sense that I finally realised that the kind of songs I write are songs that people would actually listen to and enjoy… I honestly thought there was no room for lo-fi pop anymore until bands like that started getting press. Lou Barlow, however, is my hero and his Sentridoh albums have been an inspiration to me since I was 15. Also, I love the simplicity of Deerhunter’s songs and the way The Phantom Band can make a HUGE song out of one chord.
You’re already in two pretty successful bands, Dananananaykroyd and American Men, how did you find the time to go off and record what was originally a solo project?
This has been a fairly quiet year for Dananananaykroyd so the first couple of EPs were written pretty much as a result of our time off. David, our guitarist, made an amazing solo album, Bird Drums, and Calum, our singer, made a dreamy, lovely EP as Plus Bros. John, our other singer makes brilliant house music as Dolby Anol too. American Men have been pretty busy and that’s been great. Cool World, our EP, has done pretty well so we’ve done several shows… Ghost Pants doesn’t really need much attention. The songs just come and I like to record them as I write them… it’s sort of an aural music diary or something… if that doesn’t sound too pretentious.
I’m going to be crazy busy in 2011 with Dananananaykroyd but I’ll still be writing my own stuff in various Travelodge rooms across the country.
There seems to be a bit of a theme with all of your EP’s, with all of the titles containing ‘heart’ and the covers featuring yourself sporting a plant pot on your head. When are you going to run out first pots or words to associate with heart?
Hahaha, well… Active Hearts is the last ‘hearts’ EP. I’ve definitely run out of plant pots so that’s reason enough to put the ‘hearts’ thing to bed. I made these EPs all by myself but I’ve got a band now and, while I’ll still write and demo songs myself, I’d really like my pals to play on recordings from now on. I want Ghost Pants to be a band rather than Paul Carlin’s Ego Trip 2010. Analogue, Static and Active Hearts were all ‘of a time’ and I’m proud of all three but I’ve put that side of my brain to bed. I’m thinking of calling EP 4 ‘The Last Ever Ghost Pants EP’ and then releasing about 7 more. It would be ace to put something physical out sometime. Maybe a 7″. I’d really like to rerecord Light and Ghosting and stick them out on lovely vinyl.
There are a lot of hipster bands using ‘ghost’ in their name at the moment, eg, Holy Ghost!, Team Ghost, Glass Ghost. Does this make you just another hipster band then?
Yes. I’ve only got one gear on my fixie-bike. To be honest, all other bands with ‘ghost’ in their name can fuck right off. At least Ghost Pants has actual meaning behind it (except I’m too embarrassed to say what it is.)
You’re all set to make your first ever live appearance at the first ever Peenko ‘Tea Party’, what can people expect to see from your debut live show?
We’re all PUMPED for this. It’ll definitely be a lot more rock-o than what you’ve heard on the EPs. We’ll do stuff from all three, although the latest one (Active Hearts) has songs written with a full band in mind. I’d quite like to crowdsurf during the vocal part of ‘Fortress’ so if anyone is willing to make this happen, you’d be making an Ayrshire guy’s dream come true. Also, I’m utterly delighted to be playing a show with Burnt Island as their frontman, Rodge Glass, is a dear pal and ex-bandmate of mine. They’re wonderful and I’m so pleased that the first GP gig is with such a swell band.
What are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond? Do you plan to release any more EP’s in the future?
My head and heart’s going to be firmly embedded in Dananananaykroyd next year. I’m truly excited about our new album and the prospect of touring. HOWEVER, Ghost Pants will still exist. I’ll always be writing songs. Ideally, I’d like to put out a new EP around February and maybe play a show or two. I’m over the moon with the response to the EPs so far. Seriously, I could not have wished for such awesome reviews. It’s a treat to be able to do this and I’m grateful for every opportunity I get. Also, this blog is F&#KING GREAT. Thanks. Bye. X
If you fancy catching Ghost Pants then you’re in luck as they will be making their first ever live appearance at the first ever ‘Peenko Tea Party‘ at the Hidden Lane Cafe in Glasgow tomorrow (Thursday 11th of November), alongside the rather excellent Burnt Island. It’s a pretty small venue so make sure you get down nice and early to this one, to enjoy some cracking music whilst enjoying a fine wee cup of tea.
Ghost Pants’ three EP’s are all available to download now, the first two ‘Analogue Hearts’ and ‘Static Hearts’ are both free, with the latest offering ‘Active Hearts’ you ‘name your price’ for it.
If you haven’t already checked them out, I’d urge you to do as they are officially awesome.