Over the CMJ week, Modern Mystery got to catch up to the pulsating 60’s sounds of Ghost Wave.Based out of Auckland, New Zealand, the band projects unconcealed and organic reverberations, while administering room for pioneering layers of new age rock-n- roll. With this being their first-time tour in the states, Ghost Wave discuss the fluidity of their sound, getting hassled by panhandlers in Venice Beach, and continuously expanding their musical grounds.
***Due to an immense amount of city noise and static during the initial interview, the recording underwent a few transcribing errors. This article has been modified and re-edited since it’s first published version. ***
How did you initially come up with your band’s name?
Matt: We don’t actually know how it came up or what’s behind it, it kind of just eventuated. It has not specific meaning, maybe just holds a vibe.We came up with one song first, and then we needed a name, and then we needed a band after that!
How was your project formed? Were you all friends prior to the formation of Ghost Wave?
Matt: Well Eammon is from Wellington,, and he was making a ton of music, so he decided to move up to Auckland.I’d seen him play a couple times, and I was interested if we could collaborate and create similar sounds to the music that I was familiar and interested in. We had about four bass players before Mike came along.
Mike: I lived in the south part of New Zealand, and I used to be friends with another bandmate of Ghost Wave. I then ended up taking his place, and started playing with these guys.I didn’t really know them before I joined, we became friends after we started creating together.
Eammon: Yeah, I didn’t know Matt at all. We were just always going to each other’s shows.
Matt: I bugged Eammon quiete a lot to be my friend, haha!
When did you first begin writing music?
Matt: I was always interested in developing my own sound, and with our band we put our vibes together, mixing different intros and creating from that base. Mike’s parents are very musical. My Dad introduced me to records at a young age
Mike: I’ve been playing bass since I was about 11. My first band was called The Weeds.
Where did you get that idea from?
It was a band that was put together by our music teacher, when I was about 12 years old. I followed through and played in bands while I attended high school, and just kept kicking at it.
Eammon: I didn’t actually play drums until I came to be a part of Ghost Wave, and started jamming with Matt at his house. I’ve been playing instruments since I was really young.My first instrument was a keyboard, I jammed on casiotone quiet a lot.
This is your first time performing in America, have any of you visited New York before?
Mike:This is our first time performing outside of New Zealand.Eammon visited the states a few times before, but this is my first time being here!
Matt:I’ve never left New Zealand, this is my first time exploring.
How long was your flight and what did you mostly jam to on the plane?
Mike: It was a pretty exhausting because we had to fly through Melvin,and then back over New Zealand, and then finally to Los Angeles. It was about a 16-hour flight. I watched a bunch of movies.
Matt: I downloaded a pile of psychedic sitar rock jams, just something to keep me interested for such a long way.
Eammon: I got into this new age meditational music. There was this thing on the plane with a video and music, that helped you go to sleep. It kept repeating, just take a deep breath, just relax! I guess sometimes being on a plane can get pretty gnarly.
Mike: They also had skycam on the tail of the plane, and I watched the flight for a lot of the time.
Judging from your recent shows and first impressions, how would you say the NYC music scene differs from that of Auckland?
Matt: Haha, well the difference is that in New York there IS a scene.
Mike: Also, when we play in New Zealand there’s not a huge communication between us and the crowd.A lot of times it’s bands playing to each other.
Eammon:It’s nice to have a different audience here, and have people be a lot more forthcoming. It’s refreshing to be here.
So how does most of the promoting for bands work back home?
Matt:We’ve always taken the responsibility for the way our band is perceived and putting ourselves outwards.There are not a whole lot of outlets. There is a couple of websites where you can put your band’s poster up.It’s a lot more limited and restricted.
Prior to your arrival to New York City, you played two shows in Los Angeles, how did your first U.S. show with The Golden Awesome turn out?
Mike: Those guys are also from New Zealand.The show felt really natural and organic, it was really fun playing together, we truly enjoyed it.
Matt: A stage is a stage, haha!
Did you have enough time to venture out around Los Angeles?
Mike: We got hassled by some guy down in Venice Beach. He just started asking me to check out his music and buy his albums. He kept telling me “Check it out man, I’ll give it to you. Just give me a donation”. And then another guy came along, and I don’t even know how I ended up talking to all of them in the first place. I guess I can’t always be a nice guy.
Can you expand on central processes of making recently released self-titled debut EP?
Matt: There’s no formula to it, we come together and it sort of just evolves naturally. We can write parts with one-piece, two-piece, three-pieces fragments and then combine everything. It’s all very unstructured, but that’s what we’re going for. We also practiced a ton in this space which used to be a huge weed plantation. There were fake walls in the building when we initially arrived there. I’m pretty sure those people got raided by the police, and then the spot was converted for practice purposes.We have a new rehearsal space now though, we usually practice a couple of times a week. It’s at a place that was prior used for brewing whiskey.
Eammon: It’s nice not to have any noise restrictions, we can play as loud as we want, which is awesome.
What is the most exciting part about playing CMJ?
Matt: Well, we’ve always wanted to come to New York, whether it was for CMJ or not, so having the chance to play our music in the city has been great. We wanted to go explore festivals like SXSW and CMJ, and we’re glad to be a part of it.We’ve done shows before, but not for such a prolonged period as with this festival. New Zealand is so small, it’s refreshing to be able to check out different music scenes and get out of the comfort zone.
You can check out Ghost Wave’s tunes below
Interview by: Viktorsha Uliyanova
Photos: Skyler Smith