While some of us are just getting used to the idea that a new year has begun, The Gift Of Ghosts haven’t had time since the ball dropped to pause and reflect back on the passing days. Spending time in the studio and living in a routine of band practice for several upcoming shows, there’s no better way to start the New Year than with a packed schedule. Also, a new discovery was made for this young band while writing and recording new material. For singer Ray Berly, guitarist Alex Kouvatsos, bassist Rich Wagner and drummer Michael Galgano, the band has come across the perfect recipe for defining who they are.
It’s been a little over two years that TGOG has been playing together under this name, yet their ties go back a bit further. Crossing paths while in school and working on past projects, there was a familiarity already in place between these musicians in coming together. They have only just released their first EP titled In The Nick Of Time last year, but could not provide a definite answer on when a new record will be available. Laying the groundwork for the direction of their sound, TGOG are building upon their take on hardcore music while adding in new elements
Having just wrapped up band practice and most likely still feeling the energy buzzing in his system, Kouvatsos took time to introduce what TGOG is all about, what they’ve been up to recently and why dreams aren’t just for bedtime.
What is the meaning behind the band’s name?
Well, the name was originally inspired from a lyric from a song by the side project of the singer of Converge. We fell in love with the idea of it being a band name and the name was pretty much set in stone before our music was.
I was checking out all your video updates from your time at Chango Studios. Should we be looking out for a new record soon?
We went there to record an EP. This could definitely, potentially be for a new record; we’re trying to figure all that stuff out now. It might be released as an EP or held out to be released for a full length.
How have you guys evolved with this new material from your EP In The Nick Of Time?
We feel like In The Nick Of Time was a learning experience for all of us. We were trying to figure out who we are, what we’re about and what we wanted to sound like. We were also a little ‘shy’ in a sense—not putting ourselves out there lyrically and almost putting everything into a third person point of view. With our new songs, we put our walls down and really allowed the listener to see what we’re all about. We wanted our fans to feel something real, and with these new songs we’re able to share that with them.
Do you feel you’ve gone in a new direction with the latest material and can fans find any new elements or techniques they haven’t heard before?
Yeah, we definitely went for a heavier sound, but with a fun, upbeat feel. One thing we’ve always wanted to do from the start is incorporate more electronica into our music, so we played around with that in the studio and we’re really happy with how everything came out.
You have Cameron Mizell doing all the recording, producing and mixing with this new material?
Our drummer Mikey tracked all of our pre-production. We kept a good amount of the samples that we were able to make on the album. Cameron recorded and produced all of our final songs and we couldn’t have been happier with the outcome. He’s a great producer and even better guy.
How is it working with Cameron? Is he pulling out anything from you guys that you hadn’t thought of before?
We were nervous before we started working with him, we didn’t know what to expect. He is the coolest guy ever. He was really into our music and there was nothing but positive energy. He helped us a lot with our samples—he’s so creative and inventive with his samples and that’s one of the main reasons we wanted to work with him. Cameron and Ray worked really well together on vocal ideas as well. All the vocal overdubs and harmonies were shared ideas of Cameron and Ray.
With In The Nick Of Time, was there an outside producer or did you guys do the recording and producing?
Yep, that EP was all self-recorded and produced. We did all of our pre-production and recorded it at a local studio in our friend’s shed. The quality wasn’t the greatest but it helped us get on our feet and get our name out there.
I was watching your documentary from the studio. You mentioned that you had to re-discover TGOG’s sound. What was going on behind the scenes in writing the new material?
There were a lot of endless nights in our home studio. We had a whole new perspective on writing songs and how to get our message heard.
Do you all have different sources that you draw from when you come together to write?
Yeah, we’re all into different types of music and we all try to bring a little something to the table without it clashing.
How do you feel the new material will define your sound?
It’s hard to really define our sound, but if I were to try, we have a really good mix right now of heavy energetic parts mixed with melodic parts. We want our lyrics to hit hard, so having that strong structure helps.
Who is the primary lyricist? Is there more of a personal or fictitious approach in writing lyrics?
Our vocalist Ray writes all of our lyrics. In our past EP In The Nick Of Time, most of our lyrics were pretty much short stories, written in a third person point of view. With our new lyrics, it’s a lot easier on the listener to relate to, mostly because we’re putting everything out there.
In watching your studio updates, Ray has ‘Dreamin’ Man’ tattooed on him and “I am the maker of my dreams” are prominent lyrics in the new song, “I, The Architect.” Will that be a theme for the upcoming new material?
Definitely. It’s a strong message that we stand for, and has definitely become a theme for our new material. Never stop chasing your dreams.
Do you guys find yourselves day dreaming a lot?
About the band? Not anymore, everything is starting to become more of a reality. It’s no longer a dream for us. We know this is going to be a career.
You guys have listed online all the bands you’ve shared the stage with up to this point. Do you have a dream tour lineup in mind?
We love all the bands that we’ve been able to play with. We love the dudes in Sleeping With Sirens, For All Those Sleeping and any show we get to play we always make new friends.
You can catch The Gift Of Ghosts at Dingbatz in Clifton, NJ, on Sunday, Feb. 12. For more information, go to thegiftofghosts.tumblr.com.