Markus Hauschild

On Their New Album, The Ghost Inside Got to Take Their Time

Although the metalcore band took their time on the LP and were strategic about such, they were still quick to take a good handful of the new songs on the road.

Nine years since the harrowing bus accident that killed their driver and those in the 18-wheeler their bus collided with, The Ghost Inside have returned to touring full time. Such a traumatic event can cause anyone to quit, butThe Ghost Inside spent years persevering, and it shows through their performances. The band has spent their whole career working towards this moment of triumphant return as both determined, genuine people and real, dedicated musicians.

The Ghost Inside is officially back.

Not only is the band back on road, but they have a new record out, too, which dropped a few weeks ago. Searching For Solace is the band’s sixth studio album and one of the most ambitious yet. The choruses are catchier than ever before and every verse sees vocalist Johnathan Vigil pushing his range and forgoing boundaries. This album is filled with heavy music that doesn’t blend into each other; every track sticks out and has its own turning the metal core gene on its head.

Now that they are back and more vibrant than ever, it’s clear that The Ghost Inside is here to redefine metalcore. We spoke to guitarist Zach Johnson about that, and about how exciting everything is right now for a band we’ve all felt for and have all been waiting to see headline again.

Searching For Solace is out now, so how are you feeling?

Myself and the rest of the guys are so pumped. We started working on that record in December of 2022. It’s awesome to be out there and to be able to play some of these songs live. We’ve had a really good response to it so far, so we’re really happy to be out here, finally able to put out a record, and tour on it right away. It’s awesome. 

I know there was a huge gap with the self titled record, but now this is a very short gap. It’s very cool for fans to experience new Ghost Inside so quickly. 

Yeah! We put out the self titled record in 2020 when we kept hearing that COVID would only last a few more weeks, maybe another month. We weren’t able to play any of those songs for a year-and-a-half! So, yes, it’s great to have a plan come together and work out!

This record is your fourth album with Epitaph records. Tell me about that partnership and why you keep it going.

I can’t say enough good things about Epitaph. All of us grew up in the punk and hardcore scenes, so that was always a dream label to be on. They have been so supportive of us in the good times [and] the bad times. After our bus accident, they raised money for us, they gave us 100% of our merch and royalties. We actually had to tell them, “Hey, we’re back to being a band again, you don’t have to pay us like this.” 

They’re so supportive and they’ve had ears on this record the entire time. They’re super pumped on it. They’re the kind of label where if we ask for feedback they’ll give it to us, but they’ll never tell you what to do with your art. It’s just cool to be on such a legendary label. We’ll never go anywhere else with our band.

Wow, that is wonderful to hear! I had no idea the support Epitaph gave you guys after the bus accident. I imagine having a label in your corner during that difficult time had to mean the world. 

They’re publicly very supportive, but they’re privately very supportive, too. I know for a fact that if anyone in the band or the crew had any big life issues, they’d be the first people to help out. It sounds cheesy, but they feel like family more than a business partnership… because they really are. We got to know everyone at the label over all the years and they’re great to us. We can’t say enough good things. We literally could never say one bad thing or even find one bad thing with Epitaph. It’s a dream scenario for a band like us. 

There are so many horror stories about labels – major, independent, and more – that go back-and-forth, so it is refreshing to hear the good stories, as well. 

When I started in music, and even now, I still hear those horror stories that people deal with. Especially when family and friends say, “Oh, you’re in the music business. You have to deal with shady people and record labels.” I’m like, “You know what? We come from a place of privilege with that. We don’t have that problem.” We have a lot of friends on Epitaph, too: Parkway [Drive], Architects, and everyone says the same thing about Epitaph! None of us have problems and Epitaph only gives solutions. 

Perfect! Diving back into the new record, I want to ask some song-specific questions. This album has some of the catchiest choruses we’ve ever heard on a Ghost Inside album. 

Well, thank you! We’ve been branching out and we did things a little different this time. In the past we’ve worked with one producer: Jeremy [McKinnon] from A Day To Remember. Jeremy has been a producer on our last couple of records. We love Jeremy. Jeremy kills it. He was super busy over the last year with A Day To Remember stuff, though, and he’s a dad, you know? Instead, we reached out to a few friends that we know are producers; people we know and whose work we like. 

Dan Braunstein was the main guy we worked with. He was great in bringing things out of Vigil vocally that Vigil didn’t even really know he had in him. Then we worked with Cody from Wage War – we did a couple songs with him. We worked with Tyler Smith on a song. We bounced around working with different people. We did all these little writing trips. We got to see and hear different people’s ideas for what they think TGI could be. There’s not a note, a song, or a riff on the record that we don’t love. It was nice being able to branch out and try new things. It felt like hanging out with your friends and messing around with music. I feel like it really came together and the record is cohesive. It has new flares that we hadn’t tried, but still has classic remnants of TGI.

Exactly! You can just look at a track like “Cityscapes” where it starts off slow and gradually builds; it’s something from the band we’ve maybe heard a little bit of, but never to this level of impact. 

We got to really take our time. In the past, especially when we were touring eight to nine months of the year we would go into record a record with a few songs and a couple riffs. This time we really got to take our time. We’d leave the studio with a pretty-much-done song that we got to sit on and listen to. For example, what you just brought up, “Cityscapes,” didn’t even start as a song. We were going to make an interlude track to go between songs and then it just organically came together. We had that little guitar riff start slow and our drummer Andrew actually started humming something over it. Then the song just kind of fell out of us. It’s a band favorite on the record. 

Are you going to play it on this upcoming tour stopping at Starland Ballroom on May 2?

We love Starland! We’re not playing that track just yet, though. We are playing all four of the singles, but we’re not doing “Cityscapes” just yet. We’re going to give it a little time to marinate. 

Gotcha! The breakdown on “Wrath” is probably one of the heaviest, dirtiest, and best that we’ve ever heard from The Ghost Inside. When you all are writing stuff like this, do you have to workshop, “No – it’s not brutal enough. We need more.”

[Laughs] For the heavy parts, that stuff comes second nature to us! It’s been what the band was built on. “Wrath” came together real quick for us in the studio actually. We did that one with Dan, too. Dan comes from a heavy music background. He was an original member in Volumes and he does Spiritbox and a ton of other bands’ heavy bits. We’re always going to have heavy shit like that. We’re also starting to explore going lower for some tunings on these songs. We have stuff that’s in F# and G, which is a lot lower than we used to go. We’re getting to try a lot of stuff  and see what works/feels good.

Yeah, I can’t wait to play “Wrath” live. It’s not in the setlist yet, but there will be opportunities for it this year… I’ll say that.

That is so exciting! I know we touched on it, but Jeremy Mickinnon from A Day To Remember has produced the last three Ghost Inside records. He has not produced this on,e but I do want to ask about touring with A Day To Remember in 2022. With a partnership there that has such a long history, what was it like to go on tour with each other?

They’ve been taking us on tour for a long time, but that tour was super special because that was our first time getting back on a bus. That only happened because of A Day To Remember. They knew we were toying around with getting back on a bus and doing some dates. They offered us that tour, which was a couple weeks on and off. It was us, Beartooth, and Bad Omens. It was such a cool tour. They were like, “Hey, no pressure, but we want to have you guys out. We know you’ve been wanting to try getting back on a bus and seeing how things go. You’re always going to have a place with us. We have this tour coming up and we’d think it’d be easy if you tried it.”

The first couple of nights – I’ll be honest – we were all pretty nervous. People didn’t sleep great. Then it started to feel a little closer to normal for us. By the end of it we were like, “Fuck, I wish we would have done the full thing!” Those guys have always championed us. They’ve always been great friends on stage and off stage. Them taking us on that tour was the catalyst for us saying, “Alright – let’s do another full US tour. Let’s get back at it more.”

Do you think without that tour you guys would have taken longer to get back on the road for a full US tour?

Very possibly! After the third show is when we all looked at each other and thought we all could do this again. The first thing we did was text our manager, who is the same manager as A Day To Remember, and said, “Hey, I think we’re ready to do this again. Start putting feelers out that we’d love to put together a tour.” Then we did our tour with Underoath last year which was our first full US tour again. I do not think we’d be touring like we’re touring right now without that A Day To Remember run. 

That is beyond special for a band you have a long history with. Now, obviously you are on tour now, so tell me about the show you have built currently to those who may or may not have tickets yet to Starland Ballroom here in New Jersey. 

It’s really fun! Tonight is Night Three in Denver, so the train is rolling and everything’s going smooth. We’re playing some new songs we just released on Searching For Solace and then we have a really great setlist. We have stuff all the way back to the first record like the first song the band ever put out. The most recent stuff the band has put out, of course, too, and we have an awesome tour package with Paleface Swiss, a super heavy band, and Bleed From Within, a great heavy metal band from the UK. They’re adding some melody, too. Great American Ghost kicks ass – they’re popping the night off. I know everyone in that area is familiar with them, too. It’s a really good tour package. We’re having a lot of fun. The new songs feel great. It’s a solid setlist that everyone is going to be happy with. We are excited to get back to Jersey.