Q&A - Cool Ghouls
Do not say the word ‘retro’…don’t even think it, damnit! Ok, if you find yourselves listening to Cool Ghouls on a sun blushed seasonal afternoon and that’s the word that bounces into your head, do not despair, you’ll be amongst many.
For this dreamy and tripped out San Franciscan four-piece, will evoke memories of times and cultures that have gone before. You could be transported to the summers of the 60s & 70s. You may visualise swirling and vibrant colours. You may see beautiful people with long unkempt, shiny hair dancing and swaying in homage to the sun. You may see peace signs and round, tinted glasses. If you are old, you’ll remember your youth and if you are young now you’ll wish you were young then because there is something in Cool Ghouls that is inspiringly familiar but strange enough to be exciting. However, there is also something modern, something live and vital in their music that transgresses the confines of mere nostalgia or straight-up pastiche.
With a new album out, Cool Ghouls will be packing up their most cherished portable possessions as they embark on a US and European tour. One of their stops will be Liverpool’s Psych Fest and we caught up with them to discuss their upcoming performance, working with Kelley Stolz and the essential rules to naked tennis.
Q. Hello, Cool Ghouls! How the devil are you? Indulge us (please) in answering a question you must have heard more times than Donald Trump’s heard the roar of a blow dryer: Can you tell us how you all met, how the band came together and what your ambitions were when you started out?
A. Well PT, PM, and RW all went to high school together then reconvened after college adding Alex to helm drums. We started jamming in an old basement off of 6th St. downtown (which has now been bulldozed to nothing). We didn't really have ambitions at first, we just knew we wanted to play with each other. Didn't even book a show till several moths after we started practicing.
Q. As part of your 2016 tour you will be playing at the Liverpool Psych-Fest this September, what can we expect to see from you?
A. We've been gelling really well on this US tour we're currently on so expect some epic jams. We'll be playing a lot from Animal Races, so expect a lot of different sounds and new surprises
Q. As part of the Liverpool Psych-Fest congregation, you are playing under the ‘psychedelic’ category banner. How do you see ‘psychedelia’ in context of your own music?
A. Well psychedelia for us is more of a train of thought or an experience. It's an expansive sort of thought. Being a live electric being is the main priority.
Q. Cool Ghouls hail from, San Francisco. Liverpool Psych-Fest has attracted musicians from all over the world. What do you think is behind the international appeal of psychedelic music?
A. There has definitely been a phenomena and recent fascination with "psychedelic" culture, it's kind of a hot button word nowadays. A lot of the artists on this bill are pushing for new noise, and that's exciting.
Q. Your new album, ‘Animal Races’ has just been released. What were your inspirations behind this work and what would you say were the differences to your earlier work?
A. Animal Races came out of a tough year for us. A couple of us went through bad break-ups, SF was continuing to be fucked by its newfound wealth, and worldly events leading up to now was just getting grim.
2 albums in we were much more focused on how we wanted to convey all this, so I'd say Animal Races is a much tighter album, definitely our best work yet.
Q. You worked with Kelley Stoltz (producer of ‘Animal Races’). How did this relationship come about and what does working with Kelley bring to the work?
A. This is actually the first time working with Kelley, our other two were recorded by Tim Cohen (Fresh & Onlys) and Sonny Smith (Sonny & the Sunsets) respectively. Kelley is just the man when it comes to recording, so many of our buddies had worked with him and it just seemed like the logical next step. He's truly a wizard in the studio, definitely helped us figure out what we were going for and added some playfulness to the record.
Q. The album art work for ‘Animal Races’ depicts something akin to a nudist tennis match-up. Who does the artwork for your albums and (just so that we can say we are being responsible for any younger readers) please detail three hazards one might come across when engaging in naked-based ball games.
A. Shannon Shaw (Shannon & the Clams) painted the artwork, it was based off of a dream that Pat Thomas had. Dangers of naked tennis...make sure to wear some sun screen, stretch, and keep an eye on the ball.
Q. Finally, what other bands/musicians are you looking forward to seeing at Liverpool Psych Fest?
A. Really excited to see Silver Apples, and it'll be great to see La Luz again. Honestly I just want to walk around and take in everything, it'll be our first time in Liverpool so it'll be a trip to see it in this light.