I first caught word of Polterghost somewhere around news of the tour with Yuck. Appreciating the paranormal name nod, it was during Thanksgiving when an early test listen to an impressive piece of pop distortion called “Phantom Pain” found its way to me from the Londoners. A band known with formal ties to bands fixated on 90s audio artistry, Polterghost shuffles the affectations of bygone decades in a Rolodex for a sound heavier than flannel the band called, “a representation of us playing live”.
And then the London three piece of Jock Norton, Kit Jennings, and Danny Ward dropped the cloud of “Holy Smoke” on us. Those blistering and bloodshot guitars grind against the speaker cage cover as the verses bring star-eyed deliveries and reigned-in gentle cat purr riffs. The “Holy” part of the song takes roots in the celestial sprung romanticism where the “Smoke” are those ghoulish billows that beckon upward from the towering guitar infernos on the lead in, chorus, and elsewhere. Together they create a codified recipe to take us to back to the time when the digital compact disc was the leader in audio technology, from the Marshall stacked growl and the slacker love note lyrics of, “let me in, sink me teeth into your skin if you like me too”.
Polterghost take their cues from the years when punk broke, and all the times when the indie folks got over their fears of the shredding guitar solo. Jock's screeching licks scrape like a Brillo pad against Kit's bass thumps and Danny's drums, injecting “Holy Smoke” with anarchy between candy eyed power-pop. The 'Ghosts storm with a ruckus ready to slay dragons, in between Jock's crushed out poetry couplets that sound like gifts of daisies knicked from a nearby neighbor's garden patch. “It's in your smile, I can see it in your style”. Polterghost give us a great promise here with an audio glimpse of great UK rock for 2014.
Polterghost exchanged some cables with us to talk about the band's beginnings, their original working title band name, their recording process and album progress report, stories on touring with Yuck, songwriting with Yuck's Max Bloom, insights on new Gross Magic material, and still much more…
First up, tell us how you all met up and started Polterghost.
We've all been friends for years. We went to school together and have been in and out of various bands together since we were 12, and Polterghost is the latest thing we've been doing. We started rehearsing together at the beginning of the year and we're really enjoying it so far. People seem to be digging it.
What's the story behind the name? Ghost and geist enthusiasts?
No more than your average person. We were gonna be called Bonus Trax up until the 11th hour and we decided Polterghost fitted the heavier stuff we were doing better, which is the stuff we decided to pursue a bit more. It's not an amazing name but it's fine.
Fans of the classic, Poltergeist flick?
Yeah man that movie's great. The name wasn't an homage to that though.
Heard about your recent tour with Yuck, how did it go?
Yeah really great. It's awesome seeing Ed playing with them now too. He's a really really old friend of ours and we've known the Yuck guys for years so it was just a big bunch of friends hanging out which is always nice.
Any favorite or cherished moments that come to mind?
We got an eight hour coach from Liverpool to Glasgow, played a gig, then got a coach back to London that night. That was my least favorite moment.
With former frontman Daniel Blumberg doing his Hebronix thing, was there any sort of collaborative air?
Not quite sure what you mean by that… You mean with the new Yuck line up? I actually did a little bit of writing with Max [Bloom] on “Glow And Behold”. It wasn't much but i did some lyrics and vocal melodies on a few tracks. All his music was done though and it was still very much his thing. I guess it must have felt weird striking out on his own without Daniel straight away so I think it was more just a case of having someone there rather than “bringing in the big guns” or whatever. I really enjoyed working on it though and it was lovely to see the songs live, especially “nothing new” which is my favourite song on the record.
Now the single “Phantom Pain”, we got this specter motif still ghosting around, and there is some emotional delivery that really brings the pain. What was writing and recording this cool number like?
Thank you! Yeah it's one of my favorite songs of ours. It's the only one I scream in! We recorded it the same way we've done everything so far which is just us three live in a room with vocals and the occasional overdub afterwards. It was pretty quick really. I just wanted it to sound a bit crackly and distorted, but other than that just a fairly simple representation of us playing live.
What can you tell us about the full length you're recording and writing now?
It's all written and 99% recorded. We're doing a tiny bit more this week and then it's just a bit of mixing. Hopefully it'll be done before January and then we'll just see if anyone wants to put it out. I'm really proud of it though. I'm just really excited to have an actual album. Like I said it's pretty much all live. We purposely avoided loads of effects and extra instruments and stuff. We just wanna have it sound like us playing live at our best. In a well.
Who are some of your other UK peers that you all really like?
I've been listening to new Gross Magic material which is fucking incredible. Sam is such a talented musician and i can't wait for people to hear it. Also Van Stonhold, who moonlights as bassist in Gross Magic has been making some incredible music. It's like Neil Young meets The Residents. Also Danny (our drummer) plays in another band called RES who are well worth checking out. Sort of UMO type stuff but really melodic and gentle. They'll be making waves soon I think. Oh and everyone on Hate Hate Hate. Theo Verney and The Wytches are incredible.
Describe for us the state of the indie UK scenes.
In London there's a lot of electronic acts who seem to be getting most of the headlines, but I think that's the case world wide. Certainly in America. It's cool though because it makes you feel a bit more like a weird outsider if you play guitar music that isn't like stadium rock. I'm just trying to write the sort of music I'd like to listen to really. I'm not too bothered by what other people are doing. Unless they're doing better than us.
Winter and New Years plans for Polterghost?
I'm fucking off to France for new year and trying to forget about our album for a bit. It's been driving me insane worrying about it so much, so when i come back it should all be done and dusted. Then I'll decide the whole thing's crap and get really paranoid and upset. But that's just the nature of the beast I guess.
Their full-length will be available in 2014.