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A Dirty Dozen with GHOSTS OF SUNSET – August 2022

| 9 August 2022 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “American pop metal duo GHOSTS OF SUNSET have released their debut full length album, No Saints In The City, through Golden Robot Records.  Singer / guitarist John Merchant and multi-instrumentalist Todd Long (ex-Verve Pipe) first came to attention in 2020 with their self-released and well received six song EP, Headed West which initially brought them to the attention of the growing Australian label.” We get the duo to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Todd: Our latest Ghosts of Sunset release is titled No Saints In The City. It kind of takes you on a darker journey of the inner belly of “city life.”  Drugs, Gangs etc.… all the stuff you hear the inner city being. The good bad and the ugly. The lyrics to “If You’re Not Coming Back” is a true hidden gem for me. John really nailed it. Everyone can relate to it somehow.

John: I think No Saints In The City offers some “ear candy” and some “brain candy.” Meaning, musically, we’re big on creating parts and textures, so a spin through with some headphones reveal lots of little guitar lines or effected tones that sort of spin around the stereo field a bit. Lyrically/conceptually, I think we strive for the stories to be universal, so listeners are able to seek out their personal connection to the characters and stories that live on the album.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Todd: I remember being in 5th grade and walking to a buddy’s house after school. All of us were talking how we should start a band. It was all cuz of the band The Police. They were on the cover of a magazine here in the states call Song Hits.

John: I can’t ever remember NOT wanting to be a musician. There was just never a moment when I thought, “I want to be a policeman or a cowboy.” I just always wanted to make music. My dad was a musician so that certainly planted the bug early, but one of the earliest photos ever taken of me shows a big, yellow, plastic guitar in my hands. My heroes have always been musicians.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Todd: For me, The Police made me wanna be in a band. Kiss was my all-time favorite, but Poison and Rikki Rockett made me want to become a rock star! Still waiting…

John: The Beatles, The Beatles, The Beatles. That was the blueprint, that was the inspiration, that was the goal. All I wanted to talk about was music. I could tell you the stats of a single athlete, I can’t tell you who won the big game, but I knew who George Martin. It made me terribly out of step with my peers.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Todd: For me probably Desmond Child. He knows how to write a hit song!

John: It always changes because I love a good song and there’s so many out there. Right now, I think it would be nice to spend some time with Butch Walker.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

Todd: I just like to be at home with my family.

John: I run, watch a TON of documentaries. Recently I watched “Bill W.” about the founder of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. It was nice to learn more about a man that I never met who helped save my life.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Todd: Pop Rock with an 80’s flare to it! We definitely wear our influences on our sleeves.

John: Honestly, I think people who listen to our music hear our influences and we fly them pretty proudly. We want people to know where we came from. We’re an 80’s influenced rock n roll band that’s open to a wide range of influences from every generation of great music. We always hail a good song.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Todd: Been a bit since John and I hung out for a long period of time. We both live in different states. I’m in Florida and he’s in MI. When we were in our last band together it was the bassist who did the cooking.

John: Todd and I spent time on the road when I was a full-blown, practicing alcoholic. I think my behavior wore him out along with everyone else. I was pretty hard to spend time with. “A loose cannon” is what they call it.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Todd: Probably when Tracii Guns from LA Guns agreed to play on one of our tracks “Never Goodbye.” I cut my hair off cuz of the “Ballad of Jayne” video. He was always a super cool player to me and to have him on one of our tracks was mind blowing.

John: Starstruck is a strong word, but every single artist that played on our material had some role in my love of music and I’m forever in their debt. I watched some of these guys on MTV. I planned my life around catching their music video or hearing them on the radio.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Todd: I love the songwriting process but the stage is where I feel the most comfortable. If I wasn’t doing music I would probably try and be a chef.

John: If I couldn’t be a musician, I’d love to work behind the scenes in one way or another. Again, it’s always been music.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Todd: I honestly can’t think of one. Hmmm, nothing comes to mind. As far being tired of answering questions? I’m not tired of it at all. I feel very lucky to do it!

John: If someone is asking, I’m more than happy to answer. It means the world that people are interested in something I love so much.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Todd: I think we would’ve listened to the advice we were given in our previous band. We missed a lot of opportunities to being stubborn.

John: So many. I came to a million crossroads in this game, and so many times people were screaming, “go left, go left” and I’d immediately go right. Then I’d get ½ way down the trail and be too far gone to turn around.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Todd: I would’ve loved to be a part of the Def Leppard Hysteria session for sure. Just to see how Mutt Lange worked!

John: The Beatles and George Martin for sure. Would love to work with all the amazing producers. Mutt Lange, Andy Johns, Butch Walker. So many.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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