September 20, 2009

New Blood: Former Ghosts

This is an interview with Freddy Ruppert about Former Ghosts.

Family Time: From This Song is a Mess but so Am I to Former Ghosts you have changed your sound completely, but still most of your songs that I have heard stress sorrow and longing. Do you feel that the sadness has spilled over from your personal life, like in This Song is a Mess? Or do you find it most natural to create in that way?

Freddy Ruppert: It is kind of weird, but it seems that the only time I am actually able to create music is from an emotional place of sorrow. Anytime I am happy and I try and create something it just doesn't seem to work. Maybe someday, I hope that it will come naturally at some point in my life. I think I would like that a lot actually. It seems like for now though, I tend to use music as an outlet to express things that I have no other means to express. It seems when I'm really happy I over express that to people in many ways other than music. I would hate for people to get the idea that I'm a crazy depressed jerk because of my music; there is a lot more to my life than just these songs. A lot of my part within Former Ghosts comes from feelings of longing, love, and desperation. The biggest influence for me on the upcoming record is love at all of its most extreme points with a particular person.

FT: With that said, what is your favorite "sad"(for lack of a better word) record?

FR: I think my favorite "sad" record of all time is probably It'll End In Tears by This Mortal Coil. It's just brutal. Completely brutal.

FT: This Song is a Mess... albums were pretty lengthy, not in a bad way, but I have been finding more and more artists are doing shorter albums that consist of 9 or 10 tracks. On "Fleurs" how did you realize that this album was complete? This is a strange question; but I’m just curious as to how "Fleurs" was completed considering it is a debut.
FR: It is a little hard to explain because it has more to do with a personal feeling. I guess for me, when I set to work on a release it's about capturing a snapshot or making a photo album about a time in my life. "Fleurs" mainly deals with love and and longing and events with a particular person in my life. Originally, I would just record a version of the song and post it on my personal blog for her to see them and then I would take them down. But for whatever reason, it seemed to be an effective way for us to communicate. The theme of "Fleurs" isn't love in general and I think I just knew that my part of the album was done after I felt like it captured those feelings for me at that time? All of my lyrics on the album are really simple and straightforward. I can't speak for the songs that Jamie and Nika sing because they wrote their own lyrics.

FT: Because "Fleurs" is a snapshot of your personal life, with its completion has your outlook changed of it? I know that sometimes people can feel differently about something with time and adjusted perspective.

FR: This would happen a lot with the This Song Is A Mess But So Am I releases. It just captures a part of my life and then it kind of gets let go. It becomes a part of the past. When I look back on it, it just becomes this sort of thing where it's like "ok this is what I was feeling at the time so I put this out there" and whether that's for better or worse, or the motives behind it, or whatever, people will always have their opinions some of them mean spirited, some of them nice. It doesn't matter. It's just what I do. It's too early for me to say anything about Fleurs. With the This Song Is A Mess But So Am I stuff, I wrote most of it after the event, after the fact, looking back at it in a way, as a way to deal with the passing of my mom. With Fleurs, it is kind of different because everything was written simultaneous, as it happened. So I don't know. I'm sure my perspective of it will change as time goes by, what that perspective will actually be yet, I can't say.

FT: "Fleurs" isn't out yet but I feel it’s safe to assume you have been working on more music, what is next on your release schedule?
FR: I'm not sure yet because it seems to be shifting for me. I originally had a lot of split 7"s, and split EP's, and vinyl lined up for Former Ghosts stuff but I'm currently writing a lot of stuff that seems to be fitting together so I think I'm just working on the follow up to Fleurs? I don't know at the moment, but yeah I've been working on a handful of things post Fleurs and I'm really interested in working on more things for Nika to sing and to work more directly with Jamie on the song writing.

FT: What was the scenario that Nika from Zola Jesus came to sing in former ghosts?
FR: Well, I'm a huge fan of Zola Jesus. Everything she has done is completely incredible and I love her voice. I asked Nika if she would sing on a song on the album called "This Is My Last Goodbye" and when she sent it back I was completely blown away and I knew I had to keep working with her. It is an honor to have her be a part of Former Ghosts.

FT: I haven't had the chance to see you yet, but besides playing in the bay a month or so ago, not many people outside of LA have. What is your live set up like right now, and what will it be like for your tour in October?
FR: When I play solo the set up consists of just a laptop, a synth/midi controller, and me. For the upcoming tour in October the set up will consist of me and Jamie, a laptop, two synths, and probably a snare drum and cymbal.

FT: I noticed that Jamie is going to be with you for the tour but what about the tracks that Nika is the main vocalist?
FR: As far as this tour goes, unfortunately we won't be able to play the songs live that Nika is the main vocalist. Nika is extremely busy with school at the moment and it would be impossible for her to do the upcoming tour. But hopefully soon!

FT: I saw pictures of your show at the El Rey and it seemed like there were a lot of people there, how do you feel about bringing Former Ghosts to fresh ears?

FR: This show was pretty amazing. Playing with Los Campesinos was unbelievable. I think they are one of the best bands in the world right now. It was a weird show, I haven't really played places that big before and I usually don't like playing up on a high stage so I tried to ask if I could play on the floor but the venue denied me. The support from people regarding Former Ghosts so far has been pretty overwhelming. It's always a weird feeling; I'm really flattered and it makes me blush when someone else relates to it.

FT: I know you have ties with PPM and the smell scene that has gained popularity within the last few years, what are your thoughts on that community 3 years ago in comparison to now?

FR: It's really crazy. I've been going to the Smell probably since I was 16 and I'm 26 now. It was an amazing place then and is still an amazing place now. It is really crazy to see how much it has changed. When I first started going to it the stage was basically a one-foot tall plywood box! But Jim who runs the place is incredible and it is really awesome to have an all ages space in Los Angeles where people will now go to shows just because it's at the Smell. It is really important to have a place like that in the music community. A place where the person running the venue actually cares about the bands and the people involved in the bands and the people making the music care about him and the venue. Any time I ever needed to set up a benefit show or anything Jim has never hesitated or thought twice about doing it. On the very last This Song Is A Mess But So Am I tour I played a show in North Carolina and someone was asking me about The Smell. It is really crazy and inspiring to see what it has grown into.

FT: Since you post so many pieces of art on your blog, can you list some artists right now that you are really excited about?

FR:Felt Drawings, Noveller, Zola Jesus, White Leopards, Railcars, Silk Flowers and Elvis Presley.

FT: Who did the art for the cover?
FR: The artwork layout was done by Paul Jackson of Othila who is really, really, amazing and who has done the layout for a ton of Current 93 records. I nearly wet my pants when I found that out. The actual cover photo is of two people in love.

FT: With the understanding of how big some LA bands have gotten within the last few years how would feel about Former Ghosts being that big? Do you ever plan for Former Ghosts to be your "bread and butter"?

FR: I have no intentions for music to ever be my bread and butter. It's not what I want to do with my life.

"Fleurs" is coming out on Upset the Rhythm October 20th. But I'm pretty sure you will be able to get copies from them when they begin their US tour at the beginning of October.

10-02 Phoenix, AZ - Trunk Space
10-03 Tucson, AZ - Solar Culture
10-05 Austin, TX - Mohawk Inside
10-06 Houston, TX - Orange Show
10-07 Mobile, AL - Alabama Music Box
10-08 Atlanta, GA - Drunken Unicorn
10-09 Durham, NC - Duke Coffeehouse
10-10 Washington, DC - Comet Ping Pong
10-11 Wilkes Barre, PA - Cafe Metropolis
10-12 Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church Chapel
10-13 New York, NY - Monkey Town
10-14 Boston, MA - Middle East Upstairs
10-15 Montreal, Quebec - Il Motore
10-16 Toronto, Ontario - Whippersnapper
10-17 Chicago, IL - Chopin Theatre
10-21 Vancouver, British Columbia - Media Club
10-22 Spokane, WA - Empryean Coffee House
10-23 Seattle, WA - Vera Project
10-24 Portland, OR - Lewis and Clark
10-27 Merced, CA - The Partisan
10-28 San Francisco, CA - Hemlock
10-29 San Jose, CA - Works Gallery
10-30 San Luis Obispo, CA - Arts Center
10-31 Los Angeles, CA - Synchronicity Space

Former Ghosts - Hold On

Thanks Freddy!

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