ELLIOT & THE GHOST
By Rick Perez
I first saw Elliot & the Ghost play a set when I was taking some photos for for this venue called Good Room in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. As soon as they finished their first song, I knew I had to remember these guys. They put on a show like true rock stars and I’ve been following them ever since. When I had the opportunity to shoot and interview them, I was way ecstatic!
I interviewed Will Thompson (singer/guitar), Brett Giroux (lead guitar), Connor Jones (bass), and Dan Edwards (drums) in the backyard of a cool dive called Brooklyn Ice House in Red Hook, Brooklyn. As soon as I walked into the backyard Brett ordered me a tequila on the rocks, and from there we all drank. A LOT.
One of the reasons why I love shooting and interviewing bands is being around such a close knit group of people. Members in a band aren’t just friends, they’re family to each other, and hanging out with Elliot & the Ghost really allowed me to witness that type of band.
Throughout the entire interview they kept referring to their affinity with each other. At one point Dan said, “…I played hockey in high school and my junior and senior year we made it to the finals. We didn’t win, but just enjoying that comradery with the team was the best. It’s basically what I have now with Elliot & the Ghost.” Brett also gushed about being with his bandmates, “To me, I couldn’t write music with anyone other than these four and that’s why we are Elliot & the Ghost.”
Their interactions with one another and the way in they affectionately joked on each other made spending an afternoon with them comfortable and very memorable. Elliot & the Ghost is a band that won’t fall into obscurity because their allegiance to the band and their friendship won’t let them.
Check out BoC’s interview with Elliot & the Ghost, where they talk about their latest single “Big Tease”, the toppings on their Elliot & the Ghost pizza, and their various high school memories.
Who is Elliot & the Ghost and what is your music all about?
Brett: We are friends first and foremost. We don’t remember life without being musicians, so that’s something we have in common. What I love about each and every one of these guys is that they love music just as much as I do, and that brings solid components to how we write together. To me, I couldn’t write music with anyone other than these four and that’s why we are Elliot & the Ghost.
Will: We really strive for conveying stories and anything lyrically we write aren’t just scribbles on paper. With that, we try to create unique songs structures within a rock and roll mindset. It takes us a long time to write a song because we really process everything.
If each member can be a topping on the Elliot & the Ghost pizza, what would each member be? Say the topping for the person to your left.
Will for Connor: Connor is so sweet but yet so naughty. Connor is that pineapple.
Connor for Dan: Dan is like our rock, our solid and stable everything. He is pepperoni: standard, there always.
Dan for Brett: Haha that’s actually my favorite topping! Brett would be mushrooms and olives. It’s probably delicious but you would never think to order it. That’s Brett.
Brett for Will: Will has some southern roots, so I was thinking not necessarily a topping but like a hot sauce. A habanero hot sauce
Connor: He is our flair!
Elliot & the Ghost released the latest single, “Big Tease”, earlier this year. What’s the story behind it?
Will: It’s actually a perfect example of what the band has become. Someone shows up with the simplest idea and we work to develop it. We start from ground zero and tirelessly work on it until we look at each other and say, ‘It’s done’.
Brett: During the recording process we tend to get even more dynamic. Speaking for myself, I hear different parts before I play them, so I add them in as we go. It may be a bit divergent from how other musicians work, where they may have to fool around before adding a part. We absolutely solidify the song during the recording process.
Will: And the music video is going to be coming out really soon! Super excited about it.
Connor: ‘Big Tease’ is a big departure for us because I feel like we finally wrote the song that we needed to write. We worked on that song for a solid month. Every practice we had we worked on that song. We were so meticulous that I think it is the best thing we’ve written. I’m super proud of it.
Brett: We write better songs when we take the time to develop them. We make sure all the little details from the song are the best that they can be.
Will: We make something and completely dissect it to make sure everything fits in.
Connor: If you listen to our music you never hear a part that repeats. Concepts repeat, but the parts are slightly twerked.
Brett: It’s because we are so meticulous we take months to write a song.
Connor: We are very diligent about it
For each member. which song is your favorite to perform?
Brett: ‘Turn Off Your Radar’ it’s an upcoming single and it gets the crowd going.
Will: Sometimes we’ll throw in a cover. We are meticulous about which song to cover as well. It ends up being our favorite punk rock song or something so we can have that high pace feel and I just go fucking nuts.
Brett: Haha he (Will) gets so into it that this one time he was screaming so loud that because the monitors were right in front of us we almost passed out!
Connor: I think my favorite moment was when we were playing a Halloween show and we covered ‘Ghostbusters’. Our buddy came up and played the saxophone, it was so fun as hell!
Dan: My favorite song to play live is ‘Peach’. As a drummer that song is so cool cause there’s a time signature change in the bridge, the drum beat in the chorus is kinda inverted half way through, it’s just a really interesting song to play on the drums. It has that driving high pace to it. I sing back up on it live. It’s just an awesome song to rock out on.
How does Elliot & the Ghost distinguish themselves from other Brooklyn based bands?
Brett: Honest answer: Brooklyn is a lot of hype. As far as I can tell, it’s a lot of flash in the pants shit. We don’t just want to be a New York band, we want to be like a world band. It’s a great city to be a band in, but we want the longevity and want to do more. We want to be real, not only in our music but also in who we are. We never let egos get in the way.
Dan: We just want to write good songs. Every song that we put out there has to be the best of the best. That differentiates us from the rest of the Brooklyn bands.
Connor: We would put out anything that we aren’t 100% fully confident in. That’s what a lot of bands don’t do. They will put stuff out that’s catchy and then that’s it. We want to put out things that are like the best we have ever written. If we don’t feel that way, we don’t put it out.
For each member, what is your worst and best memory of high school?
Connor: I was a fucking loser in high school. I grew up in a very jock oriented high school and I was the only kid wearing skinny jeans and listening to punk rock and it did not go over well with everybody. I was a total outcast. That was one of the reasons why I ended up in Brooklyn.
Will: My high school had a freshmen hazing, Dazed & Confused style. One of the seniors made me swallow a live goldfish. The most fondest memory was not showing up for school my entire senior year and still graduating.
Brett: My least favorite memory, which I am overwhelmed with guilt when I think about this, is that I would watch bullying occur, and my friends were the bullies, and I would not stop it. And I hate that because that is so not like me. My favorite memory is probably working with a teacher who really inspired me and encouraged my writing. It’s super nostalgic because I read the poetry that I wrote in high school a few weeks ago and it had such a profound impact on me.
Dan: I’ll start with the worst. I was at a pool party one night and I was getting changed in the pool house and this girl walks in while I was getting changed and I was like ‘Yo what’s up?’. I mean nothing happened, she just came in and stood there for a second and just sat down for like 5 minutes. We both walked out together and everyone was just like cheering.
Connor: Tell me that was your fiance!
Dan: Hahah nah. My best experience had nothing to do with music. I played hockey in high school and my junior and senior year we made it to the finals. We didn’t win, but just enjoying that comradery with the team. It’s basically what I have now with Elliot & the Ghost.
If someone you loved wanted to serenade you, which song would you want them to sing?
Brett: So like I swoon? Probably ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love with You’
Will: Dark End of the Street, the Grand Parsons version
Connor: Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen
Dan: Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohn
What is your favorite bar in NYC?
Connor: We gotta give a shout out! My favorite is The Graham. A lot of good friends work there, everyone treats us very well. It’s like a home to us. When we have band meetings it’s usually at The Graham.
Brett: Ya all the staff knows us, they play our music all the time.
Will: Billy Marks West in Chelsea
Brett: Saint Austere on Grand.
Connor: Oh yeah The Anchored Inn. It’s a metal bar that has the best burgers, I love that shit. It’s also right next to our practice space. I also really love Rocka Rolla. $3 Buds, go there!
Dan: I gotta give a shout out to some of my Park Slope bars. Freddy’s and Sea Witch Tavern.
What is the best advice you have ever gotten?
Brett: Absolutely don’t ever get discouraged. It happens so often with bands. They pop up and then they fall apart. Knowing that, at one point or another your time will come. I completely believe that.
Will: The best advice I got that actually broke me down into tears was when I was getting harassed by this producer. He was tearing apart my song and saying “You need more of a pop structure” and I didn’t understand what that meant when I was younger. But now I appreciate a well thought out song structure. It’s what agrees with people’s ears.
Connor: Joe Dirt said “Keep on keepin on”
Dan: “Life’s a garden man, dig it!” Nah the best advice I ever got was being true to yourself. Not trying to be someone that you aren’t. I’ve recorded with people who knew that I was a hard hitting drummer, and they said “Hit hard while you’re recording. Be the drummer that you are.”
What’s next for Elliot & the Ghost?
Will: We are about to release our new video for “Big Tease”. We are really proud and excited about it. We are gonna release one more single in our singles project. It’s 4 singles and 4 pieces of art. Instead of doing an EP, we are doing a bunch of singles. With each single we collaborated with all the artists that we really love, which happen to be friends. And with every video we collaborate with a director or DP we really admire.
Connor: Keep on hustling. We are a really hard working band and we are going to continue that. It’s just what we do.
Brett: I second that. Just keep going. Keeping momentum is the most important part of being a band, especially in Brooklyn. There are so many bands and the market is so saturated with us. We gotta be in people’s faces.