Since 2004, South Australian band Happy Ghosts have been weaving together such a broad range of sounds, it’d be impossible to ear them all out. Across their twenty-album-deep discography, the band have formed one of the most unique bodies of work in Aussie music.
So we caught up with the band for a bizarre recount of how they came about, and the creative journey that has led them to where they are today. Take it away Happy Ghosts….
Fresh off the release of their new album Divergent Theories, South Australian outfit Happy Ghosts run us through the creative process that has formed their band.
Establishing the plan – can we be different?
When you start, that is when you can make those choices. Like, should we sound like one of our favourite bands, should we wear the same clothes, which member should be the difficult one?
We realised, quickly, that our favourite musicians were all really good at what they did and maybe that was why we really liked them and perhaps we could never achieve that anyway… and therefore we shouldn’t try to be a cheap knock-off.
We also realised that we liked a lot of different music. Like lots. Mostly alternative music maybe, but we didn’t mind a bit of pop thrown in here and there, spiced with a bit of jazz, ambience and even a dose of classical thrown in for good measure.
That’s it, lets be a musical jukebox!
Getting it started – let’s make it a little bit harder for ourselves
Now that we knew the direction we wanted to go, we started to think it through a bit further.
Yes, let’s see if we can write music that is as original as we can possibly make it. That will be the goal. Let’s play any style of music and try and make it sound as much as we possibly can like nothing else around us.
Lofty ambitions indeed, but why not!
That is when we realised that we should accompany the music with voice samples from sources like old US 1950’s advertorial films, guides to ‘better’ living and government propaganda. And then, even when we would get access to vocalists proper, like the immensely talented Carrie, we would make sure to present the most difficult of pieces with the most unlikeliest of melodies.
That way, when people heard our tracks for a second or third time… hmm!
Ok, now shoot yourself in the foot
When you have someone in the band who has a lot of skills with graphics and video, you would be mad not to use it.
When you realise that you don’t look like Brad Pitt and Cooper, and you are without access to hair and make-up stylists, that is when you make the next decision to not actually promote your faces. Like never.
Well except for once, and then you make it so artistic that you may as well not be in the shot anyway.
Now that you have done that, cut off your leg
So, the songs will be written using traditional instruments. That would be bass, guitar, drums and keyboards. That way the music will have that authentic touch – nice and warm to the ear to the listener.
The problem with that is there is the one person in the band that plays the instruments. Gee, this is going to make playing live pretty hard.
Next decision, let’s not worry about playing live, let us focus on graphics and video instead.
We will worry about the live thing at another time, sooner or later. Still thinking about that.
The best of intentions
Now that we know everything about what we want to do, lets do it brilliantly – we will make sure that we perfect these elements for our very first release so that the world loves us and a long career is guaranteed.
Proudly, the first single, its video (and supporting) EP are ready for release. Here we go!
Far out, what happened, the track has been banned, particularly for television due to its mixed message about alcohol and drugs.
But, it is not a mixed message, it is saying be careful, like really! Jeez, we might need to learn from that?
Time for a rethink in direction?
Being stubborn is one of the great hallmarks of rock and roll, isn’t it?
Happy Ghosts started in 2004. The new album, Divergent Theories is release number 20 and there has been a total of 110 songs recorded and an hour-long movie created over that time.
ARIA and Grammy nominations have eluded us but not worldwide airplay of our songs and videos; chart placing on many independent radio stations round the world; inclusion of our tracks on CD compilations and in documentaries and films; and five-star reviews of our albums and EPs.
It has been one hell of a ride and for better or worse, we wouldn’t want to be on any other journey.
Yeah man, the future is unwritten!
Divergent Theories is available now.