This week I am doing a Inverse Records interview special. If you haven’t checked out the quality metal this Finnish label brings us now is the time. I present to you GHOST TOAST. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
A band sets the tone for the band. With the right name you don’t really need any sort of declaration of intent. Was it hard to come up with a name? What does the name mean to you?
-The name was not really a conscious selection, it was just a burst of thought. Some of them are surprised, some don’t understand what it is, but at least they take notice. This wordplay characterizes us pretty well, as we take our music very seriously and yet be completely light-minded when we create it. Not to mention the fact that it’s probably easier to remember than “Malfunction of bloody terror achievements” and crap like that. The English name fares better in an international scenario, and most of the song titles are in English for the same reason.
Who would say are the founding stones of the kind of sound you have? Who are your house Gods and how have they coloured your music?
-Our sound is shaped by every single one of us. Everybody listens to different music, this is why ours is so diverse. We love and listen to everything, from jazz, through electronics, all the way to metal. Our biggest influences are collected here, but the list could be endless: Tool, Faith No More, Mastodon, Crippled Black Phoenix, Ulver, Special Providence, Oceansize, Jaga Jazzist, Shpongle, Orbital, Ott, Plaid, Future Sound Of London, various film score composers (like Ennio Morricone, Jeremy Soule), etc.
When you play slow do you have to think differently arranging the music than if you play faster and vice versa?
-Of course! You must think differently and our advantage is that due to this diversity we have within the band, the sections of our songs are sometimes created completely independent of each other, and are only joined afterwards. It is usually a very challenging thing, but it is the cornerstone of how we operate. We use odd-meter rhythms, sometimes tempo changes within one track, and the difference in thinking between our members has a huge impact on how the finished song will sound. Be it slow or fast, it’s all about the themes and we keep trying to find the perfect melody, sample, rhythm, in whatever style that fits.
Playing live is a totally different beast to studio work. How does your music work in a live environment?
-Since our songs are quite complex, we have to rehearse a LOT so we can perform them live. We use backing tracks to play the effects, samples or instruments that are in the song but impossible to be played live. Our live shows are spiced with video projection, these videos are always made directly for certain songs and match their theme and dynamics.
How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? Are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans?
-Nowadays everything is just a click away, be that music or anything else. This fact has its advantages and disadvantages at the same time. A disadvantage is that people are hit by huge amount of information every day and it’s quite hard and tiring to filter whatever is interesting. The more there is of something and the easier it is to get, the more worthless it is for a lot of people. Inverse Records, our label, means a lot to us because promoting a record is a profession on its own and we would not able to commit to this fully, lacking time and energy. They are putting their heart and soul into this – well, at least we think they must not be so profit-oriented if they are willing to sign bands like us, the underground of the underground. We definitely have way better chances at reaching people who like this sort of music.
I get the feeling that fans that are true to a band, is a lost thing with the easy access to music these days. Do you feel that this is a bad thing or are there any positive aspects of it at all?
-Since in Hungary only a very thin layer of people is interested in this style of music, we really don’t have a huge fan base following us, or that we perform in front of crowds you could body-surf on, but this is OK, it’s what it was all along. Naturally the mass of easily obtainable music does not help, but it’s also true that these days music reaches people who are interested in it much easier. Before social media times our chances to reach international audiences would have been slim to none, and now here we are, having a lot more listeners from abroad than from our home country.
What to you is a great front cover? What should a cover have to make it great?
-A great cover is something that grabs your sight and fantasy, has something to say, or it is a completely uncommon or spectacular artistic piece of work.
Do you feel that you are part of a national scene? What is the climate for metal in your country?
-We do not feel part of our country’s “national scene” at all. We play a style of music that is only interesting for few people, and it’s not even “metal” per se – it is full of elements that are foreign to the style. Our songs are too complex to be played in national radios, and the lack of singing/lyrics is the last straw. Nevertheless, the prog bands are paying attention to each other, it’s easier to find a great supporting band than an audience. Hungary is full of good, yet unknown bands.
I use Spotify and Deezer but only as compliment to buying CDS (it’s easier to just have your phone or pad when you’re out) but I fear that soon music as we know it will be dead and buried. What are your worries as a band?
-Selling records as such is indeed getting extinct and this shock on the music industry is still to be felt – though people have quickly switched over to the new, more convenient system. Nowadays even the popular bands make their living out of touring – if they don’t have day jobs, of course. A lot of bands without this capability got pushed to the periphery or broke up, but it is what it is, you need to accept it. This is the direction the world is heading in and we have to try to grab the opportunities that arise within this scenario. The two keywords are adaptation and flexibility. Easy for us to say, though, we make our music for ourselves and are not into chasing financial success.
What lies in the future?
-We are generally not a band that does live shows very frequently, but we are always working on the live material. Meanwhile new ideas are born and elaborated, and we also have some ideas for music videos – one of these is just being realized recently, we just completed the shooting of the band-related parts yesterday.