A Ghostly Heart by A Ghostly Heart | INTERVIEW
Author: Thommy Delaney

Greetings, A Ghostly Heart! Congrats on your new self-titled album, "A Ghostly Heart!" Tell us a bit about how you guys met and how you created your sound.

Thank you so much! We have known each other since elementary school and lived only a couple of blocks apart growing up in Collingswood, NJ. Andy and I actually both played snare drum together in our elementary school band. He is an excellent drummer, and when I started writing music again during the pandemic, I reached out to him to see if he would be interested in getting together to jam on the songs.

As far as the sound, that went in directions that I never really anticipated. I had always been more of a straight forward songwriter, with chord based songs influenced by artists like Elliott Smith, the Shins, the Beatles and Wilco. During the pandemic I took guitar lessons from Tommy Strazza to improve my lead guitar abilities and it opened up a new world of songwriting for me.

Andy always had a wide range of influences on his drumming style. He is a huge Tool fan, and I think that comes through in several of the songs. I had also gotten into listening to some heavier bands during the pandemic, first Pantera and then I got really into Mastodon. That influenced the songwriting heavily, although it may not be really noticeable. I was actually listening to Crack the Skye by Mastodon last night and noticed some subtle similarities in some of the songs like "Whispers", "The Only Way out is Through," and "Nothing at All." I think that the album has a variety of tones and moods on it, they are also based in the world of rock, but it is a bit schizophrenic. I am really curious what other people think about the sound, and what they hear in it, because I'm not always sure!

The album was rehearsed in person yet recorded remotely. Is this usually how you guys record or were you trying to do something different?

This was the first time we had collaborated together on music, and the first time either of us had recorded anything in this manner. It was definitely a challenge to record remotely and send tracks back and forth. I was always intrigued by how the Postal Service recorded their album by sending tracks back and forth. It was a tremendous amount of work, and in hindsight we both agree that there were ways that could have streamlined the process and cut down on the over two years that we spent working on the album. Although another reason why it took as long as it did is because it kept growing as I continued to write songs. The pandemic definitely affected the way the album was recorded, as well as both of our busy schedules, so the ability to record at home when we had time made things continuously progress.

Andrew Goulburn has written and arranged all the songs. Some of them sound like they might have been written before or after the pandemic. When did you begin to write the songs and did the pandemic have any influence on them?

All of the songs were written during the pandemic. The first song I wrote, having no idea that it would end up on an album, was "Minutiae." It was originally created as part of a guitar exercise with Tommy Strazza. "Whispers" and "Don't You Know" were also early songs. Learning more about music theory and scales opened up the guitar to me in ways I hadn't thought of before, and led to an extremely productive period of creativity and writing. Before I knew it I had 8 or so songs. That's when I reached out to Andy and we started getting together to figure out drums parts for the songs. The songs kept coming to me and we had as many as 16 songs that we were working on, although not all of them made the album.

Overall, this album is a fascinating one. To me, a lot of the songs are different from one another. Are there any particular influences for the writing of your music?

One of the biggest influences on the album was learning scales and musical theory. A lot of the songs are in Bb, because Tommy was teaching me scales in C, but I was playing my guitar tuned down a whole step to D standard to learn Mastodon songs. The lower tuning gives the album a slightly darker sound I think. I went to a dark place during the pandemic, as I'm sure many people did. Part of that was listening to Pantera a lot, which led to a song like "Three Cheers For You," which came from trying to learn "Revolution is My Name" by Pantera. That's not a band I ever thought would influence my song writing, but it's in there. I also became deeply interested in Mastodon to the point where they were the only band I listened to for a while. I actually got to take a guitar lesson with their lead guitarist Brent Hinds. His playing really influenced a lot of the lead work on the album. I'm also a huge Hendrix fan and that comes through in some of the solos as well. Deep down I'm a singer songwriter who loves bands like Wilco, My Morning Jacket, the Strokes and Elliott Smith and that is still there, just not as much as with my previous band meet me in montauk.

Andy is a very talented drummer who likes to play complex rhythms and outside of the box ideas. Those are evident most of all in "Fever Dream." Andy would ask me what I had in mind for drums on some of the songs, and I would do my best to describe what I heard. "In My Mind," which also features Peter Horvath from Anderson Council, is a good example of a song where I tried to explain what I heard for the drums. Ultimately though Andy would do his thing and play parts that I could never come up with.

"Slow Down" has such an interesting yet cool vibe. The harmonies are also brilliantly arranged. What are the lyrics about and what made you arrange the harmonies the way you did?

It's really great to hear that you enjoyed the harmonies. Those did not come easy and I made lots of revisions and added more and more layers to reach the sound that is on the album. The arrangement follows the chords for the most part. Harmonies don't always come naturally to me and a good friend of mine Matt Prol, who used to play in the band Copesetic and was part of the Rutgers Glee Club gave me a quick crash course in harmonies. In the end it involved a lot of me singing and harmonizing with my guitar to figure out what worked and what didn't. There was a tremendous amount of trial and error on the album, and with those harmonies especially.

Lyrically the song is about being a passenger in a situation and feeling somewhat hopeless in influencing the direction. There is a feeling of helplessness and a sense of being stuck on a track, where you know exactly where you are going, and also know that it isn't positive.

"Fever Dream" caught my attention just by the title. It has a very spacey, dreamy kind of sound to it that is very different from any song on the album. What is the message of this song and what were you trying to convey through it?

That was one of the songs that is more lyrically abstract and not based from a personal experience or feeling. That song changed a lot from when we started playing it to what ended up on the album. The song felt really dark to me, definitely one of the darker songs from a musical standpoint that I had ever written. The name "Fever Dream" was established before I wrote any lyrics. When it came time to write lyrics and melodies I decided to write about an actual fever dream I had had many years ago. It was this extremely dark dystopian dream where I realized that I had somehow been moved thousands of years into the future and the world was a very dark place. I remember realizing that everyone I knew was long gone and having this terrible feeling of fear. It seemed to match the tone of the song. It's not my normal style of writing, but I think it worked.

Do you guys plan on performing any time in the future?

I really want to! In order to perform live, we need to find a bassist and another guitar player. None of the songs were written originally with melodies or lyrics, those came second. I was really just focusing on my guitar playing and on utilizing all of the new skills and tricks that Tommy had taught me in my lessons. Once the lyrics were done and it came time to play them together with Andy, I found that it was really tricky to play a lot of the guitar parts and sing at the same time! For that reason I really need a second guitarist to help fill the sonic spectrum. Many of the songs have a lot of guitar tracks on them, so it's just too much for one person. Myself and Andy played bass on the album, with Peter Horvath filling in on one song, so someone would need to learn all of the songs on bass as well. That being said, it is definitely something that I want to do, but it will take time to get it together.

Are there any plans to write and record more music?

I'm really hoping to. I have a lot of songs, some older, some new, that I want to record. I would prefer to record it more in person as a team, rather than sending tracks back and forth. I'm sure there would be some of that, but it would save us both a lot of time to be more deliberate and collaborative in the recording process. Hopefully it doesn't take me fifteen years to get another album out!

Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

I am so happy to finally get this music out there and to hear feedback on what people think. This album has a lot of blood, sweat and tears in it and I am very proud of the final product, and eager for people to hear it. The album is very eclectic and I think there is something in there for everyone. You can find the album on major streaming services as well as on YouTube. If you are interested in being a part of the band and are willing to travel to southern New Jersey near Philadelphia, reach out and let me know! We can be found on instagram at instagram.com/a_ghostly_heart. Thank you so much for your interest in the music!


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Artist Bio
A Ghostly Heart is a collaboration between Andrew Goulburn (guitar, bass & vocals) and Andrew Rivera (drums, percussion, bass and background vocals). The album was recorded and mixed by both Andrews, and mastered by Tommy Strazza. There are guest appearances by Peter Horvath of Anderson Council, playing bass on In My Mind, Tommy Strazza, playing lead guitar on The Only Way Out is Through, and Matthew Prol formerly of Copesetic, singing background vocals on Three Cheers For You.

All songs were written and arranged by Andrew Goulburn. The songs were rehearsed in person, but recorded remotely, sending tracks back and forth. The recording and mixing process took over two years, and involved many revisions and retakes.

About the Author: Thommy Delaney is a Senior Music Business Major at New Jersey City University. He is also the lead guitarist and a vocalist in the Bayonne Indie pop-rock band BreakTime: a four-piece writing modern pop tunes with generous vintage allusions to artists such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Looking for something new to listen to? Be sure to follow BreakTime @breaktimelivenj on social media and stream their music on all platforms.

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