GHOSTS
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GHOSTS

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"Return of The Polterguys"

some highlights:

"Musically, (GHOSTS is) a free-for-all. A stream of consciousness hodgepodge of all things: 70s dance rock and disco, jam and stoner rock, Phish, Randy Newman, The Monkees, Spinal Tap and Rocky Erickson all rolled into one."

"Who else could mash up Queens Of The Stone Age riffs and Chicago's horn section and make it work? Somehow (the GHOSTS song) "President of the Sun" does just that."

"Don't be misled. (GHOSTS') discs may be full of tomfoolery, but these guys can actually play."

"For all intents and purposes, the disc ("Back to Baziks") plays more like an old-school record with two distinct sides. Side One is grounded in '60s and '70s classics, from the "Let It Be" vibe of "Song For Tom Seleck" to the doo-wop and garage rock of "Goblin City". Combine them with the tongu-in-cheek schlock of "Werewolf Beach Party"; you might assume that these GHOSTS are channeling the spirit of the late Frank Zappa at times.
And I can't even get into the details of "Ruxpin's Pumpkin". Suffice to say that Wal-Mart probably won't be carrying an edited version of a CD that chronicles the sexual exploits of a talking children's toy. "

-G.K. Hizer
Urban Tulsa Weekly - Urban Tulsa Weekly


"Interplanetary Inspiration"

Interplanetary Inspiration
Halloween lasts all year long, and even invades Christmas past, present and future with local mystery phenoms, GHOSTS

BY G.K. HIZER




Ain't Scared. Ghosts has become an underground sensation on the local indie rock scene, appearing regularly around town at a variety of venues.
My first exposure to GHOSTS was roughly two years ago, when a copy of The Assignment mysteriously landed on my desk. It was apparently planted by "the spirits" as they were, for no one seemed to know from whom or where it came. At first, I regarded it as some kind of practical joke--a home-burned CDR and hand written liner notes with an outlandish back story, produced via the local Kinko's.

The history of the band was allegedly as follows:

"In the palindrome summer of 2002, two kindred spirits fell to earth in the same split second. Simultaneously, their minds were implanted with the same semi-precious seed. They united to form one of music's more notorious alliances and they took the name GHOSTS.

GHOSTS released a new album each week for eight consecutive weeks. The records were written as they were recorded and were released immediately upon completion. They were distributed to several strategically chosen locations."

I initially didn't think much of it until the next disc, GHOSTS: The Life & Times of Ricardo Esteban (AKA Horseshoe Killa), arrived like a comet from the cosmos. Again, no one seemed to know from whence it came, so I could only conclude from the hole burnt through the roof directly above its landing spot that these musical incantations were a gift from the heavens. (How it didn't burn up from atmospheric entry, I'm still not sure, but it is now tucked away safely amidst my treasured keepsakes, never to be confiscated and stored at Area 51.)

Together, the two discs represented a musical hodgepodge: Pop, metal, stoner rock, hippie jams, disco and '70s dance rock all coexisting in a spiritual realm that only the apparitions at hand could make work. And while it wasn't a completely cohesive musical experiment, it was definitely intriguing. Alternatingly inspired and absurd, the two discs floated along like a stream of consciousness experiment in psychedelic daydreaming.

Fortunately for me, the discs kept coming after I mentioned the "GHOSTS" in my column in January of 2006 and it quickly became obvious that these "polterguys" were more than mere hacks. Not only did they have an unbridled creativity, they also possessed an uncanny sense of song craft and appreciation for classic pop structures.

There was also obviously a hidden agenda of some sort at hand, as the songs also contained clues to the identity of the band and some not-quite-hidden messages. In fact, it was in "Blue Vessel" from the Back to Baziks disc, that they revealed their Golden Apparition/Space Leader, Zanthar, can cover their cosmic parking tickets as well as UTW roof repairs.

All of this was still all fun and games until the spirits at hand, by now known as M&M and Jack Frost, took possession of human vessels in order to properly haunt the live music scene with a debut performance at 8OneEight, (which was tipped off here in the pages of UTW) one starry night in April 2006.

Since then, GHOSTS have become an underground sensation on the local indie rock scene, appearing regularly around town at a variety of venues and even capturing the attention of the daily paper and a place on the Dfest and recent Rock the River rosters.

This summer even saw the release of GHOSTS first mass manufactured and packaged CD, a collection of favorites and new material dubbed Space Elevator Music. But who are these other-worldly musical idiot-savants and exactly what is their M.O.?

Just recently I was finally granted a meeting with the band's human vessels at an otherwise undisclosed location in Brookside (a.k.a. The Brook. It seems the apparitions have an affinity for beer and snacks. Who knew?) to discuss the past, present and future of this hauntingly good musical force. Once there, I found myself in the midst of a conversation that was every bit as free flowing and stream of consciousness driven as any GHOSTS album--and almost as enlightening.

While discussing the band's development with the infamous M&M and Jack Frost, as well as "The Commander" (GHOSTS' drummer and rudder in the sea of chaos), it became apparent that what may have started out as something of a musical experiment has taken on a life of its own. Not only do the principle members agree to that, they are also keenly aware of the stages of development the group has experienced.

Phase One

According to M&M, this whole adventure started out as a "cathartic process," with the duo of himself and Jack Frost recording music in their free time and anonymously dropping off CDs at various strategic locations.

Frost, the more loquacious of the duo, provided more detail.

"M&M and I lived together with this other dude and we would start making tunes when we got off work. We'd make an album in a night and we made one album a week for, I think the first run was eight weeks," he said.

"Then we would make a bunch of copies and go to Kinko's in the middle of the night and draw up all the artwork," Frost continued. "And we'd include lots of bonuses, like the Sgt. Pepper's album. We put little moustaches on them and pictures of werewolves and stuff.

"We made a list of some strategic locations and we'd drop them off around town," he said. "The original list was short. It was Church Studios, which, sadly is no longer Church Studios, the original Starship location, Grumpy's Garden at 15th and Peoria, Urban Tulsa--"

"No, that wasn't in the original list," M&M interjected. "We added that when we started doing stuff again."

"See, there have actually been three phases of GHOSTS. For that original phase, the list was very short," said Frost.

A Prelude?

M&M said that he can actually pinpoint the beginning of the duo's current musical excursion, recalling a bar named The Doublet at roughly 31st and Yale, which they referred to as The Dub. "It's no longer there, but in 2002, it basically had the same d├ęcor as it did in 1974, with shag carpet and everything."

"So the setup then was this bartender who maybe had five teeth and definitely was rough," said M&M. "The door person was this guy named Critter, who had a long black mullet and taught us how to play darts."

"He was our Brian Epstein, in a lot of ways," Frost added.

"So jokingly, we thought we'd show up without instruments and they would say 'No, we don't want any of that shit here. Go away!'" M&M explained.

"But they never said no," Frost continued.

"They said 'Sure, set up over there in the corner by the fireplace.' So we played and knew a couple of songs we could play and learned a couple songs," M&M went on. "I kind of figured they would definitely kick us out and go 'Get that shit out of here,' but they loved it. They even put out a little pitcher and put tips in it. They let us come whenever we wanted to play and they loved it."

"It was just a lot of fun," M&M related, "because it was in the same spirit as GHOSTS, where it was something totally random, something that I totally didn't think would have the outcome that it did."

"So it became where we could just go. It was like home," he continued. "We could show up when we wanted to and make some tips."

"Like I say, it was our Cavern Club, and Critter, with his long black mullet, was our Brian Epstein," said Frost.

Phase Two

After that first eight-week run of CDs, GHOSTS went on a sabbatical of sorts, primarily driven by the fact that Frost and M&M were no longer living together and their individual apartments were not conducive for playing or creating music. As it would happen, fate intervened to re-ignite the duo's creative fire in the most unlikely of ways.

"We were hanging out at somebody's house and our friend Patrick had this list," Frost explained. "He was in college and it said "The Assignment." It was some essay stuff he had to do and it had a list of these different topics or whatever that you had to pick from and we said 'Let's make an album off of this list.'"

"It'll be called The Assignment and these are the song names. The legwork is already done for us," he continued. "It had 'Ku Klux Klan' and 'The Moon' and it had a song called 'Ghosts'."

"Yeah, that was a little treat," M&M added.

"So that's what sparked us back into it," said Frost. "After that, we were like 'Hey, this is going pretty good. Let's do some more.' So we made more and that was phase two of GHOSTS . . . And then I don't remember."

"To me, what's interesting is that you picked those up at Urban Tulsa and you wrote those articles (see the UTW archives for SoundCheck columns from January 19 and March 2, 2006) about the CDs we dropped off," said M&M. "That was never expected, because we just did that to get them out there."

"Well, we joked that it would be awesome if somebody would take notice," said Frost.

"Yeah, but I would never write anything about that," continued M&M. "I'd use it for a coaster for a couple of days..."

Phase Three (A.K.A. With a Little Help from Our Friends)

"Honestly," M&M told me while we were talking, "that article was they catalyst for the next phase. Our friend (Andrew Nutter) was talking about doing some shows at 8OneEight and we said we could do it once, but we didn't know if we wanted to play live or anything. After that article it was kind of like, 'Maybe we've got something going on.'"

"Shortly after that was when we decided to start playing shows and we had to get somebody to play with us. So we got him," Frost continued, referring to The Commander, while laughing.

"We called information and they recommended The Commander," M&M clarified.

Frost went on to describe The Commander as a handyman, a wanderer and a drifter in a story that I'll refrain from repeating. Even though it adds to the mystery of GHOSTS, it's also a startling and frightening tale that includes mystery, romantic entanglements, and an emotional and musical bond that let M&M and Frost know they had found their inter-dimensional, musical soul mate.

According to M&M, after the band was highlighted in UTW, "We became more conscious, or made a conscious effort to improve some of the quality of what we're doing. Before we'd make an album in a few hours, now we might spend a whole day trying to graft one sound to a song."

So basically, I bogged the whole system down?

"A little bit," M&M conceded. "It's a blessing and a curse."

"We don't prefer quantity over quality," Frost offered up, however. "Our last album was our 18th, I believe. People always think we're joking, but that's real. Only a handful of people have those albums, but they're still albums."

Of course, the duo also admits that their humanoid counter-identities' work and living arrangements have changed, which has admittedly slowed their ability to come together creatively in the recent past.

Not all is lost, however. Not only did the band release Space Elevator Music this summer, but the group also has another EP in the works--a few new songs to be combined with a few old ones to keep the adoring masses at bay.

Getting back on track, what has really made GHOSTS explode on the local scene is the band's live show, which is a mix of music, theater and tomfoolery that is engaging, funny, and damn enjoyable to dance to. When you can glide effortlessly between a show at Soundpony, the big stage at the River Park floating amphitheater and a house party, you know the spirits are falling into place for our apparitional musicians.

Not everything has gone as planned however, as the band has shared its portion of Spinal Tap moments. The most notable of those, may actually be from GHOSTS' live debut. As DJ Nutter spun "Also Sprach Zarathrusta" (a.k.a. the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey), the band took the stage wearing flowing white robes and masks, strapped on their instruments and moments into the first song . . . the power went out.

"I really didn't want to talk to anybody or let myself be known at all," M&M explained of the elaborate staging and costumes. "I just wanted to get through the show and leave."

Alas, things didn't go quite as planned, but the show went on and kept its air of mystery and secrecy as GHOSTS evaporated from the stage at the end of their set, only to return much later to retrieve their equipment without being identified.

Since then, the live show and costumes have kept evolving, adding more fog and lights, losing the masks (too sweaty, according to M&M) and eventually swapping out the robes for disposable white tyvek jumpsuits. Nevertheless, the band has managed to keep the sense of mystique that accompanies its intergalactic and apparitional identity and The Commander has still not been spotted without a mask, at least not on film.

Future Hauntings

So what does the future hold for GHOSTS? Many ideas have been bandied about, including spring tour, excursions to Sand Springs and Oklahoma City, and even--don't laugh--a possible tour of elementary schools.

"How awesome would that be?" Jack Frost exclaimed when discussing the concept. "Because the kids love it. And they dance!"

"When they're enthusiastic about it, they're not enthusiastic about it because it's cool or whatever," M&M added. "They just have to get up and dance."

That's the crux of GHOSTS' live show--having fun and getting people to respond.

According to Frost, "I think we're all surprised at how receptive people have been to the things we do because we really didn't set out to make stuff that would impress people. We just tried to make something that we'd like."

"And stuff that we hated," M&M laughingly added.

"But people seem to have taken a liking to it, and that's awesome," Frost concluded.

"My favorite thing about GHOSTS is that you can't make a mistake," Frost revealed, reinforcing the band's free-wheeling vibe. "Because everything else you have to worry about fucking it up. At work you worry about screwing it up, in your personal relationships, anything. So it's nice that when we get together we can do whatever we want."

Don't be confused, there is some strife and arguing between the band members, but mostly about production issues or how what their "VH1: Behind the Music" will be like. While Frost tends to be the theatrical one, attending to the lights, fog and effects, M&M is the one who frets the instruments and musical set up. And, occasionally, the two will tussle over the live priorities.

"M&M's the ying, I'm the yang and The Commander's the wang," Frost observed.

Actually, later in the conversation, Frost identified The Commander as "Sort of like a madji: a sage, a wizard, a shaman" and M&M as the jester, the judge and jury.

"He's like Judge Dredd. He's like Judge Judy in a lot of ways," said Frost.

Of himself, he offered up, "Me? I'm the headless horseman, the equalizer, the decision maker--and they'll tell you that."

At least everyone knows his respective role.

"Anyway, it's nice how it works because in the end, who really cares? That's the nice thing--nobody really gives a shit what we do," Frost said.

Ah, don't sell yourselves short, guys. When the crowds come to a GHOSTS show, they arrive expecting to have a good time and experience something new. Whether it be with dancing girls, jumping up on the bar, Frost riding his keyboard like a horse (another of those aforementioned Spinal Tap moments), or two dozen cans of silly string (much of which is still stuck to the bikes and ceiling at Soundpony, a favorite local haunt), GHOSTS never fails to deliver.

Perhaps more exciting is the band's current priority--a Christmas album entitled GHOSTS of Christmas Future. According to Frost, it will be a mix of originals and classics, including a couple of songs the band wrote at its inception in 2002.

Planned for release at the band's Thanksgiving night show at Soundpony, M&M told me "I have immersed myself in this project. I usually don't get this enthusiastic about stuff."

"Seriously, he calls me four or five times a day," Frost responded. "'I need you to learn this song' or 'I need you to do this.' He'll be sending me pictures of old Christmas albums for graphics and asking me if there's a filter in Photoshop to make it look like a Norman Rockwell painting."

"I'm pretty sure there's gotta be one somewhere," M&M concluded, unshaken.

Rest assured, come hell or high water there will be a GHOSTS Christmas album this year, even if it doesn't hit its target date of Thanksgiving. I'm confident we'll see it soon, however, as M&M is dedicated to doing the manufacturing and processing himself, in true GHOSTS fashion, if necessary.

And I can all but guarantee it will be worth the time and effort. I was privy to an advance copy of a couple of songs due to appear, "Christmas Time is Here" and "Silver Bells," and can attest to it capturing both a seasonal magic and GHOSTS' indelible touch. Think the Charlie Brown Christmas album spiked with acid and you've got a jolly good Christmas record on your hands.

"I hate Christmas. I've hated it for the past five years," M&M told me.

"Or at least the commercialization of it," the otherwise stoic Commander finally added.

"Yeah, I can't stand the people just going around shopping and all that stuff," M&M explained. "It's gotten ridiculous, so I haven't been able to really get into the holiday spirit, but this season I'm pumped about it, to one way or another experience it the way I've always liked it and not let other things influence me to feel otherwise. Part of that is making these Christmas songs."

With that revelation, our meeting was adjourned and I found myself teleported to my car, wondering what just happened. With only a vague recollection but a recording of our conversation left in tact, I felt like I'd been blasted by an ionizer from Men In Black, and the identities of our musical apparitions remained a secret.

I'm told names from the witness relocation program have been included in the latest CD, but I think it's just a cover. That doesn't mean the hauntings won't continue, however. And in the meantime, I'll still be searching for more clues to our musical culprits' real identities.

You'll find it first here.

- Urban Tulsa Weekly


"Ghost Dancing"

Ghost Dancing

Mondo bizarro Tulsa rock act Ghosts generates a sound that makes you feel the way you feel after too many Saturday morning

by: MATT ELLIOTT World Scene Writer
3/31/2007

Mondo bizarro Tulsa rock act Ghosts generates a sound that makes you feel the way you feel after too many Saturday morning cartoons and four bowls of Lucky Charms. Make that five. Make that while floating in space.

The trio will play the Lend a Hand benefit for Tulsa University's Habitat for Humanity project and the university's RESULTS chapter. Joining Friday's show at the Hive will be the socially conscious reggae group Citizen Mundi as well as Stevedore, Arlis Moon & the Stars and singer/guitarist Jacob Ide.

Just how weirdly entertaining is Ghosts? The group has been known to play gigs dressed in white coveralls and wearing masks. Garrett Weindorf and Matt Miner pound away at keyboards while Shane Grogan drums, churning out a maelstrom of noise, shrieks, blips and swooshes with song titles such as "Han Solo Bass Solo" and "Sea Organ."

Ask Weindorf about his influences, and you get an odd list (although he might be putting you on a bit).

"Abraham Lincoln, Jonas Salk, Rick Wells (a KOTV reporter), Yngwie Malmsteen, Rick Wells -- physically, spiritually, sensually. My parents. My dog. Jesus. Musically, yeah, we like ancient mysteries, time, space. We like Pink Floyd. We really like the Flaming Lips."

The band started in 2002, when Weindorf and Miner started making music simply to amuse themselves. The duo began recording about an album a week and started leaving random copies with odd liner notes in unsuspecting mailboxes as well as with their friends. They even dropped off some of their recordings at Steve Ripley's now-defunct Church Studio.

"That Steve Ripley guy at the Church Studio -- I saw him once and he knew about (our band) because wed been dropping (copies of our recordings) off," said Weindorf, who always seems a half second away from a giggle.

"Well, you were wildly drunk weren't you?" Miner asked.

"I was-- just out of it-- wandering around at the Spot Awards," Weindorf said. "I weaseled my way into the back stage and Steve Ripley was back there tuning up, trying to get ready for his -- it was a couple of years ago. He had some, like, special tribute thing you know, this real touching thing. Yeah, it was nice. And I was back there, (expletive) faced and, you know, bothering him about it."

The Ghosts sometimes wear their disguises when they first walk into a gig. (You might see them dressing up in an alley behind a local bar.) They play a show replete with several fog machines and lights. They'll leave, return in their normal clothes for a few drinks and no one will recognize them, said Weindorf, who works at KOTV, channel 6.

Habitat for Humanity recruits volunteers to help build homes for poor families. RESULTS is a nonprofit grassroots advocacy organization, committed to ending hunger and the worst aspects of poverty.The local RESULTS group is raising funds to start a local "microlending" bank that will grant small loans to low-income people, according to a press release about the event. - Tulsa World


Discography

We have 15+ albums.
Full list coming soon.
More tunes on http://www.myspace.com/ghosts2002

Photos

Bio

We're three friends from Tulsa, OK.
We listen to everything, but we all love the Flaming Lips, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the like.
We also like costumes, fog and lights.. and we're known for our exciting live shows.
(We've opened for several national touring acts, including The Junior Boys, Hello Stranger and The Mathematicians.)