I was never really interested in music until I heard Daft Punk in the ’90s. When I heard [them], it turned something on in my head that hasn’t stopped yet.
story by Tiffany Childs
Ghostland Observatory is a band on a mission: to make music that’s, according to producer/drummer/synthesizer maestro Thomas Turner, “sweaty, raw-boned and direct from the future, committed to electronics, stuck on big beats yet unmistakably powered by rock and roll.” With last spring’s release of their third album Robotique Majestique and the heavy tour schedule which followed — with yet another tour in support of the record this fall — the Austin-based electro-rock outfit seems to be blazing a laser-guided path towards completion of their mission.
Even though Ghostland Observatory’s latest CD is full of their trademark danceable beats with rock ‘n’ roll soul, the duo holds the most command during one of their electrifying live shows. And so, the group will continue to bring forth a show that has been called a “grand sense of fun ridiculousness that knows how to party” to cities across the U.S. as they close out the year. Chicago Innerview caught up with Turner to chat about how the album has turned out and what it is exactly that makes their live show so damn enthralling.
Ghostland Observatory’s music, packed with synths, frontman Aaron Behrens’ love-it-or-hate-it voice and a glitzy swagger, is mainly a mix of dance pop and electronica. But these two boys also have roots deeply anchored in rock beats, which is the secret ingredient they employ in creating their soul-infused dance parties. And as if the music weren’t enough, both Behrens and Turner are true showmen, pulling out lasers, lights and outfits (including Turner’s perpetually-worn cape) in rapid succession to dazzle even the most tightly-crossed arms into a dancing frenzy.
“We see music as a very serious profession, like old-school musicians,” Turner said. “These people have paid their money to see a show and we don’t want it to be violent or angry or negative in any way. We don’t want to see people standing there with their arms crossed, looking bored. We want the crowd to dance and to have fun. And when that happens, then it’s the best for us.”
As for the new album, Turner said that it, like its predecessors, is full of electronic music created for the dance floor. But Ghostland Observatory has grown in their sound, as all good acts do. “Our first two records didn’t feel like real albums. They were just sort of songs placed together. On Robotique Majestique, from the first song to the last, everything feels like it joins together,” Turner said of the latest release.
The pair also took more time in the recording of this album than the first two. Part of that reason was because of the popularity the first two albums brought forth. “With the first record, no one knew who we were so we’d just write songs and record them and it didn’t really take much time. With this album we had to tour and come back and write a song and record it — and then tour and then come back, over and over, to complete the album,” Turner mentioned.
All of that back and forth could have ended up bringing with it lots of expensive studio time, but Ghostland Observatory is nothing if not a DIY kind of band — and they ended up recording the album in Turner’s father’s barn. Oddly enough, it was a choice that ultimately worked out for the duo in terms of what they were looking for in sound quality. “[Robotique Majestique] is a lot thicker because there was a natural reverb in the barn. And we used all the ambient sounds in the barn to create background sounds on the record,” Turner said.
Interestingly, Turner said that this record, like the others before it, is heavily influenced by the sounds of Daft Punk. “I was never really interested in music until I heard Daft Punk in the ’90s,” Turner said. “When I heard [them], it turned something on in my head that hasn’t stopped yet.”
Ghostland Observatory :: Metro :: November 7.