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Racket Ghost interview with Benjamin Astro, Corey Kellicut and Sarah Koliboski

You’ve got garage, you’ve got surf, you’ve got a dash of some good old fashioned garage rock, punk and some seriously heady psychedelia going on.  What more do you want?  Of all the bands riding the West Coast revival wave I’ve never heard another band that comes close to Racket Ghost, and to be honest I’m not even sure that’s what they’re shooting for.  There’s something vividly original about Racket Ghost, teetering between their surfy reverb drenched inclinations and their rawer more punk rock garage sound that reminds me somewhat of The Epsilons or Fuzz.  It’s a devastatingly effective package.  With a single that sold out in three days on Goodbye Boozy and a cassette tape coming soon on In The Records that’s sure to disappear just as quickly, I knew it was time to track down the ghosts that had been haunting my subconscious and singing to me in my sleep for so long.  I am pleased to introduce you, the uninitiated, our loyal readers, to one of my all-time favorite bands, Racket Ghost!  I write about a lot of bands for Psychedelic Baby and I get to be pretty good friends with a lot of them, I love sharing good music and I love talking about it with people.  But every once in a while you hear something that just hits you like a ton of bricks, like a punch in the gut that wakes you up from your torpor and breathes life back into you reawakening all these senses that you thought were dead.  From the moment that I stumbled across Rack Ghosts’ Bandcamp page, from the first time I heard their music, it’s been like a blissful jab to the skull every time!  Reverb laden surfish guitar tumbles and spills all over these ingenious rumbling bass lines and minimal yet devastating drums beats.  Every time I put on some Racket Ghost it’s like I’ve stepped back in a time machine and am staring into the maw of some Southern Californian garage in the mid-60’s, three dark shadows jerking and spasming to the sweetest rhythm I’ve ever heard.  The joint I’m smoking tastes sweet and tickles my lungs as the first rising frenzy of an acid trip rises up my spine.  Or is that just the music burrowing deep inside my subconscious and awakening long dead cerebral connections?  Jesus, am I writing this or just thinking it?  Did they hear me?
Listen while you read:

What’s the bands lineup? Is the current lineup the original one or have you gone through some changes since the band started?

Ben:  Our current and original lineup is Corey Kellicut on bass, Sarah Koliboski on drums and backing vocals and I play guitar and sing.

Are any of you in any other bands? Have you released any material with anyone else? If so can you tell us about it?

Corey:  I play lap steel in another Lansing band called The Chirps.  I also played on some recordings for Veloura Caywood, which were released last year on Burger Records.

Ben:  None of the recordings are really around today but I played bass in my first two bands Dead Stream Corners and Space Brains.  Both were Lansing bands that I helped form with some of my best friends from around town.  Many of us grew up together, so there was this great connection and rivalry going on there.  Dead Stream Corners was really stripped down and raw garage/punk tunes heavily inspired by the Back From The Grave comps on Crypt records.  We recorded an album with Jim Diamond at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit but we never properly released the album before things fell apart and we split up.  Space Brains was a lot fun.  We were a really close knit bunch of guys.  The summer that we formed, we spent practically every day together for three months.  After work or school each day, we would rally at our drummer’s house to relax and smoke, maybe eat dinner.  I bet we probably practiced sixty out of ninety days that summer!  I learned a lot from the guys in that band.  I wrote songs with a definite structure in mind but we were pretty chaotic and open to experimentation.  The driving drum and bass created a platform for the messy, reverb laden guitar to intermingle with the whacked out sounds provided by our saxophone player.  I think you can still stream a few tracks from both bands on Myspace.  Check out “Psychic Eyes” from Dead Stream Corners and “Big Bad” or “Steady 77” from Space Brains if you can still find them.

Where are you originally from?

Sarah:  I was born in Flint but I lived all over Michigan before settling in Lansing…

Corey:  I was born in Alma but I grew up here in the Lansing area.

Ben:  I was born at Lansing Sparrow hospital and have lived in Lansing my entire adult life, but grew up in a quiet little farm town called Mason about thirty minutes from the Michigan capital.

Was your household musical growing up? Were your parents or any of your relatives musicians or really into music?

Corey:  My parents weren’t really but my grandma played piano in church.  My dad preferred not having music on at all, he liked quiet at home.

Ben:  My family was never really heavily into listening to music growing up.  There were a couple records that I really loved as a kid that I remember my parents owning though.  My dad had the first B-52’s album, which is still a great fucking record in my opinion, and then that Bengals record, with the song “Walk Like An Egyptian” on it.  I would go down into the basement when I was really young and put that record on and listen to that song with these huge headphones.  I would get goose bumps, getting all creeped out, thinking to myself, “Walk like an Egyptian?  Weird…  What does that meeean?!”  Ha-ha-ha!  I had no clue what that meant when I was that young, and, after close examination as an adult, it doesn’t really mean much of anything at all!  There was also the Lansing oldies station, where you might have to listen to “My Girl” a fuckin million times before they spun Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men” for you.  My dad would spin the Beatles on a regular basis, it was kind of his go-to whenever he wanted to listen to music.

Corey:  Yeah, my mother would blast the Beatles.

Sarah:  I didn’t grow up in a musical household per say.  My dad was a long-day, blue collar worker who liked quiet when he came home.  He was into classic rock, I guess, if the radio ever was on.  My mom went through a brief pop country phase where there was Garth Brooks, Tanya Tucker…  What was another one she liked?  Oh, K.T. Oslin!  She definitely loved music in that sense, ya know?  She often liked to refer to her glory days as a back-up singer on the road and would sing around the house a lot.

Corey:  Who was she a back-up singer for?

Sarah:  It was just some cover band she met in the 70’s.  They did strictly covers and were already an established thing by the time she joined, ya know?  She tried out for the position of back-up singer.  They already had tours booked around the country.  I know she and the other back-up singer wore little matching outfits…  I don’t recall what they were named…

How were you first exposed to music?

Ben:  Well, I remember the radio being on a lot when I was younger.  When the music was bad, and music from the 80’s generally was, it was downright depressing.  Lansing’s own Light Rock 99 WFMK, made up the soundtrack to some very grey rides to school in the morning as a kid.  Fortunately, I realized that when I requested the oldies station in the car, my parents were more than happy to oblige.  I always thought the oldies station was the best when I was a kid.

Sarah:  I have to give a lot of credit to the Monkees TV show…

Ben:  Oh Yeah!  The fuckin Monkees!

Sarah:  When I was four or five years old, I was mesmerized by that show.  I thought I was going to marry Mike Nesmith!  That was like my first little kid crush.  A Monkees’ tape was also one of the first albums I ever owned.

Ben:  Yeah, I was definitely obsessed with them at an early age.  When I was really young, like second or third grade, I had to stay home from school with my dad because I was super sick.  My temperature was hovering between 103⁰ and 104⁰.  I was sitting on the couch watching TV, with my head poking out from all these blankets wrapped around me, looking like a volcano about to erupt, and I had these crazy vivid hallucinations while I was watching this twenty-hour Monkees marathon.  I saw all these brightly colored geometric shapes spinning and glistening in front of my face.  It seemed like they were performing and singing along to the show just for me!  When my dad walked in, I was talking to the shapes and trying to grab them out of the air.  My fever was so high I bet my fucking brain was boiling!!!

Corey:  My mom basically just listened to Phil Collins and the Beatles.  My sister and my cousin really got into the Monkees and got me into them, too.  They were a little more obsessed than I was though.  I mean, I liked them but they used to act like they were the Monkees and they would always try to make me be Davey Jones.  I never wanted to be Davey Jones, no one wants to be Davy Jones.

When and why did you first decide that you wanted to start making your own music?

Sarah:  My parents bought me an acoustic guitar for Christmas when I was a senior in high school and taught myself how to play with a Beatles song book.  I played saxophone in band at school as early as I could.  I stayed with that all the way through high school in any incarnation that I could, concert band, marching band, jazz band; all of that.  I guess I always knew that I wanted to make my own music but I never had the opportunity that I wanted, to play in a real band until the last couple years.  Not until Ben and I met and started playing together.

Ben:  I had been watching some of my close friends form bands and start to play their first shows when we were all eighteen or so.  I didn’t have any musical experience besides playing the trombone for a year when I was like twelve, but I was very curious.  Around this time, I had just started going out to shows and drawing up fliers for my friend’s band Rattlin Bones.  Seeing these guys that I knew so well play these really high energy live shows, it kind of had the ability to transform these otherwise really unassuming guys into whatever they felt like at that moment and it really inspired me.  I soon became aware of all these other great local bands, as well, the Black Lungs, Funender, Rattlin Bones, Red Teeth,Tax, the Chirps, the FlaminGo Go’s, Transylvania 500, Vulture Island, Red Swan, who all became great friends of mine later on.  I sound so much like a cliché 18 year old but at the time, I had this uncontrollable urge to invent my own identity and to construct my own little world within the music I created.  I taught myself to play guitar that same year.  I practiced like crazy, writing simple songs that I could sing and play along to.

Corey:  When we were really young my cousin had a guitar that we would pretend to play. It was cheap and hard to play.  The strings were really high off the fret board so it wasn’t very kid friendly but we used to  set up our Legos, make a band out of them and play behind the Legos as backup singing along with it.  Somewhere along there my parents got this boom box and we discovered that we could record onto it, I guess somewhere in there I learned something.

Where is the band currently located?

Ben:  Lansing, Michigan.

How would you describe the local music scene there?

Sarah:  Fractured.  It’s there buts it’s kind of divided into factions.  People stick to their own personal tastes, “I like this kind of music so this is the kind of band I’m going to see.”  Macs is kind of the place for live music and has been for a long time.  Upstarts that have emerged in the past five to ten years, like The Good Town Gang House have built up a strong local presence.  They support live music for local and touring acts, everyone tries to help out the touring bands while they’re in town, and it’s a place where you can always go for free shows.  I just think it’s cool that we have at least one place in town where you can go most nights of the week to see free shows.

Ben:  This town is fairly limited when it comes to places to play, so that kind of effects the way people come together.  But the few people that are here are really dedicated and love hosting live music and making recordings in their spare time.  The musical influences are all over the place in Lansing but everyone seems to be able to carve themselves out a little niche.

Corey:  It’s not necessarily the most cohesive scene.  We’ve ended up on shows where everyone else there was all metal.  I played a show once where we played all rockabilly songs and all the other acts were rappers.  Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Sarah:  Where was that at!?!

Corey:  That was at Mac’s.

Are you very involved with that local scene?

Ben:  We’re not really involved with organizing and we don’t play out too extensively.  We all have to work a lot so we make it to shows when we can.  I think we all tend to play more music at home in our spare time.

Has it played a large role in the history, sound or evolution of Racket Ghost?

Sarah:  Short answer: No.

Ben:  When I was pretty young, there were a few bands I mentioned earlier who operated in Lansing that really opened my eyes.  The bands all had this kind of edgy, weirdo punk sound to them but some were more influenced by early rock and roll.  They came from this really honest place and just poured themselves into their respective bands; I was really impressed by their motivation.  The drive that they had on and off stage always had a really huge effect on me early on and I’m still here.  So, it still does to a certain extent, I guess.

When and how did you all first meet?

Ben:  Sarah and I met at a party at this house venue in town called The Good Time Gang House, one week after Halloween in 2009.  I’m not much of a drinker anyway but I was fooling myself that night and I was about as drunk as I could possibly be.  I was actually there with another girl was terribly distracted by this other presence in the room.  Up to that point Sarah and I had only met in passing.  I approached her feeling very unstable and asked her for a cigarette.  At first, everything I said came out sounding really labored, I recall my mouth not working properly that night.  Despite my condition, I must have made a decent impression because she kept talking to me and we really got to talking for the first time.  We felt incredibly comfortable and at ease with each other from the moment we met.  In my fragile state, I lost all sense of time and didn’t leave her side for the rest of the night, while the girl I’d arrived with stormed around the party giving me the evil eye for acting like such a bum.  I’d had so much whiskey that I was completely oblivious to everything but who was right in front of me.  Let’s just say I could have handled the whole night a lot better.  But, without that encounter we might not have ever had the opportunity to meet again.  Before all that, Corey and Sarah, you guys knew each other a long time ago through school, right?  Didn’t you guys have running class together at LCC?

Sarah:  Yes Ben, we had running class together…  Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Sarah:  Yeah, that was just weird small world stuff…

Ben:  And I had known Corey from playing music around town…

Corey:  And there was a show at Basement 414 that we were all at where you said you had these songs and were looking for a bassist and I said, “I’ll do it!”

What led you to form Racket Ghost and when was that?

Ben:  I had been writing a bunch of stuff on my own and I wanted to see if anyone I knew would be interested in playing these songs with me.  At first I was kind of trying out drummers, but I wasn’t “officially” having people try out, I was just kind of playing these songs I had with friends who played drums to see if something would click.  And all of these guys were great drummers in their own right but something didn’t feel right.  We have this beautiful fucking 60’s Gretsch drum kit with this peach and pearl swirl finish.  It was all set up in the middle of the house because I’d had people over jamming and one day, Sarah just sits down while I’m playing one of my songs.  She just started playing like she’d been practicing these songs or something and that afternoon she laid down two beats that we still use on the songs today.  She didn’t even play drums at all before that point, that’s the best part!  It took Sarah and I a few months to get our set nice and tight, just guitar, drums and vocals.  Then, we had Corey come over and we basically did this crash course and ran through like every song we had at that point.  We were amazed, after just one or two practices.  He had written all these bass lines that fit what we were doing so well.  Corey soon proved himself as one of the most versatile musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure to play with and we knew he would be a perfect fit for what we were trying to do.  He really strengthened every song we had.

What does the name Racket Ghost mean?

Sarah:  The literal translation is “poltergeist”, but outside of that we like to think of it as a “ghost of a noise”, “a memory of an impression.”  I like that it works on two different levels.  I think it fits in with our overall imagery and aesthetic and what some of our songs are about.

As you all know I am totally in love with your sound. I am also however terrible at describing and labeling music. Music is art and I’ve just never believed it fits into these neat little boxes that everyone thinks it should for easy consumption. How would you describe Racket Ghost’s sound to our readers who haven’t heard you yet?

Sarah:  I’d say we agree with you there.  It’s one of the hardest questions to answer, for me personally anyways…

Ben:  It’s difficult if you try to label it that way.  For people that haven’t heard our music, I try to describe the kinds of sounds we make and the tone that we project, but I also usually mention that my guitar playing is pretty heavily influenced by surf music and Michigan rock and roll.

Sarah:  A band we played with in Chicago called us “Stoner Surf.”

Ben:  I’m not real crazy about that one but it’s better than the lazy “garage” response.

Corey:  I always liked the fans that would describe us as Dick Dale meets The Stooges.

There’s so much at work in your music that sometimes it’s easy to gloss over sections and I don’t know if I’ve ever really managed to pin down all the different sounds that I hear cropping up in your tunes. Can you tell us about your musical influences? What about the band as a whole rather than just individually?

Ben:  We kind of talked about that a little bit already but we all have strong ties and appreciation for Michigan made music and Michigan rock and roll and soul…

Corey:  Yeah, I try to throw James Jameson’s name in there whenever I can.

Ben:  I’ve always loved instrumental surf music.  Before I ever picked up a guitar I wanted to know how it felt to be able to play like that, the guitars are always right up front and ready to attack.  The bass and guitar usually write their parts independently from one another.  So, they’re not always playing the exact same thing, which creates a unique texture that you don’t really hear anywhere else.  That genre was so precise too.  Everyone played right in the pocket so you could dance to it but the reverb always seemed to make the songs lag just slightly, like it was floating in space, giving all those old songs that really eerie, unhinged quality.  When we play live, I feel like we follow a similar code.  We like to project our energy onto the crowd by building up the music, just to watch them get all squirmy and stirred up. Instead of trying to express everything with words, we’d much rather transfer that emotion into raw energy and set it free in the crowd.  We try to write songs that express a lot of emotion through the music without having to spill it all over the page.  But at the end of the day, the ultimate goal has always been to create music that makes people wanna move around and shake their ass a little, let themselves go, lose control.  A lot of my favorite music follows similar principles.

Sarah:  I agree with everything said so far; so much of how I play is about instinct and reaction.  I find myself trying to shape my parts around the guitar, to compliment it in a direct sense rather than just providing a steady back beat, keep it melodic yet simple, which is a tendency present in almost all of our songs.  We all love a lot of the same music, we all love playing music, and I think the desire to capture and communicate something unique is ingrained in each of us as individuals and I think it’s strengthened when we play together; especially during live performances.

Let’s talk a little bit about Racket Ghost’s songwriting process. Is there a lot of jamming and playing around or does someone bring in a riff or more completed idea and share that with the rest of the band to finish it up?

Ben:  It kind of started off where I would have all these songs written in rough form.  Then, Sarah and I would tighten them up from start to finish and Corey would come over, and, in a night, he would create these really solid bass lines that fit the music like fucking magic!  As we spent more time together, the ideas I would bring to practice were way looser and we were way more comfortable with one another.  We would bring ideas to practice and we would expand on the original riff a ton.  Sarah and I have been doing more of a brainstorm for lyrics lately.  When we write together, we both look to one another for approval when we’re making any major decisions.  We kind of “sign off” every step of the way, so we’re constantly bouncing ideas off one another, kicking them back and forth.

You released your debut single on Goodbye Boozy a few months ago. Beech Party b/w Watch Me Move was a single sided 7inch. Gabrielle has been putting out some of the most killer music from across the planet for years now and this single was certainly no exception. Can you tell me a little about the recording of this material for the single? I know that at least one of the Szegedy brothers from immensely awesome The People’s Temple was involved with production. Who recorded this material? When and where was it recorded? What kind of equipment was used?

Ben:  Yeah, Gabrielle’s a damn good man.  I can’t thank him enough.  We were blown away when he asked to put out our first single.  The guy has a pretty unflinching track record.  The Sick Thoughts (Interview here) single he just put out was fittingly ill.  George wasn’t around for these recordings but he did help us record some tracks for a different session later on.  I recorded all the songs for the Goodbye Boozy single at our house, in Lansing, in May of 2012.  We recorded everything live on an old TEAC 3340s, 4-track and overdubbed the vocals and organ later.

I know that single was pretty limited, how many copies was it limited to? Is that still in print?

Sarah:  I think Gabrielle only released 240.  Unfortunately, they’re all gone.  From what he said, they sold out in three days!

Most people wouldn’t know this but I stumbled upon your Bandcamp page extremely early on and just fell in love with what I heard. And when I find something I like I get, well maybe a little obsessive as you’ve experienced firsthand at this point. As a result of this harassment I know there are three songs that didn’t make it onto the single. Are there any plans for that material?

Ben:  Yeah, actually!  Another small Italian label called In the Shit Records just put out a cassette for us and the songs you speak of are on that tape, along with a few other tracks from the sessions that we did with George Szegedy of The People’s Temple.  People who associate us with that really burnt sound on the Goodbye Boozy single that I recorded for us will be surprised when they hear the songs we did with George.  We used the same tape machine as before but we had a much nicer mixer this time.  The quality is on a completely different level.  George is a really talented guy.  We all had a blast working on this stuff, but we really treated it like work.  We only had a small window of a few days to work with, so our days would usually start around noon and from there we would sometimes work until midnight.  I think four songs from that session will be on the In the Shit release.

I also know that you have a good stash of live shows that have been recorded and archived. While a compilation release of live material has been discussed at this point there hasn’t really been any concrete plans made and there hasn’t been any of that material available even digitally aside from the tracks that showed up on your Bandcamp page. Are there any plans to make use of that cache of live material?

Ben:  We always talked about picking out our favorites and making a compilation, we’ve just never been able to make ourselves sit in front of the computer for any length of time to finish the job!

Sarah:  We’ve been lucky enough to have most of our live shows recorded by our friend Ed who’s probably attended close to every one of them, except for out of town gigs.

Ben:  Thanks Ed!!!

Corey:  We should just post a link to Ed’s email so anyone who wants them can just contact him about it.  Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Apart from the music we’ve already discussed has Racket Ghost released any music?

Ben:  Nope.

Are there any plans for any releases coming up, maybe a full-length album? Yeah that’s right, I am going to jibe you in an internationally released interview about doing an album. You should do one. Seriously, like yesterday.

Sarah:  We have the release on In the Shit records that we’ve just mentioned that has music from our first two sessions.  The recordings we did with George were originally supposed to be part of a full-length, and some still could be…

Corey:  Yeah, we could use some of the songs from the last session for a full-length.

Ben:  Yeah, we really need to record some more I think, too.  We have some great new songs that we play live that haven’t been put on tape yet.  I think those songs should really be represented on the full length.  So, we still have some work to do but the plan has always been to put out a full length eventually.

Where’s the best place for our U.S. readers to purchase your music?

Ben:  The best place to obtain our newest release would be directly from me at or from Antonio at In the Shit Records.

Sarah:  We periodically swap out the songs on our Bandcamp page for download as well, which we’ll be updating with some new sounds around the time of our next release.  There are actually a few singles left floating around from our last release from Goodbye Boozy and they’re for sale at the local record stores around Lansing.  You might be able to call Flat, Black and Circular or the Record Lounge in East Lansing and order one from them.  They’re the only places you can pick up our old single.

With the recent international postage rate increases where’s the best place for our overseas and international readers to get it?

Ben:  Through us.  I’ll make it as painless as I possibly can.

Where’s the best place for a readers to keep up on the latest news from Racket Ghost like upcoming shows and album releases?

Corey:  Facebook.

Ben:  …and word of mouth.

Does, or did, Racket Ghost have any goals that you’d like to, or have, accomplished this year (2013)?

Ben:  We were hoping for another release in 2013, which miraculously fell into our laps.

Sarah:  The Goodbye Boozy release was a milestone, for me at least, this being my first band and all.  It’s just cool having something out on vinyl.

Ben:  I think it was a milestone for all of us really.  Have you ever had any of your music on vinyl, Corey?

Corey:  No, that was a first for me too.

Ben:  We had an original goal set for ourselves that we would have a release within a year of us forming and we accomplished that.  I couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out for us so far.

What do you have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year?

Ben:  We do one off shows and we basically take them as they come.  Going on a lengthy tour has never been a major goal for us.  As much as we’d all like to, it’s not realistic for us at this point.  We all have obligations that would prevent us from being away from home for too long.  What we can do is play these little three day jaunts which we sort of did this summer.  We played Chicago on our way to the Firecracker 500 Festival in Iowa City.

You have played with some seriously amazing bands! Who are some of your personal favorites that you’ve had a chance to share a bill with?

Sarah:  I would say the show we played at the Loft with People’s Temple and Language was one of my favorite shows so far.  Everyone had such a good time, the way the energy built throughout the night and then all three bands got on stage at the end and played “Gloria” together.  The way the audience responded to the bands and the way the bands fed off the energy of the audience…  There was just an overall cohesiveness to the whole night.  A really positive vibe.

Ben:  At the Firecracker 500 Festival we got to play with White Mystery (Interview here), The Blind Shakes, The Delphines and the Autodramatics.  That was a really great fucking time.  I had never heard of The Blind Shakes before the show and I was blown away when they played at the end of the night.  I had been drinking these lemon vodka drinks all night and was officially wasted at that point and I just danced my ass off to their entire set!  We met White Mystery at the same festival and they graced us with their presence here in Lansing a couple months ago.  We really have the best time when we play with our buddies in The Peoples Temple, though.  We all seem to play a little bit harder when we’re together.  There’s this kind of friendly competition.  It’s all about trying to get a reaction out of the crowd, the goal is to get people to move.

Corey:  Yeah, I really enjoyed everyone we played with at the Firecracker Fest.  We were a good fit for that night.  I had a good time the night we played with the Hemingers at The Good Times Gang House too.
Ben:  Oh yeah that’s right, we traded records because their single came out on Goodbye Boozy the same time as ours.  It was cool meeting Ben Lyon!  I’ve always really admired his flyer work.  That guy is seriously talented.

Who are you on tour with in your dreams?

Sarah:  That’s a hard one…

Corey:  Yeah…

Ben:  The bands that I would actually want to go on the road with might also be a fucking nightmare to tour with.  The Stooges and the Cramps come to mind.  I like that they both have these really strict roles on stage and everyone has to do their part or the whole thing falls apart…  But offstage, in his prime, who knows how Iggy would treat you day to day, ya know?

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live performances that you’d like to share with our readers?

Sarah:  I would say the last show with White Mystery when that girl got up on stage after our set and she told you she was literally mopping your sweat off of the microphone so she could keep it as a souvenir.

Ben:  Oh yeah, I forgot that happened…  That did happen didn’t it?  Ha-ha-ha yeah, that was wild.

Do you have a music collection? If so can you tell us a little bit about it?

Corey:  Uh, it’s ok…  I would love to have a huge collection but it’s not something I’ve ever really focused on too much.

Ben:  We haven’t really had extra funds to buy that much lately and I never really felt a part of the whole mass collecting thing.  That’s not to say we don’t have a few cool records between the two of us but a lot of my records have come and gone over the years.  I’ve had to sell quite a few recently because I was unemployed for a while.  I have a decent collection of records from the bands I’ve played with over the years and of course, I have a few that I won’t ever part with.  But as far as some of the classics go, I can always find those again.  I guess I’m not super attached to the idea of collecting.

As you well know from the numerous Facebook messages and e-mails that I’m a bit of a nut when it comes to physical music. There is just something about physical releases that is magical and irreplaceable to me. Having something to hold, artwork to look at, liner notes to read, it all makes for a more complete listening experience. Do you have any such connection with physical released music?

Ben:  Yes!  The physical aspect of music is very important to us.  The packaging, the artwork and the overall esthetic are a big part of it for us; especially when releasing our own music.  Some of my favorite records have these very arresting cover images that really stick with you.  For me, the right album art can set the mood for the music and change the way you hear the record.

Sarah:  And both being visual artists, all the thought that goes into the packaging and layout and how that translates to the finished product, the texture, the smell…  You know its old books versus a kindle, or vinyl versus the iPod.  I think the palpable, physical product always wins hands down for me.

As much as I love physical music having digital download allows me to take my record collection on the go with me. I’ve also been exposed to a myriad of music that I know I would never otherwise have heard, Racket Ghost being one of those bands. It is, on the other hand, destroying decades of infrastructure inside of the music industrial complex for lack of a better term. What’s your opinion on digital music and distribution as an artist during the reign of the digital era?

Ben:  I really have no problem with digital music.  If that makes it easier for a new listener to access music, then I’m all for it.  It’s all about personal preference.  If you like the ritual of going to the record store and buying vinyl, that’s fine too.  If that’s not your thing and you’d rather keep your collection on your hard drive that’s cool, whatever works for you.  I’m definitely not a purist.

Sarah:  As far as the record industry goes, it’s kind of a double-edged sword.  The day of the overpaid rock star is over and digital music has made so much music available to your everyday average Joe.  Not to mention it’s expanded what you can do from your own home now as far as recording goes.  It’s anybody’s game.  It totally leveled the playing field.

Corey:  Things that I could never track down before I can easily go online now and find.  It might just be a sample of the original and the quality might not be all there, but it’s good for what it is.

With all the various mediums of release available to artists today I’m always curious to hear why certain artists choose the particular mediums that they do. Why vinyl as opposed to a CD or even a cassette tape release? Both of which are significantly cheaper monetarily. Do you have a preferred medium of release for your music? What about when you are purchasing music?

Sarah:  As far as our release goes, vinyl is what was offered to us and it’s the medium that we would prefer our music to be released on but we’re open to releasing our music in all forms.

Ben:  When I’m going to pay for music, I only buy vinyl.  CD’s just don’t hold up and depending on what I’m looking for, paying for a download feels strange when holding the sleeve and the artwork are so integral to my overall listening experience.

I spend more time than I’m comfortable sharing with our readers every week looking for music that is going to blow my mind. The next great thing just a needle drop or tray insert away ha-ha! Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I might not have heard that I should be listening to?

Sarah:  Cat Midway.

Ben:  Veloura Caywood and Cat Midway.

What about nationally and internationally?

Ben:  I wish I had a good answer for that…

Thanks so much for doing this interview, totally stoked we finally got a chance to do a piece on Racket Ghost, I’ve wanted to write a piece on you all since the day I heard you and started whining about wanting more music! Is there anything that I missed or that you’d just like to talk about or share with our readers?


Do you ever feel like you’re not living your life to the fullest?  But, instead merely slithering onward dutifully to the same diluted future as the hopeless sack stumbling ahead of you in line?  This swallowing sensation is commonly felt all over the universe.  It seems to spare no man and in other parts of the galaxy this sensation is more affectionately referred to as “the Mega Pummeling Effect of the Infinite Galactic Gauntlet.”  If you too have ever felt that cosmic black curtain being drawn over your story before the act was through, know that you are far from alone, friend!

Racket Ghost can be listened to anywhere but will always sound best
¤ With someone special sitting next to you
¤ Cranked up at parties where no one likes rock and roll
¤ While driving fast and ferociously in someone else’s car
¤ When ingesting large amounts of the celebration plant with your favorite friends

We’ve been waiting for a certain someone like you.  Yes, YOU!  You are PERFECT!  You are the one.  Until you came along, things were looking pretty grim around here.

(2013)  Racket Ghost – Beech Party b/w Watch Me Move – 7” – Goodbye Boozy Records (Limited to 250 copies; 80 of Cover A, 80 of Cover B and 90 of Cover C.  Single-Sided)
(2013)  Racket Ghost – Racket Ghost – Cassette Tape – In The Shit Records (Limited to 69 copies)

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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