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17 Jun

Now that Minneapolis has taken the urbane step of getting food trucks out into the streets, the next important step to filling out the thriving city vibe is to get more live music out on the corner. In that regard, Ghostmouth is not only leading the charge, but is making a canny career move out of it. The quartet of McNally Smith students have built a reputation playing “with” major headliners- outside of the venue after their shows with battery-powered amps and megaphones. It’s opportunist and innovative and just the kind of spark that a band needs to kick them off, so it’s a good thing that Ghostmouth have tunes to match. Their debut full-length Ghost Mouth is a confident collection of post-punk, hook-laden and pop-smart songs that have all the energy and affability you would expect from a young band ambitious enough to co-opt The Black Keys as tour partners. With their CD release show on Saturday at the 400 Bar, frontman Sean Chaucer told CakeIn15 about the inspirations for guerilla gigs, loving Oingo Boingo and the need for national recognition for the Twin Cities.

CakeIn15: Where did the idea come from to start opening and/or closing for bands?

Sean Chaucer: I was trying to think of something just different, that hadn’t felt done and we’d been playing normal shows at normal venues and it was great and there are a lot of great venues here. But I’m a New York guy and something always felt right to me about performing on the street. I felt like it was just more pure and out in the open, I don’t feel right about needing permits for everything, it’s free space, why not just play there? It feels great to not have to book a show to just do it whenever we wanted, we could practice like that if we wanted, have a show whenever. I’ve always been a big Libertines fan and they were big into guerilla gigs, they would do them in their loft, so I’ve been a fan of guerilla gigs. I actually came up with the idea when I was at a family reunion in Long Island and I was kind of bored, I went outside for a little bit and it just struck me. There was a Modest Mouse show coming up and I called my band and said, “Hey, how would you like to play with Modest Mouse?” I explained the idea to them and they all jumped on board and loved it.

C15: What’s been the best show so far?

SC: I’d say our favorite was probably the Flaming Lips, that was probably the first one where we felt the benefits of doing what we did and the first one where were people were really into it and loved it a lot. That was the first one where we really gathered a crowd and people dancing and everything. That was a really great one, the Bright Eyes one was another great one, especially as that was the first time that any of the bands had actually come out and watched us, as Titus Andronicus came out and watched us for a bit. We actually just did Okkervil River with Titus Andronicus this last week and that was great because Okkervil River invited us in to have drinks with them, which was awesome and we got to hang out with them for quite a bit.

“Cut My Rope”- Live with Bright Eyes from Ghostmouth on Vimeo.

C15: That really is something that jumps out about being in cities like New York and Chicago, is that there really is just music everywhere on the streets.

SC: Yeah, it’s interesting; there isn’t a lot of that around here. The first time I ever played outside was in Boston, when I was younger I went to these summer programs at Berklee [College of Music] and me and my friends went out on the street and played bluegrass and made some money. We weren’t the only ones out there, everyone was doing it, there was tons of people out and the same in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but there just isn’t much of it around here.

C15: You went to Berklee, what did you study and what brought you out here?

SC: I studied guitar performance, but I only stayed out there for a little while and then I moved out here. Berklee’s a really expensive school and I moved here to go to McNally. Actually, the whole band goes to McNally and three of us have one year left and one of us [bass player Zack Warpinski] is much younger, he just started last fall and is only turning 20 in August.

C15: You mentioned The Libertines and listening to the Ghost Mouth record, the influences run across the board, in “Holograms” there’s some Cake and Franz Ferdinand, and other parts have a heavier Mars Volta kind of feel.

SC: I’ve never really been much of a Cake fan, but I’ve heard that before. I mean, I enjoy it, whenever there’s a Cake song on I’ll listen to it. Franz Ferdinand, this is funny, because a lot of people have told me that one, and I only started listening to them after people told me that and I really enjoy their music, they write a lot of great stuff. One thing about that, though is that I feel like me and Franz Ferdinand came from similar influences, I’m a big Gang of Four fan, and Delta 5 and all the post-punk bands like Wire and Mission of Burma, and the newer ones. I’m a huge Interpol fan and Joy Division of course. But Mars Volta, I actually don’t like Mars Volta but I’m a huge At the Drive-in fan, so you might here that there. We all come from different backgrounds, our guitar player [Donovan Seaberg] is more of a metal guitar player, which shows in his playing, he’s kind of a metal player in the same way Rivers Cuomo from Weezer was. Our bass player’s into the kind of music we play, he’s also a great jazz player, he plays great upright bass. Another big influence we all share in general is Danny Elfman, but especially his band Oingo Boingo; we keep on playing their first album.

Holograms- Official Music Video from Ghostmouth on Vimeo.

C15: You have your CD release on Saturday at the 400 Bar, where do you want to go with the band and what would you consider a success?

SC: For me, I’ve always said, I’m not a big money person, as long as I can keep making enough money to keep my band around and keep living and playing and making more music, I’d consider that successful. Of course, I would love to get more of a national presence, like we’re going on tour and everything, and I would love to be bigger in the Twin Cities, I really love the music scene here. Yeah, I feel as long as we can all keep living and keep playing, it sounds generic, and of course it would be lovely to be rich, but we don’t feel we need to be the next Radiohead or anything.

C15: Now that you’ve been here and been playing out some, what would you like to see more of in the Twin Cities?

SC: The only thing that bugs me is that the national media doesn’t seem to pay much attention to the twin cities. Which, maybe the Twin Cities prefers it that way but I feel like there’s a lot of great music and great art here that for some reason is not getting noticed by the national media. One thing I would I would say about the music scene here is that there’s a lot of variety. Indie-folk is a big thing out here, which is great there are a lot of great bands- Nice Purse is a great one. Out in New York we didn’t have bands like Dance Band, there’s just something very creative going on here. We’re at a point where the national media should be paying attention but they just aren’t or aren’t aware. And a lot of people get stuck here. The bands that have been really successful, like Tapes n’ Tapes and The Hold Steady all left and went on tour, or in the case of The Hold Steady, just left and became based somewhere else. There are people who have gotten comfortable here and can make a living, you know, with my terms of success that I said earlier, but there’s something to being recognized, and I feel like the Twin Cities needs to be recognized and more of those bands need to go out there and go on tour and get more national press.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Press | toastmouth - December 18, 2011

    […] “Their debut full-length Ghost Mouth is a confident collection of post-punk, hook-laden and pop-smart songs that have all the energy and affability you would expect from a young band ambitious enough to co-opt The Black Keys as tour partners.”  – Cake in 15 […]

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