“Tonight we GLO!” the catch phrase my friends and I have coined every time we are getting ready for a Ghostland Observatory concert. If they play somewhere in Texas, there is a good chance we will be there. SInce their formation in 2003 Ghostland has formed somewhat of a cult following. Their crowd mimic costumes of Aaron Behrens’ once long braids and Thomas Turner’s Texas flag cape. The two band members have sold out shows across the Country and bring the beats everywhere they go. I still remember my first Ghostland concert 2 years ago at the Ceder Park Center. It was unlike anything I had ever seen.
I could almost touch the lasers and we cleared a dancing room only area. And unlike any group I had seen before, seeing Ghostland over and over again is still the best time I’ve ever had. So when the chance to interview two of my favorite musicians came about, I almost lost my cool. Though I had met the duo a few times before after shows, I was actually going to get to have a long conversation with my favorite band. Even more exciting was the surprise phone call with Aaron Behrens and a half hour conversation with Turner.
Both talk about their excitement around where Ghostland is going and the amazing energy coming from the EDM craze. Their previous released albums show their maturity into bringing the electronics, psyechedelia and rock n’ roll. Add in lights and you have the best dance party outside of Electric Daisy Carnival. Every year central Texans gather in New Bruanfels to rage down by the river at Whiterwater Amphitheater. Bring your dancing kicks, glow sticks, glitter and sunglasses because standing room is in the back and you don’t want to miss out on the fun in the front. All that said, who are these guys? What are they about? We know they are from Austin, but do they hang out here? Though you will always find a plethora of glow sticks and tutus at a GLO show, you will find these two are down to earth kind of guys who just want you to have a good time and “move with your lover”.
Questions for Aaron
How was red rocks?
We have played there a few times now but it’s kind of hard for it to sink in that it’s a real mountain because it looks like a concert venue but there are huge rocks that are jetting up. It’s really cool.
Aaron, what happened to your hair?
I felt like I had been rocking this retro cowboy look for going on like 12 years. Felt like it was time to shatter my previous image. And I feel like I move better and puts an image to becoming a new creature. It more aggressive and best I’ve ever felt.
How’s the Summer tour coming along?
The summer tour has a few festivals on the books and but is yielding time for kicking back with the family and getting the energy back to bring it on the new album and focusing on making it amazing. I want to bring a raw futuristic blitz to the game and excited to push it… Thomas is always going to bring the electronics and the beats will always be there.
Questions for Thomas
Where does your inspiration come from?
I think I have always liked music a lot and when I was in high school I really got into acid house and Chicago house and Detroit techno and at that time you really couldn’t hear it anywhere else like the radio or the internet so the only place to hear that music was at those parties or a record store. It really inspired me and made me really excited about a new kind of music especially a new kind of music I had never heard before. I just try to think about those feelings and warehouse parties just the excitement. Other things that happen in your day-to-day life, all that filters in when you get in the studio.
You have 4 records out. How is the 5th looking?
Me personally, I’m real particular. It seems like in the past a really good song comes real fast and they click with Aaron and I really fast for some reason and then sometimes you will be working on a song forever and your just like aw man, you just hit a brick wall. Right now, for me, I just want to make stuff that is really good that if I took myself out of it I would be playing it all the time. Its hard when you work on it for 50 hours and then you have to take yourself out of it and pretend someone else was playing it for you, how would you react.
A robot making love to a tree. What’s that all about?
I think its the combo of electronics and synthesizes and Aaron is more like rock, not that rock is a tree. I don’t know it’s just a combo of Aaron and I, some kind of weird deal.
Oh man you know there are so many cool venues. The Crystal Ball Room in Portland has a bouncing floor. It was built in the 20s or 30s so it has the floor where they had swing dancing so the floor kind of gives and when that place gets packed and people start jumping it feels like the whole building is moving. Red Rocks is obviously really cool. I always think about the old emos shows and the smaller venues we played when we were starting out. I’ll remember random shows like flamingo cantina. Each show is special to me; I kind of store them in my memory bank. A lot of it too is the staff at the venue. Like the 930 club in Washington, they are just so professional there and they really care. Their sound system is good and they make you fell real comfortable. The people working there are top notch. Whitewater is a lot of fun. Everyone has a good time. They make it more of a weekend and camp. It’s not just the show it’s a full day or the weekend.
Funniest thing on tour?
I don’t know about funny but we do a lot of car racing, like racing the rental cars. One of the laser techs, Jesse Parker, he races cars. So we get the rental cars and we will race and do all kind of dangerous maneuvers. In LA and San Fran I almost had a bunch of wrecks. I remember one time we were going like 100 miles down the sunset strip trying to get that fast. I think the speed limit is like 30.
Message in your music?
I don’t know, we just kind of put out what we are feeling at the time and for me its all about seeing people smiling and dancing and letting go and having a good time. That makes me excited because if I go out somewhere, that’s what I want to do. I don’t want to be bummed out; I want to be in good spirits.
How do you feel about property rights and downloading music?
I mean people do that all the time. It’s getting kind of tricky now because I look up a lot of stuff on you tube and find new stuff on you tube. My brothers find stuff and download MP3s; it’s easier for people to enjoy music when they can find it real fast on the internet. Maybe they don’t buy the music but they might go to a concert or festival or tell one of their friends, I think it all works out.
By now you guys could have been signed to a major record label. How did your label, Trashy Moped, come about?
We have had several offers over the years but we have just been kind of happy doing it the way we were doing it. I think once you sign to a record label you automatically have a boss or several bosses. People kind of directing your career and music because they are in the biz of making money off selling records. But for some reason we never found a fit or wanted to do it that way we were happy the way we were going. And it worked out way better than I could have imagined.
Do you feel like you guys have more freedom?
I don’t know sometimes it works out. It just depends if a band just wants to make music or a band is interested in the biz side or production side. There’s probably a bunch of bands who just want to make music so being on a label works out for them. This is what we were comfortable doing.
Who else is under Trashy Moped?
I signed a friend of ours last year his name is Matt Drenik and he was in a band in ATX called the Lions and started a new thing called Battleme and he sent me some demos and I kind of like the songs and he released a record in April. But it’s been pretty minimal just because most of my time is Ghostland time. I didn’t want to try and spread myself to thin and work with a bunch of different acts and giving them attention.
How do you feel about where you’re going?
I have no idea where I’m going. I just try to work hard everyday and be productive that’s one of the main things I’m learning cant try to plan everything out to work out but it hardly ever happens the way you plan it, you just kind have to go with it and adjust. Everything has happened naturally, I don’t try and look to far ahead.
How did your cape come about?
My wife made me the first one. I don’t get to really move around, I’m kind of locked into equipment and drums and stuff so there isn’t much room for me to move around and even if there was I don’t know that I would. I’m kind of sloth like back there. So I was talking to her and was like, I need an outfit or something that fits my station. She showed me and I was like,” wow that’s really cool” so I think she has made like 4 or 5 of them of the years.
Are they different?
Lately I have been sporting the Texas flag cape everywhere I go even if different countries, I’ll bring it. I like the cape it’s comfortable to me. The Texas flag cape came about because Texas was playing Alabama for the national champ. And I had Texas flag hanging in my house and I pulled it down and I wrapped it around me and I started running around the house.
What Austin-y things do you do on your free time?
We will go to Deep Eddy, Northwest Park, Zilker, I like to go to different restaurants around town, and my wife and I will go to Uchiko. We used to come into Vivo all the time
His take on being away from family:
A-a challenge that is well worth it. They are supportive and being away from your wife. She’s your friend who you want to be around all the time and talk to. Your kids are growing up and you love the normalcy of your family life and being on the road creates a void of that when everything is new and you are stranger everywhere you really start to see who you really are. It’s hard but it makes me grow as a person and a musician. It’s hard but the shows are worth it. Its and addiction, the best drug I’ve ever done. I’ll walk through any of the hard stuff to get to that show. Its like you’re getting off to being up there and getting the crowd off at the same time. But it’s all about staying aware of your self and finding a balance with your family. And they are totally supportive.
Do you feel like you guys get recognized more around town now?
Sometimes people notice me. I’m a pretty low profile dude though so I normally stay under the radar. But its not like I can’t go to the grocery store. If someone does, I’m pretty cool and just like hey what’s up?
What are you jamming to right now?
A lot of French house, disco house. Under ground electro dance music is what I’m playing most of the time. There is this band Chromatics that put out a record not to long ago that’s pretty chill stuff. Experimental stuff that you can drive to. We spend a lot of time drive and you just want something chill to drive to that fits the scenery or the mood of night driving.
A common conception of Ghostland is a neon dance party?
I love that. I really like to see people dressing up with the neon headbands and feathers. All that cool stuff. Especially in the crowd when everyone is glowing. It looks cool at night. If you could time travel from the past and you showed up at one of those shows you be pretty freaked out or wonder what was going on.
Are we going to see a 2nd night at Whitewater?
I’m pretty sure its just going to be Saturday night. We fly back and then are working on production. There is something planned that we haven’t ever done at any show so making sure that goes smoothly. I think it just going to be one show this year.
Writer & Interviewer: Ana Pryor
Whitewater Amphitheater Show Review (7/21/12)
As if the date could not come any closer, Ghostland Observatory’s gig at Whitewater Amphitheater was finally here. Texans know what to expect when a GLO show is coming. From the beginning to the end, their set consists of strobes, moving lights, and lots of lasers.
An hour away from Austin in New Braunfels, Whitewater Amphitheatre was the perfect location for this stellar performance. There is nothing like dancing the night away in the woods while; “All that is electronic and organic”, Thomas Turner’s genius wall of sound keeps you energized. “All that is”, Aaron Behrens flamboyant footwork and operatic vocals has your body quivering while the lasers shine down from the stage. Not only are they party animals on stage but they were courteous enough to host a meet and greet for their fans backstage while hanging with their families.
The word has spread on the release of a new album and the crowd was blessed with the sneak peak of their new track, “Only You”. It has been a while since the release of their last album, Codename: Rondo back in 2010 and that new track proves that they have not lost their touch.
Show Reviewer: Lazaro Chavez