INTERVIEW – Tom Scully of Guitars Have Ghosts

Guitars Have Ghosts are a band on the rise in the London rock scene. Frontman, Tom Scully gives us his thoughts on the band life.

You recently went to America to play some shows, how was it?

Yes! We were invited to play in Los Angeles at the legendary House of Blues on Sunset Blvd and it didn’t disappoint. We spent the first week in April this year hanging out in Hollywood and playing a couple of shows around town, making on the way a lot of cool and interesting new friends. Needless to say we enjoyed every second of it and didn’t feel ready to come back to England after only a short time; but we got the taste for it and we’ll be getting back out there as soon as we can to pick up where we left off.


Is playing in America different to playing in the UK?

Yes and no. In so much as we go in to every show with the same intention of putting everything in to our performance and leaving it all on stage, it is exactly the same. However, there are a few big differences which make US shows stand out when compared with gigs over here. Personally I found the audiences extremely receptive to us and our music, more so than I’ve experienced in London to date. Also the sheer thrill of playing on Sunset Strip naturally adds a lot of excitement and adrenalin in to the equation, immediately marking the gigs out as perhaps more memorable than most. Obviously there is the added dimension of being a foreign band which creates some intrigue in the audience and sets up the show as something out of the ordinary before we even take to the stage. The weather plays a massive role too – hanging out before a show in the sultry LA night is by far preferable to taking cover from the rain in a doorway on Camden High Street…


What do you enjoy the most being in Guitars Have Ghosts, especially as the lead singer?

There’s nothing more enjoyable than playing in a tight rock band. I get the same feeling every time we get in to a studio, rehearsal room or take the stage together and it’s a feeling that cannot be satisfied in any other way. Plugging in, turning up loud and blasting through our ever growing repetoire together is really the thing that keeps me in to it. Added to that is the fact that we are never standing still as a band or as people; always writing, progressing, getting better at what we do and looking forward to whatever it is that’s coming next. Vocally we are all strong in the group, so the title ‘lead singer’ becomes a little immaterial as we are often all singing throughout the set. However, I obviously do get a buzz from taking  the mic centre stage with this awesome band, proclaiming our songs to the crowd – who wouldn’t?!


What is the writing process like, particularly in lyric writing?

The writing process is not something which can be defined so easily. In other words, there are no hard and fast ‘rules’, no magic songwriting formula to be adhered to. Sometimes songs are brought to the group by one of us for development, other times they are born from nothing in the studio. Ultimately no idea/song is realised fully unless all four of us are in to it enough to play it with conviction. We’re constantly creating ideas jointly and separately, so it becomes easier to second guess eachother as writers and ‘know’ where the music should be headed. In this way finishing a song (which by the way is the hardest part) becomes a lot less difficult to achieve.

Lyrics are an integral part of the evolution of the song, and can define the direction, mood and feel of the tune. When I’m writing lyrics it is often one particular phrase that will recurr over and over until I use it and move on. Many times this may start as a nonsensical statement which follows syllabically a particular rhythm. Gut feeling necessarily has a lot to do with it then, and often it is the very first idea that comes to mind which inspires the following verse.  Just like with the music, sometimes lyrics can be more or less written in under 15 minutes, whilst on other occasions a line or phrase may be pondered on and sweated over for days before it is settled upon.


What is your favourite song to play live?

This changes from time to time and a standard answer would be simply “the newest one”, but right now I am really enjoying playing Speaking in Tongues the most. It’s the first time that we have introduced an acoustic guitar in to the fold, and all round it is a tune that never fails to get me going. Lyrically, vocally and musically it rocks.


What is coming up for Guitars Have Ghosts in the foreseeable future?

The immediate plan is to get back in the studio to record a whole load of material. Add to this a few shows around London and we’re left feeling optimistic of another blinding summer for Guitars Have Ghosts.


Check out this video of GHG playing live:

Get the second single, Green Lover by Guitars Have Ghosts here !

Sarah Tsang

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