No Saints In The City, Playing With The Goo Goo Dolls, And More With John Merchant and Todd Long
Hello, thank you for joining us today. How are you?
Todd- doing good just getting ready to move from Alaska to Florida. Looking forward to some warmth!
Tell us a bit about your new album, what was writing and recording for this album like?
Todd – We wrote our new album “No Saints In The City” remotely during the pandemic. With John living in Michigan and myself living in Alaska at the time it made the process easier with the accessibility to file sharing. Our tracks have traveled to England, New York City, Alaska, Vegas, Michigan. Our music has traveled further than we have.
John- Our new album “No Saints in the City” was begun before we had even released our EP “Headed West” on Golden Robot Records. We used our same process of starting with a skeleton of a composition then refining that idea as we developed characters and stories that the song would portray. We always want the music create the atmosphere the songs characters live in. I think we felt some additional weight, know that Golden Robot had a full-length option on our contract but could also opt out and not offer to release it. We were pretty excited when they were as excited as we were.
Given the current state of the world, did it pose any issues towards the completion of the
Todd - it’s actually made it kind of easier. We like to give props to musicians that we love by asking them to play on our tracks. We ask them if the dig it then play what if feel fits. If you don’t like the track then no hard feelings and let’s not waste anyone’s time. I feel very fortunate to have the likes of Tracii Guns (LA Guns), Mark Knight (Bang Tango) among others play on our stuff!
John - Although we started making records over 30 years ago in an “all analog” world, we’ve really learned to embrace technology as a means to expand our collaborative abilities and make financially smart records. Recording budgets aren’t anything close to what they used to be, so you really have to work smart and effectively.
Of course the current state of things isn't ideal, have you started to plan for what comes next
once the world starts opening up again?
Todd – We do have a booking agent so we are hoping that we can get out and do some shows. We will see how things unfold. We have a new single out now via Golden Robot Records titled “No Saints In The City”. The 2nd single with drop later in the summer and the whole album of the same name will drop in the fall or winter!
John - Hopefully some limited, targeted, live shows. Again, when it comes to all aspects of Ghosts of Sunset, including touring, we have to be smart. That includes financially as well as allowing for balance of our family and personal lives.
Tell us a bit about yourself as a musician, who influences you?
Todd - I’m originally a drummer so I love Rikki Rockett (Poison), Vikki Fox (Enuff Z Nuff), Travis Barker (Blink-182). As far as guitarists I love Yngwie Malmsteen and Rob Marcello right now!
John - Since I was a kid, growing up on classic country music, I always appreciated stories that drew me in. Cash, Haggard, Willie Nelson, Waylon, Marty Robins, etc.… The Beatles are my number one influence and they really directed me to bands and collaboration. The joys of sharing music with other like-minded people. I’m into all the greats like Springsteen, Dylan, etc.… but I think that “18 & Life” by Skid Row, paints as vivid of a picture as “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash does, the music is just presenting a different stylistic approach.
Who is your biggest bucket list band you've shared the stage with? Who would you love to share the stage with next?
Todd - Was lucky enough to play with Goo Goo Dolls, Sponge, Butch Walker. Would love to open for Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Kiss, Poison
John - Opening for the Goo Goo Dolls and the Bodeans were both big for me. Opening for Faster Pussycat meant a lot because they’re one of my favorites of that era. For Ghosts of Sunset, a band like Def Leppard or Bon Jovi would be a dream because we share similar musical approach and we could learn a lot about how to make sure your audience grows WITH you.
What are some of the main themes behind the new album? What story are you trying to
Todd – loosely based on New York City and a couple or girl that comes on hard times.
John - I think boiled down, we try and tell stories about the human experience. We do have some touchstone words and phrases during the process. On “Saints” we talked a lot about New York City, the scene there, the feel of the streets. I really was diving back into the 70s and 80s when NYC was in crisis. The people who stayed, lived, love and worked in the city were cut of a different cloth. There was a toughness to them.
Last but not least, is there any message you would like to share with your fans?
Todd – please stay strong out there in these strange times!
John - Just a heartfelt “thank you” for doing this with us. Ghosts of Sunset is really a band made up of everyone who listens and likes what we’re doing. It’s a mutual exchange between people who feel similar about music, it’s importance in our lives, and the fact it makes the world a much better place.
Keep up with Ghosts of Sunset on their website!