Flyer Profile: Ghostland Observatory

You’ve seen them right? Those guys in the black t-shirts with ironic mustaches or the short vintage shorts and deep v-neck t-shirts that they wear with their grandpa’s dress shoes?

They’re always at the show, and kind of stand to the side or the back of the room with their arms crossed looking kinda miserable while they silently judge the band. Sometimes they wear sunglasses to the bar.

Well even those guys get down at a Ghostland Observatory show, because even the snobbiest of snobs and the hippest of hipsters can’t help but shake their ass to that band.

Ghostland Observatory is a two piece band from Austin who have grown their audience organically, largely on the merits of their live show since they released their first record, on their own indie label, Trashy Moped in 2005. Ghostland released Paparazzi Lightning less than a year later, and after two critically acclaimed records, and a couple years of touring the country, Ghostland Observatory kind of blew up.

Ghostland Observatory.

Their sound comes from the rock-influenced vocals of singer/guitarist Aaron Behrens and the beats and instrumentation of keyboardist and producer Thomas Turner. The result is a mash-up of electronic-rock-danceable goodness, but again, it’s their live show that has contributed to their popularity.

We’re talking lasers. Costumes. Gyrating. And dancing. Lots of dancing.

They’ve been called “electro-dance soul rock” by Gothamist, “dripping-wet sexplosion of instant addiction” by Insound, and “Daft Punk-for-frat-boys” by Pitchfork.

It happens.

But the goal of every Ghostland Obervatory show is to convert those hipsters in the back to participants in the dance party, which happens more often than not. Singer Behrens talked about that in an interview with Underground America last year.

“The people that are going to get (us) the most are the ones that come with open minds, to experience,” Behrens said. “And we’ve been known to convert some people that came there to hack us in half. I’m not afraid of those kinds of people.”

Ghostland Observatory will be at the AMP this Friday, September 4th, and you can still get tickets at the AMP’s website.

We got in touch with Thomas Turner from the band (he’s the one in the cape), and he was nice enough to answer some questions for us.

Fayetteville Flyer: What have you been listening to lately?
Thomas Turner: Classical, Brian Eno, Gang of 4, Scott Walker, Prince.

FF: Ever been to Arkansas? If so, what’s your impression of the place?
TT: I have been to Texarkana when I was younger. I had a relative that lived there.

Plenty of bands can reproduce their record on stage note-for-note, but you guys seem to understand that a live show can be more than that. How important is it for a band to “perform?”
TT: We love the performance. We get to create a whole atmosphere when we perform.

You produce an incredibly full sound on stage for a two piece band. I’ve read that you do that without using a laptop. How is that possible?
TT: I just like to use synths and sequencers. That is how I learned and I am most comfortable with that set up.

FF: Is there a particular song or songs that you love to play maybe a bit more than others, or one that crowds always seem to respond to?
TT: I love to play Rich Man and Midnight Voyage. There is tons of improvisation that directly relates to how the crowd is reacting.

FF: You recently played a few dates with the Flaming Lips. How was that experience?
TT: They were great and they allowed us to expose their fans to our music. We had a lot of fun!

FF: You guys are playing ACL in a few weeks, and the lineup is insane as always. Do you plan on catching any shows while you are there, and if so, who do you want to see?
TT: If time permits we will check out some bands. We have a huge production planned for this one so we will play it by ear.

FF: All of your records have been released through Trashy Moped Recordings, correct? With music been consumed largely digitally these days, is there any point to big labels at all?
TT: It depends on what you are after. A major label can get you a lot of exposure quick and break through barriers that it’s taken us years to get through. Both sides have the strong and weak points.

FF: Any recording in the works now?
TT: We have a lot of ideas to get out! I’m excited about the new record.

Below is a recent performance of their song Dancing to Vibrate by Ghostland Observatory.