All is good in the world of Ghost Station thanks very much – Cast Away has had a few radio plays here in the UK and in the USA which is great. As a self-confessed TV addict I’m excited about the return of Curb Your Enthusiasm to our screens, the world needs more Larry David style comedic dramas. Not forgetting Jerry Before Seinfeld on Netflix of course. I’ve no interest in seeing the Pyramids or getting up early to see the sun rising over the ruins of Machu Picchu, just put the football on TV and a glass of red wine in my hand and I’m a happy man.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Cast Away”?
Well, the video was filmed on the Essex coast of Frinton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Nazewhich is a pensioner’s paradise here in the UK and it caused quite a stir among the early morning dog walkers let me tell you. They saw the cameras and thought a Hollywood film crew had rocked up or something. The downside of filming at sunrise of course is the 2.30am alarm call. Fine if you’re going to the airport for a week of sun soaked bliss in Spain, not quite so welcome when it’s the freezing cold English North Sea lapping at your feet rather than the Mediterranean. That said, it was a great morning and we lucked out on the blue skies.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
The title comes from the Tom Hanks film as it was on TV the night before I wrote the song so it was still on my mind when I picked up my guitar the next morning. I do love a Tom Hanks film although being stranded on a desert island wouldn’t suit me at all to be honest. I’m not great around sand, I’d be useless at building some kind of shelter and I’m not sure I could start a fire with two sticks. As you can see, the list of negatives is stacking up here. The idea around Cast Away is turning your back on daily routines and the modern world. Everything online requires remembering a user name or password, getting to work is a hassle when you’re on a commuter train, stuff like that so desert island living is the opposite to all the noise and commotion. Just make sure there’s an all-inclusive hotel on site.
How was the recording and writing process?
We record out on a farm in rural Essex so it’s very quiet and tranquil. That said, there’s been some hairy moments especially when the local sheep managed to escape the nearby field and made a beeline for the studio. It’s fair to say that these sheep were on a mission, perhaps they had a show business career in mind? Luckily we managed to get downstairs to shut the main door in the nick of time otherwise those sheep would have been running riot in the studio. I write songs pretty quickly and I rarely write down the lyrics, if I can remember them straightaway then that’s the sign of something memorable in my book. Elton John said he never spends more than an hour working on a song so that seems like a good template to follow.
What role do UK influences and culture play in your writing?
Nearly all of my early musical influences are from the UK – From the Sixties and The Beatles and The Kinks through to The Jam, The Smiths and Oasis. Proper guitar bands that have generated an almost tribal following. I like characters as well, people that can entertain like Noel and Liam Gallagher, John Lydon, Shaun Ryder, they’ve all got something to say when being interviewed. My all-time favorite rock stars are Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, total legends. I like how hip-hop always namechecks popular culture and I’ve tried to do something similar when writing Ghost Station lyrics, Head for the Sun was about a prison break, Tear It up references Michael Caine, just something a little different. I’m a big fan of stuff like Motown and Northern Soul as well, check out Westbound #9 by Flaming Ember, proper tune that!
Does your new single mean we can expect a new album – how’s that coming along?
There is a Ghost Station album already out called Songs from the East Coast which features me on the front from the Cast Away video shoot. It’s a compilation album of the Ghost Station singles to date plus all the bonus tracks, stuff like that. There’s an Elton John album called Songs from the West Coast so it’s a little nod to that title. In all honesty, when the cover features you standing on the beach and you’re looking out at the sea then your potential album titles are rapidly reduced to nautical themes.
What else is happening next in Ghost Station’s world?
Once Cast Away is finished then it’s straight up into the attic and getting the festive decorations down for the next single, Christmas Telly. It’s a duet that features a Salvation Army style brass band for that UK wintery feel. There’s some great Christmas songs out there like Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues and Paul McCartney but they’re all about 30 plus years old so it seems like a good time to have something new to listen to alongside those classics. My favourite duet of all time is Aretha Franklin and George Michael singing I knew You Were Waiting (For Me), such a great song. When the mountain is high with turkey sandwiches that need to be finished before New Year then stick Christmas Telly on in the background.