Ghost Owl's Adam Perry on the Jam Scene, It "Felt Like You Were There with Everybody"
It's been about three months since Adam Perry, Matt McDonald, and Albert Suttle formed Ghost Owl. Immediately coming together after the dissolution of their former band, Perpetual Groove (P-Groove), these guys have been working non-stop, writing, practicing and touring.
Ghost Owl is diving into a more EDM-influenced sound that further explores something that they merely touched upon with their former band. Not just content with changing their sound, they also launched an innovative Kickstarter campaign to fund the project in many unique ways.
Ghost Owl will be making their anticipated South Florida debut at the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton. New Times had the opportunity to speak with Adam Perry (Keyboards, Synths, and Bass) about the progress they're making as band, upcoming innovative ideas to bring fans into the mix, and what they're going to be up while in Florida.
New Times: Ghost owl has pretty much been up and running at full speed for the past couple of months. Your Kickstarter gotten a tremendous response, you've announced a new album for the fall, and been touring pretty heavily. How's everything going for you guys at the moment?
Adam Perry: It's going good. We are making new fans every night, and that's all we can really ask for. We've had a lot of different people coming in, some that are P-Groove fans some that aren't. Some that didn't like P-Groove but like Ghost Owl, and some P-Groove fans who don't like Ghost Owl.
It's been an interesting couple of months, but overall it's been a really positive start to everything. You know, we're playing Catskill Chills in September, and I was thinking, "Oh, that's three months from now... What was I doing three months ago from today?" And I realized we hadn't even played out first show yet! (Laughs) So, you know, it kind of put everything into perspective on how quickly everything's happening. It feels like we've been doing it a lot longer than we have been. But it's been a lot of fun.
We're finally doing something a little different, and by no means do I mean that as a slight on P-Groove, but when you do the same thing, play the same songs for 12 or 13 years, for the most part, there's part of you as an artist that makes you want create something different. It was scary to jump into at first, but it feels like a comfortable pair of jeans right now.
That's great to hear! How supportive have fans of P-Groove been in regards to showing up to shows and supporting Ghost owl?
Over all they've been great, man. Everyone has given it a fair shake, that's all we'd ever ask. Like I said, it's for some, and it's not for some, and that's completely understandable. We're pretty realistic people, it's just how it is. Some people are going to dig it, some aren't. We're not offended when people aren't into to it. We're tickled pink when they do get into it. It's all about keeping your perspective correct and on course. You don't want to go in with anything but a positive attitude and to expect the best.
Ghost Owl will be making its South Florida debut on July 5, at the Funky Biscuit. As P-Groove, you guys came down to South Florida a lot and played a ton of two-night shows at the Culture Room. What is it about South Florida that keeps you guys coming back and seems to usually get the best out of you guys?
Man, I think it's that the people we've come to know over the years down there have become close friends, and anytime you're in an environment with a large amount of your close friends, it puts you in a certain level of relaxation that lets you perform the way you want to. You're comfortable; you're relaxed, which in turn leads to great shows.
At least in my opinion, some of my favorite P-Groove moments were on that stage at the Culture Room. In fact, one of my all-time favorite shows ever was at the Culture Room, a December show a couple of years ago. I look forward to going down there, and I like the beach too, that always puts me in a good mood, especially when I know we're down for an extended stay.
We're going to be going to a buddy's studio, do a live webcast of our show. Just have some fun, go to the beach, and work on a little music. We just want to soak up a little bit of Florida and relax before we have to head back to Georgia, because as soon as we get back, we're going into the studio. Things are starting to amp up here, I'm really looking forward to it, and I'm really looking forward to the new album.
Me too, honestly. I really like the direction you guys are going with this band.
Thanks, man. I've got to be honest with you; we're going to be debuting three new tunes here coming into this Florida run. Probably the best three we've done, so I'm really looking forward to playing them on this run.
As for the album, we have a ton of material to pull from, so we're going to try to record most, if not all of it so we can kinda of piece together a good flow for the album. We're working with one of our old time friends who used to be a P-Groove soundman back in the day, and he's a wizard in the studio. We always wanted to do an album with him then, but it never panned out for whatever reason. He's going to produce and engineer our album which puts us in a comfort zone for that. So, exciting things are happening, we're excited about the next couple months.
Like I said before, your Kickstarter campaign was a huge success, and very unique in many ways. The main themes that stick out to me, is the whole "Lessons" idea. That if we are open enough and accepting, we can learn something new from anywhere. It spawned a whole series of interviews with extremely creative people giving words of advice and inspiration. How'd this idea come about?
Well, it came about when we sat down, and Matt kind of had the lead on the Kickstarter campaign. We talked about instead of coming out and saying "Hey we need some money to tour the U.S." We wanted to do something that was more than that. We've been through a lot, the three of us, in the years leading up to this. We've learned a lot from the people in our lives, so we figured that we can still learn. Just because we went through some times, it doesn't mean the learning is over.
Maybe we can kinda learn in a different aspect, as far as positive learning and collaborations with other artists, and other people who spend their lives creating. Because creative thought crosses all platforms -- be it novelists, painters, lighting designers. The core of creation comes from the same place, we figured if everyone can come together and share these ideas on where the creation comes from in a different art form, it leads to a bigger understanding on how the creative process works, and how to enhance your own personal process.
In what ways have your collaborations with other artists affected your live show? Production-wise or other?
One of the things we're doing with the actual visual presentation of the band is we're using 3-D mapping with projection art. It's in its infant stage of where we want to get to, but we collaborated with an artist who is well known in the production art scene. We sent him a bunch of our practice tapes and he constructed some art to go with the music, and taught us a lot about how to actually pull this off in a live setting, the proper ways to set it up and programs that we'll need to manipulate the imagery.
Generally putting our visual show together with this other artist was the first time we've done anything of this nature. Totally outside of anything we've done in the past. Also, we want to stretch into a different realm. We want to create a sense of community, so the fans can collaborate with us.
On this album, what we were thinking about doing, we're going to release three tracks that are mixable. So, you can take the tracks that were recorded, make your own version of the song, your own mix and post it on the site, so you can become part of the mixing. We might play a song a different way or incorporate it someway gradually. The other part of that is, we also want to have an open forum for visuals too. Because we're using projections, we're going to try to start a campaign when the album comes out, where people can record videos to some of our songs that will be projected on stage while we play those songs. That way, the fan can become part of the artistry with us.
These are all ideas that should come to fruition in the Fall. Maybe someone likes a video so much and that leads to something for someone in video production or something. Those ideas of keeping everyone involved kind of keeps the spirit of what I always loved about music and especially what I liked about the jam band scene. It always felt like you were there with everybody. We're not doing anywhere as near of improvising as we did with P-Groove, but we still want to have that same feeling of, we're all working on this moment together.
It's been mentioned that you and Matt McDonald have both switched up what instruments you guys will play with Ghost Owl. Was it a change you guys knew was going to happen? Or did it happen organically?
Well, I do most of the writing on my keyboards, honestly. I always wanted to incorporate more synths. In P-Groove I had a little fatty bass synthesizer. With the Ghost Owl set-up, I have four keyboards, and I play a little bit of piano on some songs.
When we were putting this together, we had no idea what is what going to be like, it came together so fast, we were in this swim for your life kind of situation. This ended up yielding some great things, for me personally as a writer. I was in the studio twelve hours a day, cranking out songs like I never have before. It led to me thinking, "I want to play these songs on both my keyboards and my bass." So some songs I switch between the two. I keep the bass slung around my back, I need it, I grab it. Leaving all the options open.
The one that was a surprise though, was Matt. He was a guitar major in college, he came up to me and was like, "I think I might want to play a little bit of guitar, since you're covering most of the synth stuff" and I was open to it. As we were jamming we I was like " this is actually working pretty nicely, I forgot you were a damn good guitar player. "It just evolved from there. It's funny, this whirlwind of stuff that's happened over the past six months has been just that, this crazy whirlwind. It's like if I go back and start thinking about where I was mentally and just anywhere about this project, it seems like light years ago because of all the changes, preparations, and personal changes that I had to go through to get ready to do this.
Another thing is that I'm singing a lot. I can sing, I just wasn't the strongest singer, but I constantly practice now. It's like, "Man, I couldn't sing that song back in January. Now it's easy." All these little personal accomplishments, triumphs, and changes. And the way things have unfolded over the last couple months has been interesting. It's been a lot of fun, and it's been a challenge for all of us. That's part of what I love about music in general is always keeping yourself challenged. You don't want to be complacent. You always want to keep yourself on your toes, and we're definitely doing that.
A staple of P-Groove live shows were various covers of songs from all over the spectrum. Is that something Ghost Owl will dabble with, or are you just focusing on original material for the mean time?
We are going to dabble a little bit. We got two we're going to start to incorporate. They're not going to be the same kind of covers; they might not be recognizable to a lot of people, a bit more obscure. We do want to throw some covers in there. If nothing else, just to kind of show what a little bit of our influences are, and where they're coming from, things we like and think we can do well.
In P-Groove we all knew what Brock (Brock Butler former guitarist for Perpetual Groove) strengths were as a singer, and we'd hear a song and be like "Oh man, Brock can kill this, let's do it." Now it's a different kind of thing where it's like, "That song we can crush, because how we're set-up to do things." There's been a couple we're pretty sure can crush a room. We'll probably pull them out for the Fall tour. We're really concentrating on our original stuff right now because of the album coming up. We want to fine-tune our sound as we approach recording time.
On July 10, Ghost Owl is going to participate in the launch of the "Live From Aura Studios" series. Again, a very innovative thing that you guys are doing. How did this come about?
Well, Darren Wolf is a buddy of ours, he threw out the offer, asked us if we wanted to do it and we were all about it. We're going to have a full-set up in the studio. We're also going to playing with some of the projection stuff as well. It's going to be a good old time, I actually really looking forward to it. My parents can watch. (laughs)
Ghost Owl. With FREQ. 9:30 p.m., Friday, July 5, at the Funky Biscuit, 303 SE Mizner Blvd., Royal Palm Place, Boca Raton. Tickets are $8 in advance, $12 at the door. Call 561-395-2929, or visit funkybiscuit.com.
And be sure to tune into livefromaura.com on July 10, from 8 to 10 p.m. to catch Ghost Owl kicking off the Aura Concert Series.
Get the Music Newsletter
Find out about upcoming concerts and special offers happening in the South Florida music scene.