The Ghost Inside: Give Up The Ghost
The softly spoken Jonathan Vigil is a far cry from the lion-throated frontman we see on stage. But his words are just as heartfelt as you’d expect from one of modern hardcore’s most impassioned lyricists. With almost a year gone by since the release of their third full-length Get What You Give, Vigil took some time out to reflect on the band’s ongoing growth.
We’ve been waiting a long time for a headline tour from you boys, but we’ve been lucky to have you here supporting some big Aussie bands. What moments stand out from those tours?
We’ve been very lucky with the bands we’ve toured with in Australia, having played with Amity recently, as well as Parkway in the past and also Prom Queen and Deez Nuts. I guess the stand out moment would definitely be the first time we played Riverstage in Brisbane, to about 6,000 people, which is definitely the biggest single show we’ve ever played before. When we walked out for the first song it was like nothing we’ve ever experienced before. I think Australia was also one of the first places where people actually cared about our band, sang along at shows, and wanted to meet us, so that was very special to us.
On Get What You Give you incorporated clean vocals for the first time, which can be a risky move for heavy bands. How did this come about?
Well we worked with Jeremy McKinnon (A Day To Remember) as our producer, and this was the first time we’d actually had someone play that role. The clean vocals were not something that he pushed us into at all, because even though we’ve never really considered doing that on previous records, it was still our idea to put them there. But he did help to write those melodies, and it added so much to the album. We’ve never been the kind of band to change our style to try and be more popular or get on the radio, but we just wanted to write the best possible songs and we didn’t want to limit ourselves. As far as the risks of doing that go, every band is worried about putting out new stuff no matter what it is because you always open yourselves up to judgment, but the reception was great and we didn’t get much flak.
What do you think defines a band as being “hardcore” today, in a world where there’s so much dispute over these ever-changing genre boundaries?
I think a lot of people concern themselves too much with genres, but it’s not a big deal to me. I consider a hardcore band to be a band that writes passionate songs that mean something and have value and a message. That’s always been the driving force behind hardcore for me. It’s not really about the specifics of the music style; it all comes down to what you’re singing about. Sure, if people want to look at the differences between bands then you have all these variations: the “hardcore” hardcore, and metalcore and post-hardcore and all these sub-genres, but I’ve never really cared about that. To me, it’s what the band is passionate about and what they believe in that counts.
What do you think gives a band longevity?
Honestly, I think what keeps a band alive or dictates how long a band lasts is their fans. A lot of bands are still around mostly because there are people out there who still care about what they’re doing and about their music. I never thought we’d be on our third record and getting ready to write our fourth now. And we wouldn’t have without the support of our fans. I think people see through gimmicks pretty well, so the bands that cling to gimmicks just seem to shrivel out. But the bands who stick around are the ones that write with passion. That’s what keeps the fans interested, so those two things together are what keep bands alive.