The Ghost Inside’s Zach Johnson Opens Up About Bus Crash In New Interview
We’ve all seen bands end up in road accidents before, and even more have had experiences with their gear being stolen whilst out on tour. But no band in our scene has been dealt a harsher blow than The Ghost Inside, whose tour bus collided with a semi-trailer in November last year, killing the drivers of both vehicles. We’ve done our best to keep you updated on the band, from frontman Jonathan Vigil learning to walk again, to drummer Andrew Tkaczyk getting back behind the kit after losing a leg.
Now, guitarist Zach Johnson, who lost three toes in the accident, has opened up about the ordeal in an incredibly in-depth interview with Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta. Speaking on Jasta’s own podcast, The Jasta Show, Johnson discusses the incident and its consequences in great detail, looking at the future of The Ghost Inside and the overall fallout of what the band members experienced. The hour-and-a-half show spans two interviews between Jasta and Johnson, conducted over the course of a few months, and thanks to the good folks at theprp.com, we’ve been able to cherry-pick a few snippets from the interview. Be sure to scroll down to listen to the interview in its entirety.
Looking back on the accident…
“Some of the photos that are online show – most of them show the back of the bus tipped over. But I haven’t seen online like the front of the bus where the damage was done. But obviously I’ve seen photos and I saw it there that day. It was just an insane wreck. I grew up touring in bands, like The Ghost Inside, we were in vans for years. The bus is always like you think, ‘OK, it’s safe’. Professional driver, big rig, nothing can fuck this up. Of course for us it was an 18-wheeler, so it had to be the other biggest vehicle.”
The resulting post-traumatic stress…
“There are a few guys who have kind of been experiencing that – I mean all of us did. I haven’t had too hard of a problem with it lately. You know directly after and figuring out what happened… I was awake throughout the entire accident, so I remember that and then waiting for help. And then I also… The last thing I remember was the helicopter taking off to take me to the hospital and then I’m pretty sure they pumped me full of pain meds or knocked me out or whatever when they got me in a medical vehicle.
But just thinking about that a lot and the first time when I got back on my phone, obviously I had quite a few calls and messages and stuff. But like seeing… I got on Facebook and saw articles that had pictures of the bus and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s too soon right now’. I’m decently fine with it now, just, you know, the road’s a pretty fucking freaky place sometimes.
The first time I was in a transport vehicle and a semi merged onto the highway next to us, I was just… I was a little shook. But just seeing the size of those again, it was like, ‘Fuck’. When I got pulled out of the bus it looked like a scrap yard basically, there were just metal parts everywhere.”
The future of The Ghost Inside…
“For us as The Ghost Inside it’s going to take a while for everybody to get to the point where we can be a band. You know, like physically play with each other. But we were already writing – our plan was to record, like early 2016. So I’ll continue riffing and writing stuff for TGI, depending on… Our bass player Jim is like, he’s possibly gonna be going out on a tour. Cause he broke an ankle and a tooth and it wasn’t as terrible as some of the others.
He’d rather get back out there if he can until all of us are ready. Which like, same for me, you know? It’d be fun to play guitar with another band or do whatever, but the thing is for me personally, my recovery is probably going to be up there as one of the longer ones. So I’ll just keep writing for TGI and just playing guitar for fun.”
Surviving the crash…
“I’ll be totally honest, the first thought when I was getting carried out of the bus… I was like, looking around trying to see because at that point I didn’t know if people were alive or dead or what kind of injures. I only saw one other person from the band and they were just barely awake so… At the time I was just like, ‘I wonder if we’ll still be a band?’
One of the firefighters who pulled me out and helped get me on the helicopter said I told him something that bummed him out, cause they all came to visit at the hospital. And he just said, ‘Thank us all in your next record’, because I was just saying, ‘Thank you, thank you for getting me out of the bus’. I guess I told him I’m not sure if there will be one, but I was also in shock and kind of out of it and I didn’t know who was okay and who wasn’t, but it’s so amazing to hear.
It’s terrible that people did pass away in the accident, but I feel like having survived is overwhelming. It’s pretty wild that all 10 did and all 10 will be fine, for the most part. I mean lives will be different, for sure, after this. But they’ll all go on and our band will go on and we all still want that more than anything, especially with this. I don’t want a fucking bus crash to be the reason our band’s done, that’s stupid.”
The strength of drummer Andrew Tkaczyk…
“He woke up, found out about it, and that day already was making jokes. And he understood the severity of it, but he woke up and was like ‘alright, this is what I’m deal with, it sucks, but I’m gonna plays drums, I’m gonna walk, I’m gonna be fine.’ He’s really kicking ass with it. He keeps all of us laughing in general, even after all the shit he’s been through. He’s killing it, I’m excited to see how he’ll do once he gets back behind the kit.”
As ever, if you can spare any sort of donation for the guys to help cover their extensive medical bills, their Gofundme page is still active. So far almost $158,000 has been raised, with the Warped Tour recently announcing that all proceeds from their ultimate VIP packages will be going to The Ghost Inside.
Listen to Zach Johnson’s full interview on The Jasta Show below.