Music journalists often make two mistakes. One is thinking that we’re important enough to write pieces in the first-person perspective, the other is using too many of our own words instead of our interlocutor’s. I may have broken the former, but only to maintain the sanctity of the latter.
In 2015, The Ghost Inside were involved in a fatal bus crash. The results were horrific and the recovery was seemingly insurmountable. On July 2019, they returned to the stage.
Today, they also return to your speakers with ‘Aftermath’, the first single from their forthcoming self-titled album, out Friday, 5th of June.
We spoke with frontman Jonathan Vigil about…all of it.
I imagine the words may not even exist, but how does it feel to once again be making and releasing music as The Ghost Inside?
It’s a lot of feelings all together, honestly. Coming from a place where when I first woke up and I was in the hospital and realised what had happened; I had a brain injury and I couldn’t really grasp what was going on. When I finally did, I was like, I’m not doing this. I’m done, dude, I’m not going to put myself through this ever again. This is crazy. Why would I ever risk it again.
So much of what the band is about, so much of what we sing about, is about not giving up. If we had stopped at this, then we would have been proven wrong. We would have been failures for ourselves. This is something that we needed to do to prove not just to ourselves – to everyone – that we mean what we say.
The band was always doing well. We were always on an upward slope. We were always growing and doing our thing, so people were already anticipating new music, and then on top of anticipating new music, okay, it’s been six years since our last music. Oh, and on top of that, we’re that band people are going to pay attention to, because of the accident, you know what I mean?
We have all this stuff, all this stuff piling up to where this has to be the best stuff we ever do or we don’t have any other option. This is it. This has to be the best record we’ve done. I genuinely, honestly and truly believe that, that this is our best record.
We knew that no matter what, we wanted to do at least one more show. We wanted to do at least one more record. No matter what happens. We wanted to do those two things, once the band became a thing in our lives again. We were like, you know what, now that this recovery, the physical’s there, let’s work on the emotional and bring back what we used to have.
Did you notice any big difference between the Vigil in the studio before the crash and the Vigil in the studio after the crash, if that makes sense?
Absolutely. Because in the past, we had come from a place of believing the stuff we’d wrote about, but we didn’t really have to live the things that we said, you know what I mean? We weren’t really faced with this huge adversity that we sung about overcoming, because when you get down to brass tacks, we were five guys traveling the world playing music. How bad could our lives be?
So, it was almost like it wasn’t as serious before, and now we’re able to live both sides of it. We know what it’s like to be on top. We know what it’s like to be on that pedestal. We know what it’s like to be in the spotlight. And also, now we know what it’s like to be at rock bottom where we have nothing and our future is uncertain.
So, going back into the studio, on top of just the physicality of remembering exactly how to scream right and how to sing, and do those kind of things, we sung from a place of such genuineness. It gave us a whole new-found appreciation and a new-found love for the band and just creating and having that ability to be able to do that still.
‘Aftermath’ is very conversational, almost like a back and forth between the urge to be angry and resentful, and the urge to be hopeful. I was wondering how literal that was; did that discussion actually take place, when the music first came out, was it initially angry?
That’s exactly what was happening, dude.
The whole record is not about the accident. It starts off with a song called ‘Still Alive’, which is us proclaiming to the world that we’re still here; it didn’t defeat us. We’re still alive.
Then it bookends with ‘Aftermath’. That song is about living in the wake of any kind of tragedy, and for us, it happens to be about the accident. But that song can be taken quite literally to anybody else in life, whether they have a bond with a loved one that passed away and they’re so distraught and they just don’t know what happened.
Life is just full of curve balls, man. But shit changes and that’s for everybody and that’s kind of how ‘Aftermath’ came to take shape. I thought we were going to be at point A, but life had a different plan for us. We didn’t have that happy ending that we all believed in, but where are now, what can we do?
It’s discouraging at times. A lot of the lyrics came out very, very negative, and very upset and very distraught and very angsty, and just frustrated and I was like, you know what? I don’t know if this is what needs to be said. I think everybody can understand the frustration and everybody knows the hardships. It was clear as day. It was on the internet. But it’s really about where you can take it, how you can make it better, how you can flip it on its head.
The reason why we chose ‘Aftermath’ for the first song to release, is because I think it’s the song that people need to hear and it’s a story that we need to tell. In the same way that Architects, when Tom passed away, ‘Doomsday’ was the song that people needed to hear next.
We weren’t going to put out 11 songs or whatever about one tragedy. No one wants to hear that. It is the story we needed to tell, and it is the thing that people want to know about the accident…without going into too much detail about said accident.
After this album cycle, are you quite happy to no longer be known as “the accident band?”
Yeah, absolutely. I think physically there’s always going to be limitations, and I don’t think, actually, I’m pretty positive we’ll never be able to play a back-to-back show every again.
I don’t think we’ll be able to play one day, and then play the next day just physically, how our bodies work now. And with Andrew missing a leg, I just don’t know if that’s possible for us. I think we’re only going to be able to do a couple shows a year, a show in this region here and there as we go. I can’t then imagine we ever get back to a day after day. We don’t plan on being the accident band forever.
We want to get out what we needed to say and put this record out, and then yeah, be a band again. But I think there’s going to be physical limitations always with what we do, but I don’t think that’s going to pigeon-hole us and make us into something that we’re not or keep a stigma around this band. I think that we’re able to move on from this.
After the L.A show you played at Unify in Australia, are there any more plans for live shows?
No plans yet, man.
We know we want to try to go back to Canada, and we know we want to go back to Japan. And we know we want to try to go back … and we know we want to go to South America at least at one point, because we’ve been to every other continent besides South America.
We want to be able to go to those places and do things here and there, but not spend 30 out of 32 days in a bus on the road.
That’s not going to be The Ghost Inside every again. That’s not possible for us. On top of, honestly, I don’t want to do that anymore, you know what I mean? I don’t want to be that guy anymore. I want our performances to be more limited and special. And it’s just not possible physically for us to be that ever again.
The Ghost Inside’s self-titled album is available Friday, 5th June.