The Ghost Inside have become a household name in the hardcore and metalcore community of recent years, and that has come through releasing consistent albums and having a relentless tour schedule. Case in point: the band has been back to Australia about five times in as many years. The group’s fourth album, ‘Dear Youth’ is yet another solid offering. We recently caught up with vocalist Jonathan Vigil over Skype, just as the band wrapped up a sold out show supporting Asking Alexandria in London.
Hi Jonathan, Alex from Killyourstereo.com, how are you today?
Hey, I’m doing well, you?
Yeah I’m good thanks. Shortly, you guys are dropping ‘Dear Youth’…
Yeah man, we’re feeling really good. It’s always good to put new stuff out and we just released an album stream the other day and so far the feedback has been great.
I actually listened through the stream just before, and I noticed that Jason Butler of letlive. was on one of the tracks, how did that collaboration come about?
I grew up with Jason Butler and I’ve known him since I was like 15 years old. We’ve been friends for a long time, and I was actually on one of the band’s older tracks that I don’t think anyone’s ever heard, as it was their older stuff. With the whole ‘Dear Youth’ theme, he wanted to connect with that, and bring it full circle. Jason was a big part of my youth so it was awesome to have him on the song.
Was the song you featured on off ‘Speak Like You Talk’?
Yeah, it’s off ‘Speak Like You Talk’. The song was called ‘Punk’s Not Dead, Jesus Is’.
Oh, awesome. I actually have that album so I’ll have to re-listen through the song after this.
Oh, really? That’s awesome man.
Anyway, you guys recently wrapped up a tour with I Killed The Prom Queen over here, how was the tour for you guys? I know that was like the fifth time you’ve been out here too.
Yeah, we’re so lucky to be a band that gets to go to Australia so many times. That was the first place that ever cared about our band too. The first tour in 2008 with Prom Queen back in the day was the first time anyone ever sang along or did anything for our band, and we’ve been going there ever since. It’s an easy transition for me as I’m from a beach city in Los Angeles so I get the same vibes from Australia.
The tour we just did was a month long tour so we did the major cities as well as regional areas too. The bands were all really great too. We became good friends with In Hearts Wake and Hellions, and we’ve played with Bury Tomorrow and Prom Queen before, so it was just such a good tour.
I’ve noticed your tour schedules are pretty full on each year. I take it that’s the biggest source of income for the band with today’s economy and music industry?
Unless you’re selling hundred of thousands of records or more, then you’re not really going to see a lot of money from your music. I think the livelihood of most bands is through touring and merchandise. If you come out to a show and buy merchandise then that’s the best way for bands to make money off of what they do. We do all right; we do enough to stay afloat. I don’t have my own place or a cool car, but I’m able to eat and get by and that’s the best I could ever ask for, to be able to sustain life and do what I do.
When I’ve caught you guys on the recent tours, I know that you’ve personally stuck around to meet a lot of the fans. Do you think that that helps the fans connect more to your music than if you guys were to just go ‘Thank you X city’ and then just leave?
The connection with our fans is what I think makes this band special. When I was growing up and going to shows and I’d see one of the members from my favourite bands hanging out with everyone, which made me respect them even more. They are more than a band that as you said, just goes [in a deeper voice] ‘Hey Los Angeles’, and then just disappears. I think that the connection is a big part of the hardcore mentality. We may not be a straight up hardcore band but that connection with the fans is special and its something that we strive to keep alive. I think that helps to bridge the gap between X kid at a show and X band member. It makes it feel more real.
I recently saw some comments from Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari, and said that fans shouldn’t have to pay to meet band members. Do you agree with that?
Absolutely. I feel like it comes with the territory. Everybody was in a band that no one cared about at one point. No band is big off the bat. You have to put in that time or no one else will care about your band. I always remember when we played shows and no one cared about us and no one cared to meet me. But now that they do, I don’t feel like I need to capitalise off that or make a monetary fund off that. I’m just a normal guy, like you’ll see me out at Nandos getting food, so come say hey.
I also look forward to that, when I’m out at sports games or going around the city and people come up to me, knowing who I am. I think it’s so cool that people love the band enough to come up to me and to know what I look like. We’re never going to be like ‘You have to pay $20 to come meet us’ or something like that. I don’t see the point in making money off that.
I definitely agree man. I read through the open letter that you gave as the meaning behind the new album, and I wondered if you would ever tell your younger self to not join A Dying Dream, to not let it continue on into The Ghost Inside and to maybe follow a different career path?
I’d never stop what I’m doing now. I wouldn’t tell my younger self that it’s going to be a hard road but that you shouldn’t even bother. Sure, there where times when I felt like quitting or felt like the band had hit a block. When you see friends and peers getting things that you feel like you deserve and its disheartening man. But I would never say to never do this again; this is all I’ve ever wanted to do, through and through.
I think my younger self would be ecstatic to know that I’m doing a Skype interview from London, where we just played a sold out show, to Australia, which we just came back from (laughs). It doesn’t get any cooler than that.
(Laughs) So you guys will keep taking The Ghost Inside further and further?
Oh, absolutely. We love to travel, see friends, and go all around the world. That’s been the driving force behind the band from the start. You need to find four or five other dedicated people who want that, and we’ve been fortunate enough to do this for a living. It’s the best man. I wouldn’t trade this for anything else in the world.
Awesome to hear man! You guys worked with Jeremy McKinnon (A Day To Remember front man) and Andrew Wade for ‘Dear Youth’. I know you’ve worked with them before, so I assume the band loves the sound they pull out of you?
It was a really good experience doing the album with them. Obviously, Jeremy’s so successful in A Day To Remember so to have him on board, as a fan of the band and as a producer was just so awesome as he brought our songs to the next level. We had all these songs that we had written to the best of our ability and took them and tweaked them. Little things here and there throughout the record that just gave it that more ‘umph’. Without him or Andrew, I don’t think we would have as good of a record than if we did it by ourselves.
Right on, man. Did you guys expect to have such a big response from the fans for the music video of ‘Dear Youth’?
We didn’t know how it was going to go down. We didn’t want it to be a typical lyric video where it pops and it’s all on computers. So I said, ‘Why don’t we have a music video where the fans hold up a sign with the lyrics on there’ and it did really well. The kids that are in it are so stoked about it. I just feel bad that there where so many that didn’t get used as the songs only like three and a half minutes long, so we couldn’t fit a thousand or so submissions in that little time span. But I think overall that it’s a really cool video and that the fans had a really cool time doing it.
My personal favourite submission was the dude who was just chilling on the toilet.
Yeah! That one was really creative (laughs).
Finally Jonathan, this is a more personal question so I understand if you don’t want to talk about it. The last two times you guys headlined out here you played ‘White Light’ and I wanted to know if that’s a really difficult thing for you personally to do?
We really only play it when we headline shows because that’s such a personal song for me and the band knows that. We wouldn’t want to cheapen it by playing it on a support tour like we are now with Asking Alexandria. We’d never play it in those situations, as we just can’t get the same experience that we get when we headline, with fans knowing what it’s about and what it does. When we played it on the Emmure tour, the response was incredible. Everyone experiences loss in his or her lives, and it’s a hard thing to go through. But that’s what’s so special about music, is that you can connect with it and it can mean so much to someone and help them though life. It’s really cool to know that a song I wrote about my brother passing away can mean so much to complete strangers. It’s something that I wrote, not selfishly, but just for myself to help get over what happened and that song means the same to someone in their lives. So we want to make sure that it’s a special occasion for when we play headline shows.
‘Dear Youth’ is out this Friday via Epitaph Records