bill bodkin ain’t afraid of no ghosts…
What if somehow, some way, John Coltrane and Dr. Dre got into a studio together late one night and produced some music?
The sound might be something like you’d hear from the L.A.-based group, Caught a Ghost. Yes, it’s kind of a big claim but the group, fronted by veteran musician, Jesse Nolan, has built their musical foundation on a classic Motown and Stax Records sensibilities as the brick mixed with modern day samples, synths and beats as the mortar.
With their music appearing on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and USA’s Suits and publications like Rolling Stone and NYLON showering praise upon the band — it looks as though Caught a Ghost is on the verge of breaking on through to the other side of musical stardom.
Pop-Break caught up with the band’s leader, Nolan, to talk about the group’s varied influences and their place within the music industry.
Pop-Break: You have this crazy, infectious sound and in your bio you cite everything from Stax Records to dubstep as influences and elements in your music. Can you break down why there are so many unique elements in the Caught a Ghost sound?
Jesse Nolan: I’ve always had extremely diverse interests as a musician. As a producer that’s really one of the main advantages — you get to work with different artists in short bursts, and get to explore various styles without it defining your identity permanently. The Caught a Ghost project evolved very organically out of a fit of passion and personal upheaval, so I didn’t really know what I was doing until the first batch of songs was completed. It felt like an exorcism of all the musical demons that had been haunting me.
PB: And with all these elements do you find it hard to construct songs or is the free flow of ideas and influences give you that much more room to create?
JN: There is always room to stretch the sound in different directions I think. As long as people find something familiar from track to track and there is some cohesiveness there’s always room for new elements. I think it’s critical to keep your ears open and always be drawing from different sources.
PB: Talk about your new music. How do you feel you guys have evolved sonically since your last recorded efforts?
JN: Well, the Nightworks EP is our first official release. We’ve been playing shows around LA for over a year now which has allowed the band’s identity to solidify. The songs we are releasing now sound better than any of the teaser or demo versions we put up online. When the full length comes out there will be some tunes that are completely new and explore some new sonic territory. It’s always evolving though, I’d say.
PB: There’s so many bands out there right now for people to download and listen to — why should people be listening to Caught a Ghost? What separates you from the pack.
JN: It’s true. I’m thankful that there is so much good music happening right now. I’m flattered and pleased that people seem to like what we are doing. I could tell you why I like our music — I have a deep reverence for the music that influences me, and I try to find ways to fuse different styles in ways I’ve never heard before. I say to myself for example, “what if Dr. Dre and Otis Redding collaborated?”
PB: With that — what song should new listeners check out from your band first? Name that one song that really captures the essence of your band, that’ll really win an audience over.
JN: Most people seem to favor ‘Sleeping At Night’ when they want to get amped up, and ‘Time Go’ when they want to reflect over a cup of tea or something.
PB: Any plans on touring?
JN: We just signed with a booking agent so yes, we have touring plans this year, though nothing solidified at this point.
PB: What bands, musicians or producers have you learned the most from in your career?
JN: Impossible question to answer. Music is constant education. Some of the most influential in my life though would be: Stevie, The Stones, Beatles, Dylan, Sam Cooke, Bowie, Sam n Dave, Dr. Dre, Bjork, Outkast, Missy Elliot, Jimi Hendrix, Timbaland, Nirvana, Buddy Guy, James Brown.
PB: What are your goals for this band by the end of 2013?
JN: I don’t really set goals, just work hard and be prepared to capitalize on opportunities.