I had the opportunity to talk to Graham Capobianco, the lead singer of Long Island post-hardcore band Our Own Ghosts.The band provides insight on being a first time band playing Warped Tour, coming from Long Island and more. Many thanks to Graham for taking time out of his day to answer some questions!
1. Introduce yourself and your role in the band. I'm Graham Capobianco and I'm the singer.
2. The majority of readers are probably unfamiliar with Our Own Ghosts. Can you describe your sound? Describing our sound is something we all continually fumble around with, and comparisons are usually even harder to come up with. I, for one, am getting very comfortable with the genre "Post-Hardcore". To me, that term means "the kind of music that all of us adolescent hardcore kids grew up to make." We're mature enough to avoid being overly avant-garde or senseless with our songwriting, but youthful enough to maintain our grit and intensity and sometimes sensitive enough to touch on our more indie/ambient influences. The end result is heavy, riffy, catchy and in-your-face rock music that only lets up just to punch you again.There was a really nice review of us done by one of the staff writers at AP.net (thank you!), and I was honored to be compared to Secret & Whisper and Circa Survive. Those and some fan comparisons to Memphis May Fire I think are pretty accurate comparisons.
3. You've had your debut record, The House That Silence Built, out for some time now. Are you currently writing and demoing for a new album? Well we have 2 new songs in a somewhat regular rotation for our live set, and currently we are writing and demoing some songs out as we prepare to enter the studio this winter to record another EP. We've really zeroed in on the kind of sound that we'd like to go for and we've got 3 new members since the last record so we're really anxious to get back into the studio.
4. A lot of bands that describe themselves as "indie," "ambient," "post-hardcore," etc. have a similar sound and therefore tend to be indistinguishable - layers of guitar effects and power chords on top of higher pitched vocals. What do you think separates your band from falling into that category? I'm not sure I know exactly what makes us distinguishable, but your staff writer helped shine some light on it for me with his review (again, thank you). I think one thing that sets us apart in the "Post-Hardcore" genre is our sensible approach to songs. We try to be tasteful with the use of a lot of things that make us what we are but at the same time we stay true to the emotions and intensity that drove us there. We try to be as smart as we are emotion-driven. The common folly among some bands in our genre is the over-use of screams, breakdowns and sampling where they really should be used as a dynamic accent to a song. We're fortunate enough to have some really talented musicians in this band who are also smart enough to know when to sit in the pocket and when to let loose and we are all focused on a genuine sound.
5. You had the opportunity to play Warped Tour this year, how was the experience? Warped Tour was such an amazing experience for us all. When I was 17 or so and in a hardcore/screamo band I said to myself that I would never go to Warped Tour unless I was playing it. This year, I was planning on breaking that vow to go promote OOG and to go see Every Time I Die and Four Year Strong. Imagine my surprise when I get an e-mail from Kevin at Ernie Ball telling us that we had won a spot on the Ernie Ball Stage. It was like a dream come true in a lot of ways to have the opportunity to play the biggest and most renowned summer tour in the US (We couldn't have done it without the support of our friends and family who voted and supported us: Thank you!). We had a great crowd, a really good reaction all around and made a lot of new friends.
6. Did you develop a different perspective from it by playing and seeing everyone work hard rather than merely attending? This was my first time attending AND performing so the whole experience was new to me. In fact, it was new to all of us except for our bassist. Most of us remember when the Long Island / NY Metro area Warped Tour was at Randall's Island in New York City. I've heard many a story about the mud, the dirt and the dust that people coughed up for WEEKS after. The experience did, however, change my perspective of Warped Tour. The whole vibe of Warped Tour is really worth the experience. Not to mention that members of your favorite bands are walking around amongst you or watching your set if you're lucky.
7. Coming from Long Island, you've been able to see many bands come out of the local scene and have a lot of success (Brand New, GlassJaw, Taking Back Sunday). How was that affected your views/goals of being in a band knowing there are some almost unachievable standards? I think that knowing that bands have grown from this scene and achieved some level of successful reinforces the fact that it can be done. I really don't believe that any level of success or fame is unachievable and I believe that history, if anything, has shown us that the right band at the right time can break through, even if they don't have a stereotypical pop/top 40 sound. That's what really keeps me going. I think one thing about the Long Island scene is that due to how densely populated Long Island is with bands and people, you have almost endless opportunities to reach new people and get your music heard to a different crowd from show to show. If you play your cards right, Long Island is one of the best places to catapult to that next level (especially being in such proximity to New York City).
8. By contrast, the Long Island has seriously deteriorated since many of the aforementioned bands hit stardom. You are a big part of the revival in the scene. Can you explain what sort of happened and how you are trying to bring it back? I think the turning point of the deterioration of the Long Island scene of old was the closure of The Downtown. At that point, every major band (short of arena status) played Long Island and usually played The Downtown, which was centrally located and within walking distance of all mass transit. When that venue closed, the options were limited and a lot of bands didn't stop on Long Island anymore (and it's only gotten worse over the years; now some bands skip NY all together). There have been few consistent venues on Long Island and the few that are around are hard to play without an often large ticket pre-sale. The scene on Long Island has now become by the promoter, for the promoter. As more and more bands seem to drop off (As Tall As Lions, Envy On The Coast) and the distance between the scene and the bands that built it grows (Brand New, Taking Back Sunday and Glassjaw), I think some people in and around the Long Island scene have begun to feel a sense of doom. That being said, the Long Island scene (to me) will always be alive, well and ripe for the taking. What I think will be instrumental in "reviving" the scene to its "glory years" is establishing a sense of camaraderie previously experienced in the scene. Some bands treat it like a competition or let their ego's get the best of them. I think we need to remember that at the end of the day, it's music. It's what we love, eat, sleep, breathe, bleed. It's what got us through the most miserable times in our lives and it's what we share with our friends. As a band, we try to endorse, support and put on as many shows that have the right ideals in mind and try to keep a good relationship with any band or person that's willing to give us the time of day. We may not fit in with the genre's that have a firm rooting on Long Island, but that shouldn't prevent us from getting the same respect we give to other bands out of genre. I, personally, and trying to revive the feeling the Long Island scene had when bands of different genre's and even different beliefs and fan bases could all play shows together, enjoy themselves, have fun and create an overall fun, inclusive environment for the fans, bands and even the owners and promoters (that feeling of being a part of something bigger than yourself). I think that's what's most important in bringing it back, remembering our core values and working together.
9. If there is one trend in the music industry you could change, what would it be and why? I hate to sound like a broken record here, but one trend that I don't understand and seems incredibly disingenuous to music as a whole is the backing track and auto-tune rack trend, regardless of genre. The prevalence of so many performance "enhancing" elements really, to me, eats away at the core of what music is supposed to be about in my opinion. Pitch correction is widely (and almost always) used in the studio environment, but using it on a live stage disconnects the listener/fan from the band. My favorite part of going to shows as a kid (and even now) was how bands would differ from their studio album, how bands who do different things or make minor changes. The use of auto-tune racks, backing tracks and anything else used in place of genuine, analog equipment has sucked a lot of the spontaneity, ingenuity and authenticity out of the live performance.
10. Are there any bands that readers should check out? Well first and foremost, I feel like not enough people know about Secret & Whisper. If you haven't had the chance to check them out, do yourself a favor and do it. I have not been able to stop listening to Oceana's new E.P. "Clean Head." Also, Long Island's own The Sleeping are about to release a new record that those in the know can't stop talking about. Make sure to check them out and check out their new record when it comes out.
11. Any last words?
Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk with you, Christian.