Get What You Give, the upcoming third full-length album from Los Angeles metalcore band The Ghost Inside, has been on my most anticipated radar since first speaking with lead vocalist Jonathan Vigil in August of 2011 on the All-Stars Tour in Portland. One of the most exciting and authentic bands currently out on the metalcore circuit, look for them to continue to charge full speed ahead as they pick up more and more new fans and play larger venues. The band has recently enjoyed support slots for bands such as A Day To Remember, Attack Attack, etc.
I recently caught up with Jonathan Vigil and brought up the new album, as well as Warped Tour, and what they might be up to afterwards.
What's going on man? How have you been? It's definitely been way too long.
Great man, just relaxing at home before taking off for tour.
What led for you guys to sign onto Warped as opposed to a different summer tour such as All-Stars or Scream It Like You Mean It?
It's been a dream of mine, as long as I can remember. Just being there as a fan in past years, it's been great. We did All-Stars last summer, and once we got the offer for this tour, we just confirmed it as soon as we got it. It's been a tour we've all been really looking forward to doing.
Who've you really been looking forward to seeing on this tour?
Taking Back Sunday; every time I've seen them, they've been pretty spot on. I know Yellowcard is going to be sick. I'm excited to see Every Time I Die; believe it or not, I've only had the opportunity to see them once or twice, so I'm looking forward to seeing them this summer.
Who do you think will surprise people the most this summer?
I'm going to say Chelsea Grin. They're a band that does really well and they're picking up a lot of hype; I feel like they're going to surprise a lot of people with bigger crowds than people are expecting.
What can we expect from your set?
It's going to be a majority of Returners, 2 or 3 songs off of Get What You Give, and maybe a song off of Fury And The Fallen Ones. We've been touring on these past two records for so long, I'm excited to play new stuff.
Can we expect you guys to mix-up the set as the tour progresses?
Yeah, we're going to see how it goes. We're going to start off with what we've released so far, and when the record comes out, maybe we'll mix it up with a song that people are liking.
Last time we talked at length, I know you couldn't talk about it much, but Mediaskare contract was through. What led for you guys to sign with Epitaph?
You know, as corny as it sounds, it's the label that we wanted. We were done with the Mediaskare contract, and Epitaph was the one label that made sense. I grew up listening to a lot of Epitaph bands; The Offspring's Smash was the first album that I ever bought. It's run very differently than most labels. The owner Brett [Gurewitz] plays guitar in Bad Religion, and also still runs the label, he's really hands on with bands; it's a real family band, and it really feels like home and where we're supposed to be.
How many records did you sign on for?
We're definitely doing 2, so this one and 1 more.
This is the first record with Andrew [Tkaczyk] on Drums. How was the writing process with him this time?
It's good, man. With him being the main songwriter with For The Fallen Dreams was huge. For a long time, Aaron [Brooks] was the main songwriter, and wrote 95% of our stuff, with K.C. [Stockbridge] writing stuff here and there. But now that we have Andrew who can also play guitar and drums, and Aaron, who can play drums and guitar, it's great having two songwriters working together filling our guitar and drum parts.
What was your experience like working with Andrew Wade and Jeremy McKinnon?
Andrew Wade was great, man; he knows what needs to get accomplished, and gets it done. As for Jeremy, he's one of the most creative and successful people in the industry. We would write songs on vocals and bring them to him, and he'd sprinkle his magic on it, and restructure parts and make choruses hit harder and flow better. Overall, Jeremy is so talented, and we're so stoked that he's part of the record, and it'd sound a lot different without him; it'd still be a Ghost Inside record, but I think he brought out the best out of all of us, especially me though vocally. I know the past albums were a bit more monotone, and this time I had a bit more of a range that I never knew I had before.
Yeah! You branched out and did clean vocals on "Engine 45"! What inspired you to try that out?
For us, the way our band's been, nobody really expected clean vocals out of us. It was kind of a part that just called for it, it wasn't a part we tried to squeeze in or was overproduced, it was something that just felt right. Jeremy had wrote the melody, and he was like "this is what I hear behind this part, it's up to you guys what you'd like to do with it", and he threw his two cents in. I honestly didn't know I could do that, and I was kind of nervous, I was like "I don't know if this will translate well, I don't know if I can pull this off...", and Jeremy goes "I've seen the way scream, but I know you can sing this part". He brought out so much range screaming from me; I didn't know I could go as high and as low as I do on the record. The singing adds a new vibe and dynamic to our band.
I don't think it's something that people are going to misconstrue as a singing part that we're doing to get massive, or changing our sound, or doing what's popular right now. It's something that we felt was the right direction, it was something we all were proud of and fully stand by. We wanted to write the best songs that we possibly could, and to deprive ourselves of that just because it's clean singing, to us would be selling out.
You actually just filmed a new music video for "Engine 45". What's the video all about? What can you tell us about it?
We filmed a video for Engine 45, and Drew Russ directed it. The first day was an acting part, and the second day was a performance part. This song is about addiction, and Engine 45 is reference to a train, as if addiction were a freight train coming at you. A lot of people know somebody or have indirect contact with someone who struggles with addiction, and sometimes it just takes someone to say something or someone to offer a helping hand to break the cycle of addiction.
So Drew wrote out this cool concept for this song. The story behind it is this: Eskimos would dip a knife in blood, and then they'd freeze it, and stick it outside their igloos overnight. So that way, when the wolves come at night, they start licking the knife; the wolves are so desperate for that blood, they don't realize as they're licking the knife, they're cutting their own tongues, which causes them to bleed out over an hour and a half or so. I know it sounds like a long and drawn out story to grasp, but again, the idea is that the wolf gets so into the idea of licking the blood, that he doesn't care about anything else, which translates into the idea of addiction. So that's the background behind the video.
Last time we talked, you mentioned that this album's lyrics would be about your brother's passing and things you've neglected while you've been in this band. Other than addiction in Engine 45, what other topics do you touch on?
Well, the first song we released, "Outlive" is basically not fitting in with the normal working world. When you're in a band and you tour all the time, that's all you know. When you get back to society, and you tell people "I'm in a band for a living", they sort of look at you and say "Oh, you're wasting your life. You should be doing something else with your life. At your age, you should be married with a kid with a house, and working on your career". The whole idea behind this song to me is that I'm doing what I want with my life, and creating all these memories and experiences, and they're going to outlive anything like working and raising a family is going to do; and I'm not saying those things aren't for me, these are things that I definitely want to have eventually, but that's not what the normal working world sees it as. They see it as "Oh, he's in this garage band, he's wasting his life away".
The second second we released, "Slipping Away", is about when you're a kid you're so carefree, and nothing matters to you; you don't have a concept of money, and responsibility. Slipping Away is about an instance or something happens to you where your life changes forever, and you have to grow up and leave your innocence behind. I know specifically for me, there was this instance when I was younger, where all this responsibility thrust upon my shoulders and I realized "Wow, I just can't do whatever I want whenever I want, I have to start being more mature and responsible". I think it's a song people can relate to, as everyone goes through this at least once in their life.
Do you think people can relate to this album lyrically as much as they did on Returners?
I think so. I think Get What You Give has some of the best songs that I've written lyrically, and I think it's a lot of new concepts for the band, a lot of new stuff. Returners was so self-empowering, and that's always been a vibe with our band, a "light at the end of the tunnel" type of thing for us. As far as this one, yeah, it takes on some broader concepts with some stuff that I never thought I'd be able to pull off lyrically. It's definitely still relatable, and it's stuff that people can listen to and see what I'm saying and apply it to themselves. In Returners, every song was definitely relatable to somebody, so I think this record is sort of the same way, but I'm hoping it still has that impact lyrically.
After Warped Tour, can we still expect a headliner?
Yeah, definitely. Right now, we have a tour lined up that's not a headliner tour, but we're direct support. It's with bands that people have wanted us to tour with for a very long time, but our next U.S. tour after that will definitely be a headliner. We were all set to do a headliner, but we just got an offer that was too good to pass up.
It's about mid-way through the year. What albums have you really been enjoying lately from 2012?
Did Transit's Listen and Forgive come out this year?
It came out in 2011.
Did the new Every Time I Die album come out this year?
Yeah, Ex-Lives is great, what else have I been listening to...yeah, man, that Transit album's all I've been listening to nowadays.
Yeah, it translates really well live, you're definitely going to want to watch them on Warped.
Yeah, those two albums are ones that I've been listening to non-stop lately.
Last time we chatted about bands that were going to pop, you suggested Lower Than Atlantis. What bands do you think are going to do really well soon?
One band that's doing well overseas and is going to have their time in America is a band called letlive. They're good friends of mine, and their next album is really going to help them break through. My friend Jason is the singer of that band and is way too talented and way too smart to not have that band be massive, so look out for them.
A band that I know is doing really well right now and people need to keep an eye on is a band called The Story So Far. Every show I've seen them play they fucking destroy. They're a pop-punk band from Northern California, and they're doing pretty hot right now.
Wrapping up, how about that Stanley Cup final? [Fun Fact: the Los Angeles Kings have been Jonathan's favorite NHL team for years]
Dude, I'm so stoked.
It's sort of a 180, right? Because if I recall correctly, the Kings were middle of the Western Conference, and now they're up 1-0 against the Devils?
The Kings were middle of the pack, and then lost in the first round of the playoffs. This year, they entered the playoffs 5th place, and then proceeded to beat the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place team to reach the final playing New Jersey. Our goaltending with Jonathan Quick and the lines we have now are unstoppable. We've always had the defense, we just hadn't had any goals scored. Now that we're scoring goals, we're definitely going to win the Stanley Cup this year.
Did you win the bet with Tom (Williams, guitar for Stray From The Path)? Or did he win the regular season bet?
I bet him that the Kings that would place higher than the Rangers would this year, and I lost that bet. But we have a playoff bet every year, and we pick four teams from the Eastern and Western conference, and right now I have the Kings, and he has the Devils. So whoever wins is going to get some money.
So you could break even then, huh?
Yeah, we could break even. If the Kings win, I break even.
Shoot man, who would've thought?
Yeah man, it's nutty. Being a Kings fan has been frustrating at times, so I'm stoked it's finally happening.
Anything else you'd like to add before we go off record?
Thanks to all our fans and friends we've met over the years. Without you, we'd be a band playing in our garage still, so thanks for your support.
Great interview. I always love reading what band members are listening too and it's neat to see their diversity. Nice choices with Transit and ETID. Also pretty sweet he wants to check out TBS and Yellowcard at Warped. Gonna be a fun summer