Photos and Interview by Carlos Detres
Their studio is smokey. There are beers on a table. Music is playing and it’s shit I haven’t heard in years. White Zombie, Orgy, and even some Nick Cave. Then I understand their sound a bit more. GHXST‘s latest album, EVILWICKEDDESIRE is constructed from all of these influences. Some of the titles of their songs could have been found on Black Sabbath or Slayer records and yet their music is at times wistful, cold and beautiful.
We turned down the lights. I opened the shutter of my camera and we watched the strobes throw light against GHXST’s faces.
[A Link to a free download from their latest album is enclosed below.]
CHRISTOPHER JAMES: GHXST is Christopher James, Shelley X, and Nathan La Guerra. We met at school in California, moved out to NYC to do music, and became GHXST last year after Nathan joined as our drummer.
How does living in Brooklyn influence your work vs the West Coast?
SHELLEY X: New York was my dream city growing up – I always associated it with rocknroll, bohemia, and progressive culture. It’s a really challenging place to be heard, or even just to make it day to day, but all the anxiety and fighting actually breeds a type of creativity that I can’t imagine finding elsewhere. On better days, I definitely see why the VU or Patti Smith found this city life totally inspiring.
How did you arrive at your band’s name?
C: We wanted the name to be an empty signifier so that you could find your own meaning in it. But at the same time we wanted it to have a spiritual resonance and kept coming back to the idea of ghosts. The ‘X’ sort of broke the word and made it into more of a symbol.
S: Totally fxcked up stuff.
Your music has a unique style. Not quite noise. Not quite metal. Not quite industrial. Where does the inspiration come from?
C: I guess we’ve never really been able to stick to the conventions of any one genre. We generally go for things with aggression and a nonconformist perspective…sonically we’re just as likely to take inspiration from Suicide’s drum machines as from White Zombie’s detuned guitars. Some of our other favorites are Curve, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Motorhead, and JAMC. Lately we’ve really been feelin’ underground heavy/industrial rock from the early 90s.
S: kind of like music from a Gregg Araki soundtrack, circa Doom Generation.
How do you want your music to come through to your audience?
C: For us, the most important thing is to connect with people on some sort of deeper spiritual level. Music can be immensely powerful when it touches on the hidden forms that reside in the psyche, and we find it thrilling to explore the dark corners of the human condition. We’ve always admired the people that dare to look at the chaos and try to make it mean something.
S: yeah, I remember hearing Placebo for the first time when I was 14, and it completely blew my mind. They always make you feel part of a larger cause – its music for misfits and restless souls. Hopefully GHXST can provide that same sense of belonging.
Describe what a GHXST show is like…
S: commonly attended by satanists, homosexuals, and other dangerous cults.
C: our first GHXST show was for Blackbird’s runway in Seattle. We did an exclusive 20 min version of ‘Flowers of Evil’ behind a huge curtain while the models walked around the space. Nathan had just joined the band a week before the show. That night we squeezed into the back of a shady white van with two Marshall half stacks and some dude’s BBQ grill. The venue was in a Native American Cultural Center – it was so deep in the woods that you couldn’t see a light for miles. Total Black Lodge experience…
What are your writing sessions like? Does someone have more input than the other?
C: Shelley and I write the songs together in our studio in Brooklyn, and Nathan joins us for our live sessions.
Where can we buy your albums?
S: Clan Destine Records released our second EP, No Rest For The Wicked on a very limited tape…there might be a few copies left at Rough Trade UK.
We also did a comp album of our first two EPs titled EVILWICKEDDESIRE, that will be released on vinyl, tape, and CD on Desire Records (FR). Those are also selling at FILE-UNDER RECORDS in Japan.
Our Tundra Dubs remixes EP, Evil Afters Hours is up for digital download HERE
And you can always check out our stuff at ghxstmusic.bandcamp.com.
[CHECK OUT A FREE DOWNLOAD FROM EVILWICKEDDESIRE HERE]