Top 10 Albums of 2014 – #3: SCOTLAND by Ghost Cousin (INTERVIEW)

21 Dec

ghost cousin

I wrote about this album a few months ago, and as you could probably tell, I absolutely loved it. Now I’m here to recognize it for being one of the best albums of the year*. Instead of just rehashing all the praise I have already given it, I was able to interview the group in order to give us a little insight into Ghost Cousin.

SCOTLAND is out now; buy it on Bandcamp. For more information on Ghost Cousin, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Soundcloud.

Music Court: Hi guys, thanks for sitting down with me today. It would be a lot cooler if I had done this in person, but email is a perfectly respectable way to conduct an interview. Tell us your names, and what your role is in the band.

Mathew: Email is certainly more practical. We are Mathew Letersky – drums, vocals, recording, David Letersky – guitar and vocals, Matthew Gooding – bass, and Corey Polo – keys.

David: But really, Corey, you’re so much more than just keys.

MC: How would you describe your music to someone who had never heard it? How would you describe it to your grandfather?  

Matt: I believe I did try to describe it to my grandfather last Christmas, but I probably just said rock or pop and played the album for him. I’m not sure being too specific about genre really draws anybody in anyway unless you can honestly attach yourself to a broader genre like metal or ambient. That said, I think the last thing we narrowed it to was psych pop?

David: Psych pop is what it says on the Bandcamp.

MC: So two of you are brothers. What’s that about?

Corey: Well, Debbie and Wayne met back in ’78, and it was love at first sight, etc.

David: Mom always tells the story about how before they were going out, when Dad was at the bar with a date and Mom was there, too, and she was drunk and kept yelling “WAAAAYNE” and he was embarrassed.

Mathew: I’ve never heard that story.

MC: I am fascinated by the idea of a lead vocalist that plays drums. Was that a conscious decision to be different, or is that just how you guys felt most comfortable?  

Mathew: When I was in high school, I played in a band with a bunch of shy people and was the only one willing to sing. It was an experimental hard rock band.

Corey: On Scotland, both Mathew and David shared an equal part in the singing, trading off between lead and harmony depending the song. That Mathew is so proficient at drumming while simultaneously singing is confounding to me. At least I know he’ll always be in better cardiovascular shape than me.

MC: Please contextualize this video. You may plead the fifth if you so choose.

David: That was during our smooth and powerful phase.

Mathew: It was filmed on Toronto on a late Sunday afternoon. Our friend Neill came on tour with us that year with a video camera, and this is what he made.

MC: Is “plead the fifth” a phrase in Canada? Sorry if I just made you google something.

Corey: Due to the global eminence of the United States throughout the twentieth century – in commerce, technology and culture – as well as our geographical proximity, being Canadians, with the U.S., we were born into a society in which access to exemplary renditions of televised crime and political dramas (e.g. Law and Order, The West Wing) were never scarce. All of this being said, we plead the fifth.

David: I didn’t really know, although I do enjoy the West Wing.

MC: “Auntie Anne” describes a woman’s dementia episode where she thought she lost her son in a plane crash, then thought he had come to her as a ghost. You know Auntie Anne’s is a pretzel empire as well, right?  

David: I didn’t know that until I went to Vegas and saw one in a mall. Needless to say, I took a photo. That’s a good interpretation of the lyrics, by the way. The story itself is true, and I’ve heard from the source that the song captures their mom’s dementia. That’s an odd compliment, but I was glad to hear it. I didn’t want it to sound disrespectful at all.

MC: Where did the name Scotland come from? Were you guys rooting for Scotland to leave the UK?  

Corey: “The location and frequency of attacks by Scoti remain unclear, as do the origin and identity of the Gaelic population-groups who participated in these raids. By the 5th century, the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata had emerged on the west coast of Scotland. As this kingdom grew in size and influence, the name was applied to all its subjects – hence the modern terms Scot, Scottish and Scotland.”

Also, I’m not really informed enough on the situation to have a substantiated opinion but I saw a cool infographic once. It depicted global popular opinion in favour of Scottish sovereignty and Scottish opinion only slightly against independence. But, in this world of information dissemination, half-truths, and incomplete stories, who knows what to believe!

David: Corey, you are a wordy guy.

Matt: As for our album cover, it’s from a pack of playing cards.

Mathew: No, it was a single playing card. A deck of cards was never the inspiration. It was a single card.

Matt: It’s from a playing card.

MC: You guys did extensive touring in Canada, but have you toured yet in the US? When will you be playing next in the states, if at all?

David: Touring the U.S. is a tricky financial proposition for Canadian bands, what with visas and all. That being said, we’re a little burned out on cross-Canada tours, so I think the plan is to stick closer to home and keep working on new material.

MC: Any other news from Ghost Cousin we should hear?

Corey: Apparently there was a proof-of-concept demonstration recently involving silicone laced with sensors (400 per square millimeter if you can believe that!) which can act as synthetic skin for advanced prosthetics, allowing amputees to feel temperature, pressure, and moisture. Super cool. (technologyreview.com/news/533106/artificial-skin-that-senses-and-stretches-like-the-real-thing)

Mathew: Hey, Matt, I’m building a stereo tape simulator.

Matt: I’m not sure what that is.

MC: Thanks for talking, gentlemen. Congrats on earning a place in our Best Albums of 2014, despite having released it in 2013.

David: Well, time is like a pretzel, bending back upon itself and then twisting outward again, to the future. We’re very happy to be on a list from the future.

*Yeah, this album was released in 2013. So what?

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