Saturday 15 September 2012

20 Questions w/ The Midnight Ghost Train

So, following James' excellent review of Buffalo, the second full length record by The Midnight Ghost Train.  I quickly got in touch with Front man Steve Moss to see if he'd be up for answering some typically formulaic questions for this here blog. 
Following the completion of a recent U.S. tour, Steve was kind enough to oblige.  The Midnight Ghost Train is yet another band I have discovered through the excellent blog Doommantia, so I am indebted to those guys, because if their review of Buffalo had sucked, then I wouldn't be sharing this interview with you today! 
Anyhow, Steve was cool and really up for speaking to us, here at The Sludgelord.  So, without further ado, here is what happened when I put my world renowned (I dream) 20 Questions to Steve Moss from TMGT.   Hope you enjoy it.
Buffalo Front Cover

Hey Steve, How are you?  I appreciate you taking the time to talk to talk to us, here at the Sludgelord.

Q) Where are you guys at the moment and what are you doing, in terms of the band at the present? 


Well, we just got home from our two month U.S. summer tour so now we are getting ready to go back out to Europe for the third time.


Q) How was the US tour, how did that go?


A) It went great! It was our record release tour for our new record Buffalo it was a really awesome tour for promoting the record.  It was by far one of our best tours. 


Q) I first discovered your band through the excellent blog Doommantia, having read a review of ‘Buffalo’.  Have you heard about the difficulties Ed has had and the site being on a semi hiatus? Do you have anything you’d like to say to those guys?  They do some brilliant work. 


A) No I haven’t heard of the difficulties going on but that site has been awesome to us.  They have reviewed all our records very highly and they have been really good at promoting and putting us out there.  So, I’m sorry to hear they are having problems but I haven’t heard about it.


Q). We recently reviewed your excellent record ‘Buffalo’ here at The Sludgelord, James did an excellent job, I thought.   For those people who are unfamiliar with your music, can you tell me little bit about the history of the band and some of the bands you've played with? Where you’re from? When TMGT first formed? Current band members?


A) I like to just call ourselves rock and roll, but if you want to categorize it, it seems to fit pretty nicely into the whole stoner rock genre and very heavily blues influenced; which has been the saving grace that has differed us from other bands.  We play close to three hundred shows a year so we play with a lot of different bands but two bands that we toured with extensively are the Truckfighters from Sweden and Jucifer. Some of my favorites that we play with are Spacefaze, Black Diamond Heavies, and Scott H. Birham. We currently hail from a small town outside of Topeka, KS that we have used as our home base for several years now.  We have gone through quite a bit of member changes over the past five years but at the moment I (Steve Moss) play guitar and sing, Brandon Burghart is our drummer, who was our original bass player and has been in the band pretty much since the beginning.  Right now we have temporary bass player until we find someone permanent, but he kicks ass and his name is Alfred Jordan, from Mississippi.


Q) Having read your bio, the band has suffered some line up changes and you specifically have suffered some tragic losses (his best friend and Father). This appears to have inspired you to start the band?  Is your music a means of catharsis for you guys and does their memory continue to inspire you to write music? 


A) Yeah, you hit the nail on the head.  My friend John’s death was the fire the lit under my ass to start the band.  It was my way of paying my homage to him.  And now, we continue on in my father’s name as well who was a huge supporter of my dreams to play music.  We never got involved into this for the typical reasons of starting a band.  It was always about what we had to do to live, not what we wanted to do. It seems to be the reason why we can put so much soul in what we do and we believe in everything we play and we ain’t ever gonna stop.


Q) Probably a stupid question, but are you or would you like to be full time musicians?


A) We are full time musicians.  It is two years now since we have had any side jobs.  As long as we tour a lot and put all of our effort into it, we do okay.


Q) Are you big fans of rock/metal, if so what are you listening too at the moment?


A) Can’t say that any of us are.  I’m a blues and gospel fan and Brandon is a massive Zeppelin fan and big into singer songwriters.  I can’t say that we really listen to heavy music at all, but when I play music I like the feeling of loud guitars and heavy drums behind me.  Because of all the passion and soul in our music it comes out heavy in order to get the message across. 

Q) When you started TMGT, what were your hopes for the band?


A) To record a record and play one great show. That was it and after that I was fine with just dying. But, that turned out to not be enough cleansing that was needed, so, it just kept going and going and we have come farther than I ever thought we would. 


Q) If someone was unfamiliar with your band, how would you describe your sound?


A) Well like I said before, I like to think we are just rock and roll but with a heavy stoner, old school blues feel. 


Q)  Who would you say are your influences both musically and artistically in terms of the band’s sound?


A) I am a big fan of Skip James, Muddy Waters, Blind Willie Johnson, Tom Waits and a lot of old gospel music.  And Brandon is just a Zeppelin fanatic.  A lot of our rifts and structure result back to the blues, but doesn’t everything?


Q)  Why the name, The Midnight Ghost Train? Where does the name originate?


A) It comes from an old Hank Williams song which was part of the name but we were just throwin’ around different names and that one just clicked. 


Q)  What is the scene like in your hometown?  Is there a big difference from Buffalo, New York where you originally started the band and Kansas? 


A) Yeah there is quite a big difference from Buffalo and Kansas.  Where we live in Kansas there is no scene around but we have a good dedicated following.  Buffalo there is more of a heavy rock crowd so we like to tour through there a lot and we do very well.  I like living in Kansas because I like to be away from the scene.  We tour so much that when we come home, we like to be away from all that. 


Q) Would you consider yourselves to be an underground band?  If so, is it a struggle and is their great camaraderie within the scene?


A) Well, it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.  I wouldn’t really consider ourselves underground.  I think that word is thrown around a lot and it usually just means “not good”. Every day is a struggle but we can go all over the world and pack shows and make a living off what we love.  That doesn’t sound too underground to me.


Q)  What are your views of blogs such as the Sludgelord reviewing your records, as opposed to mainstream music magazines?  Has your music reached the mainstream mags, at home or around the world?


A) Yeah, our music has reached mainstream magazines but any promotion is good promotion.  I personally love blogs because they tend to have a more personal feel for the music and they’re just as equally helpful in promotion. 


Q) Buffalo is an exceptional record and appears to be a lot of positive vibes, what are your thoughts about that?  Does it have an effect on the band in terms of record sales etc?  Are record sales important to the band?


A) Yeah, record sales are very important to the band.  It’s how we make money.  This record is certainly our best work and people see that.  It’s a kick ass record and I think it’s top-notch for what’s out there nowadays. Word of mouth is always the best, so when our record sells, fans like it, tell their friends and come to our shows it all makes a full circle. 


Q). Buffalo is your 2nd full length release to date, how does this record compare to your previous records and is it your best work to date? Why call it Buffalo?


A) Buffalo is just a tough sounding name.  It doesn’t have much to with the fact that I’m originally from Buffalo.  It is certainly our best record.  What you get on the record is what you get live. It is very tangible and in your face.  But the proof is in the pudding.


Q) Does it surprise you when people buy your music and merch?


A) Sure it does, it is always a huge compliment and it never gets old.  I’m always stoked to make money off our hard work because I believe we deserve it. 



Q) To date the band has released two full length albums and 1 EP, what are some of your highlights so far? What are your aspirations for the future?


A) Our highlights have definitely been touring nonstop and our new record Buffalo.  Signing with Karate Body Records was a big step and really, we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.  We’re going to continue to tour constantly, write a new record, and keep kicking ass and taking names.


Q) Do you have any interesting stories from your tours, favourite places you’ve toured and bands you’ve toured with?


A) We love coming over to Europe.  It was all of ours’ first time in Europe and there is no better way to see the sites and go around Europe than with your rock band.  Probably one of the biggest moments and best stories from the road, from my point of view, is when I proposed to my wife on stage in the middle of one of our shows in New Orleans.  She said yes, thank god. And things have been uphill ever since.


Q) Did you have an agenda or a game plan in terms of what you wanted to write for Buffalo? You seem to incorporate many difference influences, blues, rock and even dare I say a prison chain gang type song (that’s what I hear anyway?)   Does everyone contribute song ideas?


A) Our songs really just come out of jams and improv.  We definitely wanted to go with a little more in your face, faster sounding record than our previous one. Brandon and I write all the songs together.  Yeah, I am very much influenced from old chain gang songs and blues.  In fact the song that almost made it to the record was a cover of an old Alan Lomax, recorded at Parchman Farm Prison, chain gang song but at the last minute we changed it to Leadbelly’s “Cottonfields”. We like the old school feel and we have always incorporated that into our live show a lot.


Q) How do you feel about the digital era of music and people downloading music for free? I noticed you have a bandcamp page, would you or have you ever considered releasing your music for free or ‘pay what you like’ to raise the profile of the band?


A) I am totally down with downloading of music.  I like to make money but the money to be made is at shows and touring.  So, the more people that hear our music and the more people that download it, the more people come to our shows.  So buy it, burn it, rip it, stream it, steal it, I don’t care what you do – just listen to it.

Q) What are your plans for the rest of the year and any chance you're doing a full UK tour?  When I contacted you guys, you said you’re interested in doing some UK Shows?


A) We are gonna do an October and November tour in Europe and possibly coming over to the UK for a few days. Then we get back we are going to do a winter tour of the U.S. then take the end of December and January off to write and then do it all over again. 


Q) Thanks for answering my questions, but one final question, you got anything you like to say to your fans?


A) I think we got the best dedicated fans in the world.  For those of you in the U.S., thanks for coming out on this last tour and supporting.  And for those of you in Europe, we will be seeing you very soon.  Get ready and hold on to your asses ‘cause we’re gonna take you for a wild ride. Check out our website, keep coming to our shows, and for those about to rock, we salute you.

Big big thank you to Steve Moss for answering my questions and good luck with the tour in Europe.  Sorry I couldn't hook you guys up with a UK promoter for those much needed dates, it wasn't for the want of trying.  Hope to see you guys in the UK, in the future!  Thanks to you guys for reader and Thanks again to Karate Body Records for originally hooking us up with their brilliant record, Buffalo.  Check out James' review, if you haven't already.
You can grab the record here and here.