Founded in 2012, There Are Ghosts create modern indie pop that evokes their influences from the late 1980’s and earlier ‘90s. Ahead of their upcoming Musical Family Tree presents show at Fountain Square Brewing, I met with Gwynn Reitz and Jonathan Harmon over beers to discuss the band’s history and what they have in store for 2017.
Brett Alderman: How did the band come together?
Gwynn Reitz: So the funny thing is, the two band members (out of the five) who are present right now, were not present in the 2012 configuration. It started off as a three-piece between Tony [Reitz], Mike [Theodore] and Andrew [Mahoney]. They were practicing in the basement. Tony and I are married, and I eventually wanted to join the band. I enjoyed the songs. I was singing along and making up my own parts. So I just asked if I could join the band, and they said yes. Jon joined very shortly after.
Jonathan Harmon: 2014 for me, actually. I was in another band before that. We were kind of winding down. Mikey had been asking me for a while, “You should come over and jam with me, Tony and Andrew.” I wanted to, but I was putting it off. Finally, I relented, “I’ve gotta do this.” Me and Mikey and Andrew were in a band a long time ago. Tony and I have been in bands. Gwynn and I have been in bands. We’ve all known each other forever. We’ve all played music together. This makes sense. Why would I not play with these people? I remember the first time going over there I was a bit nervous, but by the time I left I was like, “This is awesome.”
GR: It was meant to be. Kismet.
JH: It was totally meant to be.
BA: Do you think the band’s chemistry is because of how long you’ve known one another?
GR: Oh yeah, that’s a huge part of it.
GR: I think it’s based just as much on personal chemistry, on a non-music level, as it is on a strong, musical chemistry level. We’re just really good friends.
JH: I’ve known Tony since I was a teenager. Having had the chance to play music with everybody, and obviously Gwynn and Tony being married, I know that musically we have to have some musical connection.
GR: This is our third band together.
BA: Were the previous bands similar stylistically?
GR: No, not really. The first band I was in with Tony was called Svetlana, and it was a total shoegaze band, trending even more so to, like, Low. Really spare, really slow. We went on to be in a different kind of a shoegaze band that trended more edgy, called Yuki. This style is a throwback to influences of ours from high school, from when we first truly fell in love with, and identified with, current music of our time; very much that college rock of the ‘80s and early ‘90s. We haven’t tried. It’s just what comes out of us. It’s what this current configuration produces.
JH: I can speak for myself, and maybe I can speak for Gwynn, but I feel that with every other band that we’ve been in in our lives, there’s been this kind of conscious effort to sound a certain way or do a certain thing. I’ve never felt that way with this. You reach a point and don’t think about it and finally just let what you are be, without trying to define it.
GR: I think we focus most on being organic.
JH: And writing something and being like, “That is fucking awesome.”
BA: Do you have plans for a show heavy 2017?
GR: TBD? We’ve been working on recording for a while now in fits and starts. I don’t know. We’re definitely always looking forward to playing. We seem to go in cycles. We play a lot in spring, summer, fall and then in winter we try to write. I’d like to get the record finished this year, since that’s what we said last year. It just didn’t work out.
BA: Are you recording on your own or going into a studio?
JH: A bit of both. We’re recording on our own with help from an engineer.
GR: We like to record with different people. We’ll continue to seek out new people to work with because you get something different with each new person.
JH: We seem to be pretty open to having different people coming in to produce, with fresh sets of ears. I like that idea of having somebody else give back to us how we [sound] to them.
BA: In regards to finishing the record, is there a fixed point you’re aiming for, or will you just know when it’s done?
GR: I think it’s just been a tough mix of people’s schedules and timing. It would probably help if we set some fixed points. It’s probably a mix of…
JH: I wouldn’t say it’s laziness…
GR: Maybe a little bit too laissez-faire attitude.
JH: Maybe we just haven’t prioritized it enough.
GR: It’ll happen when it happens. I think that’s the crux of it. We all have this attitude that when it’s right, it will come about.
JH: It’s not like we’re out trying to save the world. We’re just five very dear friends that like to make music.
If you go:
Rebecca Rego & the Trainmen, There Are Ghosts, Cyrus Youngman and the Kingfishers
Time: 8 p.m., Friday, February 10
Location: Fountain Square Brewing Co., 1301 Barth Ave., Indianapolis
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