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A Glimpse Of Another World

(Interview with Conor Kiley - Taken From Black Velvet 55 - Feb 2008)

By Anne Green

Holy Ghost Revival have been described as a cult in the disguise of a rock n’ roll band. For the Seattle based five piece that description couldn’t be more accurate as they’ve got the ethics, the attitude, the talent and the uniqueness of sound to create their own legacy for their growing legion of fans. Since signing to 1965 Records the band have impressed crowds both on their home turf and in the UK, with the intention of doing things the old school punk rock way by touring in a van and playing tiny venues in tiny towns that most bands leave off their touring map. Black Velvet recently had the opportunity to catch up with lead vocalist Conor Kiley to find out more about the Holy Ghost Revival way of life.





It was a mutual love of music that brought the band together in the first place. “We were just high school kids that played punk rock music, glam rock and other groovy sounds,” Conor explains. “We just got together and started doing it. We’ve been around for a long, long time and we did the punk rock band thing booking our own tours, getting our own van and hitting the road.”
The band have certainly upheld their punk rock ethics to this day, as Conor notes when discussing the band’s sound. “I guess it has no redeeming social value like any good rock n’ roll music,” he points out. “It’s fuelled by apathy and hatred and all of the things teenagers have right now which is basically nothing.”
He feels that small town venues are the perfect environment for Holy Ghost Revival to show people what they’re all about. “In the UK it’s good revisiting the towns we’ve been to before like Guilford and Bolton. We really like the smaller towns where we’re starting music rather than the bigger cities,” he confesses. “We like the Midwest, kind of small cowboy towns in America and people there love music better than working in a factory or driving a truck for the rest of their lives. We come and offer them a glimpse of another world,” he concludes.
Whereas the grandeur of the band’s albums hasn’t always been easy to recreate on stage, their live show is still very special. “We’re trying to bridge the gap on the record and to utilise the studio to layer things and make it real lush,” he explains. “Our music’s like our favourite 70’s records were - impossible to recreate on stage. But live wise we’ve always been into the confrontation of punk rock; The Stooges, The Germs, Derby Crash and that sort of confrontational wild animal side of things. I think that’s what rock n’ roll has to offer right now - it’s always like a place for civilised Western society to get primal and destructive and embrace the hate.”

The band openly encourage people to go out and get hold of their music by any means possible, though they made the decision to give free 7” vinyl records on their website for those fans who are still interested in collecting the format. “I think it’s a weird time for music in so far as like releases because there’s the internet and you can download whatever,” Conor begins when quizzed about the free vinyl. “When we left the States to tour Europe, a lot of people already had our albums and had downloaded them which I think is great and I definitely tell people to download them myself. I think it’s important for the fans to be able to get a hold of stuff and to take it away from the monopoly that major labels have and I also think vinyl will continue because music fans want something tangible. The format of vinyl is really great because the album feels really big and the artwork is grand, each of us has a record player and it’s definitely something which is more for hardcore fans. It’s harder to get a hold of and it’s more of an artifact. A vinyl only release here in the States is just like 1000 copies or something, so it’s a little bit more for the person who’s seeking it rather than being readily available to get hold of. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be available to get hold of I just think that both sides are really good.”
New studio album ‘Twilight Exit’ is something that all of the members of the band are proud of, particularly as it marks a development in terms of the Holy Ghost Revival sound. “The new album is a lot more like heavy metal,” Conor begins. “It’s hard rock, 70’s sort of stuff. In the past we were mostly glam rock but we’re all from Seattle where there’s a lot of bad indie rock which is just boring for us. Then just looking at the States as a whole, our economy is going down the toilet and we’re involved in a war and there’s not really a lot of music that reflects the fucked up situation that we’re in. We’re not really political it’s just that you can’t help but be affected by it so I think it’s a more immediate response that fits how we all feel right now. It’s something to hold onto for the kids that can’t go to college - those are the kids that buy records for the most part. I definitely feel that especially in our own scene in Seattle which is like Guns N’ Roses and Black Sabbath, all those more aggressive signs just tie together.”
Though their sound has evolved, Holy Ghost Revival are set on remaining true to themselves and making music that they thoroughly enjoy listening to as well as performing. “We’ve gone through a lot of line-up changes,” Conor explains. “But there’s definitely a vein that runs through the whole Holy Ghost Revival history. Like I said, we were kind of glam rock lush and a sort of dreamier band, but as time goes on climates change and we’re just kind of doing what we feel right now. I think we’re kind of getting a little bit harder. I think too often bands are full of ideas about what kind of scene they want to appeal to, but if you’re a real music fan a lot of times you like things that other people don’t like and if you’re in a band they should be your favourite band. Regardless of what people’s expectations are you should make music that you like and maybe dictate taste rather than follow it,” he concludes.

Keen to enjoy their career rather than stick to a formal bunch of rules, the future looks like an exciting journey for the band and their fans. “We’re going to release records and tour,” Conor states. “We just take ourselves where we want to go, we’ve been a band for so long and not had any resources to work with on our label but the mentality doesn’t really change. I don’t know how we could please anybody except for ourselves which is the most important thing.”
For those eager to check out Holy Ghost Revival’s music, Conor has one request - “I hope that perhaps people have an honest reaction to our music,” he states. “I wouldn’t mind at all if everyone hated us because we enjoy what we do and if that’s their honest reaction then that’s great. If kids like it then perhaps they will be less accepting of what they’re fed and they make their own bands and start making their own records that people don’t really talk about. So I think take us for what we are… though the optimum life situation would be a bunch of kids tearing the place apart or tearing us apart.”


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