Haunting The Slidebar with Tony McVaney of Northern Ghost
Northern Ghost recently completed the cross country Tragic Hero Tour with The Dead Rabbitts, I Set My Friends On Fire, and Set To Stun, making their final stop at The Slidebar in Fullerton. With music that is alternately haunting and intensive combined with powerful, reflective lyrics, Northern Ghost is destined to captivate the senses and make a good amount of fans in the process. While on tour, their debut Happy: Sad: Depressed: Suicide magnum opus was unleashed via Tragic Hero Records.
Prior to their blistering performance at The Slidebar, we caught up with front man Tony McVaney to find out more the almighty Northern Ghost, their participation on the Tragic Hero Tour, some of the lyrics of their Happy: Sad: Depressed: Suicide endeavor, and a whole lot more! Read on…
How has the tour with Dead Rabbits been going so far, and what have been some of the highlights?
So far the tour has been phenomenal, exceeded all my expectations, as far as like the reaction from the crowds every night even to the bands we’re touring with themselves. We definitely grew pretty close on this tour, so it’s nice to be able to end the tour knowing I have a few more friends at the end of it than when I started. So, it’s cool.
Is this the first time for you in Southern California?
Yeah, Northern Ghost’s first time being here, so we’re really excited about it.
How does Northern Ghost compare to your previous band, Set To Reflect?
Northern Ghost is really, as far as the song writing goes, is a lot more structured. With Set to Reflect it was a lot more like part, part, part. Like, progressive, kind of. And than this project we’re a lot more structured, like I said. But for the most part, like the style, and a lot of the inspiration’s still driven from the same sources. So, as far as like the sound itself, it’s not too much of a departure. It’s just a little more well put together, I would say.
What happened to your previous band Set to Reflect? Why do they not exist anymore?
Pretty much we just got to, like, a rough spot with Set to Reflect and just kind of like – a lot of behind the scenes, industry stuff, was getting into the way of us progressing as a band. But yeah, when we decided to continue making music, we decided we would also have to hit the reset button. Just like, everything. Our name, our image, direction of the music. It’s kind of like a refresher, a new start for us, a second chance for us to do what we want to do as far as playing music for people and being in a band.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the title Happy: Sad: Depressed: Suicide?
When we came up with the title, it was like the best representation. Because, that was like the last thing we did for the record, was name the record. All the songs were done, everything, we just needed to come up with a title. And when we came up with that title, it felt like it was the best representation of the whole spectrum of the record. Just, diving into different emotions, and how us as humans deal with them. It covers everything from loneliness and depression to losing loved ones or like the stress that society’s been under, as far as like politics and technology and all that kind of stuff. And the Happy: Sad: Depressed: Suicide line is actually in one of our songs, False Paradise, and we figured the titled be Happy: Sad: Depressed: Suicide. So I just felt kind of like when I wrote that it was kind of about my life and that’s kind of what the records about too. So I just felt like it was really fitting as far as the whole concept of the record goes.
Select two songs from the record, what inspired the lyrics for you?
I like all of them so much and they all have different stories behind them. I would say the last track, The Donors, was a heavy one for me to write. And the lyrics behind that rooted from my mother passing away a year and a half ago now. So I felt like when I was writing the lyrics for that, the music kind of like gave off this cool, dark sad vibe. It’s almost like, it’s a weird feeling, because of her passing I was able to write that song. So like, recognizing that tragedy as inspiration and use tragedy as creation and make something beautiful from it.
Second song: Heart Of Stone, the lyrics behind that just deals with being a good person who has done bad things and just dealing with that. Dealing with the pressures of what comes with that, when those secrets you were keeping get out in the open. How you deal with just the pressure from other people’s opinions coming in at you and then also, dealing with your own opinion of yourself and where you are. But, that song is a little more uplifting because there’s a silver lining to it. It kind of teaches a lesson of even though all this stuff is going on, I’m still here today and you can still learn to forgive yourself and move on past that moment. It doesn’t matter where other people stand or their opinion of you. You can still be there for yourself and keep pushing forward.
Sorry we got deep there! [laughs]
What goes through your head right now as a tour like this is about to come to an end?
This is the last show of the tour. It’s been awesome and kind of surreal. I felt so much stuff happened while we were out on this tour. This was our first tour, we were out on the road giving people their first impression of us – which the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Also, in the middle of the tour, our record came out so it’s like – we’re seeing more feedback and comments from that coming in while we’re on the road and then we just dropped our music video for Heart of Stone and it’s just like, the amount of love and support from not only fans but other bands on the tour. It’s just, been crazy. Kind of fills our hearts with so much joy and motivation to keep pushing harder for this. It’s gonna be weird it all coming to a halt after today. We’re still going to be reaching out to everybody as far as fans, it’ll be online. Then we’ll just start planning for our next tour, which will be in the fall at some point. Weighing some options there, that’s the next step for us after this.
You’re about to get married.
How do you handle being away from home for so long?
Yeah, it’s definitely not easy. It’s just more exhausting than anything. Just mentally and physically. But, whenever between shows and I’m feeling homesick or down, it’s only temporary until I get back at a show or on stage and we have those people come up to us after we play or even the other bands treating us like family. Even though we are kind of away from home, it’s like a different kind of home, being around the people who listen to our music or being around bands that we’ve been on tour with taking us in and like, encouraging us. It’s made it a little easier for me on the road as far as loved ones back home, it’s harder for them probably because it’s just something that’s missing for them and there’s nothing filling the void like how there is for us. I’m just excited to get back home and start planning wedding stuff.
Do you have any messages for people who are reading this?
I feel like the thing that is always the hardest for me to express is just how thankful I am for anyone who has listened to us. Even more thankful to anyone who has enjoyed us enough to share what we’ve made with other people. I’m just real grateful to see a community start through Northern Ghost. Just thank you for giving us a shot and thank you for listening.
Northern Ghost is:
Tony McVaney – Vocals
Alan Bryan – Guitar
Nolan O’Renic – Guitar
Kenny Pohorence – Bass
Michael Mazzoli – Drums
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)
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