“Each person brings their own interests to the table, but we all have that common ground of rock and roll influences and songwriting experience.”
Elliot & The Ghost, a four-piece rock band based out of Williamsburg, New York, delivers music washed in grunge-pop vibes with a healthy dose of Brooklyn edge. The band’s influences are diverse, allowing them the freedom to refrain from subscribing to a hard-and-fast subgenre. Made up of seasoned musicians, they’ve all individually played with a number of bands before meeting and going forward with Elliot & The Ghost as a focused endeavor.
The band is currently working on a four-part series, two of which have been released as singles. The first, Bad Enough, features gritty baritone vocals from Will and a mid-tempo groove that slides into a hypnotic chorus. According to their guitarist/vocalist Will Thompson, the music video was filmed underneath their neighborhood bar in an old school Bushwick hip hop studio. “There were records from Biggie on the walls,” he says. “There was this old, unchanged Brooklyn legacy. It’s no longer there. I think it closed right after our shoot.”
The second, Peach, features a driving bass line, crashing drums, and a swirling chorus. Here, Will’s range is on display with wailing vocals in the upper register. The music video was also filmed in Brooklyn and follows each member in a dream-like state of waking up from a long night and stumbling about until they reach The Graham, their neighborhood “home away from home.”
We went out with Will Thompson (guitar, vocals), Brett Giroux (lead guitar), Connor Jones (bass), and Dan Edwards (drums) in their neighborhood last weekend to hang out in Williamsburg, catch up on what they’ve been up to, and crack some dad jokes. The band also curated a playlist for us, bathed in rich vocals and rockabilly-influenced tracks with a heavy-handed mix of Bowie hits. The mix ends with Big Tease, their latest single, just released today. Listen to the mix and learn more about Elliot & The Ghost below.
Q: How did you meet and get your start — and how did you know that you wanted to make music together?
Brett: First and foremost we became friends before we started making music together. That’s a passion that we all share, absolutely. Will moved here in 2010 or 2011. My friend was playing drums with Will and asked if I’d be interested in coming to “try out” for this band, Elliot & The Ghost, that Will was trying to pioneer. After that, Will and I really clicked and we decided to re-form the band by finally getting [Dan] Edwards and Connor.
Will: It was mostly myself and Brett messing around with a lot of Brooklyn people and trying lots of styles and discovering the music we were wanting to make. We found Dan and Connor along the way. When Connor joined we knew: “This is it. Now we’ve got the car packed — let’s go.”
Dan: There are some pretty cool connections in the way we met. I was playing in a different band at the time and Elliot & The Ghost and my band played together and we ended up breaking up. That’s when I joined these guys and we found Connor. His [Connor’s] old guitar instructor was one of Brett’s good friends. It was all interconnected.
Connor: The kid that taught me how to play guitar ended up being one of Brett’s good buddies. At the time we got together I was just auditioning all over the place. It was a pretty fast fit when I started playing with you guys.
Q: What are some of the underpinning influences for your music?
Will: I would say that we all have a deep appreciation of music from our parents’ generation. All the rock bands and even solo artists from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Each person brings their own interests to the table, but we all have that common ground of rock and roll influences and songwriting experience. At the same time, we’re not stuck in the past listening only to the Stones or Led Zeppelin. We listen to current artists to get a sense of what’s out there, and what the younger bands are up to, too. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what generation the song was written — we’re more into interesting, cool songwriting.
Q: What has your band been up to lately? Tell us about what’s in the pipeline for the future.
Will: We’ve been really selective with shows so we’ve been playing a lot of really great shows in New York. We’re constantly back and forth in the studio because we’ve been releasing a series of singles. Yesterday we finished tracking the third single in a series of four. We’re about to release “Big Tease” on January 15th. The last one is called “Turn off Your Radar,” it will be done early February. After that we’re focusing on bigger shows.
Connor: We started this project over a year ago to record four singles.
Brett: The project consists of four pieces of music but also collaborations with four different photographers showcased as cover art that feature each one of us as the subject.
Will: On top of that we have a video with each song. There’s a new music video in the pipeline really soon.
Q: Are you working on a record anytime soon?
Will: I think what’s great is we have an archive of songs at this point. I think we have 25 songs mixed and mastered. It’s great to always have material but I think the ultimate goal is to do a full-length in the near future. I love that we’re in a position right now that there’s no rush on anything. We’re just kind of going with the flow, we’re constantly working every single day.
Connor: We end up writing new songs almost every day.
Q: Can you describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music before?
Dan: We’re a rock band.
Connor: To say we’re a rock and roll band sounds so cliché and annoying but I really think that’s the only way to describe it.
Will: We have the rock and roll live energy, right, but the person who is asking that question has their own identification with what rock and roll is. So they say, “Oh, you’re like AC/DC?”
Connor: Especially in the neighborhood we live in I think it’s easy to say, “They’re an indie rock band,” but I don’t think we’re an indie rock band at all. We’re just a rock and roll band.
Will: Let’s just say we’re like The Beatles and Neil Young.
Connor: If Kanye West started a band with Prince and Angus Young and Quest Love.
Brett: I would like Elliot & The Ghost to be known as “Brooklyn Rock and Roll.”
Dan: How about New York City rock?
Connor: We’re America Rock!
Dan: How good is New York State rock?
Connor: Northern Hemisphere rock.
Q: What are some of your favorite things to do in your neighborhood of Williamsburg?
Will: We play with puppies and drink beer.
Dan: We drink tequila at The Graham and tell dad jokes.
Connor: We live on the streets.
Will: We like to go to Mexico 2,000, that’s a good spot.
Brett: We go to venues, we see bands at Rough Trade.
Will: Human Head Records!
Connor: We like playing pool and darts. Any dive bar in the neighborhood. Second Chance Saloon.
Q: Dan, can you tell us a dad joke?
Will: Hey, what does a nosey pepper do? Get jalapeño business!
Dan: Bear walks into a bar. Bartender asks what he wants to drink. The bear says, “I’ll have a gin…. and tonic.” Bartender goes, “What’s with the big paws?”
Q: What new music or up-and-coming artists are you currently listening to?
Connor: I’ve been getting really into the new Foals record. It’s fairly new.
Q: Thank you for making a mix for Classic Specs! Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the playlist you created?
Will: The playlist is what the four of us are each really digging at the moment pretty much. We decided to include one chosen track each from Bowie. His passing in particular is perplexing to swallow. I fell in love with the enigma of him and his musical paths throughout his years. Just an interesting, huge talent of a dude. Saddened he’s gone, but thankful for the plethora of music he’s left for us.