Greek alternative metallers Ghost Season have produced a strong debut album in Like Stars in a Neon Sky. Full of engaging melodies and more than enough hooks for the listener to get caught on, it’s an album full of passion, aspiration and personality.
So let’s meet Dorian and Helen and find out what makes Ghost Season the band they are…
Introduce us to Ghost Season
Dorian: GHOST SEASON is Dorian Gates on bass, Nick Christolis on guitars as well as production & engineering, Hercules Zotos on vocals and Helen Nota on drums. We were formed during July 2013 and since then we changed a couple of line-ups till we found the one that is best for the band. We changed quite a few names too. I remember we were called Ghost Avenue in the start then changed to Ghost Brigade and then to the most ridiculous name you’ve ever heard, Chocolate Oceans of Cookies and Cherries. It was so ridiculous! It was only for fun though.
What are your influences?
Helen: Of course each of us has different tastes in bands and music genres, but what we all have in common is our appreciation for bands that choose groove and simplicity over technical difficulty. So, alternative and nu metal groups like Shinedown, Breaking Benjamin, Disturbed and Three Days Grace have been crucial to the way we write and play our music. To a personal level, apart from alternative and nu-metal, I am highly influenced by metalcore, hardcore and most sub-genres of rock.
Dorian: Influences are way to many but I’ll stick to the strong ones. Iron Maiden has been a big influence for me as a bass player so definitely there is some Iron Maiden in this album. When I was younger I used to listen to old stuff like Yes, Genesis, Wishbone Ash, Eloy, King Crimson a lot of progressive rock you know bands that have really good bass lines. I always liked time changes in songs too. You know it’s old music but it’s still good music. And metal and Gothic came next. I’m a Goth deep inside!
Name 5 things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend.
Helen: I think that my most important recent discovery is the artist IAMX. One of his songs was played in an episode of How To Get Away With Murder TV series and I liked it so much that I searched for the name of the artist and then I “devoured” his entire discography. You could describe his style as synthpop with some industrial elements. I highly recommend all of his albums, but my personal favourite is Metanoia.
Other artists I recently listened to and was impressed by are the metalcore bands Silent Planet and Crown the Empire, the rock band PVRIS and the psychedelic rock band Sleeping Pillow.
Dorian: The latest Demon Hunter song “Died In My Sleep” is really good. I recently discovered them and I like what I hear, then I checked their discography and they have some pretty good stuff man. I like melodic stuff. I also like the last AFI “The Blood album”, is has a couple of strong songs. I haven’t heard anything else lately to tell you the truth. You know, I’m a fan of AFI for years now since the album “Sing The Sorrow”, they have a special place in my heart!
Tell us about Like Stars in a Neon Sky
Dorian: I was writing some lyrics for the song “Fade Away” and I was thinking of a good album title and through the song lyrics I just came up with the title. What it represents to me is more or less melancholic. Everything in this life comes and goes, you know, the stars are fading away under a neon sky. Everything passes by, love, beloved ones, friends, life itself, jobs, money, politicians, memories. But that’s just my personal perspective. It might mean a whole different thing to someone else and this is what I like in music. Nothing stays forever. It’s just a, let’s say, more poetic way to put it. Music is poetry either way.
What’s the process you use for writing songs?
Dorian: We don’t have any particular method or way of writing music. Sometimes Nick brings something in the studio, a riff and we built on it, sometimes he emails us a new idea, a new riff and sometimes he brings a whole song written. Sometimes I bring a riff and we built on it. One idea brings the other and when the final product is complete I put the lyrics. We start with the details later. It’s interesting enough and every good idea is welcome.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
Helen: While at least 3 or 4 songs come to mind, I have to choose Highway Part 2. Compared to the rest of our songs that can be identified as alternative metal, this one has more hard rock traits. Its verses are quite slow-paced with a powerful groove, while the chorus is melodic and has beautiful vocal lines. And I think that Nick’s guitar work on the song is without a doubt impressive!
Dorian: I think Sons of Yesterday and Fade Away are my two favourites, but I really can’t say. I like playing all of them live. They all have a special feeling to me. Different each one but special.
How do you think your music will progress in the future?
Helen: Well, since “Like Stars In A Neon Sky” was our first LP and also the first release featuring the new line-up, when the time comes for the following album we will have matured as musicians and bonded more as a band. The first album is always like an experiment because the whole process is completely new and this gives you the ability to learn from your mistakes and gain experience that will be valuable for the next release.
Dorian: You never know what future can bring. We play what we want to play and what makes us happy you know, what hears nice in our ears. Like we did on this album. We won’t change any style or genre or anything. As long as we don’t have doubts on what we want and we have solid goals the progress will come fast and smooth. The big question is how the music industry will progress in the future.
How did you choose the cover artwork?
Dorian: I was designing the artwork for a couple of months after we chose the name of the album. I wanted something simple and straight to the point after the name of the album and something that will hopefully catch your eye. Which I hope it does! Designing a cover artwork can be a bit of a pain in the ass sometimes cause in the end the whole band must like it. At least in our case.
How important is good album art to you?
Helen: To me it’s one of the most important aspects of the whole album-making process. You could say it’s the way of externalising your emotions and how you view your music to the rest of the world. The experience of song-writing is a confessional one, as you share feelings and experiences that you’re often too afraid to verbalise, and this makes the album art a kind of summary of this confession that enables the listener to grasp and understand the story that the album is trying to narrate.
Dorian: I think the album art is crucial. Visual always comes first either way. You’ll see things before you hear them. That’s no different when it comes to listening to an album or song, as more often than not, before you press play, the first thing that will catch your attention, is the accompanying cover art. Back then in the days of vinyl, I remember me growing up I would sit down with the vinyl in my hands, listening to the music and diving into the artwork, the notes, the lyrics, the special thanks, the whole package, I’d become one with what I was listening to. You know, in the end you’re putting so much effort sweat and tears in creating something that you’re so proud of it would be cheating if you just slam a “whatever” cover out there. It’s always important to me and always has been.
With lineup changes, including a different singer, how would you say Like Stars in a Neon Sky compares to Ghosts Like Her and what impact have these changes had on the band?
Dorian: Like Stars In a Neon Sky is a bit different that Ghosts Like Her, yes. It’s more mature I think plus we knew what we wanted to do and which way to follow. Also production wise is much better. We worked harder and I think you can hear it somewhere in there. We changed many members, two drummers, a singer and now we are four and not five as we used to be in the start with a second guitarist. It’s always a blessing and a curse you know! All I know is that it’s a honest piece of work and a reflection of what we are. I think we’ve transcended all those difficulties we had in the start. The changes didn’t impact the band’s sound.
Playing live – essential or pointless?
Helen: The world essential may be an understatement. No matter how well produced an album is, it’s a completely different experience when it’s performed live for the musicians and the fans as well. This kind of interaction between the band and the crowd creates a unique bond that cannot happen just by listening to the album at home or simply by watching a video clip on YouTube.
Dorian: Fully essential. Live shows are the breath of the band. You’re not a band if you don’t gig around. All I wanted to do was to make a live band.
Do you have any upcoming shows?
Helen: Yeah of course, we hardly ever take a break from playing live. On the 31st of March we’re playing with Ocean Mind at An Groundfloor and next month we have planned the release live for “Like Stars In A Neon Sky” at the Crow Club. Moreover, we’re in the talks for a mini-tour in Greece in May and we have scheduled a European tour in the Baltic States for late October.
What are the next steps for Ghost Season?
Dorian: We will have a new lyric video for the song “The Vampire” out in a little bit plus some live shows around, a tour in the Baltic and we’ll see what else! The band will not take a break. After the promotion of the new album we will go in the studio and start recording again. We have some stuff ready already but they are in a premature state and on the shelf. We won’t sit and wait for 4 years till the next album comes out. A band must work and progress all the time.
Any final words?
Helen: Thank you very much for spending time reading about us! We hope you enjoy “Like Stars In A Neon Sky” and hopefully we’ll meet you in one of our shows in the future!
Dorian: Thank you all and hope you like our new album Like Stars In a Neon Sky! We appreciate the support.
Per ardua ad astra.