Geisterhaus – Interview
Interview with Tom Hammersley AKA Geisterhaus and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
TH: I use live guitars and vocals with synthesiser loops to make my music and I’d say somewhere between alternative rock and electronic pop.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
TH: I started playing music when I got a bass for my 14th birthday. I’d asked for one because I was really into Blink-182 and I thought Mark Hoppus’ bass tone was amazing (still do!). A year later my cousin lent me his guitar and I taught myself by playing along to Rage Against the Machine and Nirvana and stuff like that. Once I’d learned the basic mechanics of songwriting, that was it. I couldn’t focus on anything other than music. Ever since then I’ve been playing in various bands and honing my craft, and now I’m throwing everything I’ve got into this solo project.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
TH: Pixies and mclusky have been massive influences on me, which I think you can hear in my music. It was probably St. Vincent who inspired me to start introducing electronic elements in my songs. Her self-titled album was a big revelation for me. Sparks and Human League encouraged me to get a bit more poppy and whimsical, the liberal use of distortion and harsh production is from from Lightning Bolt and Death Grips, Cate le Bon and Tom Waits influenced by whole approach to songwriting… I could go on but that’s probably plenty.
As for non-musical influences, I’m a bit of a comedy nerd so I’m influenced by a lot of comedians. I’ve no interest in becoming a comedian, but I think it’s important to have a sense of humour about yourself and your art.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
TH: I really don’t know. I’ve never been about long-term goals, I just love making stuff and I’m going to keep doing it for as long as I’m physically able.
PD: What are your songs about?
TH: They’re mostly about my anxieties and worries and other times they’re social commentary type things. When I first started writing songs, I wasn’t too concerned about lyrics. I’d just write down a bunch of cool-sounding phrases and call it a day. I’m very particularly about my lyrics now, though. Every song has to be about something, even if it’s not immediately obvious to the listener.
PLUG TIME! My new single, The Garden, I wrote during lockdown when I got really into Ancient Greek Philosophy. It’s about Epicurus’ belief that the gods are real and tangible beings that have on interest or hand in the affairs of mortals. I thought that was quite a nice analogy for the rich and powerful members of contemporary society, who use their resources to acquire more power and wealth rather than improve the lives of others.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
TH: I usually just post daft photos on social media and text everyone I know. If somebody wants to take over the promotional side of things for me, do get in touch because I am very bad at it. I just want to play my songs and have a nice time.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
TH: I think it’s good. I love bandcamp as a platform for downloading music. I’ve spent many a happy evening exploring obscure corners of various genres and it’s a wonderful thing that the money you spend on there goes straight into the pockets of the artists. I love physical formats too, though. I collect records and CDs and I think you do connect with the music a bit more when you’ve got this artifact that you can hold in your hand. It comes down to personal preference. And my preference is: It’s all good, baby!
I’m a bit conflicted about streaming though. I do use streaming services a lot, they’re a great way to promote your music and I love making and sharing playlists and all that but the models for paying artists are abysmal.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
TH: It’s a weird thing to think about. I want to say “I Got The…” by Labi Siffre because it’s one of my favourite songs… But if I performed and produced it, it would be rubbish. And then Eminem would never have sampled it for his hit debut single so perhaps there’d be no Eminem? I don’t know whether that would be a good or bad thing, but I couldn’t shoulder the responsibility of creating an alternative timeline.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
TH: When the opening act leaves straight after their set, taking any punters they brought in with them. Fortunately, I’m usually the opening act at gigs I play and I go completely the other way. I always stay until the death. Then I hide in the toilets and nick all the Nobby’s Nuts from behind the bar after all the staff have gone home.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
TH: I put on a show with my previous band, Rocketship Forest, at The Crescent in Salford one Halloween a few years ago. It was the first time I’d organised gig and and it was just the most amazing night. We invited a load of local acts to play with us, and they all smashed it. The place was heaving and the crowd were all dressed up and really up for it. I’ve put on shows since and they’ve all been great, but none as good as that fateful night on Halloween. The stars aligned and all was magic.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
TH: I’ve got a bit of a backlog of tracks on my laptop that I’ve record over the course of the year. I’ve got some songs that rely more on synths and electronic sounds and a couple where I’m on bass with no guitars at all, which is new ground for me, and they were great fun to record. But I think I’m just going to sit on it all for now and keep recording bits and bobs whenever inspiration strikes. Hopefully, when the world is all a bit normal, I’ll have something resembling a new album.
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
TH: My new single The Garden is out now. You can buy it from my bandcamp page and stream it on all of the big streaming platforms (you only get the b-side on my bandcamp page, though!) and I put out a single called Idle Hands earlier in the year, too.
I’ve also got an album out called Bones on Record. That’s available to listen to at the same places and I’ve got just a few CD copies left which you can order from bandcamp.
Band/Artist location – Manchester England
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