San Francisco's Cool Ghouls are gaining some serious momentum so far in 2013. Shortly after the New Year, they may or may not have played a brilliant gig in the Sutro Baths caves that yours truly and another blogger may or may not have attended. Next up was a Noise Pop gig supporting scene mainstays Sonny Smith and Tim Cohen at Bottom of the Hill. Now, the quartet is set to release their debut LP, a self-titled effort that is due out April 23 on Arvel Hernandez's Empty Cellar Records, and they're celebrating tonight at Brick & Mortar Music Hall.
The forthcoming record, Cool Ghouls, is a collection of tracks that had been played at shows before the band headed into the recording studio. "The recording process was essentially a matter of putting down the songs as they had already existed in a live setting," bassist Pat Thomas recently told me over email.
The band's three primary songwriters – Thomas along with guitarists Pat McDonald and Ryan Wong – all write songs on their own, and then bring their ideas to the group for the full treatment. "The ones that I sing lead on are the ones that I write; the ones that Pat and Ryan sing lead on are the ones that Pat and Ryan write," Thomas wrote. "Most of the time, the songwriter has guitar riffs, vocal harmonies, drumbeats, etc. in mind before bringing the song to the band. But ultimately, the arrangement for every song is figured out as a group, jamming together in our rehearsal space."
It was the band's strong songwriting skills that caught the attention of some local mainstays, who eventually played major roles in the self-titled record's release.
The album was recorded by the aforementioned Mr. Cohen (of The Fresh & Onlys and Magic Trick fame), who the members of Cool Ghouls met through their label's founder. "Arvel hooked us up with Tim. We showed Arvel some recordings that we were hoping to press on vinyl (six of those recording ended up being the Alright cassette), and he told us he didn't think they were vinyl caliber, fidelity-wise. Then he offered to set up recording time with Tim and release those recordings on Empty Cellar."
No tracks off Cool Ghouls have been officially released yet, but you can still catch a preview of the record, a track called "Witch's Game", which the band previously included on their 2011 Sneek Peek release. It's a proper dose of the band's trademark '60s-influenced surf/psych rock 'n' roll sound. Listen below:
Cool Ghouls won't slow down after the new LP drops – no, they have already begun recording their follow up album. "For our next record, which we hope to start recording before the summer, the process will probably be similar," Thomas said. "Ideally, I would like to have more experimentation/exploration while recording this time around. And these songs aren't as developed/show-tested as the last ones, so they'll be more malleable as we lay them to tape."
The band already gave their fans a taste of their unfinished work on that next record, recently posting streaming audio of a song entitled "Insight", another hefty serving of catchy garage rock with a side of '60s psychedelia, rough yet still entrancing.
Tonight at Brick & Mortar, Cool Ghouls will be joined by Meat Market, Buffalo Tooth, and Locomotives (in which Thomas plays drums). They then join Nashville's Natural Child and Brooklyn's Fletcher C. Johnson for a handful of Northern California dates, before playing The Starry Plough in Berkeley with Charts and Ash Reiter on April 11. But the band doesn't have any further ranging tour plans at this point:
"No big tour plans yet," explained Thomas. "We've played out of town a few times. Down to LA a couple times, Santa Cruz a handful of times, down to SLO a few weeks ago, up to Seattle and Portland this past January. We've booked all of our gigs ourselves so far. So the idea of booking a multi-week tour ourselves seems kind of daunting. Hopefully the record can lead to some kind of booking agent deal and we'll be able to tour around this summer. Maybe a bigger act will wanna take us on tour with them. In the meantime we're just gonna keep doing our thing. Playing locally and making little trips up and down the West Coast."
Make sure you get your fill of this up-and-coming act before they leave to conquer the rest of the music world, and be sure to not miss Cool Chouls' gig tonight at Brick & Mortar. Then grab their forthcoming self-titled debut LP, out April 23 on Empty Cellar (preorder it on the label's website). Details on all of the band's upcoming shows are below.
Cool Ghouls Tour Dates:
03/25 – San Francisco – Brick & Mortar Music Hall^
03/27 – Santa Cruz, CA – The Crepe Place@
03/28 – Sacramento, CA – Bows & Arrows*
03/29 – San Francisco, CA – Elbo Room*
04/11 – Berkeley, CA – The Starry Plough#
^ – w/ Meat Market, Buffalo Tooth, Locomotives
@ – w/ Natural Child, Fletcher C. Johnson, Bummer City
* – w/ Natural Child, Fletcher C. Johnson
# – w/ Ash Reiter, Charts
Cool Ghouls, Meat Market, Buffalo Tooth, Locomotives
Brick & Mortar Music Hall
March 25, 2013
Ash Reiter, Charts, Cool Ghouls
The Starry Plough
April 11, 2013
9pm, Price TBA