Jukebox The Ghost delivers a fantastic and fun blend of modern pop vibes over classic rock melodies and vocals reminiscent of both Queen and Elvis Costello. Their energetic pop anthems are like sonically sifting through a rolodex of the most renowned artists from the 20s to the 70s making for a truly theatrical experience. The three-part band consisting of vocals, guitar, piano, and drums bring their name to life with colorful choruses and bright melodies about falling in and out of love all the while having a blast. If you’re looking to get the party started you should meet Jukebox The Ghost.
MajorHiFi Music Monday: Jukebox The Ghost
What started off as jam session hangouts turned to musical careers for members Ben Thornewill (pianos, vocals), Tommy Siegel (guitar, vocals), and Jesse Kristin (drums, vocals) of Jukebox The Ghost. “We all knew we loved playing music,” Siegel tells me. “We just had fun with it, enjoyed working on songs together, and played gigs for our friends and friends of friends.” During their senior year in college the guys recorded their first album ‘Let Live and Let Ghosts’ and before they knew it, people who weren’t their friends began piling into venues to watch them perform. “There was one show where seemingly out of nowhere, 400-ish people showed up to see us play at the Black Cat just before we graduated. That was a big moment for us,” Siegel added. That’s when everything changed. It’s been 10 years since and the guys are five albums down, with the latest “Off To The Races,” having been released this year and currently promoted on their Spring tour.
Jukebox The Ghost’s Tommy Siegel stopped to talk with MajorHiFi about their unique sound, unique name, and Off To The Races Tour.
MajorHiFi: What headphones do you all use when recording? Traveling?
Jukebox The Ghost: Sony MDRs for both. I’m a big fan of flat EQ monitoring because it never lies – same reason I use HS-8s for my home studio. I find that the unflatteringly flat EQ of both of those systems has forced me to become a better mixer.
MH: Who are some the band’s musical influences?
Jukebox The Ghost: All three of us are wildly different as people and as music lovers, so there’s not a lot we can agree on. However, a few years ago we started doing a Halloween show called “HalloQueen” where we play two sets: one set of originals, and one set in costume as Queen. Doing a deep dive into Queen’s catalogue gave us all a much richer appreciation for them, and now they’re one of the only bands that all of us can mutually worship.
MH: When did each of you know you wanted to pursue music as a career?
Jukebox The Ghost: We all knew we loved PLAYING music. But in college when we first started out, it wasn’t an obvious “career” choice. We just had fun with it, enjoyed working on songs together, and played gigs for our friends and friends of friends. But during our senior year, we recorded our first album “Let Live and Let Ghosts” and shortly thereafter people who weren’t our friends started coming to see us. There was one show where seemingly out of nowhere, 400-ish people showed up to see us play at the Black Cat just before we graduated. That was a big moment for us that gave us the confidence to hit the road directly out of college.
MH:How did the band come to be? And how did you settle on your name?
Jukebox The Ghost: Well, we used to be called The Sunday Mail, but we quickly realized all the headlines about us were either ‘The Sunday Mail Delivers’ or ‘The Sunday Mail Fails to Deliver’ and the thought of a career of bad pun write-ups made us all a little nauseous. So we changed our name to something much less pronounceable, but far more google-able.
MH: The band’s got a real fun and bright sound. How did you all come to define it?
Jukebox The Ghost: As I said before, we don’t have a lot in common musically as individuals. But since we got our start playing parties, I think that helped define what we could all agree on – that we wanted people to have a good time. For a lot of bands, I think developing their sound is a product of calculated taste making and artistic intent. And not to say that we don’t have those moments, but we’ve always been more likely to view our band as, at least in part, a vehicle for making something entertaining and theatrical.
MH: Also, what inspires your sound?
Jukebox The Ghost: These days, I think we’ve been a band long enough that you get to poke your head out for the first time, take a deep breath, and see your whole career for what it is. For me, it’s about cherry-picking the best of what we have to offer. We started off as a more concept-heavy, theatrical band and have gradually worked our way towards become more adept pop arrangers. Our latest record is the best marriage of those two threads that I think we’ve accomplished, but I still can’t wait to make the next one and already have ideas spinning around for what it could be. I like knowing that our best record is always yet to come!
MH:You recently released your fifth studio album “Off To The Races,” tell us briefly about this album? The creative process behind it? And how does it compare to your previous works?
Jukebox The Ghost: I think what separates this record from our other albums is some of the arrangement choices. If we felt like doing a 50-vocal harmony stack, we did it. If we felt like a Brian May-style guitar solo, we did it. If we felt like a song wanted to have 20 distinct sections, we went with it. It was nice not to worry about genre constraints and just do what we felt like doing in the moment. Plus, I think Ben and I both settled into songwriting veins that complement each other. Ben’s writing got a little more Freddy-inspired and unafraid of showing his classical chops, and since I was listening to a lot of the Kinks, Elvis Costello and early Beatles, my writing settled into a 60s,70s-AM-radio style for this record that I felt really comfortable living inside. The commonality being that we both fell in love with elaborate harmony arranging on this record… I think that stylistic element really ties the album together.
MH:What’s in the works for you guys? Spring Tour? Anything else?
Jukebox The Ghost: With so many tour dates ahead of us this Spring, we’re taking things one day at a time!
MH:What is the band’s end game/ career trajectory/ all around musical mission, lol?
Jukebox The Ghost: TO INFINITY AND BEYOND OR LET’S MAKE SOME MORE GOOD RECORDS AND GO TOUR AND STUFF!