Interview: Benedict Goold from UK’s Ghouls on their first Australian tour & taking a break from social media

UK Alt-Punk Rockers Ghouls are heading down under for their first Australian co-headline tour, sharing the run will be Australia’s own Foxblood. Starting in 2013, the band consists of Benedict Goold (Lead Vocals and Guitar), Sam Mussell (Bass), Ben Maz (Saxophone), Russel Spencer (Trombone) and Jay Swinstead (Drums).

You’re soon to be in Australia for your co-headline tour called No Better Place To Be. Looking at the schedule, you’re very lucky because the tour covers a wide part of the country, which not all local artists even get to. Meaning, you’ll get to see a lot of differences in the Australian way of life – from sand to surf to city. What are you most looking forward to seeing while you are here?

When you put it like that it makes me feel extremely lucky. It still doesn’t seem real that we are even going to Australia, let alone getting to see a whole lot of the country. This tour came about after tweet got out of hand and somehow ended up with us having a whole tour out there so it all seems surreal!

It’s definitely a busy trip but, man we wouldn’t want it any other way! The best adventures are the ones that are jam-packed with shows and travel. We’re pretty good at making the most of our days “off” where there are no shows – especially when we’re somewhere none of us have ever been. We’ll be checking out any local spots – especially food and buildings. A big one on my list, as a swimmer, is to swim in one of the ocean pools (as well as swim in the actual ocean!).

What is the weirdest stereotype about Australia you’ve heard, or something strange that you’d like to see for yourself whether it’s true or not?

I’d absolutely love to meet a really stereotypical Aussie old man types who spends his time in the “bush” and has had gnarly encounters with ‘roos and crocs. It’s a bit like when you see actual cowboy country folk out in the States – you’re never sure whether they acknowledge that they’re a stereotype or not. I think encountering one of your many dangerous animals would kind of be cool. Maybe not too close of an encounter, but seeing a snake on the road or something would make a cool story.

You’re co-heading with Australia’s Foxblood? How familiar were you with the band before the tour was announced and how different does that make it for you guys to share the load with another band?

Since the announcement, I’ve checked them out but prior to that I didn’t know much about them. Although there are some obvious differences in what we do, I don’t feel like the bands won’t complement each other. They’ve definitely got a lot of energy and to be honest, it’s going to be really nice to have some locals along with us who can show us around and guide us to the best spots. As far as how they’ve come to join us on this tour – it’s all been sorted by Inhale Music Promotions – they’ve worked real hard to sort everything out, so I have complete trust in their choices.

It’s really nice for us in the way that we are completely new to Australia. It would probably be quite daunting to try and do a solo headline tour in a country that we’re not sure anyone knows who we are or what we do. That said, since the announcement we’ve had nothing but positive reaction as far as people checking us out and saying they’ll be at the shows.

Can we expect to see Ghouls and Foxblood play together on stage? What’s the likelihood of collaboration?

I’m not really sure – in my experience of touring with other bands, especially a tour like this where it’s somewhere completely new to us and a bit of an adventure, you do get to know each other quite well because you’re thrown into situations and experience things that no other scenario other that a tour can bring about. So if anything, I’m sure we’ll all come away with some good memories of each other.

You’re used to travelling around the UK and Europe (and most recently the USA), where I imagine you’ve been established for quite some time. Being that this is your first time here, what do you expect from Australian audiences?

The first time we went out to the US, we played to a lot of completely new crowds and it was strange at first because it was a bit like how it used to be when we first started playing shows in the UK. Those shows are always really rewarding though because you have to work hard to show the crowd that you’re worthy of their attention, and if you win them over, then you feel you’ve really done your job.

I have no idea what to expect from the crowds to be honest. I don’t know what to expect out of Australia, but I know the journey and adventures are going to be more than memorable, so it’s exciting either way.

Do you guys get recognised on the street?

It’s not something that’s happened many times, but it has happened. I really appreciate it. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that people listen to us and that we’re as much of a band to them as the bands I like and listen to regularly are to me.

I really like the Australia tour poster – the skeleton riding on the surfboard – what was the inspiration behind the image?

No idea, we didn’t do it. It is rad though. It’s very fitting as a theme for the tour. It’s going onto a t-shirt that we’ll have for sale at the shows too, so that’s exciting.

Your current single, “Internet Famous”, came after you took yourself off social media. Was it a complete switch off or did it take some time? Was there any anxiety about wondering what you may be missing out online?

It was an all out switch off. As part of recovery, I went complete cold turkey from it and I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything at all. In fact, one thing I found was that my conversations with people (even close friends) were so much more in depth because I was completely unaware of anything people had been up to, all because I hadn’t been receiving online updates. It meant we were actually talking about it and they could show me their pictures instead of me already knowing and having seen all of them. It also meant I made more effort to make real conversations because I didn’t feel the need to get my phone out and stare at it. I’m back on it now but I’ve definitely carried over the lessons I learned over the black out.

The concept of the song reminds me of “Celebrity” by Brad Paisley. Have you seen the music video?

I love Brad Paisley! I’m actually a massive country music fan! Luke Combs, his newest album is my jam right now. This video is a great concept and he’s talking about the exact things I was trying to highlight in “Internet Famous”.

Is there anyone you watch/admire who is famous simply due to whatever it is that they have done on the internet?

I’m actually a big fan of a few YouTubers. As well as music, I’m big into running, swimming, cooking and general content creation – most of the people I like to watch/follow fit into these categories. My favourite at the moment is Casey Neistat. He’s this mega creative film maker dude who runs around New York and goes about on an electric skateboard – his work ethic and stories are really inspiring.

What do you think the pros and cons to social media/the internet are?

I’d love to say that we could exist without it, but I mean, the whole reason we’re off to Australia is through the power of social media. The only reason anyone would be aware of us in Australia is all down to social media. It’s a great tool and can be used to great affect but there’s definitely a darker side to it too. I think the best rule of thumb is, use it as a tool and not as a means. Don’t be using social media to socialise over real life and remember that not everything you see and read on it is real. Exist in the real world too.

We’re living in a world where you don’t have to have any skill or talent to be famous (or rather “internet famous”) As a band, is it frustrating having to put in a lot of hard work slowly building up a reputation and doing very small gigs for not a lot, if any, money, when another band could simply play on YouTube and instantly get signed after not putting in their dues?

Oh definitely, and you can spend lots of time worrying or thinking about it, getting more and more frustrated. As I’ve gotten older it definitely bothers me less though. The thing is you never know what any other person has done or how hard they’ve worked to be where they are. Plenty of people/bands/artists just appear to get famous or recognised out of nowhere when actually, they worked real hard to get to where they are.

The other thing is people determine “success” by fame and popularity too much. We might not be the most popular band who get loads of radio play and sell out big rooms, but we get to do some amazing things through music. As long as we’re making it work and we’re happy then I don’t see why we can’t deem ourselves successful. At the end of it all, all that counts is that we make the most of it and build memories that count.

The music video is very creative and uses snapchat as a way to display images and text. How long did it take to get all the images together, was it all shot in one take and what was the inspiration behind it?

It took a lot longer than it probably looks like it did. Typically, things kept going wrong – my phone froze, Instagram flipped out and couldn’t handle that number of images, my camera ran out of battery, the light balance went skew, the list goes on … We just wanted something quick, original and instead of having to rely on someone else, we just DIYed it together. It turned out pretty well and lots of people have said they like how original the idea is, so that’s cool.

On the flip side though, I was talking to an artist the other day who said it’s important for music these days to have a visual element. If you’re uploading music to YouTube, there are usually images or lyrics involved. Has music turned into a visual medium as much as it has an auditory one?

I actually have a theory that music will become a visual as much as auditory; especially in the way it’s released now. Bands and artists are putting a lot more effort into videos and the visuals than ever before. I’d love to see (or maybe release) a body of work where the videos are as much a part of the package as the songs were. Almost like a TV series but songs related to each other as well as the videos that went with them. It could be released like a TV series, episodes at the same time on the same day each week. I honestly think, with the way internet and YouTube is now working that this is the direction music and albums will go.

Every member of the band comes with a diverse array of musical backgrounds and influences. How do you think those differences make you stand out as a band?

I think the diverse music tastes from each member in our band definitely contribute to the sound we’ve ended up making. I can’t really speak for the others but I grew up listening to pop punk and alternative bands, as I’ve gotten older my horizons have definitely broadened but I do often just go back to listening to those classic albums.

If you look at my apple music at the moment, it’s full of throwbacks like Linkin ParkHybrid Theory, SlipknotVol. 3, Blink 182Take Off Your Pants And Jacket then throw in some mega country hits, a bit of Stormzy and Bugsy Malone and you’ve got your mix.

What’s the weirdest fan experience you’ve had?

I went to see [rock band] The Menzingers a few weeks ago and a guy stopped me and asked if I was the singer in Ghouls. He was from New Zealand and wasn’t local to the area. What was brilliant is that [Ben] Maz stood with me and he didn’t realise that he was also in the band!

What else do you have planned for 2018?

Without saying too much, we’re going be getting into the van a lot and there will also be a few more flights to catch!