Moments before they stepped on stage to headline a sold out O2 Islington Academy, we had a talk with Jonathan Vigil and Jim Riley from The Ghost Inside about hardcore punk, Nando’s and Rosie Jones.
You’ve just finished the Impericon tour of the UK. How’s it been for you guys?
JV: It’s been great. It’s our first time headlining since we put out our new record. The turn-outs have been a lot better than we thought they’d be. We’ve done a lot of support tours and it’s hard to gauge where your band’s at as you’re playing for other bands. But a few of the shows have sold out, tonight’s sold out, so it’s pretty crazy.
JR: Last night in Manchester we sold out the Academy and there was no barrier, and by the time we’d finished there must have been 50 kids on stage – there wasn’t enough room for us to be on stage.
Jim, you hurt your hand pretty badly…
JR: Yeah, they’re not the same size. I think I hit something while moshing on stage and being an idiot, I flail around a lot when playing and my hand just ran into something. Luckily it’s not broken, I have broken my hand before, and that would’ve sucked as we’re actually in the middle of a pretty long touring cycle.
UK crowds are fucking great though, right?
JV: It’s pretty similar to home, the kids here have a lot of music so they’re pretty picky about what they like. The scene is pretty well developed, in a city like Manchester or Glasgow kids are going to shows together all the time, so there’s a lot of familiar faces.
Do you have a favourite city to play in the UK?
JV: I think we love London because there’s Chipotle here.
JR: It’s the tastiest thing you have in your country because all your food is really bland and boring.
JV: I eat Nando’s a lot, I love Nando’s.
Who doesn’t love Nando’s?
JV: We have one in Washington DC which is 3000 miles from where we’re from. It’s almost worth it.
You’re from California which was an integral part of the hardcore punk scene in the 80s, do you still feel a connection to that?
JV: Growing up I did go to a lot of cool shows, but now there’s only really places to play in Hollywood. You can’t play a cool, intimate club, they don’t really have them. They have The Whiskey and The Roxy but they’re on the Sunset Strip. Places I went to see shows growing up just aren’t around anymore. Being from LA we don’t really play LA too often, we call this venue The Chain Reaction in Orange County our ‘home’ venue. Hollywood is a weird scene, it’s hard to play a hardcore punk show there.
Do you prefer the smaller shows?
JV: It’s two different vibes really. The smaller ones are all sweaty and in-your-face, but it’s cool playing venues like this too so we can put on more of a show.
JR: You have better sound and overall production in a place like this too, as opposed to the Underworld in Camden which is a CBGBs type place – the room’s not meant to have a PA in it so your sound guy is always struggling. Then you come to a show like this and we can put on a show, although we don’t really think about what we’re doing, we jut put on a t-shirt and jump around.
Did you grow up going to all these dirty gigs?
JV: I was pretty fortunate that I grew up in a town that had a place called a teen centre, that all the teenagers would go to and hang out and stuff. I saw a lot of really cool shows from touring bands for cheap. I saw bands like Strife, Throwdown, Bleeding Through and Death By Stereo, and it was within walking distance of my house for just $3 a show.
Three dollars to get in?!
JV: It was awesome – the shows would sell out no matter what. Only the residents of the town could come and the capacity was just 300. Every Saturday there was a show and it’s just what everyone did.
You signed with Epitaph last year, which is a huge deal…
JR: Epitaph was the label with the punk rock ethos. You walk in there and there’s Offspring’s Smash nine times platinum on the wall, and we signed our deal with them under the NOFX Punk In Drublic record. Now when you go to the office our record is up on the wall. Just to be associated with these bands is so fucking cool.
In your new video for The Great Unknown we see the crowd going batshit, has anyone ever got too close at a gig?
JR: Jonathan gets it the most because every kid wants to meet the singer and grab the mic, he’ll get tackled by kids all the time. Kids will fall into our cabs, into the drum kit, it can be frustrating but it’s the best problem to have. I’d rather have the kids care too much than not care at all.
JV: Also, can I say, on the FRONT website, please post more pictures of butts. I know you British guys love boobs, but give me some butts, man. If Rosie Jones ever wants to come to show, please do, Aaron (lead guitar) will cry.
JR: Bring the FRONT Army dude!