Ghostland Observatory is an experiment gone well – very well. The Austin, Texas-bred duo is comprised of singer/guitarist Aaron Behrens and drummer/synthesizer specialist Thomas Ross Turner. Hypnotically the duo weaves elements of electronica into their funk-tinged indie rock hybrid, creating a style that is both original and satisfying to earbuds.
Along with their innovative style, Ghostland Observatory provides concertgoers with an energetic live performance where fans can participate, be satisfied and maybe – just maybe – shed a few extra pounds.
Ghostland Observatory Bio
- Duo hails from Austin, TX
- Formed in 2004
- 2007 Band of the Year (Austin American-Statesman newspaper)
“It’s just a combination of using all our senses at one of our shows,” Turner explains. “You get three-dimensional visuals, lasers shooting out at you in beautiful colors and [it’s] synchronized with the music. So the lasers are doing a performance, we’re doing a performance, your ears are getting hit with the noise and the sound, and there is energy from the crowd around you - people dancing and moving and freaking out. Some shows you go to and just watch or listen. [At ours], you watch, you listen, you sweat. [and] you scream, so it’s like a two hour workout for all of your senses.”
The two-piece will bring that intense and melodramatic swagger to Red Bull Soundclash on March 17th at South Padre Island, Texas. The Soundclash is a unique event where two polar opposite music acts collaborate with one another by performing their original songs and covering each other’s records to create an unforgettable music experience.
Collaborating with Ghostland Observatory will be Snoop Dogg, the rap phenomenon who re-defined hip-hop in the 90’s and one emcee the duo highly admires.
Snoop is a rapper so he raps, and we’re like this weird combination of things, and you’re gonna combine those two acts and do a show. The whole thing just sounds like a lot of fun.
“Snoop Dogg is a legend. He was [featured on Dr. Dre’s] The Chronic and [his album] Doggystyle pretty much changed how people hear hip-hop,” Turner says. “Snoop is a rapper so he raps, and we’re like this weird combination of things, and you’re gonna combine those two acts and do a show. The whole thing just sounds like a lot of fun.”
After perusing through the Austin Chronicle in 2002, Turner got in touch with Behrens and began jamming with his experimental band. But when the band called it quits, Behrens and Turner decided to collaborate in a new project and launched Ghostland Observatory in 2004.
Although the electro-tinged indie rock duo would develop a presence in the years to come, it wasn’t always like that. In fact, when they first started, they were basically playing for only a few people and their half empty beer bottles.
Ghostland Observatory - Sad Sad City
“We started from the absolute bottom. For our first shows, there would be three people there - that be the bartender, the door guy and the guy who said we could play there. Then some friends would come and it would grow from that,” Turner recalls. “We started this thing as basic as could be, from the ground up, and we started getting a bigger following in Austin. We’d do a good show in Austin, take that money to get gas and food, and to put us on the road. We started from the ground up in all the other major cities. We just had faith that sooner or later, we can get five people the next time, [and then] 20 people the next time because we would give the best show that we can. And that’s what we did. We kept trying our best every time we played and built up this following the hard way.”
Since then, Ghostland Observatory have developed a commanding online and physical following, rocked out at festivals like Lollapalooza and released four studio albums. In fact, they just dropped their latest full-length offering Codename: Rondo.
We wanted to make music people either really loved or really disliked, and never be a middle of the road, ‘play it safe’ type of band.
The Austin two-piece took a more intricate approach on Codename: Rondo and made a conscious effort not to overcomplicate the music, but rather strip it down a tad. While there are still colorful, bass-heavy records like “Glitter” and “Miracles,” Ghostland Observatory delves outside the box to craft even more original bangers. For example, “Mama” features Behren’s haunting vocals echoed over a grim electro-flavored melody, “Give Me The Beat” is an house-driven funk ditty that’s got a two-step sorta feel and “Kick, Clap, Speaker” starts out sounding melancholy, only to be rebooted with a robotic voice and an accompanying drumbeat that eventually ushers in an all night rave.
“This record is just fun and like not being afraid to experiment or put yourself out there. Also, [it’s about] making a record that people will love or hate - that’s another thing we wanted to do from the very beginning,” Turner explains. “We wanted to make music people either really loved or really disliked, and never be a middle of the road, ‘play it safe’ type of band. Always go for the whole thing or go home.”
While Ghostland Observatory refuses to “play it safe” on a musical standpoint, they will when it pertains to their live show – to a degree, that is. Despite being known for their laser-heavy experience, don’t expect them to incorporate laser tag into their concerts. “Our engineer got laser tagged and he still has a black dot on his eye that hasn’t gone away,” Turner says, “so I think that could be pretty dangerous.”
Other than that, Ghostland Observatory continues to push it to the limits.