Recently, DutchMetalManiac’s Tim van Velthuysen interviewed Ghosts of Sunset’s John Merchant and Todd Long.
Hey, how are you?
John: Doing as good as can be expected in the craziness that will forever be known as 2020! Staying safe, sane, and healthy as possible.
Todd: Doing good, my wife and I just had a baby boy so we are busy with him. Other than that, trying to write new music for Ghosts of Sunset!
Can you tell us something about the history of Ghosts of Sunset?
John: Todd and I have been friends since high school and made music across several genres for over 30 years. Ghosts of Sunset is the result of an idea I had to make a concept EP about: the 1980s “hair metal” scene in Los Angeles California USA.
For people not knowing Ghosts of Sunset (yet), how would you describe your music yourself?
John: Rock n roll. Definitely has strong roots in the aforementioned “hair metal” scene, but we allow ourselves to be influenced by all sorts of great music. From classic rock n roll, classic country, to 1980s pop and new wave to today’s top 40. What sets us apart is our dedication to SONGS. Cool clothes and hair might get you NOTICED, but it’s SONGS that will give you longevity.
Todd: I would say we border on pop rock and hard rock. We love all sorts of different music so I’m sure it all shows somewhere.
When someone doesn’t know Ghosts of Sunset yet and you can choose one of your songs to present yourself, which song would that be?
John: Our first single Miles In-Between was how many have gotten to know us, but that’s just one facet of our overall sound. Truly you almost need to listen to the entire EP with the conceptual songs in order to appreciate exactly where we’re coming from.
Todd: I agree with John. Miles has everything wrapped up in it. It Has the pop rock side of things but, it also has that big shred guitar in it.
What makes Ghosts of Sunset unique?
John: Time and experience. After 30+ years we’ve gotten to a point where we can synthesize our wide-ranging influences and still sound unique. The only way to truly do that is time. We’ve been in this game for all our adult lives and we understand and respect it.
Todd: We are a duo and we brought in all sorts of guest musicians on our ep. we have Tracii Guns (LA Guns), Johnny Monaco (ex-Enuff Z’ Nuff), Brian Forsythe (Kix) and many others.
Any future plans you can already tell us something about?
John: Already writing and recording a full-length album for 2021. New guests, new songs and new concepts. Always pushing.
Todd: Yes always trying to reach new milestones in our writing and recording process. We have written a new tune called If You’re Not Coming Back that is about losing a loved one to addiction. I feel it is our best song to date. It’s truly beautiful.
Any upcoming gigs for Ghosts of Sunset? Maybe coming to The Netherlands?
John: It’s our hope that when the Covid-19 pandemic is dealt with and the world opens up again, we’ll do some limited touring in 2021. We’d LOVE to visit the Netherlands. My wife’s mother’s family is originally from there so that alone would be amazing. Money and logistics are always an issue for any band. If we can pull it off, it’ll happen.
Todd: I have never been across the pond. Would love to get there some day. Even if we are not playing!
How do you think your life would be without music?
John: Dark and lonely. As a child until right this minute, music serves an incredible spiritual and medicinal role in my life. It’s been with me from day one and has never let me down. The music and bands I love have kept me alive in some of my most desperate hours. The people I’ve met through music are some of the most important people in my life. Truly, music is universal.
Todd: I absolutely live and breathe music. It would be a sad and lonely place. Musicians listen to songs differently. Something simple as a snare fill in the right spot can really get me going. I’ll be like “did you hear that” to my wife and she thinks I’m nuts!
What advice would you give to young and starting bands?
John: Do it because you love it. You’ll know if you’re a hobbyist or a “lifer” right away. For we lifers, there’s never a single moment without music. Either in our heads or in the physical world. It’s not a PART of who we are, it IS who we are.
Todd: Everyone seems to get in it because they love it. It’s if you keep the love or not that will make or break you.
Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to DutchMetalManiac’s readers?
John: Yes, thank you. Thank you to whoever is willing to seek out new and unknown artists. Thank you to anyone who supports the arts in any format. We need music and art to keep our world connected. So many things try to separate us and divide us. Music will bring the people together and heal the world.
I’m Tim van Velthuysen and I started DutchMetalManiac back in 2014. I’m 29 years old and I live in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Of course, I like metal, but I can also appreciate other musical styles.
In addition to DutchMetalManiac I also have a personal website on which I’ll post various things that won’t fit on DutchMetalManiac, but might be interesting for you as well. It’s in Dutch though.