Deviant Nation has always celebrated beauty within darkness and no band better exemplifies that better than California's I Am Ghost. The group is like a bastardized version of AFI mixed with My Chemical Romance, but powerful hooks that punch you in the face and drag you into dark places.
I Am Ghost recently released their sophomore album, "Those We Leave Behind" through Epitaph Records. We caugt up with I Am Ghost mastermind Steve Juliano to talk about the group's rise through the punk and screamo ranks, as well as his love of horror movies and tattoos.
Interview with Steven Juliano of I AM GHOST
Tell us a bit about "Those We Leave Behind" and what went into the creative process...
STEVE: We had toured over 300 dates in 2007 and it was an extremely hectic year for us, with more band drama that would have broken up most bands. We had just lost 3 members after the tours ended and the band was just tired... extremely tired. We took off some time for Christmas and all of us just went home and tried to kinda find ourselves. It was crazy because i went from never being home and on the road to sitting in my house not really knowing what to do. So, I just wrote. The other members did the same. We had a lot to write about and this album just came together pretty amazing. In the end, we had over 20 songs written when we went into the studio....
If being in a band was easy then everyone would do it i think, but they dont because again, its really fucking hard
Between the last album and this album you say some members come and go, can you tell us a bit about what led to their departure and how that impacted the band?
STEVE: It was pretty simple. It was the fact that this touring life is not made for everyone. It's actually very hard, and i would say most people can't deal with the bullshit of never being home, never seeing your family, girlfriends, missing holidays and so on. If being in a band was easy then everyone would do it i think, but they dont because again, its really fucking hard. This led to people in our band just saying ".... i can't do this anymore... its too hard..." and for us, we just let them go. If you can't do this, then you can't do it.
Can you explain the title of the record and where you are coming from lyrically on this release?
STEVE: Well, some people are thinking its somewhat of a diss to the past members of I Am Ghost, and it really is not. "Those We Leave Behind" is about the family and friends who are no longer here anymore.... I have been to alot of funerals... and so this album is dedicated to them.
I come from a punk rock background. Not emo. Not Hardcore. Punk rock.
The album is quite different sonically from your debut and charts into melodic bouts of hard rock mixed with punk. What signaled the shift in your sound?
STEVE: The main songwriters who wrote the last album, "Lovers Requeim" are still in the band, being Timmy and I. So, the music didnt change because of the new members, it changed because we just felt this was the sound we always wanted since we started this band. I come from a punk rock background. Not emo. Not Hardcore. Punk rock. And with that, we just wanted to write a faster more melodic album but still keep that I Am Ghost feel, and i think we did that. I honestly really love this album.
You are currently on tour in Europe for the first time, tell us a bit of the highs and lows about touring in foreign lands...
STEVE: The best thing is seeing places you never thought you would ever step foot in. I never thought i would be in Russia or Poland, or even Germany. But, to be walking around these foreign streets is pretty intense. Is amazing to see people coming to see I Am Ghost in these different countries, and they sing along in english and are really super excited we are there. The down lows is that its kinda like us starting over again fan base wise, but its not the states anymore where 300-400 kids will be there for you at each show. Sometimes we play and only 30 kids show up here in Europe, but those kids are extremely excited we are there so you have to be happy for that.
How difficult has it been for a band of your size to operate in a spiraling music business, high gas prices and kids downloading music?
STEVE: Its tough, honestly. The biggest thing is the downloading aspect. It really does affect the smaller bands more so than the bigger ones. The bigger bands already have enough of a fan base to make money off merch and touring, where as the smaller bands like us really depend on those CD sales to keep going. Alot of bands are breaking up because of this and its sad really. But, you have to just keep moving forward and hope for the best.
For me, the best thing is keeping it old school and just tour your asses off...
How important have social networking sites like MySpace and VampireFreaks become?
STEVE: I would say two years ago it was pretty big but now i really feel it gives a false sense of success to bands now. Bands think "wow, we are getting 6,000 plays a day, we fucking rock!" and think hundreds of kids are gonna see them on tour. Its not the case anymore. Plays does not equal cd sales or ticket sales. For me, the best thing is keeping it old school and just tour your asses off...
You are big into the goth scene, tell us a bit about the visiual elements that have influenced you (ie. movies, comic, horror ect)
STEVE: I have always just been fans of all bands that use imagery with their music. Of course the music is the most important thing and that comes first, but you have to go beyond that and make it visual stunning as well. I think alot of bands are scared to dress up and do something different because they are afraid to get made fun of... but we could care less what people say about us. We get alot of shit for looking fucking awsome! ha ha ha...
You previously were involved in the movie business in graphic design. Tell us a bit about that and what projects you worked on...
STEVE: I started off interning at Hanna Barbara and Disney right out of high school. I moved to Los Angeles from Santa Cruz, CA and just started to really push my way into the movie business. I got my first real job doing PA work and then story boards for the HBO show Tales from The Crypt, then after that worked for a movie company in Hollywood for almost 7 years doing art and story boards. Ive worked on so many films i cant even count anymore...
Deviant Nation covers two things: tattoos and hot naked women. Give us your best memory about:
Your first tattoo...
STEVE: I walked in and requested this huge black and red flame that would cover half my right arm... the tattoo artist at first didnt want to do it because it was my first ever tattoo and he said I would regret it. I thought it was going to be my only tattoo so i told him i really wanted it. He did it but wasnt too stoked. I ended up going back to him about five more times and he finished my sleeve. At the end, he was really stoked on my arm and said he was glad i made him do it.
The hottest tatoo you've seen on a woman...
STEVE: I love chest pieces on woman... there is just something about it.
Your first sexual encounter...
STEVE: I was a late bloomer. I was very shy growing up as a kid and didnt really have too many girlfriends until I left high school. I guess at that age you are just insecure and I was that insecure guy that didnt really talk to girls unless i knew them pretty well. When I moved to Los Angeles it all changed for some reason. I met my first real girlfriend and that was pretty much my first sexual encounter. I know, I wish I had something cooler to brag about for my first sexual encounter... but sadly I dont.
Your first encounter with a groupie...
STEVE: Fuck groupies. I don't touch them.
Who is the hottest model over at DeviantNation.com and why?
STEVE: Man, they are all hot. Honestly, it's pretty impossible to say cuz each one has something rad about them.
Any last word for fans or what people that have never heard you before can expect?
STEVE: Our new album just came out in stores everwhere on Epitaph Records about a month ago, so please go out and buy the damn thing. We we are extremely proud of this album. If you want, listen to some songs at: www.myspace.com/iamghost and i think you will enjoy it alot!
For more info on I Am Ghost go to: www.myspace.com/iamghost or www.iamghostmusic.com or www.epitaph.com