Q&A: Ghostland Observatory
By Daniel Kohn on January 4, 2011
With the recording and subsequent release of their latest album, Codename: Rondo, and an extensive tour to support the record, Ghostland Observatory was one of the busiest bands in 2010. Having teamed up with Dallas-based production company Lightwave International, the Austin natives have also produced one of the most innovative laser light shows in recent memory, dazzling fans across the country. During a rare break from the road, FILTER was able to catch up with singer/guitarist Aaron Behrens to discuss the new album, their incredible stage show and what Codename: Rondo really means.
What’s it like being off tour for a few days before you start up again? How’s the reception been for the new record?
It’s been nice to have a few days off before we start up again, but we’re ready to go. The reception has been really good, actually. I’ve been really impressed with it because the crowds are stronger because of it.
In what regard?
They know most of the words and have more energy it seems. It’s really great to see.
The new album sounds very much like a Ghostland Observatory record, yet at the same time, it feels as if you’ve taken a leap in your writing and production. Is there a rhyme or a reason to how this album turned out the way it did?
Honestly, it was like we started off and didn’t have any cares in the world for the first album and we just wanted to get out there and play. As the albums progressed and started getting a little bit darker and emotional, they got heavier. And then with Codename: Rondo, we went back to the attitude of “let’s have fun and don’t be so damn serious.” There’s enough serious stuff going on in the world and it’s like “lets just have a good time and do whatever comes up. “
Would you say that the sound that made up the album was natural instead of previously contrived before you recorded?
It wasn’t premeditated at all. We just let it come out the way it was going to come out.
Whenever people talk about Ghostland Observatory, they can’t help but mention how much they enjoy your live show. How do you come up with the concept for the laser shows before each tour?
That was definitely the help of the laser dealer and Lightwave International—they really helped put together this whole new style of lasers that I think has only been out for a year. They did this cool blue grid that made us look like we were static; it was pretty crazy. There are mirrors now on stage and the lasers have to hit the mirror just right to bounce them back and forth, so it’s a real intricate process.
What made you guys decide to do it like this?
The way it happened was we actually had to cancel a show—that’s not right. We had a big show coming up and we had a huge LED wall that was going to be the background for one of our big shows in Austin and it got cancelled a couple of weeks before. So Thomas [Turner] designed a laser light show, and first thing that came up when we looked was Lightwave International. So we called their number and the owner, who happened to be doing the Roger Waters shows as well, came to our show. He had never heard us before and ended up just falling in love with us and wanted to be our go-to guy.
Do you think that you and Thomas have to step up your playing to complement the light show?
I think it makes the show even better. I feel comfortable with it because it makes them multi-sensory—it’s not just music, but you can sample into the visual and you can see the simple colors or see it in layers. They can get pretty close to every color in the rainbow. It’s pretty crazy because with the way the lasers are lined up now, you can be sitting in a different spot of the venue and be experiencing a totally different light show since its coming at you in different angles.
How did you come with the name Codename: Rondo? Are you guys secret spies or been watching James Bond movies lately?
I think, in our minds, we always have some sort of espionage going on. I think we can make a good action movie in the future I think we could do it. It partially comes from that and partially comes from… Well, I don’t remember, you can put it together from there. F