John Merchan Singer, co-writer, guitarist for Ghosts of Sunset chats to us
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF FOR US WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH YOU AND YOUR MUSIC AND TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
John Merchant. Singer, co-writer, guitarist for Ghosts of Sunset, a rock n roll band. We proudly wear our influences on our sleeves while trying to tell stories about the human experience. We encompass anything we’ve heard that’s connected with our hearts. It can be Dylan, the Beatles, the Stones and it can be Hanoi Rocks, Faster Pussycat, Ratt or Motley Crue. Every time a song moves your spirit, it leaves an imprint on your soul. As a songwriter, it’s your job to take that imprint, re-design it and send it out into the world to leave an imprint on another human being’s soul. It’s all a circle.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR NEW ALBUM OR SINGLE?
Our first single on Golden Robot Records is called “Miles In-Between”. It’s taken from our up-coming EP called “Headed West”. “Miles In-Between” tells the age-old tale of the road. What it gives, what it takes, and ultimately what it leaves you with. The road is un-relenting. There’s always a toll to be paid.
WHAT INSPIRED THE ALBUM OR SINGLE?
The EP “Headed West” tells the story of a fictional band from a small Midwestern town that packs up and moves to Los Angeles to make it on the Sunset Strip during the “hair metal” boom of the 1980’s. Each song moves through the highs and lows of a music career in an era when musicians risked everything in hopes of finding fame, fortune, and an audience for their music.
CAN YOU SUM UP THE ALBUM IN A FEW WORDS?
He who dares wins…and loses
WHAT RECORD CHANGED YOUR LIFE AND WHY?
For me it was most likely “Rock n Roll Music Volume 1 and 2” by the Beatles. It was a collection of covers that the Beatles had been playing since their earliest days. It allowed ME to be influenced not only by the Beatles, but by everything that influenced them. A game changer.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MUSIC VIDEO FILMED BY YOUR BAND OR ANOTHER ARTIST? Anything from us would be too close to home. By other artists? I grew up in the 1980s when the music video was changing music forever. We had ‘mini-films’ by some amazing artists. Across the span of genres, you would find incredibly well-thought out concepts and mesmerizing live concert style videos too. Too many to list!
WHAT WOULD WE FIND YOU DOING WHEN YOU'RE NOT MAKING MUSIC?
With family or running. I’ve been in active recovery for 6 years. When you stop the addict’s behavior you need to plug something else in. For me, it was running and spending time with my family where I could be present and engaged. But truly, no matter what I’m doing there’s a soundtrack playing. Either literally or figuratively. It’s always music. Always.
DO YOU GET NERVOUS PERFORMING LIVE, IF SO HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT?
I call it the “Carrie” syndrome (from the famous horror movie). “They’re all gonna laugh at you”. If you’re not nervous, you’re not pushing yourself beyond your limits. You have to push and get out of your comfort zone to find where your limits truly are. Fortunately, it’s like a muscle, you push to your limit, and your limit moves, then you push some more. It’s the only way to progress and improve. I personally deal with it knowing that I was put here to do THIS. This is what I was designed for.
HOW DID YOU FORM THE BAND?
Myself and my partner in Ghosts of Sunset, Todd Long, have been making music professionally, across genres for more than 30 years. I had the idea for a concept record while I was running and told Todd. He totally got it and we started there. The glam rock/hair metal scene of the 1980s was something he and I both adored and shared. We’ve made everything from rockabilly music to country music to punk and pop and singer-songwriter based music because all of that is in our souls. Ghosts of Sunset is real because this music is in our DNA. We’re lifers.
HOW DO YOU WRITE? - DO YOU HAVE A KEY SONGWRITER, OR DO YOU ALL WORK TOGEHTER?
We write as 50/50 partners. Typically, one of us will present a musical idea, and we’ll build it out from there. On “Headed West”, Todd came up with most the musical ideas and shared them with me. After we built the song structure together, I tried to come up with a story that fit our conceptual idea and then wrote lyrics and melodies. Todd and I trust each other’s musical tastes and pedigrees. We both bow down to the song and we give it what it needs.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
The human experience. Weather it’s the Beatles “Let It Be” or Motley Crue’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” it all boils down to human experiences. We all feel emotions. Love, hate, fear, sadness, joy, sex, loneliness, longing, etc.… Ultimately, I think we all feel the revolution of the Rolling Stones “Street Fighting Man” as much as we feel the reckless abandon of LA Guns “Electric Gypsy”.
WHAT IS NEXT?
We’ll continue promoting our first single “Miles In-Between” and then release a second single some time in October. The full EP will come out and once our industry recovers, we’ll start building a live band, play some select dates and take this music directly to the people we made it for. As of right now, we’re already writing and recording a full-length follow-up.