The Ghost Inside‘s Andrew Tkaczyk was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio program. This year, the band released their self-titled album, which was their first since the band experienced a horrific 2015 bus crash that claimed the life of the bus driver and left the band dealing with extensive injuries. For the drummer, that meant the loss of his right leg.
The band powered through, determined to make their comeback and triumph in the face of tragedy. In the interview, Tkaczyk discussed the different in-studio approach The Ghost Inside adopted for their 2020 record and how he is now a “better man” as a result of that life-changing 2015 event.
Read the full chat below.
Everyone was physically together in the studio throughout most of the process of recording this new album. What changed about you as a band and also as individual musicians because of that bonding experience?
I think as far as musicians and all of us being together in the studio for this one, that in itself is the biggest difference.
In the past, we’ve all come in and done our parts separately on the records and we would go back and forth in the studio. We did go back and forth to the studio with [producer] Will Putney this time around, but each session was all five of us in there all putting our heads together and everyone had their input. That’s a first for The Ghost Inside.
Things were just different and, with what we went through, it made it that much more important for us to be together to make this album. The reason we called [the album] just The Ghost Inside, it’s self-explanatory. This is the first record that is just the five of us.
Those are the main things as far as changes from pre-accident to post-accident.
The band has experienced turmoil and trauma, to say the least. If it’s true that every cloud has a silver lining, has there been positive effects from everything you’ve been through?
That’s a great question, and actually, I would say yes.
I’ve personally gone through losing my dominant right leg and being a drummer — that’s something that can easily tear someone apart for good. The way that I handled it, I chose to take it head-on and that made me a better man in the end. That made me a better and stronger person, and I have a stronger mind and a different perspective on life absolutely.
I look at everything differently now. I try not to sweat the small things anymore. Tell your loved ones and your friends and family that you love them as often as you can. These aren’t things that I avoided intentionally before, but maybe took for granted.
Now that I’ve had this second chance, it’s something that I’ll never take for granted again. That’s a good quality to have and it took something unfortunate happening to make me realize that, but sometimes life is really weird and works like that.
The Ghost Inside, “Aftermath”
The band took a lengthy hiatus. How did your musical perspective recalibrate over that time in ways that are evident in the new LP?
A few different things played into that. Obviously, we had so much downtime after our accident that for the first year, maybe more, we all agreed to just not worry about music and not worry about the band and have everyone get back to learning how to walk again and how to live life with our new normal.
In that downtime, I started exploring new things musically. I started my own solo instrumental project — it’s a similar style of music, but it’s very heavy, groovy, djent-styled instrumentals. I wouldn’t say that that directly influenced the new record, but there’s maybe little pepperings of those elements in the new Ghost Inside record.
We had had a few songs prepared before our accident that we almost went to the studio and recorded, but things got put on pause. We took those songs and reworked them and reshaped them and the downtime that we all had allowed us all to get really, really, really creative and just do whatever we wanted. The end result is our new record.
You’re a drummer who’s multi-instrumental. How does working knowledge of one instrument correlate with taking an unorthodox approach with another?
I don’t really have a method to my madness. I don’t know. From an early age in life, my family and my parents especially just pounded music into my head. It’s always been a part of me in my DNA, and I never was in the band in high school or anything.
I don’t know music theory. I don’t know anything about anything really. I just sort of teach myself and I’m interested enough to sit down and figure things out. Things just come naturally to me, and I play and try to mimic things until I think it sounds cool and acceptable. [laughs] There’s really no rhyme or reason to how I do what I do or what I just do it, and I can’t really explain it.
The Ghost Inside, “Pressure Point”
The plan for this year was to play one-off shows, so the coronavirus didn’t wind up disrupting extensive touring for you. Looking ahead, once it’s safe, what is a working touring plan that is comfortable for this band?
Our sort of model that we’re comfortable with doing right now isn’t necessarily touring as much as it is playing some one-off shows and hitting areas that we want to make sure we at least play one last time.
We did our comeback show at the Shrine in Los Angeles. That’s where the band originated, so that’s why we did it there. So, we want to make sure that we hit some of our favorite places. Some of these markets where our band has always done the best, we want to make sure to at least try to get there and play at least one more time. Maybe it’ll be 10 more times, maybe 100. Who knows?
But right now we’re going with the getting our foot in the door and taking our time with it and going step by step. We’ll just do a few shows if it makes sense for us. If we feel that it’s feasible, we feel it’s doable for us. That’s how we’re approaching it.
Thanks to Andrew Tkaczyk for the interview. Get your copy of The Ghost Inside’s new album here (as Amazon affiliates we earn on qualifying purchases). Follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify and find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show here.
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