It’s kind of interesting how a shared love of music can change your life. It’s the only reason I made any friends after high school was said and done, and it’s part of the reason two musically inclined folks in Los Angeles named Josh and Zoe came to be. That and mutual friendships. That too helped me. All of that said, a handful of years later and these two are now known as resident ghost – a 2-piece with roots that run deep in the pop punk and emo scene. We talked not only about that, but also about their new EP, ‘2 AM,’ nostalgia, and more in this back-and-forth exchange.
Kendra: Did you each come up in the LA pop punk/emo scene growing up? Just curious as to how you met and kicked off Resident Ghost?
Josh: We met through mutual friends and a mutual appreciation for the heart-on-your-sleeve, demands-to-be-heard genre of emo. We were both originally in a 3-piece band that leaned more in the indie rock genre. Playing around the valley there weren’t a lot of emo acts. When our third member left, we decided to reinvent ourselves.
Zoe: My friend and I were looking to start a band and we heard we had to jam with our “friend’s boyfriend who is a great drummer.” That drummer was Josh, and that day we decided to form a band right there in his garage. In that band, I was the bassist/vocalist. Josh and I were the rhythm section together and I had never connected with someone musically like that. We could make musical decisions without talking about it beforehand, and to me, that’s the magic in music. It’s an unspoken universal language. Josh and I also have very similar music tastes. When the guitarist left the band, Josh and I decided to keep the project going which also allowed us to pour more of our pop punk/emo influences into it. I switched to guitar, and the rest is history!
Kendra: In that genre, we get a lot of bands and while Warped Tour wasn’t without a 2- piece here and there, it was still rare. What do you think are some of the advantages though of only having to bounce ideas off of one other person?
Josh: Every band is different, but Zoe has always been one of the easiest people I’ve made music with. I think you can hear that in the music too, two people enjoying creating music together. That’s all music needs to be. Sometimes people want different things from being in a band. Enjoy each other’s company and give one another the freedom to express genuinely. It’s shit, and you won’t have the confidence to make anything new without that respect and freedom.
Zoe: Josh is the most laid-back person I’ve ever met, and is the easiest person to make music with. We can completely be ourselves around each other which means having the freedom to make mistakes, laugh it off, and have fun during the process. Being in a 2-piece does have the advantage of decision-making being much easier when it comes to songwriting. I’m unsure if that’s just because we understand each other so well at this point after making music together for so many years.
Kendra: Which, when you were working together on ‘2 AM,’ what would you say your partner brought to the table most that helped you put your best foot forward most?
Josh: Zoe typically sparks a song. The thing about playing the drums is that you can’t really write a song by yourself. At least I can’t anyway. The most important thing to me in a song is the poetry. Zoe gave me a lot of space in the writing process to express myself and contribute to the lyrics for Resident Ghost.
Zoe: What is so amazing about Josh is not only is he the most talented drummer I know, he is also one of the most talented lyricists. He comes from a spoken-word background. I can come up with melodies for our songs, but often get stuck when it comes to writing lyrics. Josh can add lyrics to the table that completely change and elevate the meaning, story, and mood of the song, which has challenged me to be a better, more thoughtful songwriter in the process.
Kendra: ‘2 AM’ features a trio of songs including, “Eyes.” This one is right in my wheelhouse as someone who most definitely grew up dreaming of getting out of their hometown and has had meh feelings every time they’ve returned because while reminiscing can be fun, it can also be disheartening to think that everyone still views you as who you once were. It’s easy to love the nostalgia of a movie or music, but why do you think we get stuck in the past with people as well?
Josh: I love that question. I’m glad you were able to connect to the song in that way. I think people are inherently uncomfortable with change, even though change is a natural part of existing. It’s sometimes easier to wish that someone was the way you remembered them to be than to acknowledge that you and they have changed.
Zoe: I’m so glad you were able to connect to the song this way. I think the hardest part of growing up is feeling time slipping away from you so rapidly. That feeling of you can’t go back to certain idealized moments in your life makes your stomach drop in the worst way. It’s a strange feeling at our age (late 20s) to go back home and have that idea in your mind that people and places from your childhood will be the same, but in reality they aren’t, everyone and everything is in a constant state of change.
We love nostalgia because it’s safe, it’s happy, it’s our best memories playing on a loop in our heads- but we can’t see what’s coming in the future which is an uncertain state and that’s terrifying. I think the revival of the pop-punk/emo genre is attributed to our generation going through a lot of growing pains. We are known as the most nostalgic generation.
Kendra: On that note, people (including myself) can get swept away by the music we grew up with. So much so that they fail to recognize music has been made since they were 16. This is especially true for 30-somethings who spent their parents’ money at Hot Topic. What are some current bands, other than yourselves, that you feel fans of bands like Fall Out Boy and The Used could love today?
Josh: Kennyhoopla, I think he is an incredible upcoming artist with something genuine and unique to say. What’s amazing is that there are a lot of “older” emo bands who are reinventing themselves. I’m very excited to hear Paramore’s upcoming album. Another exercise that I love to do is to go back in time. Discover who influenced The Used. Listen to 90’s emo albums like Slint’s Spiderland, or American Football’s LP1. Keep going back.
Zoe: Kennyhoopla 100%. His album ‘SURVIVORS GUILT: THE MIXTAPE’ is on constant repeat for me, and is a masterclass in taking the nostalgia emo/pop punk genre and making it his own. The next wave of pop punk/emo is coming up now in the Midwest Emo genre which is gaining a big following. Bands I love in this genre are Modern Baseball and Origami Angel. Paramore is my favorite band, so I highly recommend their two new singles for their upcoming album as well.
Can you tell Josh and I have the same music taste?
Kendra: Being that it’s a new year, have you set any sort of music resolutions for yourself?
Josh: Now that ‘2 AM’ is released, there’s a lot of hope we have for this project’s future. I think a new year resolution would be to build our presence, whether that’s through our next single, a music video, or some live shows.
Zoe: I personally want to improve on my guitar playing, and get more practice for when we play shows so I can think about it less and put my all into performance. As far as band resolutions, it’s to record our next single and play shows.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘2 AM,’ out now, what lies ahead for you two?
Josh: ‘2 AM’ was recorded nearly five years ago. I’m still living in the excitement that people are finally able to listen to something we enjoyed making years ago. I’m not sure if we are in a place to make any promises, but what a shame it would be if this were the end…
Zoe: As Josh said, getting this EP out was a big accomplishment for us. For various reasons, it was a five-year process. We are so thankful this EP is out in the world, people can hear it, and that it is being so well received. We are hoping to get this EP out to more people, play our first show, and make more music. resident ghost was born out of our love for making music, and we intend to do just that- make more music we care about.