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Rocket & The Ghost Are Ready To Launch
Tuesday, October 08, 2013

If you go through the record collection of Rocket & The Ghost frontman Kiyoshi Matsuyama you’ll notice certain albums show significantly more wear than others. This is because while he admits he enjoys a lot of modern music, including bands such as Arcade Fire, he says, “My favorite records are the old records, by far. It feels so much more natural, for me, to listen to those, and I love Roy Orbison, and I love Elvis, and those records are just classics in a lot of ways that maybe some of these modern records won’t be.”

Matsuyama adds that when it comes to those classic artists, “They've stood the test of time because they’re awesome frontmen, and they have such an energy, and a vibe, to them. All I can hope is that one day I’ll be on tenth as good as Elvis, or Roy Orbison.”

Interestingly, those are two names people reference when they see Rocket & The Ghost perform.

Matsuyama’s journey to get to this point, and the band’s journey to developing the sound they have today, has been a winding one.

Originally a member of the band London Souls, Matsuyama found his musical tastes growing in a different direction than the rest of the band’s, and despite their success, he opted to leave to form his own group, a band that would reflect his love of both classic, and modern, rock.

Rocket & The Ghost was born in 2011, with Matsuyama writing music with his girlfriend, Lily Claire, who is the lead singer of Lily & The Parlour Tricks. While the collaborative experience was an enjoyable one, live performances revealed a problem they had to deal with. “We were at the front of the band,” he explains, “and it was a little confusing, and it was hard for me to step out a little bit, so per her suggestion, she said ‘why don’t you just front the band, perform these songs, and be at the front of it?’” The result was an invigorated Matsuyama, and a new look for Rocket & The Ghost, whose lineup also includes Brian Kesley, Stuart Bidwell, Alan Markley, and Sean Gavigan.


The world’s introduction to Rocket & The Ghost will be via the band’s upcoming eponymous EP, which is due out in November. The album was recorded live to tape, and Matsuyama describes it as a “snapshot” of the band’s progression. One of his favorite songs on the EP is “Gold,” both because of how it sounds on the album, and because of the changes the band has made to it when performing it live.

“One time I decided to not play guitar for part of the song,” Matsuyama remembers, “It was very on the fly, I don’t know why exactly I decided to do it, but it was one of those moments when you’re playing in front of an audience, and you’re playing your slow jam, and everyone starts talking, because that’s what you do, and there was a moment, and I don’t remember which venue it was at, but there was a moment where rather than play an accompanying guitar, and singing, I decided to just stop playing guitar altogether, and it somehow worked, and it got everyone in the room to just be quiet, to feel uncomfortable, and I think that if you can do that once in a show then that show is a success, because you’re trying to reach people, and you’re trying to break them out of their routine, and you’re trying to make them feel something, and even if you can do that for just a second, it’s very powerful, and it sort of sent chills down my spine the first time we did it. Now we do it as a staple.”

What Rocket & The Ghost discovered during that performance is the difference between being the background music to someone’s night, and being the focal point of someone’s night. For Matsuyama, he sees this as the path he, and the band, need to embrace.

“I want us to be a band that takes people out of their comfort zone,” he states, “and I want them to really feel something from listening to the music, and I think that these first five songs that we’re unleashing upon the world, they’re really good. We’re super proud of them, and they’re different from anything we’ve ever done, but we want to get better, and we want to keep doing that, and keep bringing people out to shows, and we want people to come and have a moment that they can’t necessarily get somewhere else.”

Moments are what make a band memorable, and if Matsuyama, and the rest of Rocket & the Ghost, can continue to create them they’ll have an opportunity to have their records be the ones sporting extra wear in people’s collections.


Interview originally ran on Arena.com.

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