19 November 2021
GHOST PATTERNS is a 4-piece London-based indie band that started its journey only
two years ago. Last September they released their stunning debut LP called INFINITE that struck me instantly as much as the debut full-length Bedroom by bdrmm struck me last year, a British band who also operates in the multidimensional world of shoegaze.
Infinite is an astounding accomplishment mixing the amplified haziness of Slowdive, the mystifying nightmares of Spacemen 3, and the multi-layer-constructing skills of My Bloody Valentine. Ghost Patterns design hallucinating soundscapes, sonic shadowplays where synths and guitars duel with each other while tireless drums dauntlessly beat, and wailing voices wander in an enigmatic fog of reverberation. Without a shadow of a doubt one of the most fascinating records I heard all year.
So I really got curious to learn more about the authors of Infinite. Thank you very
much Terry Hale (vocals/guitars/keys), Somrata Sarkar (vocals) and James Walker (drums
and percussion) for taking the time to do this chat. But, as usual, we’re starting an interview with music to get us all in the right mood. Here comes one of my fav tracks
on the longplayer…
Hello Terry, hello Somrata, hello James
Who or what triggered you to start a band?
Terry: “Essentially, James and I had a gig offer to play a Club AC30 record label night in London back in May 2019 without a band! It was off the back of a submitted demo, which later became our debut single ‘Disappears’, so we had about 6 weeks to pull a full band together! We played that night under my own name ‘Thale’ and have had the same line-up since then, but about two months later we settled on Ghost Patterns for the permanent band name.”
What’s the story behind the band’s name?
Terry: “After our debut gig, we started collecting band name ideas well into the hundreds, but basically the drop-dead rule was to make sure it was a unique name not taken on any social media, Bandcamp etc. We had to chop and change a lot of word combinations to make it unique, but in a way, I also think it seemed quite representative of the sounds we were producing too, so that could be why we all stuck with it.”
Which song would you pick to introduce yourselves
to people who never heard of GHOST PATTERNS?
Terry: “It may well be ‘Disappears’, our debut single, or ‘House Of Lies’ off the new album. But for forthcoming releases, we could look at other ways of writing and collaborating as
I don’t think were totally confined to any one particular sound at this point. For example, expect some more fuzzed up psychedelic type sounds on the new tunes we are currently working on.”
Recently your stunning debut album INFINITE came out.
A true triumph. Is the final result what you had envisioned?
Terry: “In some ways, it’s an accurate reflection of our circumstances, but in other ways, it’s not at all as it was originally envisaged. We had some outline demo ideas from around late 2019 and was about to book some studio time in London with engineer/producer James Aparicio, who has worked on some great records for Fuzz Club and other labels.
This was back in February 2020, but soon after the entire plan collapsed due to COVID!
So, I continued making more home demos, which gradually became more and more integrated into the finished songs and mixes. Sometime around the end of summer 2020, we ditched planning any studio time and simply because it just wasn’t possible! We also abandoned an E.P. idea to focus on creating a full album totally from home recordings, then mixed and mastered it ourselves.
Quite late on, we added and re-mixed two previous singles from our earlier
release, ‘Oracle’, and the song ‘Infinite’ eventually become the album title.”
The opening track INTRO (DEATH WISH) doesn’t sound like a song
about the birds and the bees. What about the death wish?
Terry: “This came from an instrumental piece based on another demo from a few years earlier. I think it became apparent during the writing of the album that this would be a good ‘intro’ type opener, so we left it without lyrics and kept the overdubbed vocals in
the final mix.
As for the song title, this goes back to a somewhat curious forced position back in summer 2020 of having to return to some kind of ‘normal’ life again at the first unlocking attempt, even though no one had access to vaccines, or even proper test and trace systems. Hence, it felt like a bit of a ‘death wish’ to put ourselves in that position at the time.”
Single HOUSE OF LIES is a flaming rocker. What’s the song about?
Somrata: “‘House Of Lies‘ is about the death of a friendship, realising someone isn’t
who they say they are. I was going through a difficult time processing betrayal from
a close friend. The song came out of anger, of realising this person who I trusted
really had no substance.
House of Lies describes a person who has carefully crafted their persona but is
ultimately empty on the inside. I spent a long time recovering from the emotional
damage I’d suffered from this person’s manipulation and narcissistic behaviour. When I wrote the song, I was fed up with feeling horrible. I just wanted to clean out any memory of them from my life. But I also felt stronger and in a space where I finally felt free of them.”
What or who decides who sings what song?
Terry: “I almost always do the music first in demo form together with the overall structure, so then it’s a case of working out who feels more comfortable to sing and develop lyrics and melodies over the music for each song.
I think ‘Safe’ was probably the only song that I had fully written and decided to keep my own vocals in. For the others, we did the vocals quite late on, as Somrata and I were only able to meet up once in person at our rehearsal space in April to go through the vocal demo ideas!
Prior to this, Somrata did her vocals for ‘Feel it Out’ at home based on instrumental
tracks that we had done and then mixed it into the finished song.”
How’s life in London post-BREXIT?
Terry: “It’s maybe a curious atmosphere of denial and a wish to move on, but also probably there’s still an element of fear too at the same time! Lockdown has ended
and Brexit has started, but there is an underlying current of uncertainty on both fronts.
I also co-run Other Side Promotions in London, booking bands from all over Europe
and beyond and having to deal with all the red tape and extra costs that goes with it.
Luckily, bands are still eager to play in the UK, so I’m happy to play a part in it and give exposure to bands on the psych, shoegaze, and post-punk scenes to help them along their musical journey. I think it also helps Ghost Patterns too to meet and share some great gig nights with other bands.”
What’s a GHOST PATTERNS gig like?
Terry: “It’s quite hard to judge that one to be honest, being in the band! Especially as we have had few opportunities to play live because of the pandemic. As we are still a new band, I’m sure we will find our own way to bring the recorded sounds and atmospheres into the live shows. It’s still a work in progress I’d say and will evolve further, but I think
the live experience could be slightly different as a distilled version of the recordings.”
Which movie would you choose to play on a big screen
behind the band while playing INFINITE in full?
James: “I think Last Year In Marienbad would look great as a backdrop to the album.
It’s a French arthouse film made back in the 60s. It’s like a brilliantly shot never-ending sequence of corridors, stages, and expressionless people. You’re not sure what’s supposed to be real and what’s supposed to be a performance. It’s open to interpretation (which helps!) but essentially, the people in it and the environment that they’re in, are trapped
in an infinite loop, where time and reality are questionable.
So, I think this fits well with the concept of the album. Within that are themes of deception, so I think it also really suits the single ‘House Of Lies‘. You’ll know what I mean when you watch it!”
Slowdive or My Bloody Valentine
Terry: “It’s an interesting one this..I’ll say MBV, but the ‘shoegazing’ genre wasn’t something I was really hugely into at the time. Keyboards are my original obsession
when it comes to instruments, so I was probably more into The Charlatans around that
I didn’t get a cd of ‘Loveless’ until about ten years after it was released! But once I heard it, that was it, the penny dropped. It covered everything, from the underlying songs to the ingenuity of the sounds and satisfied my psychedelic leanings being into that late 60’s period as well.
For Slowdive, they were a more recent re-discovery, apart from ‘Alison’ and ‘Souvlaki
Space Station’ I’d say. ‘Slowdive’ from 2017 is an amazing sounding record and a stunning comeback as such.”
Ride or Swervedriver?
Terry: “I remember Ride’s early singles/ E.P. from seeing them on a great alternative
music show out in the late 80’s/ early 90’s called ‘Snub TV’, but they seemed to go off
my radar even by the time the first album ‘Nowhere’ came out.
So, for me, it was a case of re-discovery again about ten years ago listening back to
albums like ’Going Blank Again’. As for Swervedriver, I was never really familiar with them
to be honest, maybe I’ve missed a trick there!”
Best song and or album of 2021
Terry: “Margaritas Podridas self-titled album – amazing shoegaze/ psychedelic grunge from Mexico. A must see when they come to London! Or, from the UK, I’d say the White Flowers, ‘Day By Day’ album, which really is a beautifully produced record.
Next step for GHOST PATTERNS?
Terry: We are doing demos for our next bunch of songs at the moment, so hopefully this will be out in early 2022. It’s fair to say I think these songs will have a more tripped-out groove-based psychedelic sound than the intensity that’s on display for ‘Infinite’. We also have some great shows lined up with Qlowski and The Third Sound in January next year and hopefully, we will play live a lot more next year.
Thanks a bunch guys for this interview.
May the road rise with Ghost Patterns!
Don’t miss the band’s fantastic debut.
Stream/buy the album here…
GHOST PATTERNS: Facebook