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Interview: Hungry Ghosts (Part 2)

To celebrate the release of “Hold Dear Forever” and mourn Hungry Ghosts’ departure from the scene, Absurd Creation have decided to invite them to take a trip down memory lane.

Every week we will chat about one of Hungry Ghosts’ three releases and it’s the perfect opportunity to revisit these lovely records.

This week is on EP2  


1. You & Me
2. Survival
3. This Noise
4. Journey Is Destination
5. Modus Vivendi

Previously on Absurd Creation…

Paul: After EP1 we really focused in being a live band, playing every gig we could get our hands on. Another thing was that Red Room Studio approached us to make another record and that’s where it all lead to EP2.

Rocky: But that’s 3 years later.

Paul: There were 2 years of non-stop playing and recording before hitting a hiatus, right after we’ve finishing recording EP2. Mike was going back to uni and we were negotiating with Red Room Studio. I think there was a low where we didn’t do anything for a year as a band.

Rocky: Low in what way?

Paul: We just sat there with this EP and… the reason why it took so long – Mike was out of town – and we also had a lot of creative differences with Red Room Studio. They wanted to push the record out but we weren’t happy with it.

Luke: They definitely helped us hone-in on areas of our musicianship that needed improvement, maybe that’s why there was friction.

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“Howdy!" – the ghosts outside Hang Out.

Rocky: What do you mean by creative differences?

Paul: In general, we just liked different types of music, so we had different expectations of how an album should sound. For instance, in the mixes he put effects on certain things which we weren’t comfortable with, or he would turn up a guitar solo in a part we intended to be atmospheric and moody.

Luke: We ended up sending the songs to an engineer in the Netherlands who mixed the Whence He Came album, someone who we thought would have better understanding of the indie rock sound. We were quite happy with what Martijn did for us.

Paul: I think we negotiated with Red Room Studio, we said “Look, give it to us and we’ll get it to where we like it and we’ll sit down and decide which one’s better.” It was just so obvious that Martijn’s version was better.

Rocky: About the songs on EP2, I think there were more influences from math-rock and post-rock, from bands like Tangled Hair and Foals… basically records you found at White Noise Records.

Luke: (Laughs) He’s calling us out man.

Paul: No… I mean no… yes… sure…

Mike: Maybe on one or two songs.

Paul: Yeah, especially on “Survival” and “Modus Vivendi”, there’s moments…

Rocky: The “Enemy moments”?

Paul: To be honest with you, we wrote these songs before the whole “UK emo revival”. We were listening to the first Minus the Bear album and Pretty Girls Make Graves, they were big influences at the time. I think everyone was going down that direction of the post-rock revival sound, whilst Hungry Ghosts was trying to perfectly blend that with pop. We did the best we could and we’re happy with it. But you’re right, hanging out with Gary at White Noise Records was a big factor in the era of EP2.

Rocky: Songs on EP2 are more riffy and guitar oriented. Do you think Hungry Ghosts was oriented at the time?

Mike: Back then, whole songs were written either by Paul or Luke, and Tiffany and I just added what we thought would be good parts to the songs. This definitely changed after EP2, we had much more input on songwriting on the latest album.

Rocky: Moving on to some touchier questions – what happened to the Asia tour and music video that were hinted circa EP2?

Luke: Great question mate.

Mike: We recorded a music video with this really cool concept – we were going to use iPhones and do bullet time shots, that sort of thing. Unfortunately, the final product was not what we wanted to release. As for the tour, it’s always been a dream but…

Luke: We just couldn’t get time off work before Paul had moved to London.

Mike: We’re just four different people who had different constrains, you know? We do as much as we can.

Rocky: So what happened after EP2’s release?

Luke: We started recording (Hold Dear Forever).

Mike: The big moment for Hungry Ghosts was when we stopped using practice studios and setup our own recording space Little Bay Studio. That was the big shift in our sound, we had more time and space for writing and recording. We finished tracking (for Hold Dear Forever) before Paul left.

Rocky: Looking at the making of EP2, it seems to have been a rough ride – issues with the production, members moving out of Hong Kong… So what do you make of it, now?

Mike: I think we did the best that we could with the songs that we recorded at that time. Everyone involved had the best intentions, but it just didn’t amount to what we’ve expected. We savaged what we could and it came out pretty good, considering the setbacks we had.


Hungry Ghost at Silvermine Bay Festival

Rocky: So when did the idea of recording a full length came to Hungry Ghosts?

Mike: We’ve always wanted to record a full length. But the experience of making EP2, having someone in control over our music was not the way we wanted. So when Little Bay was setup and organized, we realized that this is where we can do it the way we wanted to with a full length.

Continue next week.

Click to revisit part 1

Interview: Rocky Sum
Translation: Absurd Creation




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