Vermont trio Ghastly Sound return this week for their second EP of 2017, The Bottom. This EP, much like its self-titled predecessor, is another collection of songs that offers the bite of sludge metal but with the grandiose melodies of Torche which really makes the band’s songs pop right out of the speakers. The fifteen minute runtime of The Bottom flies by in an instant and you’ll find yourself hitting the repeat button time and time again. I’m amazed at what this band has done over the course of two EP’s and cannot wait to see what they do with a full length. Ok so, by now you get that this band and their music rules — stick around to see what TJ Maynard (bass) had to say to our Profile set of questions.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the success that you hoped?
When I was about 11 or 12 my family moved to a new town. All of the friends I made either played guitar or drums. My best friend at the time, his father had this old bass that wasn’t getting used. He gave it to me, and before long, we were playing Nirvana and RATM covers.
My definition of success has changed over the years. However, with every new milestone, there’s a deeper level of appreciation for the path music takes me down. As a band, as long as we feel like we’re pushing ourselves as songwriters, and we’re able to take advantage of the opportunities we’re presented with, we feel like we’re moving forward. Every step forward is a success on it’s own.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
We formed Ghastly Sound as “seasoned band dudes” so we’ve always had an approach to this where we’re not going to be anywhere that doesn’t want us. Most of our funny stories, you kind of had to be there.
One of my favorite stories from bands long gone by, was when I convinced my band that ICP wanted to sign us to their label. Best practical joke of my life. Kept it going for two days before I came clean.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
The best thing about metal is, and probably always will be the sense of community. That unspoken bond when you see someone wearing that shirt from the band you thought no one else knew.
There are far more bands or trends that I absolutely loathe as opposed to love. I’m not going to call attention to them because they need to fade into obscurity. I think we would all be better served to sing the praises of what we like, rather than give any acknowledgement to what we don’t.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
From a musical standpoint, we try to keep the overall tone pretty universal. We’re not trying to save the world. I guess one sociopolitical / humorous cause we can all get behind is the universal legalization of cannabis. We’re not writing songs about it. But we’re stoned a lot.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
I’ve always been drawn to things on the darker side of the spectrum. Books, tv, movies, and music. I always liked the sort of visceral feelings they inspire. So, in my formative years, I was always looking for something deeper down that rabbit hole. The next “scariest thing ever.”
A big moment that hurled me head first into metal was when I stole the “Far Beyond Driven” CD (Pantera) out of a high schooler’s back pack at the skate park. (Keep in mind we’re pre-internet and Vermont is very closed off. So metal was hard to come by and you usually found bands by sheer luck.) I had seen the name Pantera before, and the CD had that skull with the drill… I took it home and heard “Strength Beyond Strength” for the first time and that was it. I was a metal head.
My parents were pretty cool about it. In the 90s there were a lot of band names and lyrics that were actually laughable. So they would kind of poke fun at those aspects. It’s probably good because it kept me from getting too overly moody about being a metal head.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
Stop covering bands that are objectively garbage in the name of clicks. Promote bands you like because you like them.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
I think we would all be really happy if we could just sustain a middle-class lifestyle from our band. Making records, going on the road and playing shows. What’s equally funny and tragic is, while it sounds much less lofty, it’s probably just as outlandish as world domination.
Ryan (Lewis, drums) probably has the coolest hobby out of the three of us. He’s a really talented hunter and tracker. He manages to sustain his family of 3’s yearly supply of red meat entirely from deer season. I’m not sure if she still is, but a couple of years back his puggle was the top tracking dog in Vermont.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
The three us are really all over the place with what we’ll listen to together as well as separately. As far as a shortlist of contemporaries that we’re all really floored on, and would like to associate with:
Mutoid Man, Moontooth, Husbandry and Disparager.
My favorite album of 2017 is by a band called Blood Sun Circle. The record is “Distorted Forms.”
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to TJ for his time!