May 9, 2009

Ghost of a Dog: Werewolves and ASBO's

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Americymru: Who are the members of 'Ghost of a Dog'?

Matthew: Ghost of a Dog are Tamzin Powell: Main Vocals, Ukulele, Matt Powell: Guitar, backing vocals Tracy Neil Elliss-Brookes: Guitar, backing vocals Jonathan Attree: Bass Marc Aird: Drums

Americymru: How did the band come to be formed?
Matthew: We initially got together with a few friends whilst we were still part of the Welsh folk band called ‘Wild Welsh Women’, and Ghost of a Dog was a side project in a more of a singer songwriter vein, exploring our love of American artists such as Joni Mitchell, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Crosby Stills Nash & Young etc. This project soon gained momentum and eventually became the main focus after Wild Welsh Women took an extended break after releasing and touring the second album ‘Death of the Kings Canary’.

After a few line-up changes, we eventually arrived at our current line-up with Jonathan (Attree), who was also in Wild Welsh Women, plus singer/songwriter Tracy Neil Ellis-Brookes (or Neil for short) and Scottish exile Marc Aird on drums.
Americymru: On your profile page on this site you say:- "A bit of cross cultural stuff going on here - we're a band from Wales playing Americana/Alt-Country/folk material (self penned)". What attracted you to Alt. Country and Americana? Any particular artist?

Matthew: It’s something that myself (Matt) and Tamzin have been into for many years, probably before we got seriously interested in Welsh traditional music, and was triggered by the less heavy side of bands like Led Zeppelin which led onto an appreciation of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young etc. We have also love the fact that lyrically, Americana has been more liberating than traditional music, which tends to draw heavily on the past – nothing wrong with that of course we still have a great affection for traditional music and it’s still a strong influence for us - but Alt-country and Americana music combined with lyrics which are written about our local surroundings in Wales and the West country, create a more interesting mix (for us anyway!)

The US artists that got us into in the Americana field are vast and varied but include Ryan Adams & Whiskeytown, Calexico, Shawn Colvin, and also the classic artists like Emmylou, Gram Parsons and Joni Mitchell etc.

Americymru: Alternative Country seems to be very popular in the UK at the moment. Bands like Richmond Fontaine and others seem to find a ready audience. Can you think of any particular reason for this?

Matthew: Yes and particularly in Wales for some reason, where we have lots of new Americana clubs and Alt-country nights popping up around the area. It could be down to the need for something other than the mass media Pop Idol/American Idol type crap that gets forced down our throats 24/7 these days, plus the fact that its such a wide open genre, taking in everything from Woody Guthrie to the Decemberists (who we love BTW) – so theres something for everybody in there and its a genre which is constantly re-inventing itself.

Americymru: Most of your material is self-penned. Who does the song-writing?

Matthew: This album was mostly written by myself & Tamzin, but we’re starting to write new stuff with Neil now which is quite exciting for us as we’ve not co-written with a 3rd party for a few years. Theres also one track on the album by a good friend of ours called Chris Reese, who also plays lap-steel and slide on a few of the tracks.

Americymru: What is the story behind 'Full Moon Crime Spree' ( this track can be heard on the bands Americymru homepage )?

Matthew: It’s a bit of a fairytale/horror/’if only’ type story and it’s about a werewolf who has a sense of morality. Basically, every full moon he prowls the streets of Cardiff looking for criminals and unsavoury ASBO’s, (people with an Antisocial Behaviour Orders), and deals them their just deserts by ripping their throats out – a bit brutal, but very effective in reducing the city’s crime rate! It’s a comment on the frustration felt by many crime victims and was triggered by a story I read in the news about the crime rate increasing whenever there is a full moon, so we thought we’d twist the story a little and introduce an antidote to the problem.

Americymru: Any plans or ambitions to play in the States in the future?
Matthew: We’d love to tour in the States in the near future – there are no firm plans yet but its definitely something that we’d all love to do – Any offers, let us know!!

Americymru: Where can people go to hear you play and buy your music?
Matthew: At present we’ve been mainly UK based, mainly in Wales and around the borders, although we do the occasional gig in France and are hoping to play more extensively in Europe over the next year – keep an eye on our myspace page for up to date gig listings .

The album is available to buy directly from us for UK based buyers and through CDbaby for North American sales, plus via Itunes, Napster, Lala, Tradebit and Didiom – plus shortly via Amazon.

Americymru: What are your future recording and performance plans at the moment?

Matthew: We’ve started writing in preparation for the next album and we’re talking to several record companies about licensing Full Moon Crime Spree, who will hopefully get involved in the next album also.

Performance wise, our plans are to hit the festival circuit next year, plus some European dates and hopefully a tour in the States, when we get some sound contacts.

Americymru: Any further message for the members and readers of "Americymru".

Matthew: Its fantastic that Wales and Welsh culture continues to flourish across the globe, there is a great pride amongst the Welsh in Wales and around the world at present, especially amongst the younger generations. Its a real sense of clan and identity and whenever we are playing abroad and we’re asked “are you English?” the answer is 2No we’re Welsh” – and these days, people actually know the difference!

Interview by Ceri Shaw Email

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