I’m standing outside The Congress Theater. It’s the day after St. Patrick’s Day, and it’s surprisingly bright outside. My phone rings at about 3:37pm. It’s Jimmy Con, one third of Chicago’s electro funk trio, Ghosthouse. They are running late because they “… [are] gettin’ [their] hair done.” Up until today, I had never talked to Jimmy Con, or any other members of Ghosthouse directly. After getting to know them a little and hanging out during a practice session, I still don’t know if they were just running late or actually getting their hair done. My money is on the latter.
BK: So help me fill in the gaps here, I did some reading; you guys formed about 7 years ago? But didn’t put the Ghosthouse self-titled out until this past October?
Jimmy Con: Chuck and I went to Columbia together and we met in the dorms. We started making beats together and were really big into doing the hip-hop thing. That’s how we got our start. I was making beats and Chuck was singing hooks for other artists and forms of Ghosthouse but it wasn’t fulfilling enough for us so we decide to just start producing and writing for ourselves as a duo.
BK: So where did the name Ghosthouse come from? Was it a Mario Brothers thing? Or was it the 80’s Umberto Lenzi movie?
JC: I didn’t even know about the movie until someone asked us about it years ago, which is absurd since I’m a huge campy horror movie fan. I hear it’s a really great one of those awful horror movies. How we really got the name was just when we were still producing a lot of hip-hop, we had so many artists under one roof at one time and we just didn’t know what to call it. It was like the Wu Tang Clan, ‘you wanna be a part of Ghosthouse? Ok cool!’ So I put the name Ghosthouse out there and it stuck. It seems like every band nowadays has “Ghost” in their name.
BK: So what is Ghosthouse all about now?
Chuck New: Making people dance.
JC: We have a lot of things in the works.
DH: We have some sick merch coming out.
JC: I mean, we are all about getting people out to our shows. We have the single coming out, a really cool remix contest through do312 and Zebo’s “Hot Dog Records” and of course like Dylan said, we have some really great looking new merch coming out.
CN: …and we are always writing too. We like to have a lot of material to work with.
JC: I think we have really started to set ourselves apart from a lot of bands, especially in Chicago right now. Seemingly to me, the status quo was that you go to shows and watch the band and are almost in awe of how dedicated to their craft they are, or you act like a jerk and just stand around and watch. There are so many amazing artists out in this city that are total tech heads, gear heads, complete electronic masterminds and it’s fantastic. I think we bring an outside element of just saying “f*ck it, let’s dance, let’s make it fun”. Almost like Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack, “So what?? So let’s dance!” It doesn’t always need to be taken so seriously. We just like to have a good time and for the most part, that always translates into an infection to the audience. They get the dancing bug.
BK: The cliché questions, who are your biggest influences?
JC: For me? Prince.
DH: Justice, they just did it louder- and it was so hard. I think it was too hard for some people.
BK: What about albums?
CN: I’d have to say Donny Hathaway Live. Just because, it’s different; he did that all in one take. It’s pure.
JC: Live music that translates well to wax is always incredible. I have a live Prince album from 1985 with a 19 minute version of Purple Rain….it made me cry the first time I heard it. I’ll share it with you.
BK: So how does the song creation process work? Is it more of a song idea first or is there a melody… or beat that gets lyrics built around it.
CN: Probably more of a beat that receives a building treatment. Jimmy will have some production piece that he’s working with and then I’ll see if it’s my range and a tempo or melody I can work with. Then I will work out my parts and from there we finish the song and it’s like a 50/50 split on the song writing since we kind of craft it all together.
BK: So for the live shows, you’ve got Dylan out there, how does that impact your sound?
DH: When we are on stage we are playing to backing tracks, so the way I play to it can really impact the sound and create a totally different feeling.
BK: So I know you guys don’t take anything too seriously, and you like to have a good time at your shows, got any good stories?
CN: Not too long ago we were playing a show where we were having technical difficulties all night. Amps were cutting out and all that good stuff. The venue wasn’t really built for our sound. Mid way through the our set we decided to kill the noise and spare the small crowd our shenanigans. We had a few beverages and Dylan and Jimmy just started UFC fighting in the middle of the dance floor and spilled it outside of the venue. All in good fun as they were laughing the whole time, but I’m sure some people were like WTF!?
JC: I’m learning how to dance. That’s always fun to try out on stage. I’m starting to lead crowds in dances. It’s so crazy. It’s really funny when people will do whatever you ask them to do when you can captivate a crowd. I should tell them to start throwing singles on stage or “Punch the guy next to you in the face”. That would make for a memorable night.
BK: Anything you guys want to say to your fans and to Examiner readers?
CN: We love you, all of you. Come out and see us if you haven’t. Read the Examiner every day.
JC: Come out and get lucky. When we played the Double Door a few months ago with our friends Boutros, Gemini Club and Team Bayside High we watched a guy who totally wasn’t feeling our sound at the beginning of the night. Then by song 3, he’s nodding his head. Then progressively he made his way towards a girl and by the end of our set he was getting buck wild with her on the dance floor and he left with her. I think our music gave him his future wife….or a fun night nonetheless. I bet he got laid! Come get laid to Ghosthouse!