24-year-old Nashville-based Austin Thomas – aka Spookyghostboy – had a chat with us last week, ahead of his headline show at Camden Assembly in London. What are his weird Christmas traditions? And what does he hope for 2020? Find out below.
What’s your favourite thing about the UK?
I like the architecture – it’s a lot more interesting to me than the US; I think because a lot of buildings are older than the existence of my country. So it has a little bit more to offer. I always look at it whenever I come over here.
‘Hello It’s Me’ came out today. Tell me everything about the single.
I wrote that song about some gnarly headaches that I got for a while. I got these really intense headaches, like hours a day for months, and then eventually, they just disappeared. But I couldn’t do much when I had them. It was painful to. I basically just had to stay at home. And so I wrote that song about what that experience was like for me – just sitting at home and being frustrated.
So I take it you’ve been working on a new album?
Yeah, the song that I put out today is hopefully going to be a part of a much larger project. I’ve been working on that for a while. It’s not finished, but I’m hoping that sometime in 2020, I’ll be able to put out a record.
Do you see it being much different to Twenty Something?
Yeah, it probably will be. I got a little weird on Twenty Something – weird for me. I stepped out of the box that I had been in a little bit. But I’m not going to return to any previous sound. I’m probably just going to go even more out of that box and make it even weirder – it’ll be slightly different in that way.
On Twenty Something, what would you say is the song that you’re proudest of writing?
That’s a good question. I liked ‘Nearly Gone’ – the first track on the album; I think that one was my favourite. But lyrically, I really liked ‘Really True’ – that one had the most meaningful lyrics on it, to me, as a whole song.
What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?
Well, there is something; I don’t know if it would sound like the best Christmas present ever, but there’s a tradition that I look forward to every year. I don’t know how it started, but for the last 10 years or so, my brother and I have been exchanging a bag of coal. Every year, I’ll give him coal in a present, and then he’ll unwrap it, and then the next year, he’ll wrap it up and give it to me. I don’t know who has it this year, which is concerning, because if it’s me, I should find it. But yeah, I always look forward to the bag of coal. That’s my favourite present.
I was going to ask what the strangest gift you’ve ever received is, but I’ll assume it’s the coal. What’s your fondest Christmas memory?
I think my fondest Christmas memory is probably getting a guitar for Christmas for the first time. Pretty stereotypical, but I was pretty stoked about that. And obviously, it impacted me pretty heavily because I wanted to do music for the rest of my life. But yeah, that was definitely my favourite. It was a cherry red Squire Stratocaster. That thing was pretty sweet.
If you’d never got it, you might not be sitting here, right?
Maybe not! I had wanted a bass because I thought that distorted guitar was just bass, and I wanted to play rock music. So I wanted a bass – wrongfully, and then Fender screwed up and sent a guitar instead of the bass. So when I got a guitar, my parents were like, “We wanted a bass, but it’s a guitar.” I was like, “Oh, that’s fine. Whatever.” Turns out it’s actually the thing I wanted all along; I just didn’t realise it. So maybe I could have been a bass player in a different life.
Sometimes things happen for a reason!
Yeah, that was it!
What has been your proudest achievement this year?
I think the amount of dates that I’ve done. I’ve toured before this year, but not as heavily as this year. So I think the amount of dates that I’ve done in the last 12 months was my little personal accomplishment. Especially because I get really sick every time I go out on the road. So it’s a little bit of a challenge, but I’m glad that I pushed through it.
What’s been the best place you’ve played this year?
The best crowd was actually just this last week in Manchester. They were the most stoked crowd I’ve ever played in front of. I really liked seeing the city of Amsterdam, that was pretty exciting as well.
What do you hope most for 2020 for yourself, and also for the world in general?
Well, I want to have a very long sleep. That’s the first thing I’d like to deal with. I don’t think I’ll get that until halfway through the year, but that’s alright. And all around the world, just a little bit more compassion.