Published on January 28th, 2014 | by TLV News0
Holy Ghost Electric Show: CD Release Party January 30 at Proud Larrys’ (Interview by Suanne Strider)
Interview by Suanne Strider
Photos by Rebecca Long
Holy Ghost Electric Show is a band that takes things seriously. From their finances, to world events, to social issues—these guys are on top of it. With a median age of 22, this is shocking. But their debut album, The Great American, shows a maturity that is well beyond their years. The album drops on Thursday, January 30th, and on the same day they will play a CD Release Party at Proud Larry’s featuring Light Beam Rider and The Red Thangs as supporting acts.
Recorded at Winn McElroy’s Black Wings Studio in Water Valley, and mixed by Ted Gainey (Hill Country Records, Kudzu Kings, Taylor Grocery Band, Beanland), this album is a triumph for independent music.
Brothers Cody (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) and Jake Rogers (guitar and banjo), Conner Wroten (bass), Austin Wheeler (drums) and Jesse James (trombone and keys), have created an album that speaks well beyond their years in experience and understanding.It is a refreshing and amazing thought: the kids these days really do care.
“Tin Man” is a song off the album that well explains what the band’s about. Interestingly, the band says that this song is the crowd favorite at their live shows.
The main character in the song is a Vietnam war vet that has returned to Memphis after a traumatic experience in the war. He has come back so scarred that in order to redeem himself, he has become Jesus Christ in his own mind, and he is always trying to save others walking along the sidewalk. It is amazing that people this age have so much concern for an issue like this. It shows a real maturity and knowledge of the world. These guys sing about what is important, and they have a very firm grasp of reality.
Cody is the songwriter for the group, and a lot of his inspiration comes from his family. Cody’s father is a pastor in Corinth. He came to the area with the intention of starting a church in the heart of inner city Corinth, and has been so successful in the venture that crime has made a downturn in the area since the church was established.
Cody describes a scene he remembers from the first days of the church: “My dad became a pastor back in the early ‘90s. He and my cousin Gary started a church—Freedom Fellowship—that is non-denominational. It was started in the inner city with the intention of helping inner-city youth. During that time, the Crypts and the Bloods were trying to recruit young people in Corinth. My dad opened up the church doors and they would both come. On one side [sat] the Crypts and on the other side the Bloods would sit. They would have razor blades in their mouths and they would be throwing up gang signs to each other and everything in the middle of service.”
That’s what Jake and I grew up in…it was that kind of atmosphere. It was inner city church. It was very intense at the very beginning. There was a gang fight on the property one time and my dad and my cousin Gary stopped it by shouting out, ‘Y’all stop, now! Y’all sit down now! Y’all stop!’—[speaking to them] almost like they were children. But it worked. And [my dad and Gary] took the razor blades out of their hands and out of their mouths, and eventually [the gang members] began to believe what my father and my cousin Gary [were] talking about there. And they laid down the lifestyle. So the gang lords didn’t have anyone to recruit anymore and they eventually got busted and sent to jail—which stopped a lot of gang-related crime there for a good ten years.”
Race is not an issue the band avoids. Another song on the album, “Spanish Influenza,” shows this awareness. It tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks, a black woman in the 1940s whose cells were taken from her unknowingly and without permission for scientific study. Her cells have been used for every kind of experiment one can think of—from cancer treatment to gene mapping, and they are still being used today with no benefit whatsoever going to the family of Mrs. Lacks. The moral implications of what was done to her are a serious issue that has yet to be resolved, and it is another issue that is surprisingly interesting and important to this young group of men.
On top of the great music to be heard at the show next Thursday, there will be an interesting array of “swag” (or band merchandise) to purchase from Holy Ghost Electric Show. Handcrafted items include patches and beer-top magnets touting the band’s name, which will be offered for $5. And of course, t-shirts, which are $15. But the main attraction is their new album, which is only $12, and is well worth the money.
This article was originally printed in The Local Voice #196 (published January 23, 2014). To download a PDF of this issue, click HERE.