“We started out as more of a blues-rock thing and we’ve steadily grown into being more progressive and psychedelic over the years.”
Live music can provide an otherworldly experience, with the combination of reverb, feedback with driving riffs, and rhythmic beats bringing a sensation that feels like a drug.
One can imagine that people have been craving this sensation over the past 15 months due to COVID-19, and among the bands looking to satisfy it, Boston psych-rock act Ghosts Of Jupiter will perform at the Porch Southern Fare & Juke Joint in Medford on Friday. They’ll play some new tunes they’ve been working on since last year, so prepare for something fresh.
I spoke with vocalist and guitarist Nate Wilson about previous bands, performing with legends, growing up on classic rock radio, and those new tunes.
Do you consider there to be any major differences between Ghosts Of Jupiter and your previous band, the Nate Wilson Group? Or is it just simply a name change with the same members?
There’s definitely been some member changes. The common thread has always been myself with Tom Arey on drums and Adam Terrell on guitar. The band sort of started in a nonchalant way, we had a residency that I had booked under my name and this club called the Stone Church up in New Hampshire. There was always an intention to have a band name, we wanted the band to feel like a band and not like a singer-songwriter with hired guns kind of situation. I guess the main thing was that it was really hard to come up with a band name so it took a little while.
When we became Ghosts Of Jupiter, our bassist Tom Lada came on board and whether we knew it or not, it was the best time for the name change. I’ve always been the songwriter and the bandleader, but there is a common thread between the two bands.
Have you always been a fan of psychedelic rock since you were growing up?
I kind of grew up listening to classic rock radio and it led me to getting into some of the b-side stuff that wasn’t on the radio. I’ve always sort of suspected that the music you listened to when you were a teenager is some of the stuff that sticks with you the strongest. My first rock concert was Jethro Tull at what used to be called Great Woods in Mansfield back when I was 12 years old. That got me into more progressive stuff, I discovered Steve Winwood and Traffic who are another favorite of mine. I also certainly got into the band Yes and then I got into a lot of different things.
I played jazz for a long time, I always dive into the blues, and throughout the past 10 years or so there’s been a modern psychedelic, neo-psych movement. Bands like Tame Impala and a bunch of others that have reintroduced me to that stuff. During the mid-2000s, I discovered some of the newer music that was happening through looking it up on the internet. I’m a fan of all sorts of different styles of music, but this band has grown in that direction. We started out as more of a blues-rock thing and we’ve steadily grown into being more progressive and psychedelic over the years.
Outside of the band, you’ve gotten to play with the likes of Chuck Berry, John Scofield, and Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction among other musicians. How would you describe the experiences of performing with Chuck, John and Stephen? How were you able to get connected with these guys?
With Chuck Berry, I was playing at a festival with one of my earlier bands. Chuck never really had a band, he would just roll into town and the promoter would hire a band so I was playing at this festival and I got asked to play this show with Chuck Berry and obviously I was thrilled to do it. Part of the band was Eric Kalb, he’s a great, amazing drummer who plays with the Connecticut funk act Deep Banana Blackout. The whole gig was that you had to learn a set of Chuck Berry’s music and he would go onto the stage and just play. Musically it was kind of crazy, but Chuck was such a larger than life persona that the crowd went crazy and it was really fun.
Playing with John Scofield was somewhat of a similar situation, it was an all-star band thing that was at a festival. I got to play with Stephen Perkins a couple of times, he was playing with Steve Kimock at the time, and one of the shows I got to play with him was at the Blue Note in New York City. It was sort of an all-star band and I got to go there to play; it was heavily improvised, but it was a lot of fun.
How long has it been since Ghosts Of Jupiter last played an actual show before the upcoming gig at The Porch on June 11? What are your thoughts going into it?
The last show that we did was actually at the Porch, so it’s kind of a trip because that was the last time I played live music and the last time we played there was in March. A few days later I remember seeing things shutting down. I had already heard a fair amount of buzz about the pandemic and what was coming down the pike, but it’s kind of a crazy coincidence that our last show was there in March of 2020. It’s been a year and change but it’s a funny thing that we’re going back there.
It’s been five years since Ghosts Of Jupiter put out their last album, so can we expect a new one sometime soon?
Yeah, we actually have one that’s really close to being finished. We mostly recorded it last year during the pandemic and we’ve done our last two albums in a DIY fashion but this one we kind of did remotely as much as we could. It came out great, we don’t have a set release date but we’re hoping for sometime in the fall. We’re putting some of the final mixes on it and we’ve been playing some of the new material live. It never occurred to me that it’s been five years since our last record but that’s sort of how it’s gone down. Since we’re back in action, we’re hoping to start recording more frequently and probably releasing shorter things.