Jukebox the Ghost, one of the hottest up-and-coming pop rock bands on the scene, released Safe Travels last month. You have probably heard them on WFPK, watched them on The Late Show with David Letterman, or seen them at numerous music festivals. Ben Thornewill, a Louisville native who lived in St. Matthews and then in the Indian Hills area, is the group's lead singer and pianist.
Louisville.com: So the last time Louisville.com interviewed you was back in September 2010. You had just released Everything Under the Sun. How do you feel Jukebox the Ghost has transformed since your last CD release and have your musical influences changed at all?
Thornewill: We are a more advanced band and more professional. We’ve played over 200 shows since the release of our last album and we are older and more experienced as people. Our musical listening habits have changed but we try not to emulate other bands. We have a perceived esthetic and want to play music we like. Each of us comes from a different musical background and we have a strong idea of what we want to sound like. We try to avoid sounding like other bands.
Louisville.com: What is your musical background?
Thornewill: I have a classical and jazz background. I studied classical composition and jazz performance at George Washington University. The drummer [Jesse Kristin] played drums in high school and played prog rock.
Louisville.com: Is that where all of you all met?
Thornewill: Yes it is.
Louisville.com: After visiting your website, it sounds like you all had some difficult times while working on Safe Travels. Despite this you said you still want to be a band that makes people feel good. Was this hard to do and how did you all overcome this?
Thornewill: It has been a tough year. We’ve had two major deaths, breakups, but we have a positive outlook on life. All of these things are very human experiences and while we may not enjoy going through them they are things you have to go through. We are still fundamentally the same people. We play pop music and these songs have both depth and darkness.
Louisville.com: As a violinist myself, I found it very cool that you used a string section for the first time. What were some of the challenges and perks you found working with strings?
Thornewill: We’ve wanted to do this for each record, but we either ran out of time or money. You know how those things go. This time we had both. The producer, Dan Romer, is a fantastic arranger and helped me arrange the parts. There was no challenge just pure enjoyment.
Louisville.com: I think strings always make music better and super excited to hear future works with strings. They also make shows more awesome on stage.
Thornewill: Definitely, it is organic and beautiful.
Louisville.com: You’ve released three albums now. Is it still exciting as releasing the first one?
Thornewill: It gets more exciting every time. The music is getting into more people’s hands and we are slowly getting bigger so we have less pressure. People are more supportive and look forward to music we put out in the future. We are able to make records we want to make without worrying about it being popular.
Louisville.com: That is great to hear. I’d figure it would be the total opposite with expectations and what not.
Thornewill: We had a strong feeling on how it should progress and made sure it was done right. It has been very enjoyable.