Union Transfer


Jukebox the Ghost

WXPN 88.5 Welcomes ...

Jukebox the Ghost

Greg Holden

Sat, March 26, 2016

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Union Transfer

Philadelphia, PA

$16.00 - $18.00

This event is all ages

Jukebox the Ghost
Jukebox the Ghost
Jukebox the Ghost is a band of musical survivors, a decade-strong trio that has carefully considered how to make a lasting statement while grinding out more than 150 shows a year. With their new self-titled album, Jukebox the Ghost unmistakably makes that statement…in the form of a big, lovable pop record. Jukebox the Ghost may be the tortoise in the race, but they’ve slowly, steadily made their way to the top.

Ben Thornewill, Tommy Siegel and Jesse Kristin had tossed around a few names for the album title between themselves but none expressed the confidence they had in the new material as much Jukebox the Ghost. Everything is clicking on Jukebox the Ghost: the intricate rock arrangements are juxtaposed with juicy sing-along choruses, and the whip-smart, searingly honest lyrics are delivered with beaming confidence and irresistible warmth. By looking at themselves in the mirror—Thornewill calls the album a “self-evaluation,” while Siegel describes it as a “reinvention” – Jukebox the Ghost has come up with its strongest album to date, and easily its most accessible.

Jukebox the Ghost was released on October 21, 2014 on Yep Roc Records. Later that year, after hearing “The Great Unknown” in a movie trailer for 2014’s hit The Judge, Martin Kierszenbaum’s daughter brought the band’s new record to his attention, and in early 2015 he signed the band to Cherrytree Records, his successful imprint known for releasing juggernaut pop artists like Ellie Goulding, Disclosure, Feist, and more. Cherrytree will reissue the self-titled album with a special bonus disc in February of 2015.

“After the work and care we put into the songs, in choosing them and arranging them, by the time it was finished, we all came around to feeling like this record is who we are,” says pianist-vocalist Thornewill.

Instead of hurrying through the follow-up to 2012’s Safe Travels, the trio took its time piecing the track list of Jukebox the Ghost together, coming up with 50 demos over a 10-month period. There was only one goal, and it was uncompromising: to mine the best songs of the group’s career.

“Even after the song selection was done, we really took a closer eye at the arrangements than ever,” Siegel says. “As a result, the instrumentation is a pretty big departure from anything we’ve done before. We tried to step outside of the guitar-drums-piano box and do whatever textures seemed to fit for each individual song.”

Jukebox the Ghost is the band’s fourth album, its second produced by Dan Romer (A Great Big World, Ingrid Michaelson), and its first with additional production by Andrew Dawson (Kanye West, fun.). Unleashing more catchy melodies in its first six tracks than one might expect to hear from a career pop artist’s entire catalogue, there is ample proof on Jukebox the Ghost of how fierce the paired songwriting powerhouse that is Ben Thornewill and Tommy Siegel, combined with Jesse Kristin’s razor-tight and musical drumming, has become after years of road and studio experience. Trading multi-song suites and theatrical turns commonly featured on previous Jukebox records for the song format it knows best, Jukebox the Ghost’s self-titled album is curated as an unapologetic pop record start to finish. Yet, one hears the band taking bold risk and adventure.

While lead single “The Great Unknown” soars with anthemic rock adrenaline that stays close to the band’s long-honed piano-rock sound and has seen the band’s highest success at alternative radio, the songs “Made For Ending,” “Sound of a Broken Heart,” and “Postcard” all take a different direction and combine the band’s power-pop composition with R&B and hip-hop flair. Punchy drum samples and rhythmic synthesizers cast glitter upon Jukebox the Ghost’s ever-strong songwriting core on Jukebox the Ghost, making it the band’s most modern-sounding and ambitious work. On “Girl” singer-pianist Thornewill showcases his soulful vocal ability, powerful as ever, crooning over a steady mid-tempo number flush with snaps, a bass groove, and little else. The track “Postcard,” produced by Andrew Dawson, throws Thornewill’s confident vocals and punchy piano performance against a backdrop of lush synths and hip-hop-inspired grooves to create something truly new for the band. Uncharted territory doesn’t stop there.

The nostalgic acoustic anthem “Long Way Home,” features guitarist-vocalist Tommy Siegel and Thornewill trading lead vocals, an alternating-lead-vocal style used for the first time on a Jukebox the Ghost record. If that isn’t enough new ground, for the first time, drummer Jesse Kristin provides lead vocals on “Hollywood” over a lounge-jazz piano prelude that quickly descends into punchy pop distinctive of the band’s past, but through a considerably new lens. Amidst so much studio experimentation, one of the most groundbreaking and exciting steps for the band while making this record, was (somewhat counterintuitively) playing less. Sparseness reigns supreme on the haunting vocal-and-Rhodes showcase “Undeniable You” and on the crushing album-closer “Show Me Where It Hurts,” the latter of which features just Siegel’s vocals, Thornewill’s piano, and a heartbreaking string arrangement by producer Dan Romer reminiscent of his score for the Oscar-nominated film Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Jukebox the Ghost arrives after years of accruing a diehard following while remaining one of the hardest-working live acts in music. The group’s quirky songwriting and breathtaking performance skills have led the trio to share stages with Ben Folds, Jack’s Mannequin, Motion City Soundtrack and Guster, while being one of Yep Roc’s lynchpin artists since signing to the label in 2010. Jukebox the Ghost has dazzled on big stages, such as when the group rocked The Late Show with David Letterman, showcasing the vibrant pop-rock workout of “Schizophrenia” on late-night TV. The band recently returned to late-night TV where they performed the song “Postcard” off of the new self-titled album on Conan.

After nearly a decade of incessant touring, recording, and hard work to establish a passionately devoted fanbase, Jukebox the Ghost has finally given its ghost logo, sketched during the first hours of the band’s existence, the album cover of its proudest effort yet.
Greg Holden
Greg Holden
Greg Holden's second full-length album may be titled I Don't Believe You, but he's genuinely given listeners something to believe in. Boasting unwavering honesty and unshakable melodies, the UK-born, New York-based singer and songwriter tells eleven vivid stories over the course of the record. Some of them are heartbreaking, while others are uplifting. However, all of them are unforgettable.

In 2009, the Big Apple beckoned Holden. He'd just released his independent debut, A Word in Edgeways, and after visiting the city for some recording sessions, he knew he wanted to relocate. He moved out of his London flat, sold most of his things, boarded a plane, and never looked back.

"For some reason, I was always drawn to New York," he admits. "Every one of my favorite musicians had gone there at some point. I remember reading about Bob Dylan's journeys through Greenwich Village, all the imagery of the city just taunted me. There's a mystery about the place, it just sucks you in."

For the next year, he immersed himself in that "mystery". Everything that he saw and experienced became fodder for his songwriting—whether it be interactions on the train or in the bars. The smell of alcohol and the overheard conversations lived on in his music. Simultaneously, he launched a Kickstarter page to fund the recording. Rallying support from his devout fan base, he raised 30,000 dollars in the span of month. Holden headed to Los Angeles and recorded the songs he'd been penning with none other than producer Tony Berg [Bob Dylan]. He emerged from the studio with I Don't Believe You.

"I'd call it English Americana," he says of the album. "I have real American influences, and I have to be proud of that, and not pretend as though I only listened to English music my whole life. I listen to Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen as well as the English icons such as Harrison & Lennon. I'll always have my English roots, but I live here right now."

I Don't Believe You saw an initial digital release in 2011, and it began to slowly build a buzz online. However, when Holden recorded the bonus track "The Lost Boy", the record made a giant splash internationally. A poignant, potent, and poetic rumination, he carried the song's unforgettable refrain and touching story.

Holden recalls, "I wrote that after reading a book by Dave Eggers called What is the What. It's a true story about a Sudanese refugee named Valentino Achak Deng. It was so emotional and powerful that I had to write the song, it felt like some sort of duty. I wanted to make a difference after reading the book. I recorded it in my apartment, and I sent it to a DJ that I knew in Holland because he does a lot of work for the Red Cross."

The song entered regular rotation during the Christmas period, and shot to #1 on iTunes in Holland. The radio station invited Holden to play a Christmas Eve benefit for the Red Cross in front of 10,000 people. A sold out tour of the country ensued, and the song ended up raising 80,000 dollars for the charity. Shortly after, "The Lost Boy" played over a key scene in a seminal episode of Sons of Anarchy. Within days, it had sold 20,000 copies on iTunes and charted on Billboard.

Elsewhere on I Don't Believe You, Holden confronts dishonesty on the shimmering and slick title track, while "Bar on A" paid homage to one his favorite haunts where "an English boy learned about the drinks and women of New York". Then, there's the powerful "American Dream"—another true story.

"I was riding home on the subway one night, and I was sitting by a homeless couple," he explains. The woman was crying and upset, and the guy had a big bag of stuff he'd claimed to have stolen. He was like, 'Don't worry, I'm going to sell all of this shit so we can eat tonight'. It was so ****ing real. I wrote the song on my phone right there and then. It's a classic example of the many people who aren't living the so-called American dream."

Holden, however, has tirelessly chased his dream. In the midst of releasing I Don't Believe You, he wrote the multiplatinum-selling smash hit "Home" for Phillip Phillips, and he contributed the stunning "I Need an Energy" to the Chasing Mavericks soundtrack. Now, he signed to Collective Sounds in 2013 and will re-release the album formally in stores and digitally.

Ultimately though, his goal remains the same. "I don't sing to make money," he concludes. "I want to be honest, whether people believe me or not. I want to tell stories that make people think and hopefully, feel. I want them to be inspired in some way. If they can connect to a song beyond a harmonic level, that's all I ever wanted."
Venue Information:
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123