BiographyNewly signed to Atlantic Records, the London-based foursome's vast potential is signalled by their debut release, download-only EP Tales From Studio Six. Highlights include Musical Chairs - borne aloft by soaring melodies and a propulsive, floor-filling backbeat - and the eponymous track Ghosts, which takes the chiming, arena-filling melancholy of Coldplay and channels it into a delicate, swooning moment of perfect pop.
Despite all still being in their mid-twenties, Ghosts have been playing together for a decade. They met as fellow pupils at school, four teenagers fired up by the melodic revolution that was Britpop. It took a while for them to find each other - drummer Johnny Harris had to be coaxed away from a woeful soft rock band ("Imagine a happier version of Hanson," he shudders today) - but by 1996 they were a tight unit, banging out Britpop covers under the dubious moniker Prodigal Sun.
"We were terrible really," laughs singer/guitarist Simon Pettigrew, who was born in Hong Kong before moving to England aged 7. "I remember one of the first gigs we played, the booing started one minute in, and it just didn't stop."
Rock stardom was still some way off: during school holidays the four friends would rehearse in a remote barn above a horse ("He seemed quite appreciative, he used to nod along," recalls Simon). There was an endless succession of disastrous singers ("One of them kept stealing from us to fund a coke habit, which became a bit of a problem"). But gradually, the band - completed by bassist Robbie Smith and keyboardist Mark Treasure - became more than a way of blowing off steam after school.
Discovering the ambient textures of Spiritualized and Boards Of Canada, they morphed into an icy electronica outfit named Polanski. Progress was slow, mainly because all four had to go their separate ways for University. But Polanski almost made it big. They released an EP, got played on Radio 1. One showcase gig in 2003 attracted nearly 100 A&R scouts - the second biggest industry turnout that year, behind Keane.
And then.... nothing happened. Despite all the hype and excitement, Polanski remained unsigned. Disillusioned, they filled their time with other things. Mark did a Master's Degree in Philosophy, Simon and Robbie got office admin jobs, and Johnny... well, mostly Johnny just got drunk ("He's never done a day's work in his life!" says Simon affectionately of the softly-spoken drummer).
Then came the epiphany. Frustrated by the limits of electronic music, Simon began writing songs on guitar - simple, unadorned melodies, sung from the heart. For the first time, he realised he could hold his own as a vocalist. So, when Polanski's frontman quit, Simon simply took over, taking the band in a more classic, song-based direction. Out went doomy synths. In came jangly guitars and big choruses. The band was duly renamed. Ghosts was born.
"There was just an instant feeling of, this is the way to go," explains Simon. "The real breakthrough came when we went to Sweden for two months, purely to write songs. There was nothing else to do, so we just sat and wrote, all day, every day. By the time we came back we had three of the strongest songs we've ever written."
Three months on, Ghosts have almost completed work on their debut album, due in the Spring. Before then there's a limited edition 7" single, Musical Chairs/Departure Lounge, and a residency at London's Water Rats throughout January. Plus, of course, endless tours up and down the UK and beyond. And then? Who knows. What's certain is that Ghosts won't be content until their euphoric pop songs are echoing from the very biggest stages.
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