The Ghost Club Releases "Isolation," Letting Fans Know They are Not Alone
New Pittsburgh Band drop latest single and video
The Ghost Club, an up and coming Pittsburgh alternative pop band, couldn't be releasing their new song, "Isolated," at a better time.
It will drop Friday with the corresponding music video following, April 7.
Domenic Raymond Dunegan, lead vocals and piano of the duo, and drummer Kevin Corcoran called in from their respective places of isolation in Pittsburgh for their first interview in a publication to talk about their sound, their song, and how The Ghost Club came to be.
Their newest single follows 2018's "This Bird Has Flown," which has received almost 1 million streams online without any PR campaign or publicity.
After nearly an hour of talking, it was clear that Dunegan and Corcoran hold a unique appreciation for self-expression and a strong passion for what they do.
An abridged version of the conversation is as follows:
HM: We're going to do this as a Q&A kind of 'Meet the Band,' to look at what you guys have done, look at what you're doing and introduce you to the Erie area who may not know you yet.
Kevin Corcoran: I play drums and do other stuff, but you know … We kind of do a lot of everything together. So, drums is kind of my formal title because that's what I'm going to the playing live, but overall we just kind of we both like producing and creating things in general so we kind of both do everything.
HM: Okay. And Dominic?
Domenic Raymond Dunegan: I sing and write. And then, like when Kevin said other stuff, he mainly focuses on production and I focus on the writing kind of thing.
HM: Okay, I see. And so I guess let's start at the beginning. How did The Ghost Club get started?
DD: Well, this predates Kevin a bit … it was freshman year. The way it started is my dad took me to a concert, and I left that concert, thinking: 'You know what? I really enjoyed the way that made me feel. I would really like to be able to do that for other people, even if it's on like a small scale.'
And from that point, there was no real alternative for me. That was just what I wanted to do and since that day since then, that's all I thought about. But I took a piano just started learning how to play it, tried writing some songs and actually got denied by a bunch of producers in Los Angeles that I sent songs out to so had I keep going rewriting them again, and then I worked with Matt Squire who produced Panic! At The Disco and All Time Low and those bands. And then I put those out. And I got a bit more of a reaction than I anticipated with the first songs I'd put out. And I mean, with the songs I've put out, at first, I was just kind of expecting it to be a one-off thing because it's always, you know, tough to make music and then promote it.
And then I was having a tough time following up and I went to a concert. I went to Columbus, and I passed Kevin on the way out and I recognized him because I knew he was a (Pittsburgh) local musician. And as we were walking out, I talked with him a little bit and he said, 'You know what, I would work together sometime.' And next thing, he's in this.
KC: From there, I mean, we just ended up meeting up … and working on stuff. And we ended up taking all these ideas that he had. And we ended up finishing them all up and sent them to Eric Palmquist and he said he liked them. And then we went down to LA for three weeks and recorded them, had them produced. Now we have five more songs that we want to put out.
We're really excited about them.
HM: You just happen to meet in Columbus? That's funny.
DD: Yeah, we were both in the same concert and somehow managed to pass each other on our way out, which, honestly, blows my mind … there were a lot of people there.
HM: What concert was it?
DD: It was The 1975.
HM: … How can you describe the sound of The Ghost Club? Are you similar to Panic! At The Disco like with the producer that you worked with? Or maybe The 1975? Or is that just a random other interest that you guys have in that type of music?
DD: I'll let Kevin speak for what we created together, but with the first ones, it kind of came off as trying to be like Panic! At The Disco, which kind of makes sense considering who we were working with. But with the songs that we're putting out now that we made with Eric Palmquist, songs that we're going to continue to create moving forward, I wouldn't say that we're trying to sound like Panic! At The Disco. Even if there are things that do just come off naturally, that we don't intend. And that's, that's the toughest thing I feel that we're in now is that since this is still so early, and we're still trying to figure out what it is that we are.
KC: Well, when we went to LA, we kind of had an idea, just from the demos we had of what we were gonna sound like. And we had a list of artists that we thought were cool but didn't necessarily want to sound exactly alike, but we thought they were cool and liked the production style. So yeah, we went there kind of just having an open mind. And I think one of the big things that Eric does is he tries to like dig and find what an artist will sound like and what they can sound like. So he kind of took all of our, like all of our inspirations and tried to help us find exactly what we could sound like. So, I wouldn't even say we sound much like — I wouldn't want to put a name or a label or, like a true comparison to it — because there's just so many, like great artists that we've drawn influences from so it's definitely more of like an alt-pop, genre-wise, but we really try to go take influence (from elsewhere too).
KC: Like always as far back as I remember, Dom was playing well — that one thought he was like Rick James or something that we were playing in the studio.
DD: "Ghetto Life" by Rick James was one of the things that influenced some of the guitar parts
DD: The thing about me is I didn't really grow up in a local music scene and all of this is still completely foreign to me, I didn't really have allegiance to one sound I guess if that makes any sense, cuz there's a lot of metalcore here, a lot of pop-punk and indie punk. So for me, I just kind of went off of what my parents listened to.
HM: Which was?
DD: Well, Bruce Springsteen was the biggest thing for me ... As a writer, I draw inspiration from his writing. Not as much as — I love his music! — but I draw inspiration from his writing. I draw inspiration from Bob Dylan's writing, in the sense that I wish and I hope that I can make something a tenth of what they've made because I just love the way they write. I like a lot of old funk and R&B. My mom got me into a lot of that. I'm really into Rick James. I can't even name half the things she plays she'll just put a Spotify playlist on in the house of R&B. And then my oldest sister was always the person I looked up to most is a child cuz she was like she's 10 years older than me. And that's probably where some of the influences like Panic! At The Disco came in because she was really into them. And she got me into like that whole My Chemical Romance end of music. I've really been getting into more indie bands lately. I'm gonna shout Eric out a little bit. The band Half Alive is probably one of my favorite bands at the moment. I love Laney. I wouldn't say they're indie. They're more like just pop. But they're an interesting sound in pop. Twenty-One Pilots is always going to be like, deep down my favorite band. But I've been speaking a lot. I'm gonna let Kevin just talk about bands he likes because he likes a lot of cooler stuff than I do.
KC: No, no, those are all cool. Like those are all people that we've gotten influences from and people we look up to so we're just trying to get as much great music and stuff we love together into one thing.
HM: How did you get started playing music, Kevin?
KC: My dad was a musician, so he got me into playing guitar and stuff when I was a little kid. And I had a semi interest in that, but I started playing drums when I was like, I don't know when I was like a child, early elementary school. So I've been playing drums since then, and then started playing bands. I was like in the marching band and all that and like the school band and all that. I didn't start playing in an actual band until like 2014 … and started playing shows around the Pittsburgh area and started doing some, like semi-regional touring. Really I gotta put all (the) credit (to my) dad for getting me into music in general and showing me everything.
HM: And do those people in your life your dad Kevin and Domenic your mom and your sister or what people in your life is it that inspires the songs that you write today and the music that you make?
DD: Wanna go first Kev? You were you on a roll. Keep going, I might want to think about my answer a lot more.
KC: Well, a lot of what I do, I just want to make stuff that ... I want to make something that I know these people I look up to will like as well. Because they showed me everything that I know. So I want to make them proud, you know, and get them to see another side of me and my creative side and really see it and be proud of it. And you know, that's just a big driver for me.
DD: I mean, for me, it's tough because my parents are like the most supportive people, of everything I've ever done and I want to make something that … goes past just the point of like that parental support you get on some (things). I feel bad saying that too, because it's like, it's tough to gain acceptance for some musicians in their family. A lot of families aren't supportive. So I do feel bad saying that it's kind of a privileged thing to say. I just want to make something undeniably good for them.
DD: Which, which is also like a very stupidly bold thing to say. Like, I just ...
HM: Why is that stupidly bold though?
DD: It's so arrogant. I just want to make something that's just subjectively and objectively good to them. (It's not) that I don't trust them. It's that I just want to make them proud of me, which they say they are and I believe in that, but like I just want to ... Ahh it's tough to word this.
HM: Are you meaning you ...
DD: They've just supported me and I make them proud. My dad has a running joke he's made ever since I said I wanted to be a musician. He said, 'Well if you ever make it big one you've got to buy me in a house on the Amalfi coast in Italy somewhere.' And that was like a joke said just from day one. But like, even though it's a joke, it's something ... I've taken it literally. Like it's a joke. Yes, but I don't … I don't treat it that way.
The entire emotional need beyond like my internal needs with wanting to make music the reasons that I want to do it but one of the big ones beyond like myself is that I just want to do for my family. I like ... there's ... there's a lot of reasons people make music. I don't know what all of them are. But when it comes down to that, it's like, I make it for myself. But at the end of the day, like it's all it's all for them, too.
Can you tell me a bit about your first single in 2018, "This Bird Has Flown," that received almost 1 million streams. What was that experience like?
DD: Very, very strange. I mean, this is going to be a "me" question because Kevin, this is before Kevin. So I'm sorry ... but it does translate to today.
(It was) a very weird thing because I put it out on the internet, wasn't expecting much. I was telling myself, you know, if this ended up being 500 (hits on) Spotify, I would have felt really, really cool about myself. Like, 'yeah, that's awesome.' And then it started getting streamed and I'm like, wait a minute, that's kind of strange. And then someone sent it to a YouTuber named Crank That Frank and then he put it on his YouTube channel and then it just kept going up. And I'm like, this is getting kind of strange. I don't like this that much.
HM: Why was it ... Why didn't you like it? Were you not ready or was it just the discomfort of surprise.
DD: A little bit of discomfort of surprise and a little bit of I got turned into a meme and some people were like mean about it. And like I don't get too bent out of shape against words that much but like ... I brought it on myself like I knew what I was kind of doing with the video that I made for it, but it also was a really great thing because it boosted my confidence. Obviously it made this a lot more serious for me.
So I basically told myself alright, this thing that I didn't really put much effort into (can) do this; What if I actually like, really go with it? And that kind of led me to where I am now. Now how I feel about it? I'm like, 'Aww darn. I'm putting out these new songs and this one is still getting all the streams.' And I'm like, 'Kevin's really good at what he does and he really made the new songs great. I'm just, I'm hoping to God that these songs can do well because Kevin's just done a lot for this.'
It's also very strange having the first thing you put out be so far the thing that's doing the best. That's just odd.
HM: What has that done for your confidence — both of you — as musicians as you're creating these new, this new music and you have a single coming out this week. Does it add a pressure or does it boost confidence or is it a big mix of both?
KC: I've heard you talk about this. You'd be great to answer this.
DD: I'd say, it's a bit of both. It's obviously a confidence booster to see that it's something that works. But on the other end, it does put a lot of pressure on what you're doing because like, we're putting out this song, it's likely going to stay overshadowed, but it may not. I don't know. It's that sense of wondering about how something can perform, or how something can be taken. Because I honestly didn't even think that that song was the best out of the ones that I made with Matt, which was the reason I put it out first.
It's just a strange thing. Because I didn't know what I was doing then — I mean, I still don't know what I'm doing now — but I knew a lot less than versus what I know now and I feel that what's coming out as a more authentic representation of what I want it to be.
DD: And it kind of raises the question: 'All right, well, if that's what works, do I try to be more like that?' And it's like that little tug of wondering, 'Okay, should I just continue on strong bet or try to make something that's more representative of us?'
I obviously want to go with that because it's not fun to want to try to be like someone else or aspire to sound exactly like. People always say, 'Oh, I wish I had written that song.' But, I don't. I really just want to make something that's me, not someone else.
HM: Can you two tell me about your new single coming out this week? What is it about and what characteristics of this new music makes it authentically you, or the closest that you guys are able to get? Because I understand that is also hard to capture who you are when you're still learning that.
KC: Yeah, I think this song — at least I'll talk about the sound from my end because (this) song (is) a little bit more about songwriting and emotional element of it — but … this single coming out sounds, it's much more like what I was saying; a combination of all the things that we love. It's a bit more relaxed and vibey but also builds up into a lot of energy …. a lot of different combinations. Like pop music with synthesizers and drum samples and all that. And then we have our influences that are like big bands, you know, like Bruce Springsteen, where you'll get a huge build up into like, this giant ending in the song. And that's all stuff that we tried to bind together and create a sound of our own. So I think this stuff is definitely representative of what we want to sound like. At least. At least we're trying to get there.
DD: So far with this one, I'd say this is probably the most we've tried in terms of like trying to be creative with things. There's a lot of emphases we placed on the production of this and the way we played our instruments. We tried a lot of instruments that we haven't tried before. I mean, there are guitars in the other songs, but like this one, we track things backwards and played them backwards and had those be an element of the song so it gives like a strange but familiar vibe.
I want to place a lot of emphasis obviously on isolation, but on more than just like, oh, there's no one around me. And that bugs me. For me — a little background on it — when I was in high school, I was someone who just kind of went home. I literally had never been to a party up until college. And when I had friends bring me into that environment, I learned that at that moment, like around a bunch of people, that's when I felt the most alone just because I have trouble communicating with people. And that's kind of what inspired me to write this because you think, 'Okay, well, how can I feel isolated when I'm just completely around people?' And that's, that's the loneliest thing. Like it's different to be alone and feel alone. But it's much worse for me to be around people and feel alone. It's just like you can't relate to people. And then people kind of pick up on your vibes. And then they're like, 'Yo, this guy, this guy ain't cool.'
And it really just doesn't work out too well. And, but that's the thing. We wrote this last year. And obviously, we know what's going on. I don't even want to say what's going on. We know what's going on … And we thought to ourselves, okay, well, we have the song about isolation, (we) probably should get that out now, instead of you know, us going through this (then) getting out of the quarantine.
DD: So, it's kind of strange how things lined up because we plan on releasing this later, but It still was the next one to be released. We decided to release it early because no one's gonna want to listen to this in like three months when we all can go outside and be people.
HM: Well, I mean, that's one of the powers of music, though to be able to connect in times like this … And what was it like shooting the video? Because you were with Alex Zarek? Correct?
HM: What was that experience like? I'm familiar with a lot of his work. I have not had a chance to watch your video yet … can you tell me a little bit about that?
DD: That was actually a really fun shoot … all the other previous shoots before this, were grueling because they would be like outside in cold weather. And with Alex; First he's just a fun guy to be around. He was always cracking jokes and being a cool dude. And it was one of those things that just kind of exceeded my expectations because I'm always used to having an idea in my head and thinking it's gonna be awesome. And then when we go to execute it, basically every expectation you ever have about something like every plan never goes as planned … But this is the first time I've envisioned something and it was better than what my expectation was.
HM: That's exciting. Does that excite you guys to have this coming out? Does it ease any of that discomfort that comes along with all of this?
DD: I'd say so. The video's strangely eerier. Honestly, I should let Kevin speak for a while, but the video's ... The main reason beyond this, like we decided to put this out because in the video, we're actually playing to an empty crowd and the only thing that's in the crowd are standees of people. But like ... you know those bathroom signs where you see like the little, the little shape of a man or a woman?
DD: It's those except, like, people-sized. And that was just the strangest thing. But that lined up with what's going on because basically every concert in existence is shut down and it just seems like if you want to play that's kind of the only option you got.
HM: How is all of this impacting your tours and your performances and your expectations? We can leave the thing unnamed, but how is that changing your dynamics and your plans in the band this spring?
DD: Do you want me to speak real quick on this, Kevin?
KC: Yeah, go ahead.
DD: It doesn't affect the current now too much because there's kind of a lapse in performances because I just had my tonsils out two weeks ago. So it's just been recovered ... I haven't been able to talk too well the past couple of weeks. And I'm just now getting back into singing. So this whole thing hasn't affected that too much. I'm just hoping this can wrap up shortly just so we can, you know, get moving. But there were no set in stone plans of performing other shows. We're still just going to focus in the meantime — since that's happening — on creating more music and trying to get it out there, and seeing how we could promote it online. Before we do shows, but … Kevin?
KC: Yeah, I do think having a really strong online base is like essential. I'm coming from a band that had just played shows all the time and I really tried to push that … but at some point you kind of get a little tired of playing to like 15 people. And like, then you realize, like, I'm putting all my effort into playing shows. And that's great. And a great time and it's a really great way to meet people and like, spread music, but really, the internet is such a huge, vast community that that's such an opportunity and (a) great thing that we're alive right now, and in this era. There's such a great opportunity to do things yourself and get things out yourself and get people to like them just by you putting them on the internet and letting everyone see it. So, we're really trying to get a larger online, fan base and like, really consistent streams and stuff. Before we really dive into touring and playing shows all the time. But it is definitely a motivator to build something and build a live show that is as big and as representative of the music we have as it can be.
HM: You make an interesting point about how the music industry is changing and how while live shows are still critical, that is not how you get your name out there the most anymore. The live shows are for the fans who already know you for the most part at this point.
KC: Yeah, exactly.
DD: Yeah. And that's, that's part of the reason why there's such a hesitation to perform. It's mainly just because of how the songs you know, the songs (have) been doing in terms of streaming — the online fan base — because there's a lot of people that wholeheartedly support what we're doing and that that adds a tremendous amount (of pressure).
And it's a good type of pressure, not bad pressure, but it's a tremendous amount of pressure on making sure that when you do poke your head out and say, 'Okay, here's our show, here's what we do.' That is it, you know, is something that can knock their socks off, which is the most easier said than done thing you can do and we just want to be cautious that we make sure that when we do poke our heads out to perform that we're ready for that. And it's funny Kevin and I are complete polar total opposites. He's more of a fan of the online fan bases, and I'm more of a person who just wants to go out and perform. It's like Kevin's also got like that fatigue from it too just because he's done it so much. For me, that's that's what I'm most looking forward to and that's the main reason I do this is because I just want to perform in front of people.
HM: Have you ever performed in front of people?
DD: Yes. And it went very badly. I did it while I was extremely sick. It was it. It was one of the most laughable, funny situations I've ever been in my life. I'm glad that I did it though, because I've learned a lot of things.
I've performed more than the ones it's just, I like talking about this. My friend Ben ... does basement shows all the time. And he asked me like, hey, do you want to play this gasement show? And I'm like, 'Alright, cool. That seems like a pretty low key way to like, get a little experience in front of people.' And I've had pretty chronic issues with strep throat since I was a kid, which led to me getting my tonsils out recently. And I had it incredibly bad that week and I was debating like, you know what, maybe I should just tell them you know, I can't make it to this. But then the day of for some reason, my voice felt completely cleared. I'm like, 'Huh, that's very peculiar that I feel right right now,' and I decided I'm just gonna give it a whirl anyway. I get there. Basement show thing, I think it's gonna be a couple people. This house is just completely packed.
then as soon as we go to start — this wasn't with Kevin, this was with me, and a live drummer that wasn't involved in the band. The second we start my piano dies completely. We tried three different power cords. Nothing works. Panel won't turn on. So That's out of the question. My microphone was wireless. And since there were so many people in the basement with their cell phones, I lost that. In ear monitors — 30 seconds into the song — also died out because of cell phones, which kind of left me singing deaf and then adding on being sick. I lost my voice halfway through the first song. I don't mean scratchy voice, like how my throat is now, I mean, like, completely dead. Nothing!
HM: Turned into an extended drum solo.
DD: I'm dead in the water. Yeah! With no voice, technology screwing up, the song froze on the laptop with the instrumentals that we had and I'm just literally dying. The second song comes around. There's someone upstairs messing with the circuit. Lights go out completely. The sound goes out completely, we've got to reset … I get three songs into this and I'm just like, 'Wow this is the worst thing I've ever done in my life.'
DD: But I essentially learned everything you can and can't do, everything you have to take account for and that's burned into my mind every single day I wake up so I'm just never letting that happen again.
DD: That was way too long of a story. I'm so sorry.
HM: No, that was a funny story. It genuinely made me laugh! That was fantastic. I just have a few more questions for you guys … What do you want people to know about The Ghost Club as your new single and your new video are coming out?
KC: I think a big thing is — we talked a lot about our online fan base and how we can live up to like expectations and all this stuff, and like all of our influences — but really at the end of the day, we're just trying to be ourselves and create something that is going to resonate with people. And we want people to like us, (who) a lot of the time feel uncomfortable in the world... (not to) feel alone in the world. We just want to make stuff that makes people feel like they're part of something like that they're accepted.
Hannah McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org