Thrash Hits verdict: We first met This Year’s Ghost’s guitarist and lead songwriter, Paul McKenzie, in the pub. He had just tattoo’d a quite frankly obscene gesture onto one of our friends – his Day Job being a tattooist, that sort of thing comes with the trade – and he mentioned that he happened to be in a band. We dutifully went and checked them out, and yes sir, we were impressed. This Year’s Ghost have a fierce grunge heart, tempered with the progressive mindset of a young Biffy Clyro – making them one of 2014’s most interesting prospects. The band has just released their new Winter Earth EP, so we figured now was as good a time as ever to make McKenzie answer to our Future Hits interrogation.
Describe your sound in 3 words.
This, year’s and ghost.
How did you meet?
When I moved to London I spent around 2 years jamming with and trying out a bunch different bassists and drummers until finally Joe [Kusionowicz, bass & backing vocals] then Bruno [Lopreiato, drums] answered a desperate-sounding advert I’d put up.
What made you want to start a band?
I’ve played in bands since I was 15 years old. It’s all I’ve ever truly aspired to do since I was about 11 years old, listening to bands like Nirvana, Tool, Soundgarden…
Where did the name come from?
The name comes from a theme that emerged from a group of songs I wrote two years ago after losing a few close friends. That theme is definitely still present in the music at the minute – not in a morbid way at all, just a way of looking at it from different angles.
Where did you grow up? How do you think it’s affected your music?
I grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland. The rock music scene there at the time was really insular so there wasn’t a lot of music getting out there on the radio or anywhere from all the great bands in the scene but the flipside to that was there was no pressure to play anything other than what felt right at the time. It definitely shaped me as a song writer.
What are your non-musical influences?
This is actually a really relevant question for me. I keep books of scribbles and thoughts that eventually turn into lyrics but its not just music I refer to when I need inspiration. I read a lot of poetry (albeit not so much the classical end of the spectrum).
So far, what has been the best thing about being in a band?
I’ve yet to experience anything that comes close to the feeling of losing yourself in the moment on stage. It can be a really cleansing experience. If the show goes well its impossible not to be elated afterwards. If the show goes well mind!
With which band would your dream support slot/tour be?
Even after all these years Deftones are still at the top of there game so it would have to be them. We aren’t as heavy by a long shot as those guys but I reckon we can drink as much as them.
What bands do you consider as part of your scene or as your peers?
I wonder this a lot myself. We sit in the middle of genres a lot when we are put on bills. When we play with metal bands we are too light in parts for some of their crowd and when we play with more indie alternative bands everyone’s praying for us to turn down. I saw Arcane Roots live recently and they blew me away; they pull off this level of dynamics perfectly. I’ve also been obsessed with the Young Legionnaire album Crisis Works since it came out. So…. them?!
What marks you out as different to other bands around at the moment?
I never try to write music or words to sound like anything or anyone else. I’ve always just played what felt right so even if there is another band kicking about that sounds a bit like us or vice versa (and if there is I’d love to hear them and add them to the “who are your peers” question). It’s still such a unique thing for me.
What would you say to someone who said “When we’ve already got Biffy Clyro and Arcane Roots, why do we need you?”
I think we’ve still got heavier riffs than these two bands so that’s something! Even sharing a lot of musical influences with these guys (and from them too), we are all growing in different directions which keeps us writing in a style that fits us. We are still very much developing in sound month to month.
What’s been the best show you’ve played?
Best gig for This Year’s Ghost I think would have been our Christmas show just passed there in the O2 Islington. The band before us really got the crowd mental and I wore my kilt to celebrate (it being Christmas and all) which luckily didn’t result in me being on a register for exposing myself by the end of our set.
What have you got planned for the future?
Well this year already we are touring in March all over the UK and building up to unveiling some excellent summer shows before recording the final cut of our debut album. Hard work and good times basically.
What other band should everyone find out about?
I’ve been listening to the london tech metal band Exist Immortal a fair bit lately. They write a cracking chorus.
Tell us a joke.
There’s two cows in a field, how do you tell which one’s on holiday?
The one with the week aff.
Winter Earth, the new EP from This Year’s Ghost is out now. You should go buy a copy of it right now. As mentioned above, the band will be touring the UK in March, so you can catch them live – and by hell you really should – in just a few weeks’ time.