We Were Born As Ghosts
Writing a story, painting a picture
By Simon McCormack
While traveling to make their new album at Black Lodge Recording Studios in Eudora, Kan., the members of We Were Born As Ghosts carried a large plastic “E” with them for inspiration. “It reminded us to be epic,” singer/guitarist JD Harding says. “It became our muse during the entire recording process.”
Brightly, Brightly and With Beauty is the Albuquerque quartet’s 32-minute portrait of ethereal emotion. Recorded by Charlie Vela of the McAllen, Texas, group The December Drive, dynamic pushes and pulls guide the meandering journey each of the album’s half-dozen offerings embark upon. “When we write a song, we want it to express a complete idea,” Harding says. “It’s like writing a story or painting a picture.”
Vela made sure the band’s sound did not become cluttered with superficial details, opting instead to emphasize the songs’ broader themes. “We're a pretty technical band, but we like our music to still be tangible,” Harding says. “Charlie leaves enough breathing room so that the technicality doesn’t overcome the simplicity of a good melody.”
Harding seems to brush away minutia whenever possible. When asked about how his band can maintain day jobs while engaging in fairly expansive tours (one of which lasted more than a month), Harding chuckles. “Sometimes you can’t,” he says. “You just have to keep the vision of what you think needs to be done, and recognize that you may have to find another job when you get back.”
“When we write a song, we want it to express a complete idea,” Harding says. “It’s like writing a story or painting a picture.”
So are there grandiose plans for world supremacy? Not exactly. “We want to travel and have a few people like what we're doing,” Harding says. “We don’t want to be the only ones enjoying it, and you can’t change that if you’re sitting still.”
Since forming in 2006, We Were Born As Ghosts has maintained an eagerness to soak up knowledge from more seasoned acts. A primary source of wisdom for the group has been fellow local prog-rockers The Coma Recovery. “They’ve taught us the importance of doing things for yourself,” Harding says. If you wanna go on tour, nobody’s gonna book shows for you, no one is going to ask you to play shows; you have to do it all. We can’t afford to sit around and wait for something to happen.”
As the only original member of his band, Harding knows that life on the road isn’t for everyone. Bandmates have had to be replaced because touring regularly was too daunting a task. He doesn’t blame anyone for leaving, but Harding is intent on keeping his band in the forefront of all future plans. “Sometimes we might be playing to the bartender or the sound guy, but the experience of being able to do that somewhere new every night is worthwhile,” Harding asserts. “We're still creating something new, and creation feels good.”
Though the group has brought music to a great many places during its brief two-year existence, Harding likens his band to a shadow hovering over the Albuquerque music scene (much as its name suggests it might). Typically playing out one or two times a month, the group isn’t a household name, and that’s partially by design. “We focus so much on writing our songs, and there’s such a lengthy process involved in doing so,” Harding says. “But when it’s time to perform, we make sure to give the audience exactly what we want. The emotions are true, so we don’t have to get up on stage and lie.”
Hear songs from Brightly, Brightly and With Beauty on We Were Born As Ghosts’ MySpace page: myspace.com/wewerebornasghosts.
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Jim Almand • blues, singer-