Second Stage: Little-Known Bands You Should Hear

Second Stage: Ghastly Menace, 'Stay All Day'

Ghastly Menace i i
Erin Lowder
Ghastly Menace
Erin Lowder

Being popular isn't normally a bad thing, but for a band, "going pop" is often equated with selling out — especially if you're Chris Geik and Andrew Schroeder, two guys who were previously playing post-hardcore music out in Chicago. But the idea of creating music that everyone could like was more exciting to the duo than anonymity.

Geik and Schroeder met in high school, bonding over their love of the band At The Drive-In and Midwest indie groups such as American Football and Braid.

Chris Geik was inspired by the pattern of this curtain fabric he bought two years ago. As he started laying things together, he realized he'd found the cover art for Pitcairn.

Chris Geik was inspired by the pattern of this curtain fabric he bought two years ago. As he started laying things together, he realized he'd found the cover art for Pitcairn. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the artist

"It was the kind of thing that definitely appealed to a small group of people," Schroeder said via email. "And, for a while, that was part of why we loved it."

For Ghastly Menace's EP, Pitcairn, the duo wanted to write with more instruments. Weird ones, broken ones, anything they could get their hands on. The duo listened to a lot of Paul Simon and Elliott Smith, two musicians whose songs often sound innocent but hide a darker meaning. It's a dichotomy the band was especially interested in. But it was Paul McCartney's 1971 solo album, Ram, that had the biggest effect.

"We draw on that album a lot when we feel like we're getting too serious about songwriting," Schroeder says.

The two spent a lot of time building their songs in the studio. With eight vocal tracks, "Stay All Day" has more layers than any other song on the EP. Schroeder said they probably overdubbed the glockenspiel part 15 times. Handclaps and tambourines set you up for a shimmying beat designed to have you shouting along to the pleading chorus. No one likes growing up, just as the song points out, but somehow singing along makes it all a bit easier.

Download Pitcairn for free at Ghastly Menace's Bandcamp page.

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