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Viva Phx Q & A: Sweet Ghosts

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Americana band Sweet Ghosts will release its debut album, Certain Truths, in April. The Tucson duo, comprised of Ryan Alfred and Katherine Byrnes, will perform at FilmBar at 7 P.M. on March 7 for Viva Phx.

Read The Spec‘s interview with Alfred…

Very first concert you attended and a memory from it.
The first concert I can remember was an orchestral performance by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Meyerhoff Hall. It was a field trip when I was in elementary school and just scratching out my first terrible notes on a violin. I don’t remember the music at all, but I remember thinking how humungous and solemn the concert felt, and the red sea of chairs. I was probably six or seven.

If you could have any musician (dead or alive) as a mentor, who would it be?
Probably the double bassist Edgar Meyer. His command of composition and performance is astounding, and his voice on the instrument is so unique…I imagine he would have very inspiring advice and commentary as a teacher.

Very first concert you played and a memory from it.
Well, I played lots of orchestral stuff in school, but the first thing I think of is my hardcore band in high school’s first show on the back patio of a pool hall in suburban Maryland. I had a mohawk and knee-high Doc Martins, got tons of looks from the regular ol’ dudes just there to unwind on a weekend, and for the life of me couldn’t understand why most people there seemed annoyed that we were playing so loud on the back patio. I still love hardcore music, but there’s definitely a time and place for it, and that was not it.

Artist you would most like to collaborate with or have produce your music?
I would love to do a Sweet Ghosts record with Joe Henry producing. The last few records he made with Meshell Ndegeocello are some of my favorite sounding records ever…they just sound totally real, but not in a sterile, overproduced kind of way.

How do you spend a typical day when you’re not touring or busy recording?
Riding my bike, reading books, practicing my arco and napping. Most of my days are spent touring or recording, either for this band or for hire, so if I’m not doing one of those, I’m doing my best to recharge.

One artist or album you could never get tired of listening to?
Pantera‘s Far Beyond Driven. Seriously…it’s got so many musical ideas, presented in such an interesting and intense package. It was probably my first “favorite album” in middle school, and I can still get musical satisfaction from it (and obviously quite a bit of nostalgia as well, haha).

Earliest music-related memory you have?
Driving north on 95, there are patches where you can see the Baltimore skyline a few miles off in the distance. When I was around three or four, I remember sitting in the back seat of my dad’s RX-7 while Madonna‘s “Material Girl” was on the radio, and thinking to myself, is THAT the material world over there ?

Interesting fact about your newest release.
It’s coming out on April 19, and we’re going on our first national tour to celebrate it.

Xperience you will never forget.
2000 people in Athens, Ga., roaring in Greek whatever their version of “Happy Birthday” is on my birthday two years ago, on stage at The Fuzz Club with Calexico on the last show of a very long tour, drunk on Ouzo and utter exhaustion. There were balloons and a cake (I think), and we played a very loud, fast cover of “For Your Love” by the Yardbirds immediately after.

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