A Haunting Local Talent That is Taking Our Region by Storm
by Josh Williams
photos by Amanda Shelley Ledbetter
They tell you to go to a 150-year-old Victorian style home perched on a hill overlooking historic Prospect Avenue, filled with all the chilly, creepy vibes that one would expect to find there. The floors creak and the doors slam shut by themselves, and one’s breath is visible during increasingly choppy exhalation patterns that result from entering the foyer of the spacious manor. A wry smile and pseudo-sinister laugh from your liaison greets you at the base of the stairwell. They tell you that you are in luck today. You have a rare meeting with a band called Ghost Bones at this domicile fit for demon spirits, and you start to second-guess yourself. On top of all that, your skin is chapped and burning from the freezing wind outside and your teeth are chattering like one of those spring-loaded hopping mouths with feet.
Then, all of a sudden, as you reach the apex of that grandiose staircase in the middle of the imposing, seemingly apparition-filled mansion, you see the face of an angel with flowing, brunette locks. Next to her is a handsome gentleman with a short, well-kept beard and an undercut-fade-emo hairstyle. The threat of impending doom is vanquished. They are both sitting behind their computers, not the Necronomicon that was expected, and they both, almost simultaneously, release one of the more pleasant “hellos” one will ever hear. Maybe this wasn’t going to be as scary as one would imagine.
Ghost Bones, a self-labeled “post punk” rock outfit from Hot Springs, played their very first show on September 27, 2014 at Maxine’s Live, but have grown up rather quickly. They have already claimed the title of Arkansas Times Musician Showcase Band of the Year Award for 2015. They have played gigs all across the country (Stickyz Rock n’ Roll Chicken Shack, the Rev Room and Riverfest in Little Rock; The Nod Hole in Salt Lake City; 51 West in Tempe, Arizona are just a few). They just returned home from a trip to London. Currently, they are in the studio working on their first full-length album, then were the featured band at the after party for the ninth annual Arkansas Shorts film festival, where the world premier of their music video for “Nape of My Neck” was first shown to the public. Whew. It’s been quite a year for the ever-elusive, increasingly coveted, perpetually touring ensemble. The quartet consists of vocalist Ashley Hill, lead guitarist Bobby Missile, bassist Ryan Jolly and drummer Adam Walton.
Bobby has the most experience in the music industry of the group working on the road for the last fifteen years, and settled recently in Hot Springs after visiting and experiencing the region as a child. The Alabama native who grew up in Texas has found himself a home in the Ouachita Mountains. “I choose to live here because I like to live kind of slow. We all do, honestly,” Bobby stated matter-of-factly. “We relish in our reclusiveness. I really am awestruck by the natural beauty here, the lakes and trails are some of the best I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen plenty. This place just feels like home.” Sounds crazy for a guy who’s done nothing but live on the road for the last decade and a half. But that’s what Ghost Bones are all about; mystery, suspense, the element of surprise. They wouldn’t even reveal their ages.
“We love coming home after being on the road,” Ashley, a Hot Springs native, said. “This is a small, beautiful place with great music and a great art community in general. The town is very supportive, which is good, because I kind of got suckered in to doing this whole singing thing.” Bobby snickered from across the room after Ashley admitted to being roped-in by the rest of the band. Ashley continued, “Growing up I always loved to sing. It came natural to me. I always loved the aspect of live performance. One day they approached me and basically said ‘we really need a singer.’ My thought was always ‘you have to be different and exceptional when you perform’ and Bobby and the guys had the same mindset as me – so it was a natural fit.”
What Ghost Bones lacks in experience, they make up for with rigorous work ethic and obsessive-compulsive attention to detail. “Many bands are good, but they aren’t good performers,” Bobby said. “We rehearse almost every single night into the wee hours. We are lucky to have an atmosphere conducive to that. We know we have to have a prime product every time we go out there, or we’re doing an injustice to ourselves and our fans if we don’t. Take Hot Water Hills [music festival], for instance, we had to compete with a lot of stuff going on. We had to command attention. We played a 30-minute set, but it was crazy. We left it all out there, and the crowd showed their appreciation.”
Again, it seems insane when private people shine the most in front of many. Numerous artists, of all mediums, can attest that their performance is the only voice they have. This band in its infancy is showing great maturity, and the world should be able to expect great things in the coming years. Just like their namesake, they snuck up on this guy…don’t let them sneak up on you too.
“This is just what we really want to do,” Bobby said. “And this place is great because our style of music is not very common here. You can’t classify us. We have the ability to shine, and we have an opportunity to do something great for Hot Springs and the rest of the music world.”
Be on the lookout for Ghost Bones’ first studio album sometime in 2016. Tour dates to be announced very soon as well.
To learn more about Ghost Bones, follow their live show schedule or be the first to know recent news and updates, visit www.hearghostbones.bandcamp.com or find them on Facebook.