The Dirty Ghosts recently played in Austin at Fun Fun Fun Fest, as part of their tour behind their debut CD "Metal Moon". Dirty Ghosts is a San Francisco-based trio that was formed by lead singer Allyson Baker who has been a guitarist in both Toronto and San Francisco’s hardcore scene for years. So after 11 years in San Francisco—and five spent bringing Dirty Ghosts to life—Allyson now has everything she's always envisioned: a hot record and a fully functioning band that's already got a west coast tour and South by Southwest appearances under its belt. But as much as Dirty Ghosts is a testament to Allyson's drive, more often than not, she feels like she’s the one being driven.
“Music takes complete control over me, and then just when I think the feeling’s gone, it comes back. It's a total love/hate thing: I love it because making music makes me feel so happy, but it kind of does the opposite, in that it takes over to the point where I can't make any rational decisions about anything else in my life. But I have this weird passion for music—there's nothing else I really want to do."
Allyson recently answered 10 questions for me.
Who are your songwriting influences?
The Police, Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding from XTC, Joe Jackson, Stevie Wonder.
When and where was your first public performance?
1995 in a punk space in Toronto called Classic Studios with my first band The Shuttlecocks. I was terrified.
What was the first record or cd you purchased with your own money?
I was pretty young, my mom gave my brother and I each $10 and we could each pick a record. I went straight to the "P" section and grabbed "Platinum Blonde- Standing In the Dark". They were the Duran Duran of Canada (where I grew up).
What was the first live concert you attended?
Thompson Twins and Berlin at Canada's Wonderland.
Which venue would you most like to play that you haven't yet/ and which is your favorite venue to play?
Playing the Fillmore in San Francisco is where I'd love to play most, mainly because of its history.
Favorite venues: Empty Bottle in Chicago, The Independent in San Francisco and Broken City in Calgary
What is the best career advice you've been given, and by whom?
Jason Carmer, who mixed and co-produce our first album said to start writing your next record as soon as you finish your first. Don't tour for a year or two and come home and have to start from scratch because years will go by. He also told me it might not be a bad idea to write lyrics people can understand.
Who are you listening to now?
Right now a lot of Translator, Polyrock, The Sleepers (from SF), The Units and after years of struggling with The Residents something in my brain finally clicked and I can't get enough of them.
What is your best story about life on the road?
3 weeks in to our last tour we had a night off in New Orleans which in our mind would be spent having a real touristy "New Orleans" experience. Somehow we wound up spending the entire night in a weird college bar called "Honey's" off the highway in Gretna, LA. We partied hard with the locals (mainly between 21-23) riding the bull, fighting in the full size wrestling ring in the bar, doing neon colored test tube shots with jocks, pounding free crawfish etc...
It was a great band bonding night.
We've been keeping a pretty hilarious account of all of our shenanigans on tour (dirtyghosts.wordpress.com)
What recordings are available to the public and where can they be purchased?
Our first album Metal Moon is out on Last Gang.
And our new 7" for Katana Rock is out on Classic Bar Music.
Both can be purchased at www.dirtyghosts.com
When and where are you playing next?
Check our website, www.dirtyghosts.com for our upcoming shows.