Close this search box.

Ghostmeat Are Here To Broaden Your Sonic Horizons 

Vancouver’s new psych rock supergroup jams their way into droned-out bliss on the uncannily spiritual odyssey, Witch’s Familiar. 

by Gregory Adams

Photos by Jennifer Latour

A Ghostmeat concert has the potential to take you on a psychedelic trip of epic, distortion-frazzled proportions — that is, if the show is able to get off the ground to begin with. When RANGE catches up with vocalist-guitarist Ben Rogers to talk up the BC-based band’s new Witch’s Familiar EP, he explains good-naturedly that a Vancouver gig the night before was riddled with a few “really good Spinal Tap moments.” Specifically, the sextet’s outsized gear haul maxed out the D.I.Y. venue’s power grid during the night’s introductory jam.

“We do a three-or-four-minute drone before we start this one song, so we’re building up to come in on this thunderous chord. Right when we hit the chord, though, the power goes out,” he explains through a laugh, adding that the act caused a second brown-out just moments later … with the very same song. “Somebody probably should have drawn straws and left the stage, taking a few pedals with them. But no, that wouldn’t happen. We can’t part with our pedals, can we?”

When all goes according to plan, Witch’s Familiar songs like “Prism of the Night” torrent through lavender peels of tape echo and overdrive, sinewave-splitting synth drones, and hypnotically-hammered drum work. It’s a different vibe than Rogers’ previous output as a solo performer, a more folk-centred approach dating back to the early ‘00s. He explains that Ghostmeat materialized as he was writing new music in the wake of his 2019 solo release, Wildfire. When the tunes became jammier in nature, he ended up rebuilding a band for a show on his friend’s farm, this including his brother Luke Rogers on synths. Impressed by the heady experiment, and following a few lineup tweaks, Ghostmeat now finds the Rogers brothers joined by lead guitarist David Rogers (no relation), vocalist-guitarist Tome Jozic, bassist Pete Schmidt, and drummer Aaron Klassen.

While there’s an inherent brotherly bond between Ben and Luke, the former was keenly aware of the deep, decades-long kinship the latter also had with Jozic and David Rogers, the trio having previously worked together in projects including high-wire post-hardcore experimentalists Raking Bombs and globalist beat-scapers Basketball. “I came in almost as an outsider, even though Luke is my brother and they’re all my best friends,” Ben says of the dynamic. “I’m the younger brother. I was always going to shows with them when I was still too young to really be there. So, they really nurtured me in that realm of music.”

Within the collaborative framework of Ghostmeat, Ben not only broadened his sonic horizons but his way of singing. Sometimes he harmonizes seamlessly with the ethereal lilt of co-vocalist Jozic. But on spiritual EP centrepiece “Kisse Manitou Mayo,” a newly ragged, raspy magnetism rattles from his vocal cords, a physical feat that pushed Rogers well past his usual breaking point. “Going through the folk thing and really admiring singers like Dylan — people who aren’t pitch perfect — maybe I refined it a little too much [for the solo records],” he suggests, adding of his wilder cries, “It was time to throw it in the garburator and see what came out.”

Though Ben has made many discoveries through Ghostmeat, he confesses much of that was incidental. While he notes Witch’s Familiar tunes like “Kisse Manitou Mayo” and the groove-quaked “Mourning Song” are loosely connected through their themes of transitioning between “the plane of the living to the plane of the dead,” he asserts that Ghostmeat doesn’t exist as a vehicle for understanding the great unknown. He’s just happy to stomp on his distortion box, hoping to leave some kind of raw, elemental impression — power grids be damned.

“It’s good to leave some things a mystery; I don’t strive to understand every little thing” he says, reiterating, “Even if it’s something I’m creating, I don’t need to understand it through-and-through for it to be valid.”

Ghostmeat perform at the Cobalt (YVR) on April 7 with special guests Magnolia and Nigel Young.