interview by Robert Lanham
Exits have been around for a while but their lack of gimmicks
have kept them fairly under the radar. Recently, their exciting
live shows at Pianos and throughout Brooklyn have been creating
a buzz. This "casio punk" duo have a refreshingly
unique style and sound that is completely their own. They
pull off the low-fi New Wave thing better than anyone else
and never sound pretentious or nerdy. Ghost Exits aren't
danceable enough for Larry Tee (thankfully), but their music
does have a funky kick. I talked to them recently via email.
They live closeby, but hey, who wants to leave the house
when we are on orange alert? Check them out, they are becoming
a staple of the New York indie scene. Ghost Exits are Christopher
Exit and Ivan Sunshine.
Has your music ever gotten you laid?
Ivan: Well, we are kinda
of waiting for the right people. Ghost Exits is celebate.
Where are you from?
Chris: I moved to NY a few years ago from North
Carolina where I was studing
film and creative writing with this cat Alain Robbe-Grillet,
who was part of
this literature movement in France in the 60s. I was also
playing music in a
sort of no-wave rip off group called The Flowers of Evil.
I had a
romanticized vision of an underground film scene that I
was hoping to find,
probably somewhere in the Lower East Side; but once I got
here, I quickly
realized that anything like that was long gone. I started
again and looking for people to play with. My first show
was at a second
floor gallery in the meat packing district. I played some
folk songs. That
night was with the Cranium, Neon France, and Actress.
Ivan: I guess it was
in 2000 that I moved to NYC to study photography at The
School Of Visual Arts. Previously, I had been studying Social
Work and fine art at Temple University. It was a real life
changing experience. The dorms at that school are in one
of the worst neighborhoods in the country, and studying
social work kind of threw us into the thick of it. I lived
on the 9th floor and could see at least 5 miles into the
"bad lands." It looked like the land corporate
America forgot, and it wasn't out of the ordinary to see
people get shot and killed. For me, this was really startling.
On the weekends to escape this and the vapid music scene
I took journeys to New Brunswick (where I grew up) to work
on a music project called YAKUB. We played spastic electronic
music with rock instruments. We did a tour of the east coast
and played with German folk here and there like Ec8or on
Digital Hardcore Records. That was years ago though and
all the members of that group have gone on to some serious
nonmusical careers. Some of them you have read as writers
and some you have heard on records as producers.
What would you say to someone who said, you guys are
a great electroclash band?
Chris: I have absolutely no respect for any of those groups,
so naturally I
would say Ghost Exits has nothing even remotely to do with
that. The problem is
mostly with lazy journalists who assume anything with a
synth has gotta be
talked about in that context.
Ivan: I'm just surprised Malcolm McCaleren hasn't moved
to Williamsburg yet.
You used to be a free jazz trio? What happened?
Chris: The first time Ghost Exits played was at the James
Fuentes Gallery on
Broome St. I wouldn't call it jazz really, but we were using
a saxophone and
a trumpet, as well as electronics and drums. We just get
bored easily, so we
try to switch up as much as possible.
In your current incarnation, who plays what?
Chris: Ghost Exits is
me and Ivan; we both write rhymes and beats.
Ivan: Live I have been
playing bass guitar and sometimes saxophone.
Any plans to release a full length?
Chris: We have a couple more singles coming out before we
drop a full length,
towards the end of the year.
Ivan: Also in a few weeks we have a 12 Inch EP with four
songs coming out on the mighty fine Social Registry record
Every band in NY these days gets compared to Joy Division,
New Order, Gang of Four, or Suicide. Who would you say you
sound like, if anyone?
Chris: We like some of that stuff as well as other stuff...
Pere Ubu, BDP,
Antonie Artaud, Bounty Killer, Abby Hoffman, Jean Genet,
The Last Poets...I
was down in Jamaica recently and I met these cats in Kingston
Iboidiki that are really hot.
Ivan: The Pop Group, The Mafia, and I have been really
into The RZA as of late. We don't really sound like any
of them though.
Do you get fucked up before you play shows or go into the
Chris: We regularly perform on PCP. We get a hard time in
the press for that; they call us lurid and ah, self destructive.
Ivan: This smoking ban is really going to be a drag.
Is there anyone in the public eye you want to say "you
Chris: Right now the
scene is pretty boring. Ghost Exits are probably the
only group around making any kind of serious music. It's
all about money
everywhere you go. Listen to any record today, it's all
just mindless drivel. Even a lot of Hip-Hop is getting this
way. But at least these people are making some kind of discernible
communication. Maybe I'm just wasting words, I guess most
people would rather remain asleep. So yeah, I'd like to
say "you suck" to everyone. Hollah.
Ivan: It's money that
is really fucking things up. All these bands are so concerned
with record deals and getting their record in the NYU dorms
that they are forgetting that music can be a viable art
form to express ideas.
Chris: No one has anything
to say, or even a decibel of emotion. Maybe some of this
will change soon.
Ivan: Well it has to
change, really. The city is broke and the people are getting
antsy for entertainment again. It seemed to me like the
only people that go to shows of these groups are people
who work in the music industry anyway. I think it was in
Rolling Spin -- there was an article about some Bowery Ballroom
show featuring interviews with concertgoers. The article
showed the people's pictures with captions beneath singing
the band's praises, as if it were taken from their press
kit. As it turns out, 3 out of the 4 people interviewed
actually did work in the music industry. Its kind
of fucked up that all these bands are complete fabrications.
And what is the fascination with English music? We live
in New York, why pretend we live in London. Even the softest
NY bands from the past could beat up Interpol. Even Blondie.
So basically every one is going to have to sharpen up and
better music will soon follow.
Is there anyone in the public eye doing everything right?
Chris: I like Marilyn Manson and Donald Rumsfeld. Any kind
children's story type of villain. They play their parts
very well. But it's all a joke isn't it? Is there really
a war right now? Or is it just something in between the
commercials? I can't tell. I guess that's the way they want
it. That's why they hire such good actors!
Ivan: Tammy Faye, and Snoop Dog are really great in the
Do you guys
ever hang out, or do you see too much of each other at practice
Chris: We're on again off again lovers, but we see other
Pick one: Liquor, food, sleep, weed, TV, coke, or sex.
What's your biggest pop vice (i.e. Joe Millionaire,
US magazine, etc)?
Ivan: Ali G?
Chris: Violent Crime.
Where can peeps see you play?
Ivan: Every Wednesday
we play records at the BQE lounge. We've had a weekly party
there for the last 9 months. It's kind of surprising to
see it last so long. The party's called Intervention. In
the past, we've had Jim Thirwell, Bob Bert from Sonic Youth,
Doug M from Version City records, Nathan Corbin from the
legendary Avant God and now Stiff Disco at Pianos, Justine
D from the motherfucker camp, and we have Ari Up and James
Chance booked for the coming months. Live we have had all
sorts of characters.
Ghost Exits plays there sometimes too.
Catch the band on Monday April 7 at Sin-e