by Jeremie Fincher
[From left to right: Andy Tholberg, James Glaves, Greg Geddes, H.Troy Anniskett, *Sonny Ogle (*not pictured); Photo by Brian Adams]
Hands are the embodiment of organic Alaskan rock music. These
warm-hearted, mostly-remote Alaskan gentleman are a prime example of
the way music can work in Alaska. Like a few other ANO Band Blog
subjects, as well as many bands in Alaska, Ghost Hands are comprised
of members from other well-known Alaskan bands and projects; (some
defunct, some still in existence.)
It was a brisk -5 degree ride to Mr. Geddes' place, where Ghost Hands held a scheduled practice. I stepped into the smoky blue kitchen where Ghost Hands and friends(including Sheila the jarred fetal pig) were gathered. The radio was on, tuned to our beloved 94.7 The End, as Ghost Hands were interviewed for the Homegrown show, and it was about to air. I couldn't tell that, at first. In fact, all I could hear was a hideous electric buzzing squeal. Something went wrong with the audio file that contained the interview, and is fortunately scheduled to air again (tonight), Sunday January 22nd at 7PM.
This mishap caused quite a laugh amongst the group and served as a sort of centerpiece, or recurring theme in the humor of the evening, other than Mr. Glaves getting stuck in the bathroom thrice in the time I was there.. One member joked that it was probably a good thing, because in the recorded interview, they came off as "egotistical maniacs." I could almost tell for sure that he was joking, and when I was done with the interview, I was sure of it, as they are one of the coolest groups of musicians in Anchorage.
Hands is H. Troy Annisket (guitar, vocals), James Glaves (lead
guitar/vocals), Andy Tholberg (bass guitar), Greg Geddes (drums), and
Sonny Ogle (guitar, vocals). James, Andy, and Sonny hail from
Kasilof, Alaska, where Ghost Hands was born.
James, Andy, and Sonny were all original members of The Wagner Logic, and when that project fizzled out, James and Sonny continued writing songs together. When Troy's Anchorage band Shy Bones went on hiatus in 2011, Troy headed to Kasilof to record some of his solo music with buddy James Glaves in his home studio. The ball started rolling, and they decided to join forces.
Andy also continued writing music after The Wagner Logic, and developed his own recording project, Dabarko, in which Ogle participated, too. Andy is originally a guitar player, and sings quite well, too. He names his musical influences as Ween, Deftones, and The Beatles. When I first met Andy he told me he was guitar player, first and foremost, and I joked with him. "I guess that makes four guitar players in Ghost Hands, doesn't it?" Andy was a good sport, because Tholberg is no slouch on the bass guitar.
Check out this Dabarko tune:
The Glaves-Ogle-Anniskett trio decided they wanted a powerhouse wall-of-sound with three guitars, and asked Andy to play bass. He says he used to be mortified playing bass live with The Wagner Logic, "When the bass goofs up, everyone hears it. I got used to playing bass live pretty quickly, and I've been recording bass for years. I'd say I can jam on bass better than I can on guitar." He aptly completes the bottom end of the wall-of-sound that is Ghost Hands.
Glaves is quite a versatile musician, capable and chameleonic on many instruments, including his voice. He often fills in with local bands who are missing members, including Turquoise Boy, The Smile Ease, and most recently, the Meg Mackey Band. James is also involved heavily in the technical side of music, specifically recording and sound engineering. This is how the group scored Greg Geddes. Glaves was co-producing and engineering an album in Tritone Studios, owned by Paul Jacks of the Smile Ease, and met Greg. James also does Sound Design for Apex Live Sound Reinforcement and other venues around town.
H. Troy Anniskett is the frontman for local Anchorage pop rock band Shy Bones. Troy's grunge-pop songwriting style is heavily influenced by late 80s and early 90s bands like Nirvana and The Pixies. He is the composer/songwriter in Shy Bones, and also contributes largely to Ghost Hands' set. Troy's unique and deep voice is a surprise the first time you see him live. Both bands benefit greatly from his natural, homegrown talent.
Greg Geddes is originally from California. He moved up in 1998, graduated from Chugiak High School, attends classes at UAA, and does Environmental Consultation. Greg has been playing drums for 12 years, and got his start playing with Daniel Rink in The Rock Eating Robots, a two-piece Anchorage band. His biggest drumming influences are Tony Williams and Jose Pasillas from Incubus. Rage Against The Machine was also named as an early influence. James Glaves would like it to go on record that Geddes is an avid Yo-Yo enthusiast. Greg adds he was in the Yo-Yo Club in high school.
[Geddes shows off his Yo-Yo skills with Ghost Hands. Photo by Brian Adams]
Ogle was not present during my interview with Ghost Hands. "Like
every one of us, he wanted to 'gee-tee-eff' out of Alaska for the
Winter, and none of us can blame him for that." Glaves says (with
the slightest hint of sarcasm that makes you wonder if he's
kidding, until the flash in his eyes when Tholberg cracks up
laughing), "He went down to Portland to do some skateboarding or
something..." Andy cackles. "Sonny has skateboarded for
years...he flows like a shoot of bamboo in the Northern Asian wind." Ghost Hands erupts in laughter. "Sonny is the perfect example of an
adult who refuses to give up his childhood dreams. He does what he
wants, and it's awesome." Needless to say, Sonny is still in Ghost
Hands, and his boys miss him.
[Ogle on his skateboard. Photo by Adam Segura]
Sonny loves filmmaking and photography. "I wanted to be in a more photographic urban environment, and skateboarding, for me, is good for the soul." I identify a lot with his impulse of leaving this gorgeous state for the Winter season. "I'm being a snowbird." Ogle explains. I can feel a lot of Alaska's raw, cold, but very real influence in the music of Ghost Hands.
The Ghost Hands catalogue, at least the earlier block, has been written in a unique way. It started with Troy's solo work they recorded in Kasilof, and chunks of some Glaves/Ogle work. Andy also writes, and their unique process is collaborative and isolationist at the same time, and it fits the personality of the band and the nature of how they started and where they come from. The music is very real and heartfelt, but their style is etheric and almost intangible...ghostly, if you will.
Glaves will write an entire song, including bass tracks and drums, when holed up in Kasilof, because he can't wait three or four weeks to jam with the guys. The other writers in the group do the same thing. None get offended if there's a part already written for them, and this isn't to say the parts have stayed that way. When the boys write in this style, they write the parts with the skills and intentions of their band members in mind, and also as a challenge. While naturally each have their own unique ear and playing style, they listen to each other meticulously, and their collaboration is a flavor of it's own.
One of Ghost Hands' first shows in Anchorage was an opportunity handed to them by fellow band Turquoise Boy, who were asked to open for Minus The Bear but could not play due to schedule obligations. The members of Turquoise Boy immediately recommended their friends in Ghost Hands, and the show was a success. I happened to catch this show, and I was impressed. "That show was the first time I realized how good this band is. We didn't have a whole lot of rehearsal time," Glaves says. The guys say they're a "weekend practice," type of band, but it does not show. They have been extremely tight-knit, musically, since the first time I caught them, live.
[Ghost Hands; Photo by Brian Adams]
Ghost Hands will be releasing an EP in commemoration with being chosen as the January Homegrown Artist of the Month for 94.7 KZND. The Release Party, as always, will be held at The World Famous Chilkoot Charlie's on February 3rd. The warm-up acts are The Young Fangs, from Fairbanks, and Gamma Radio. There will be a $3 cover, and the music starts at 8PM. They are pleased with their DIY recording roots, and plan on releasing a full length album in the Fall of 2012.
The music of Ghost Hands speaks for itself. Be sure to catch the EP Release Party on February 3rd, look for that full length release in the Fall, and keep your eyes (and ears) out for this stellar group of guys and their delicious palette of musical sounds.
Anchorage Night Out would like to thank Brian Adams and Joel Adams Photography for their work with Ghost Hands!
Jeremie plays bass guitar in Anchorage rock band Robots Helping Clones and is an Assistant Editor at Anchorage Night Out. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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