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Ghost Knife photographed by Alison Narro

Ghost Knife



Music

 



Hometown: Austin, TX (USA)

About:

Even the hardiest rock 'n' roll frontmen would probably find leading the Riverboat Gamblers to be a full-time job and then some. Mike "Tekko Buller" Wiebe has been the singer for the Austin-based punk band since 1997, slowly but surely building a nationwide following through tireless road work, logging multiple Warped tours, releasing five albums, and even landing a track on the most recent Rock Band game. Nevertheless, despite having a full plate between the Riverboat Gamblers and his other band, High Tension Wires, Wiebe still felt compelled to show yet another side of his musical personality by forming Ghost Knife.

It all started when Wiebe had some downtime and started thinking about exploring a different sound by tossing some ideas around with bassist Ben White and drummer Chris Pfeffer, the former rhythm section for seminal San Francisco punk heroes J Church. The spontaneous way things came together was part of Wiebe's plan for the project. "The Gamblers tour all the time and book our shows way in advance," he explains, "And High Tension Wires all live in Denton and have kids and grown-up jobs on top of other bands. I missed getting a call to play a house show a day before and being able to jump on it. I missed playing a show on a Tuesday night because a friend's band was coming through. I like having a mobile group that isn't as tied down by finance or location."

But even though Ghost Knife is indeed an in-the-moment kind of outfit, their music is anything but underdeveloped. In fact, the band's songs are among the most carefully crafted Wiebe has ever worked on. "Ghost Knife is the first band I have played guitar in that isn't just banging power chords as fast as I can," he says. "I write stuff on guitar for the Gamblers, but once it's given to those guys they take it to a new level. For Ghost Knife I really had to take my chops up a notch. It helped me see some limitations in my playing and forced me to pull in new ideas and learn new things."

So how does Ghost Knife differ from the work Wiebe has done in the past? "Ghost Knife I think of as more laid-back and more sparse," he assesses. "The Gamblers are more of a punk band, whereas Ghost Knife is more my version of an indie-rock band. I think of it as trying to fill the space in a different way entirely." Accordingly, the musical inspirations for Ghost Knife come from a different rock 'n' roll universe than those the Riverboat Gamblers have drawn on. Wiebe cut his teeth on the sounds of punk pioneers like the Ramones and The Misfits, but with Ghost Knife, he says, "I wanted to push away from that with sonically different stuff, like the Raveonettes and the Ventures, and more laid-back stuff like the Pixies. I think the band lets me try stuff that's a bit more off the wall."

And now Ghost Knife is getting set to capture that "off the wall" approach on their debut album. Kill Shelter, Yes! was co-produced by Wiebe's High Tension Wires bandmate Mark Ryan, who also plays with The Mind Spiders and The Marked Men (Does anyone in Wiebe's axis ever rest?). Wiebe and Ryan have been friends since high school, and they have a special musical bond to this day. "Mark is my favorite guy to work with," says Wiebe, "I feel like the recording has his flavor on it." Kill Shelter, Yes! was an all-analog production, capturing the urgent, visceral quality of the band's sound while providing plenty of aural space to catch the subtleties of the rocking but richly textured tunes.

Of course, being the multi-faceted musician that he is, Wiebe still doesn't want to forsake his other projects, so the challenge is finding a way to fit Ghost Knife in with his other commitments. The same goes for White and Pfeffer, who play with other bands as well. "It's tough," Wiebe admits, "I just try and give it the most attention that I can between Gamblers and Wires and other gigs. It's a delicate balancing act and sometimes the scales tip too far." Still, the arrival of Kill Shelter, Yes! ought to go a long way towards tilting the scales back in Ghost Knife's direction.

Related Bands

High Tension Wires, J Church, Riverboat Gamblers

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