Acoustic duo Roam Like Ghosts are hitting out with a reflective and emotive mixture of songs with their album To That Place You Call Home. Keeping their pure acoustic sound close to their chests, they have expanded their production. Partially written and mostly recorded during the pandemic, Mathew Daugherty and Bucky Fairfax draw on a range of moments and experiences to create the album. We sat down with Roam Like Ghosts to talk about the album, creating music across state lines, working with guest musicians and much more!
OSR: You met each other through a mutual friend in 1993 but what was the journey to getting to Roam Like Ghosts?
Bucky: A long winding road for sure. It included several bands together, several bands apart, a friendship over the years and staying connected musically and collaborating on several songs over the course of time. What I think is most interesting about this journey is that outside of the bands we played in together, our songwriting since has always been acoustic. I delved into acoustic performances with some of my other bands and really felt the attraction to the pureness, the intimacy and also vulnerability. We have done shows where it is just us two on stage and the silence between notes can be deafening. I think it challenges us in a different way both in performance but also in writing.
OSR: Music has been a part of your lives since youth, but what do you think has had the biggest impact on the type of music you make?
Bucky: For me the simple answer is everything. This might be a safe and easy answer, but it’s actually much more complex. Life inspires art, it’s in our music, in our stories, in our artwork. I think you really see the difference between the influence from our first band when we were in our 20s to the most recent album and what has been experienced over time. I believe both are inspired not only by the music we love but also by everything around us.
Mathew: For the music we are doing currently, age, LOL. Just kidding. I spent my late teens, 20’s and 30’s playing in metal to alternative rock bands, which I love, but I think the stripped-down, low key vibe of writing and playing with acoustic in mind, is that we can take the song in any direction once the ‘initial’ song is written. We can keep it as is or add to it, as we did to the tracks on the new album. We don’t write full-blown rock song and then try to strip it down to play it acoustically, we write an acoustic song that can stand on its own but make it so adding to it, could make it sound even bigger. If that makes sense.
OSR: Your album To That Place You Call Home is a rather reflective collection of songs, is there a backstory or theme to it?
Bucky: There has to be right? You are right, it’s very reflective and has a lot of emotional themes. I think the theme is we are where we come from and that foundation sticks with and shapes us in so many ways, in our relationships, our decisions, etc. Although there is a comfort with the notion of ‘home’, it can also be so far away, geographically or with the passing of time.
OSR: As you live in different states, was the album difficult to create?
Bucky: It wasn’t too bad other than the COVID disruption which I think helped the album out. It bought us more time to work out some songs that we had not originally planned for this release.
Mathew: Not really, the studio is local for Bucky, so he would go lay down all the guitar tracks and then send them to me to hear. Then I would fly down to Raleigh to record all the vocals and for mixing. For tweaks and final mixes, files would be sent back and forth for us to hear. For the new album, violinist Kait Moreno, recorded her tracks in Northern Virginia and bassist Bobby DeRosa had to record some of his bass tracks for the newer songs we added, at home due to COVID shutdowns.
OSR: What was your creative process for the album? Did you send ideas back and forth or did you make use of remote jam sessions?
Bucky: It’s a little bit of both. We share and expand on song ideas online.
Mathew: Bucky will send me pieces of music or full songs, then I will listen, see what hooks me or see if I can combine or re-arrange something into something else. Then I will write lyrics and melodies, record demo vocals/backing vocals/harmonies with the tracks and post them for Bucky to check out, then we will tweak the tracks until we feel they are finished. We then think of what additional musical accompaniment can be added for when we go into the studio.
Bucky: We also get together every now and then and work out the songs further. There have been times where we have completed a song entirely online and the first time we played it live was in rehearsal before a show.
OSR: There are a number of guest musicians featured on the album, how did you connect with them?
Bucky: Bobby DeRosa has been our touring bass player for a while now. He started jamming with us for live shows after the first album and has been a steady presence in the band ever since. Other musicians were part of our personal or musical network. Two we sourced out. I think we got pretty lucky with this mix of musicians, who by the way, haven’t met either of us at the same time or played live with us or each other. It’s kinda weird.
OSR: While all tracks on an album are important, is there one that holds a special place in your heart?
Mathew: Currently, ‘The Great Unknown’ because when I wrote it, it was about one thing and now it feels like it’s adapted into something else. Like with any song, when you hear it and connect with what it’s saying, it seems to fit your life at the time. We’ve both lost people in the last year and it makes you wonder what’s out there. The song just isn’t about escapism, it’s about exploring what comes after we are done here.
Bucky: I’m going to go with ‘Close Your Eyes’. As the final track and the track with the album title in the lyrics, I think it is a great close to the album with multiple interpretative imagery and meaning, a message of hope and a sense of solace.
OSR: There are a few genres blended into the album. Was this a conscious decision or something that happened organically?
Bucky: Although we don’t intentionally set out to blend genres, we strive to have a good mix of styles and approaches to the mix of songs. I think the various genres you hear on this album are a good reflection of where we are and where we have come from musically as well as staying true to the foundation with subtle blending. Roam Like Ghosts will never be too bluesy, too swampy, too folksy, but you will hear them all.
Mathew: Even though we set out for this to be an acoustic project, we didn’t decide on what style or genre we’d stick to. The blending of genres happens organically, which I think makes us, in a way, unique. One track could fit in one genre and the next in another, or one track could fit in many different genres at once.
OSR: If your music could help people in one way, what would you like it to do and why?
Mathew: To inspire and to give them hope, show them that nothing is as bad as it seems and that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Clique, I know, but it’s true.
Bucky: Great question. I would like for our music to have a contemplative, almost meditative role to help folks to relax and reflect on what’s going on in their lives, what’s important, and to remain hopeful.
OSR: What else can we expect from you in the next 12 months?
Mathew: Promoting the new album, …to that place you call home, writing new music, and getting some performances lined up.
Bucky: We are hoping to start playing shows again as soon as things open up. I’d also like to do some video work on this album and perhaps some live streaming. We’re beginning to write again so who knows where the next batch of songs will take us, it’s already pretty interesting and somewhat different.