Cyber Sounds: Duo’s music transcends its long-distance relationship

There’s a circus in town. Not the sort with elephants and balloons, but rather a progressive rock band called Ghost Circus. Most likely you’ve been missing out though, because these guys haven’t once played live since joining up in 2003.

The reason for this being that the band consists of only two members—who live on two totally different sides of the globe. Chris Brown resides in Murfreesboro while Ronald Wahle resides in Blijham, Netherlands, so it’s a little hard for them to get together and perform.

Brown met Wahle the same way he met his wife—on the Internet.

“We met on a message board of a fellow named Neal Morris, who was the lead singer for a prog band called Spock’s Beard,” says Brown, who does vocals, guitar and bass for Ghost Circus. “Ron and I were big fans of his . . . and he had a forum for musicians to post their own stuff. We started talking a bit, and [Ron] had put a track up, an instrumental piece he was working on. I downloaded it and really liked what I was hearing.”

While Brown worked on some of Wahle’s music he thought of “little bits and pieces, like lyrics . . . that [he] could put in to really add to the piece.” Wahle liked what Brown was doing and the band took off from there.

“After about three months going back and forth with each other’s tracks and him putting things to mine and me putting things to his,” Brown said. “That’s really how Ghost Circus got started. We decided to take it seriously.”

In 2003, Brown had just finished two solo acoustic albums, When the World Ceases to be Beautiful and Random Access Generator, and was tired of doing the acoustic thing, and Wahle had recently quit a band he was playing drums for, so they got together to work on an album. Brown, though an experienced musician, hadn’t sung since high school choir and had to relearn vocals. He also admits that having never written lyrics for a whole album before this project.

However, in only two and a half years after they initially met via Internet, Brown and Wahle completed the album and shopped it to various labels. Within three months they were signed to Progrock Records in Anaheim, Calif. putting out the CD, Cycles, for the world to hear.

Pretty impressive for a band that met up just once during the end of the album process, doing the majority of the work by sending each other MP3s and continually adding on their parts to each song.

Obviously they like the challenge, because they are currently working on a second album, going through this transatlantic musical exchange once more.

The music being exchanged this time holds some sociopolitical ideas along with the same rock style with soft, aerial undertones of the Cycles album, but with even more intensity and attitude.

“This album is going a little different direction, incorporating a more acoustic aspect as far as playing, but also bringing heavy metal to it,” Brown said. “The album is a concept album about ghosts, not from the perspective of a scary, haunted house type of thing, but the next phase of life or the afterlife. I’ve always been into that sort of thing”

Yet Ghost Circus was not among the first choice of names for the band. They started out as Element 115, a member of the periodic table, said to be the next step to anti-gravity. They later found that there were already bands with this title, so instead of mass confusion or annoying lawsuits, they decided a name change would be best.

So, will the duo ever perform a show?

“I would love to see this stuff go on tour,” Brown said. “I mean, that’s what you do it for, that’s the whole point. It’s nice to make an album . . . but playing live, and the spontaneity that comes with it, is great.”

Until the point the two go out on the road, you can catch Ghost Circus on the Internet or music store shelves.

For more info on the band and where to get a copy of Cycles, visit ghostcircus.com.



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