The Ghost of Paul Revere is an American folk trio known for their hauntingly beautiful harmonies, poetic lyrics, and commanding stage presence. These three gentlemen from Portland, Maine play what they describe as “holler folk”, music heavily influenced by the communal tradition of field hollers and filled with call-and-response melodies and catchy hooks. The group made their television debut on ‘Conan’ earlier this year, performing the single “Montreal” off of their latest album, ‘Monarch’ and will perform on the same bill as David Byrne and Jack White among others at Shaky Knees after their performance at Pour House in Charleston this Thursday. Factor in these milestones along with the fact these rowdy fellas will be starting their own music festival this year and it would be hard to argue 2018 is the breakout year of The Ghost of Paul Revere. Max Davis, banjo player, vocalist, songwriter, and overall renaissance man took a few moments of his time to answer some questions about the past, present, and future of the band.
1. First off, thank y’all for your time. Let’s get down to business, how did you three fellas end up finding each other and making music together?
Thanks so much for having us! Sean, Griffin and myself met somewhere around the age of two in our hometowns of Buxton and Hollis, Maine. We were childhood buddies that ended up being buddies all the way till now, twenty-eight years later. We didn’t seriously start making music till about seven years ago, but we played a bit in high school (mostly to catch the attention of girls) and realized that our voices worked incredibly well together.
2. One of the first things that grabbed my attention was the unique name of the band. What’s the backstory behind the band being named The Ghost of Paul Revere?
Well, it stems directly from a dream that Griffin had in college. He woke up with the phrase “ghost of paul revere” in his head. At the time, he was playing as solo acoustic songwriter and utilized the phrase as Griffin Sherry and the Ghost of Paul Revere. It seems like it was a way to flesh out his name as a solo act, and when Sean and I started joining him for a monthly gig, we decided to hold on to it.
3. Y’all have a refreshingly unique sound and twist on the Americana/Bluegrass genre. How would y’all describe your music to someone who hasn’t had the privilege of hearing it.
Our sound revolves around the three-part harmony that we naturally fell into early on – something about knowing each other for so long really let us lock into phrasing and vocal dynamics. Beyond that we gravitated toward instruments that would allow us to play anywhere. The sound influence is all over the board, from folk to metal to R&B to anywhere our ears perked up, and because of that its hard to pinpoint our sound. We ended up calling it holler folk. The music is focused songwriting and harmony, so we let that dictate the sonic dynamic with what we are working with, mainly acoustic guitar, bass and banjo.
4. Who are some musicians or bands, past or present, that inspire and influence y’all?
Woowee, the list is long and ever growing, but I’d say the biggest influences are The Band, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, CSN, CSN&Y, Wilco, Townes Van Zandt, Neil Young and Led Zeppelin. We also love bands like Shovels and Rope, Radiohead, David Rawlings, Gillian Welch, Willie Watson, My Morning Jacket, Dr. Dog, and Talking Heads but that’s all just that’s off the top of what’s floating around in the van most frequently.
5. The latest album, ‘Monarch’, has a really nice flow to it. What went into the writing and recording process for this album?
The writing process and overall development of Monarch was exactly that – A process and a development. It started as a collection of rough sketches and ideas that we took to Great North Sound Society in Parsonsfield, Maine. The idea was to hide away, finalize and realize the album in an isolated recording space with Jon Wyman, who recorded/produced our previous albums at his space, Halo Studios. We ended up having a major hard drive crash halfway through our time there, but we made it out with a few hinge songs that gave us a glimpse creatively and directionally where the album was heading. We took time out of the studio to write new songs and went back to the Halo to finish the record. We hadn’t designed our first full-length album, Believe, for vinyl, so that was a big consideration for Monarch. As music listeners, we love listening to full albums, front to back. We wanted to have a track list that would work best sonically for listening and physical production, and we worked the puzzle till we were excited about it.
6. Tuck Fest is done, Shaky Knees is on the horizon. How did y’all enjoy Tuck Fest and what do you expect from Shaky Knees?
Tuck Fest was amazing! We’ve had friends in other bands rave about Tuck, and it more than exceeded how magical they made it seem. It was such an incredible location, day, and line up. The only real bummer was on us, we didn’t go zip lining or rafting!
We are so stoked for Shaky Knees, talk about an incredible bill to be a part of. To be a name among the likes David Byrne, Jack White, and Fleet Foxes is a huge honor and still so surreal for us. We can’t wait. We’ll also be wrapping up our co-headline tour with Boy Named Banjo as part of the late night shows at The Earl. It seems like the perfect way end our tour- it should be a killer weekend.
7. What does the future hold for The Ghost of Paul Revere?
We’ve got a lot of irons in the fire currently! We’ve been working out new songs when we aren’t on the road preparing for our next album. Some of which will probably take a slot for our next full length, and others that may exist as another Field Notes EP in between. We’ve got a great schedule of shows and festivals lined up for the summer and fall, including the rebirth of our own festival, Ghostland that will take place at Thompson’s Point in Portland, ME on September 1st. We got our heroes, Shovels and Rope to join us, as well as our buddies The Ballroom Thieves, Max Garcia Conover, and Hannah Daman and the Martelle Sisters.