In 2011, Kiyoshi Matsuyama found himself in a difficult position for anyone in a band on the rise. As a founding member of the London Souls, he had spent the past seven years on an adventure that was nothing short of extraordinary, touring with the likes of The Black Crowes & The Roots, and recording with Ethan Johns at the legendary Abbey Road studios. But as his tastes changed, so did the music he was writing, and Kiyoshi had to move on.
Rocket & The Ghost was born out of a brief but powerful songwriting collaboration with Lily Claire (of Lily & The Parlour Tricks) to help flesh out the songs Kiyoshi had written during his last year with The London Souls. He reached out to Brian Kesley(bass), Stuart Bidwell (drums), Sean Gavigan (guitar), and Alan Markley (keyboards) to hear what would come of this new music, and the chemistry was undeniable.
Calling Rocket & The Ghost a “rock band” would be the easiest way to categorize them, but not necessarily the most accurate. They have all the proper elements: thunderous drums, booming bass, the fuzz and wail of two electric guitars, and it’s clear that the rock n' roll music of the '60s and '70s that so influenced the London Souls had indelibly left a mark, both on Kiyoshi's songwriting and showmanship. But laced with those old influences came some playful new ones: the at once shocking and beautiful use of his vocal range, which can reach Harry Nilsson highs and Johnny Cash lows all in one breath. The arrangements, carefully constructed yet wildly dynamic; the band will whisper in your ear one minute and holler at you from the top of a mountain the next. And then there are the songs themselves, which draw as comfortably from 1920s Americana as they do from millennial pop music without losing their fundamental garage grit. At their heart they are folk songs; they tell stories.
All of this and more is at play on their debut self-titled EP, due out this November. Recorded live to tape at Excello Studios in Brooklyn with producer Wilson Brown at the helm, the five songs are the perfect introduction to what Rocket & The Ghost is all about. Sprawling and electrifying, the EP is as potent a debut as a band could ask for.