Jukebox the Ghost
Jukebox the Ghost is a Washington, D.C. power-pop power-trio consisting of Ben Thornewill, Tommy Siegel, and Jesse Kristin. The trio formed in college in 2006.
We caught their show at the House of Blues VooDoo Room in downtown San Diego this past month to drink some wine and ask Ben & Jesse some questions!
Photo courtesy of Servin Lainez
Interview with Ben Thornewill & Jesse Kristin
Q: Did you have a moment in your upbringing that lit the spark to start playing music?
Ben: One of my earliest memories is my father playing classical guitar in the house. Even at a young age it filled me with intense emotion and feeling and really for as long as I can remember I wanted music to be part of my life.
Q: What was the hardest thing about getting started playing? How did you get past it?
Ben: Funny story… when I started taking piano lessons my mom had me sign a contract. I had just turned seven. The contract said “I promise to take piano until I graduate from high school”…. it really wasn’t as intense as all that but I think it did impress upon me the significance of the undertaking. My mom was hoping that it would work its way into my subconscious and I’d be less likely to quit when teenage distractions appeared. It seems to have worked….
Q: Of all the places music has taken you, what were some of your favorites (cities, venues, etc)?
Ben: New York is always magical… from the first time we played there to our shows now, it always has this unique crazy energy. But we’ve also been lucky enough to play big festivals around the US and up in the mountains in Switzerland… Joshua Tree … even a handful of cruise ship shows on international waters!
Q: At REVOLT we’re all about pushing against the norm, traditions, and negativity. What are some ways you push back against those things with your music?
Jesse: We have always been a naturally upbeat, bright and positive-sounding band. We are OK with being a “happy” rock band. The best Beatles songs were probably the optimistic ones. Maybe this is a stretch, but it does sometimes feel like simply spreading a happy message is some kind of revolutionary act. But aside from melodies and “genre”, we are proud to see a growing legion of young LGBTQ+ fans at our shows and we hope that a Jukebox the Ghost show is the type of event where anyone, no matter your background or life’s story can have a joyous experience or find safety through music. As a grassroots indie band that relies almost entirely on word-of-mouth rather than say radio-play or press, we try to remain as accessible/approachable as we’d be nothing without our fans showing up and having fun.
Q: What are your favorite and least favorite things about tour? Do you have any fun rituals or practices that help you with the bad parts?
Jesse: It should come as no surprise that our favorite thing about touring is performing. “Seeing the country” is a solid enough answer, but usually there isn’t a whole lot of time to discover much, so it’s definitely being onstage that makes everything worth it. Unfortunately the performance accounts for 90 minutes max. nd a typical drive will be five to eight hours followed by three hours of load-in, building the stage, and soundcheck. Soundcheck and getting sick are the worst parts. Anything to get outside is a great antidote to being stuck in a crowded van. Ben likes to kick around a soccer ball or work out, Tommy will find a short hike or swim, and I enjoy studying trees and inhaling a beer at a local dive.
Q: What’s the first thing you want to do when you get back?
Jesse: Cook an over-the-top meal, sink into the couch and binge Love Is Blind Season Three.
Q: Do you have any advice for musicians just getting started with an instrument or forming a band?
Jesse: Focus on what inspires you. If you play what you love, you’ll love playing. Don’t worry about how you “should” sound or how you will be received, and instead follow your taste, your distinct journey. Steal bits from songs you enjoy and make an original quilt.