Ghost Dance - Open Your Arms
Ghost Dance - Gary Marx Interview with Open Your Arms - 17.05.03 - Part One
Part One

Gary Marx Q: You will have seen how fondly Ghost Dance are remembered from the comments in the guest book. Looking back, what are your thoughts on the band now?
A: It's difficult to rationalise now about what was a fantastic time for me and about a group of people (band, crew, followers, management) who I have great affection for. The harsh reality is that the recorded legacy doesn't really reflect all that. It has a habit of drawing attention to the fundamental weakness of the band, which was essentially one of direction. Live is where we made most sense - the energy blurred the details, but even the video bootlegs fail to capture the essence of the band. I pretty much have to rely on my memory rather than listen back to the tracks.

Q: What inspired you to form Ghost Dance?

A: There wasn't a great deal of pre-planning involved in forming the band. I knew Anne Marie from the Skeletal Family supporting us on tour - the pair of us left our bands at the same time, she contacted me and I thought, great, that will stop some of the Sisters comparisons if I work with a female singer.

Q: Why the name Ghost Dance?

A: We each wrote out a list of potential names and had a make-shift poll which might have included her boy-friend of the time. Ghost Dance won despite the fact it was nobody's first choice. It was probably on my list - I knew it as the title of a Patti Smith song. I think my first choice was, 'A Girl Called Johnny'.

Q: Were any early Ghost Dance songs written for the Sisters?
A: The songwriting process at the end of my Sisters' time was very fragmented. Usually Wayne or I would write a backing track and Andrew would try and write some words to it if he liked the idea. Because he could take months to generate lyrics, we often ended up putting our own words to the tunes we'd started (even though we knew that Andy probably wouldn't sing them). I think 'Garden Of Delight' and a couple of other early Mission songs were written for the Sisters and versions of 'Yesterday Again', 'Cruel Light' and 'Holding On' had all been written while I was still in the Sisters. Recordings exist of Wayne singing the first two of those. 'Deeper Blue' has bits of lyric I'd originally sketched out for the Sisters' tune which became 'Nine While Nine'.

Q: Have you followed the Sisters and what do you think of what they are doing now?

A: I've been aware of the various incarnations of the band - I loved most of 'Floodland' and still think it's the most fully realised Sisters' album. I met Andrew around 1995 after close to ten years apart. We discussed working together again and I wrote an album's worth of songs for him - they still sit in the vault. I've seen them live with the post Vision Thing line-up and believe me it gives me no satisfaction to say they were God-awful.

Q: What was your favorite Ghost Dance song/recording?
A: Tough one - there's something about the album version of 'Spin The Wheel' which I think stands up well. I like the recording of 'When I Call' and wish we'd tried the Chrysalis stuff with producer David Batchelor. As songs, 'Heaven And Beyond', 'Last Train' (anything that starts with D minor). There are some unreleased recordings - mid-period things like 'Born To Be Your Slave' and later songs like 'Rock It' and 'When The Four Winds Blow' which I think trounce on the Chrysalis stuff.

Q: What was your favorite Ghost Dance gig?

A: Too many great nights to single one out really. In terms of memorability, the floor caving in at UULU with the Wonderstuff, playing the Green-Belt Festival the day after Reading with a dislocated shoulder, Bristol on the final UK tour (with the Hollow Men joining us onstage for the encore of 'Rock It' complete with Elvis wigs). Like a lot of bands overseas trips always brought a certain excitement. The two Paris shows - waiting to see how many of the following would make the trip then taking over the Locomotiv ranks high in my personal top ten.

Q: What was your favorite Ghost Dance guitar part?
A: The simple figure I play on 'Nothing Without You'. Find it totally hypnotic to play and to listen to.

Q: What made you switch from Pandora to John Grant?

A: I can't for the life of me remember but John proved to be a diamond.

Q: What do you consider to be the bands greatest achievement?

A: It would have to be how much we achieved under our own steam prior to signing with a major. The scale of the some of the shows and tours we staged without major label backing is something I still feel good about.

Q: Did you feel adding a second guitarist diluted your distinctive style?
A: We used two guitars pretty much from the start (Steve Smith was on most of the early gigs), but Richard Steel's introduction definitely changed the sound and led to our more trad rock tendencies coming to the fore. It wasn't Richard's fault - I encouraged him. It led to me becoming lazy as a player and a writer. I'd get to halfway through writing a song and think, just give Steely a solo then go out on the chorus.

Q: What are you favourite memories of the period?

A: Just the 'extended family' feel of it really. Coming hard on the heels of my experience with the Sisters it was important to actually enjoy being on the road or in the studio with people rather than be engaged in endless mind-games and petty rivalries.

Forward to Interview - Part Two