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How Jimmy Kyle embraced vulnerability to become Chasing Ghosts

It’s strange to think that 15 years ago, Parkway Drive, I Killed The Prom Queen and Carpathian were slowly setting the standard for what would soon be popular metalcore in Australia.

Jimmy Kyle was in the thick of it all – touring next to those titans of yore while performing in Sulo and Bellevue. Kyle’s current endeavours reel him in from the screams of metalcore and into a more delicate format with Chasing Ghosts, aimed at connecting with his audience through storytelling rather than the moshpit. It’s been a long journey, but time he’s spent in the industry has definitely helped shape a man both bold and introspective.
 
“When I started the solo project, there was no one to tour with,” says Kyle. “I remember asking a promoter to headline this club in NSW and he told me I couldn’t headline because I was acoustic. I said to him ‘Well watch me.’ He asked what I was putting on – metal bands, rock bands, hardcore bands – and he couldn’t accept I was going as an acoustic header. I said back to him, ‘You know if I play there, I know everyone. I’ve got enough mates, I’ll pack that joint. You know it. Give me a chance.’ They did and that’s exactly what happened. The venue was packed out. It was a huge night.
 
“The promoter wasn’t really conscious of the Chuck Ragans and the Dallas Greens who cut that territory earlier. He was scared of it, but the punters well and truly appreciated it. They were stoked to see someone up there and doing that.”
 
Although Kyle had figured out how to pack a venue, reflection on his writing process in the early days seemed a little hazier. There was a vision of where he wanted to take his music with his first album, Confessions From A Phone Booth, yet sculpting it would prove interesting.
 
“I wrote the first album with the intention that I wanted people to put it on when they are feeling down and driving – I wanted it to conjure up nostalgia and memories,” says Kyle. “I wanted something emotive, but I didn’t know what it was going to sound like. I still try not to put any rules on myself – I feel that my writing has similarities no matter what I do. I grew up listening to Nick Cave and Johnny Cash – there’s certain things that I do. I don’t put on a thick American accent, I use my own voice, I tend to write in certain similar patterns and similar ways and talk about similar things while telling a lot of stories.”
 
Kyle followed up his debut with 2016’s I Am Jimmy Kyle. The name itself is quintessential to the nature of Kyle’s music – both an invitation to get to know him better and a wish to get to know you better. Adding an interpersonal element to his music is where Kyle gets his real enjoyment.
 
“The whole premise behind this record was me getting the name I Am Jimmy Kyle – it’s about me introducing myself to the audience and I’m hoping they can respond to that and tell me who they are,” he says. “This record, I was pumped on the album and getting to work with so many great artists and getting out on the road and touring, plus things lined up afterwards like touring in Europe and Asia. My vision on this record was trying to connect with people, tell stories with people and the weird part is, it ends up in the same sense – you have people cry with it and people laugh with it. It’s pretty rowdy and lots of fun. I hope that people who are checking out the new vibe come out and have a show with the lads.
 
“Maybe with a band, there’s some sort of front,” he says. “There’s an act. But when you’re one person, it’s very authentic, you can’t fake much. If you fuck up on stage, you can’t hide behind anything. There’s a vulnerability to it and people got around it. It took me a while to realise it but even if you do stuff up, it’s just part of the act – you’ve got to laugh it off and the people laugh it off with you.”
 
By Thomas Brand

Chasing Ghosts will play Workers Club on Friday February 17.