Rising from the depths of lockdown, Ghost Bumps might be Melbourne’s strangest band

Rising from the depths of lockdown, Ghost Bumps might be Melbourne’s strangest band

Image by Julia Burke (@_juliaburke_)
Words by Lexi Herbert

Introducing Melbourne band, Ghost Bumps.

What do you get when you combine three childcare music entertainers, two lockdowns and one Melbourne sharehouse? Well, if you’re lucky, you come out of it all with a new band. Ghost Bumps is the newly-formed derivative of the Melbourne pop-funk foursome Purr Usual who have already dropped their debut LP.

All Manner of Manors is inexplicable in the best possible way. The Ghost Bumps crew – Gabe Strachan, Tim Palstra and Max Karklins – used the erratic rollercoaster of life in Victoria as a blueprint for their unpredictable mad-mouse ride of a record. Spanning funk, electronica, pop and what the boys have coined ‘Sitcom Rock’, the combination of influences is socially topical while keeping in tune with the members’ signature Melbourne sound.

However, most of the tunes on All Manner of Manors break away from the already-unique Melbourne indie mould; it’s obvious that the temporal freedom of lockdown flowed directly into the band’s collective mindset. The lack of external pressure – to perform, to record, to promote every week – resulted in a goldmine of experimental ideas.

For example, ‘Retro Reality’ has an excerpt from a Marshall McLuhan interview – a Canadian philosopher who predicted that the internet would become somewhat of a ‘global village’, as Palstra describes.

While the emotional toll of living in Melbourne over the past few months has been immense, artists have had the opportunity to invest more time in their work. For Ghost Bumps, lockdown has enabled them the ability to fully explore their new garage studio set-up.

“It was kind of convenient. Heading into the first lockdown, we’d just finished setting up the [studio] so it was all there ready to go,” Palstra says.

“We all put in a lot of hours and played vital roles in producing this album, so the fact that we’ve been able to take turns staying up late and fiddling with stuff without any concerns for having to do things the next day… it’s pretty special, I think.”

Perhaps the best part of All Manner of Manors is the ability to finitely connect the conception of each song with the members’ individual imaginations.

As was expected following Purr Usual’s explosion onto the Melbourne scene in 2019, Strachan’s vocal stylings are consistent, interesting and perfectly matched to each song. Namely, bored-thespian­­-meets-Kraftwerk is the taste of the day on the mid-LP track, ‘Spacesuit’.

‘Dish Pig’, ‘Little Man’ and ‘Bintang Bali’ all originated from Palstra singing in the kitchen with his head in the sink. Karklins explored more ruminative lyrics and melodies on this album, which resulted in tracks like ‘The Lobster’ – a track about love, friendships, and the ensuing choices to be made. He also teamed up with Palstra to write some of the more mainstream tunes, such as the last track ‘Potatoes and Onions’, which tugs at the heartstrings with its Angie McMahon, ‘If You Call’-esque recording.

Though it sometimes feels like it, this lockdown won’t last forever. So what’s next for the Ghost Bumps boo-crew? Will this be a short-lived piece of lockdown memorabilia or will these tunes continue to go bump in the night once our beloved venues open back up?

“I mean, who’s to say at the moment,” Palstra laughs.

He’s right: the goals keep moving and it’s hard to keep an eye on anything beyond a few weeks in the future. As tough as it is, the Ghost Bumps team are keeping their good humour about them.

“I think we’d love to play these live. We’ll have to shift the arrangements around a bit, but yeah… maybe we can do a lockdown-themed concert and everyone will have to wear uggs.”

Sounds amazing, boys, we’ll catch you in the ‘Dish Pig’ circle pit.

All Manner of Manors is out now. For more on Ghost Bumps, check out their Facebook and Instagram pages.

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