The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 10, 2013

Record making

By Tanner Kent

---- — MANKATO -- Pressing vinyl ain't cheap. Especially for a local punk band with families, jobs and more practical ways to spend thousands of dollars.

Still, the Old Towne Ghosts shared a dream.

The members of the hard-driving punk band that has won a loyal following since it emerged in 2007 have always wanted to press a vinyl record. That desire arose, in part, from their shared nostalgia for the antiquated but beloved media format, and partly because of the band's desire to stake some of their musical legacy to accomplishing something that has become a genuine rarity among local bands: releasing a true vinyl record.

Yet, none of them (save drummer Jason Knudson) had ever worked with vinyl.

Now, a full year and a successful Kickstarter campaign later, the band is ready to release a 12-inch EP during a release party on Saturday at the What's Up Lounge. The A-side will have six new original tracks and the B-side will feature an exclusive silkscreen print from Aaron Horkey, a Minnesota-born artist who's gained national recognition for intricately detailed creations that are steeped in the visual nomenclature of alternative art and music.

The packaging and jackets of the record are packed with extras and Knudson said about 200 will be available for sale to the public. Horkey's artwork premiers today on as well as Old Towne Ghost's Facebook page.

"All of us have been in other bands, and the only thing we've released are tapes and CDs," Knudson said. "We wanted to do something extra special, just to say we did it. This is a dream for all of us."

The dream began to take shape last fall when the Old Towne Ghosts took to Kickstarter to attempt a $1,750 fundraising effort. Within weeks, supporters pledged nearly $5,000 on the crowd-sourcing website.

Knudson gives much of the credit to Horkey, whose new prints often sell out within minutes due to the fervent fan base he's cultivated.

"When (Horkey) said he'd help," Knudson said, "we thought that might take us a step further."

Musically, the Ghosts certainly satisfy their end of the artistic bargain.

"The Old Ones Are and Forever Shall Be" announces the band as a more confident and expansive ensemble than the one that recorded "Torch" in September 2011. Taken cumulatively, the six new tracks retain a decidedly punk flavor. Yet, unexpected notes of thrash metal, folk and pop cross the palate.

While "Extinction" and "I Don't Wanna Be Your Dog" represent a straight-ahead, forced rhythm style with classically trained female vocalist Kelly Quinn leading the charge, "Aurora Borealis" matches a gently melodic acoustic intro with a more restrained vocal interpretation from Quinn. On the next track, "Knight Boat" throws out that formula in favor of a shred-heavy metallic charge into the darker arts of rock.

"With this record, we took some chances," Knudson said. "We broadened our songwriting and explore some different genres of music. ... We tried to be a little more anthemic, a little more varied."

All was not rest and relaxation, however, during the lead-up to the release party. Determined not to delay the release any further, band members spent much of the preceding week inserting material and preparing the packaging.

With the project representing a year's worth of planning and effort, Knudson said Saturday is going to feel like a celebration.

"We're looking forward to it," he said.

INFO BOX HED: If You Go BOLD: What Old Towne Ghosts' 12-inch EP release party, with opening bands Crash Cuddle and Beautiful Corpse BOLD: When Music begins at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday. Old Towne Ghosts play around midnight BOLD: Where What's Up Lounge