Holy Ghost! Makes Room for Us
Published February 3, 2011
HOLY GHOST!’S NICK MILLHISER (LEFT) AND ALEX FRANKEL. PHOTO COURTESY OF RUVAN WIJESOORIYA
New York City’s favorite electronic duo, Holy Ghost!, played to an intimate but sold-out crowd last night at The Mercury Lounge on the Lower East Side. No opening act, just Holy Ghost! and their hybrid pop/new wave/disco/electronic sound. The audience was feeling sanctified, and infectious beats worked the room over. The dance floor was nothing but a sea of bobbing heads, fist pumps, and camera flashes. Especially when everybody’s favorite jam, “Hold On,” and the band’s new single “Do It Again” came on. After that one, people kept shouting the song’s title.Holy Ghost! kicks off their tour this March, and though they’ve performed everywhere and remixed everybody, their self-titled debut album (out on DFA) drops April 5. The evening’s performance was the warm-up before the work out really gets going in a few weeks. We grabbed a few post-show minutes with Holy Ghost! in the gritty-fabulous basement of The Mercury Lounge. We talked to the band about Vegas, if they’re some kind of religious fanatics, groupies, Darren Aronofsky, and where to get brunch in New York if you’re hung over.
MADISON MOORE: So you guys were just in Vegas. Were you just hanging out?
ALEX FRANKEL: We were doing a DJ run.
NICK MILLHISER: A mini-residency.
MOORE: Oh yeah? Where was that?
FRANKEL: It was in a casino called the Cosmopolitan [of Las Vegas].MOORE: That’s cool. How long were you there?
FRANKEL: Four days.
MILLHISER: Four days.
MOORE: Did you guys do anything gnarly?
FRANKEL: We are the most boring people. [laughs]
FRANKEL: We didn’t leave our hotel room.
MILLHISER: I had one morning where I couldn’t sleep, maybe because of jet lag. And I woke up at like 7:30-8:00 in the morning and just walked around Vegas. But did nothing—no strip clubs, nothing.
MILLHISER: We didn’t even gamble! [laughs] We’re pretty tame. But we’re coming off a pretty brutal couple of weeks.
MOORE: What were you doing?
MILLHISER: We set up this show as a warm-up, to give us a date to work towards that was before we really start touring—so we wouldn’t be tempted to leave it to the last minute.
MOORE: Where are you guys off to after this?
FRANKEL: Basically home, until we go out on the road for serious.
MOORE: When’s that?
FRANKEL: That is basically March. We go to Europe to play with Cut Copy there and we have a few other shows. Then we come back to the US to do a full North American tour with Cut Copy.
MOORE: Oh, that’s cool. So, are you guys super religious?
MILLHISER: I mean, with a name like Holy Ghost! No, neither of us are religious at all. It’s the name of one of our favorite songs by a group called The Bar-Kays. I was actually reading the lyrics to the song [“Holy Ghost!,” 1979], and I thought Holy Ghost! looked cool as a name.
MOORE: It does look cool. Have you guys ever played any ridiculous live shows? Are there any crazy Holy Ghost! groupies?
FRANKEL: There are a lot of dudes who are like, “Bro! On the third song, like when Alex finally stops singing, I heard that fucking third oscillator. It sounds awesome!” But no, not really. We’re very boring.
MILLHISER: There might be groupies. We just kinda like, this is what we do.
FRANKEL: I passed them off to Eric [the keyboardist]. There were some girls and I was very embarrassed and very awkward and I passed them off to Eric.
MILLHISER: Yeah. Our keyboard player and guitar player do very well. We do very well alone in our hotel rooms.
FRANKEL: Boring. Boring shit. We smoke a lot of cigarettes, if that makes us cool. But like not like “smoking cigarettes at 3 am with a bottle”—more like chronic smokers.
MILLHISER: Watching a Vince Vaughn film on pay-per-view.
MOORE: Speaking of films, did you guys see Black Swan?
FRANKEL: We have very different tastes in movies. I thought Black Swan was riveting. I also saw it with a girl who was very scared by the movie, and that made it all the more—but I really liked the movie. I thought it had a mixture of—
MILLHISER: See, I saw it with a girl who was scared, too. But even she thought it was bullshit.
MOORE: Did you think it was bullshit?
MILLHISER: I thought it was bullshit.
FRANKEL: I think Darren Aronofsky is bullshit.
MILLHISER: I agree with that.
FRANKEL: I hate Requiem for A Dream. It’s one of my least favorite movies. And it’s just trash. It’s catered to the college market—
MILLHISER: Now we’re never gonna get a track for one of his movies.
FRANKEL: Yo, Darren. What’s good?
MOORE: [laughs] So what movies do you like?
FRANKEL: [Jean-Luc] Goddard and [François] Truffaut.
MILLHISER: I feel like I did see something that I liked recently.
FRANKEL: I actually do like Goddard and Truffaut, but we also have seen recently—fuck, there was something I saw. I really liked Black Swan. Oh, I saw that fucking [snaps fingers] mob movie in the… A Prophet! A Prophet. I know I’m like a year and a half late on that, but that was really good.
MOORE: Do you have a particular brunch place that you like if you get hung over?
FRANKEL: Now you’re talking! We love Marlowe and Sons, a diner—we live out in Williamsburg with all the hipsters, and—
MILLHISER: Actually, I kind of hate on brunch, too. I like brunch, but I think the popularity of brunch has meant, I think—
FRANKEL: Like a late lunch.
MILLHISER: Well, I think New York City restaurants neglect a good breakfast. There’s a spot in Williamsburg called Egg that does a killer fucking breakfast.
MOORE: Have you ever been to Five Leaves?
FRANKEL: Actually, it’s crazy, I haven’t! I live right on Lorimer.
MOORE: It’s always packed.
FRANKEL: Yeah, it’s in my no-go zone. Can I just say that I really like Interview?
MOORE: Oh, good!
FRANKEL: And I don’t usually say that.
MILLHISER: It’s true, actually. We both spend a lot of time in airports and we read a lot of magazines.
FRANKEL: We spend a lot of time in airports and there are two magazines I will buy: Vanity Fair and Interview.
MOORE: If you travel a lot, do you ever get butterflies in your stomach when you come back to New York?
FRANKEL: Of course! It’s our favorite, it’s our favorite. Flying into JFK or LaGuardia, preferably LaGuardia, is the greatest feeling in the world. The second greatest feeling is landing and getting in a cab and going home on the BQE.
MILLHISER: Whatever that first turn is when you first see the Manhattan skyline.
FRANKEL: Shortly thereafter, the posters are all graffitied by your friends and then your exit and you’re like, “Fuck it. I’m good.”
HOLY GHOST!’S SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM IS OUT APRIL 5 ON DFA RECORDS; THE BAND WILL CONTINUE TO TOUR THROUGH THE SPRING. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT THEIR MYSPACE.