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Arts and Entertainment

Ghosts of the present

  • Author: Zakiya McCummings
  • Updated: October 4
  • Published October 4

Ghostland Observatory is no stranger to Anchorage, having played multiple shows at Bear Tooth Theatrepub over the past decade. But for the first time in eight years, the duo will be playing new material for Alaska audiences.

The band's return marks the first time they'll be playing a set in Anchorage featuring tracks from their new album "See You Later, Simulator," released in June. Singer/guitarist Aaron Kyle Behrens said that the album's sound is reminiscent of the 1990s, and a reflection of the group's maturity.

"We transferred from our 20s to our 30s," Behrens said. "For me, my music is a
reflection of life around me."

Ghostland Observatory plays two nights at Bear Tooth Theatrepub starting Oct. 11. (Courtesy Sneak Attack Media)

Formed in 2004 in Austin, Texas by Behrens and Thomas Ross Turner, the duo's sound has evolved over time with an ever-present current of electro-rock.

Behrens said the pair met after linking up through a classified ad in the Austin Chronicle. They started jamming together, and Behrens took notice of Turner's electronic music work. "I didn't really understand it at first," he said. "As we worked together I was like 'Wow, this guys really got something here.'"

Eventually, Ghostland Observatory was born, with the pair releasing one EP and four full-length albums over the course of five years. Their unique sound, a mix of funk, soul and rock with electronica, appealed to a wide range of fans. Behrens credits their strong fanbase to their live shows, which he said gives new life to the tracks.

"Every night when I'm singing, I'm giving everything I got: I'm sweating, I'm being vulnerable, I'm letting my emotions run out of me," Behrens explained. "I think people need to see that and people need to connect with that."

There's a lot of work that goes into creating the immersive experience Ghostland Observatory provides during their live shows. It's a sound that is built and perfected first in the studio, and a process that Behrens said requires a strict work ethic. Over time, the duo found that they shared the same level of determination in creating music.

"We would stay overtime to work; we'd forgo sleep; we'd forgo partying on the weekend. It'd just be us in a room writing. We saw (something) in each other," Behrens said. "Like, 'Damn, you want it as much as I want it.'"

Still, after the release of 2010's "Codename: Rondo," Turner and Behrens took an extended hiatus. During their eight years apart, Behrens continued to put out music, releasing three albums with his band The Midnight Stroll. But Ghostland continued to play the occasional show together, Behrens said, keeping the spark alive.

"Thank goodness we're back, because there was a point of time where I didn't think we ever would (play together) again. The fact that we got over this hump is amazing."

Although "Simulator" was released in June, Behrens is still itching to return to the studio.

"There's still a mystery within the band in where it's going to go and what's going to happen," he said. "Chasing after that mystery is what it's all about."

GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY will perform at Bear Tooth on Thursday, Oct. 11 and Friday, Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $38.50 and available for purchase at beartooththeatre.net/concerts. Listen to Ghostland Observatory's latest album, "See You Later, Simulator," on Spotify and Apple Music.

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