Ghost Animals to open for its dream band (w/mp3)

Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writerMarch 29, 2012 

Ghost Animals is an energetic quintet of Tri-City musicians who took their name from a hit song by the rock band Foxy Shazam.

That honorarium opened the door of opportunity for the band to open for Foxy Shazam in April in Portland.

"We were inspired with their incredible live shows and rock 'n' roll power," said Ghost Animals guitarist Tarik Merzouk. "They were like a dream band to us. Foxy Shazam tours internationally and just finished a tour with British megastars The Darkness.

The Ghost Animals, who perform at Ray's Golden Lion in Richland on March 31, contacted the booking agent for Foxy last year, asking if they could open for the band when they next played in the Northwest.

"We were consistently denied that request," Merzouk said. "We realized that Foxy Shazam is a very high-profile band and that it would be a miracle if a local band like us got the opportunity to open for them."

But the Ghost Animals got lucky, he added, when their music and their name caught the attention of Eric Nalley, the front man for Foxy.

"While working on our debut album, New English, we were fortunate enough to stumble across Eric in Portland before a show they were performing at," Merzouk said. "Star-struck, we gave him our demo tape with hopes he might listen to it and be impressed."

Turned out, Nalley liked what he heard.

"To our surprise, later that day Eric found us and pulled us aside to explain to us how much he liked our demo," Merzouk said.

Nalley intervened with the band's booking agent to arrange for Ghost Animals to open for them at their April 15 concert at the Branx, 320 S.E. Second Ave., Portland. Also performing at that gig will be Silver Dollar Circus, Monobomb and Asteroid M.

The Ghost Animals are all Tri-City boys. Merzouk, 19, graduated from Kamiakin High School and plays guitar and trumpet. Saul Gomez, 18, a Southridge High School grad, is on bass. Chris Kelly, 19, a Kamiakin grad, handles vocals, keyboards and trombone. Guitarist Jordan Wendling, 19, is a Southridge grad. Alex Coleman, 19, is the drummer and a Kamiakin grad.

They write their own songs, and their music is an energetic mix of indie rock with a big, horn-driven feel to it, Merzouk said.

"We try to find our own style, but like Foxy Shazam, it is fairly eclectic, which means we put more emphasis on the horns than most other bands do in our genre.

"We feel the music industry needs a shake-up. There aren't a whole lot of fun bands today. We want to know what happened to them. When a band makes you want to stand up and dance and they have that soulful, radical energy, then they're doing something right. It's cinematic."

Lead singer Kelly couldn't agree more.

"I have been involved in theater my whole life, which makes me feel like we owe it to the audience to put on a show," Kelly said. "If a band's on stage, they should give the audience something to look at."

The Ghost Animals will perform music off New English on March 31 at Ray's in the Uptown Shopping Center in Richland. Showtime is 9 p.m. Cover is $8.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com

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