Interview with Anne-Marie Hurst From Ghost Dance: ‘Rather Than Try To Sound Like Any Specific Genre, We Just Allowed Our Likes & Dislikes To Influence Us’

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Ghost Dance belong to the collective memory of Dark-Wave and Post-Punk music. Set up in 1985 by Gary Marx (ex-Sisters Of Mercy) and singer Anne-Marie Hurst (ex-Skeleteal Family) the British formation started to release a few singles and EP’s which were compiled at the legendary “Gathering Dust”-album (1988). The album “Stop The World” got released in 1989 which also was the year Ghost Dance quit. Thirty four years later Anne-Marie without Gary Marx but with a totally new line-up released a new album of Ghost Dance. Released by Voltage Records “The Silent shout” brings the early spirit of the band alive while exploring other influences like Rock and Ballads. The album stands for a new beginning and as Anne-Marie says ‘a second chance’.

(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)

Q: Did you ever expect to bring Ghost Dance back alive and how did this ‘resurrection’ finally happened?

AM: I always intended to bring Ghost Dance back at some point but it was a case of finding the right time. When I left Skeletal Family in 2018, it seemed like a good opportunity.

Q: I think it’s much more than simply a come-back but also a new beginning with a new line-up. What happened to Gary Marx and how did you get in touch with the new members?

AM: I got in touch with Gary Marx about a reunion, but although he didn’t want to be involved, he gave me his blessing to go ahead. I’d known all the new guys since the early days of Ghost Dance, as they often supported us in their bands Harlequyn and Original Sin and we stayed friends over the years. Tim had done some bits of engineering on the “Day Of All Days”-album, so I phoned him and said ‘I need a guitarist’. It turned out he’d been talking to the other guys about a new band project anyway, so it all fell into place.

Q: I noticed Gary has written two songs featured at “The Silent Shout”. Can you give us more details aboutboth songs?

AM: They were both old songs that Ghost Dance used to do live, but were never recorded, apart from home demos. We asked fans which unreleased songs they’d like to hear recorded and “A Town Called Sympathy” and “After The Rain” were top of the list, plus we thought they would also fit with the new songs we were writing for the album.

Q: How much of the early Ghost Dance do you still recognize in “The Silent Shout”?

AM: The original Ghost Dance evolved fairly quickly anyway, but we did have our own sound, driven by the two guitars, so we wanted to retain that sound. From there it was a case of updating the sound and bringing it out of the 1980s, without losing the feel of Ghost Dance within the songwriting.

Q: What have been the triggers and inspiration for the album? And what have been the different stages you’dto go through to achieve “The Silent Shout”?

AM: Partially it was Covid lockdowns. We had done just one live show before everything was closed down, so we decided to start writing new material. Everyone in the band is a writer, so it was a case of picking the songs that sounded like Ghost Dance. We rejected a lot of ideas along the way, but eventually we felt we were developing something that sounded new, but stayed true to the original Ghost Dance feel. We were writing and recording in the studio at the same time, rather than rehearsing and trying the songs on the road first. We were fortunate that Tim runs Voltage Studios, so we could take our time getting it right. None of us knew what the songs were really going to sound like until the mixes were finished. It was very exciting as most us hadn’t recorded anything new for quite a long time!

Q: I experienced the songs as quite diversified; from Post-Punk influences to explicit Rock music; from harder songs to nearly ballads. It sounds a bit like the album goes with the flow but what are your feelings about it right now?

AM: We’d not written together before, but it happened quite naturally as we all grew up in the same time period, with Punk, Post-Punk and Rock & Indie music. Rather than try to sound like any specific genre, we just allowed our likes & dislikes to influence us. We did have a list of bands it was OK to sound like – and NOT OK to sound like though!

Q: The album has been released in a period of turmoil; written during Covid-19, Brexit and political instabilityin the UK, increasing populism and extremism worldwide, the war in Ukraine, social- and ecological issues… What’s your perception about the current situation and did it have an impact to the lyrical content?

AM: To start with, there was a deliberate avoidance of writing anything about Covid! Also we’ve never been a political band and not interested in developing those ideas in music. It’s an album of emotional expression rather than social comment. There are some really personal thoughts in there lyrically and musically. If anything it’s an escape from the current situation, rather than a comment on it.

Q: You’ve been always a great live performer so what does it mean to go on stage again and playing new songs? And what are the further plans?

AM: It’s been refreshing doing something new, with new people. The gigs have been amazing and fans have embraced the new material as much as the old. Live performances are still my favourite part of being in a band and it’s great doing all that with people you really like. More UK dates are coming up and then we’ll have some shows in Europe. Also we’ll keep writing new material and some other unreleased Ghost Dance-songs may finally get recorded.

Q: Next to Ghost Dance you’ll always be connected to Skeletal Family. Even after the split you worked again with Roger Nowell and Stan Greenwood releasing the album “Day Of All Days” (2011) and even reformed the band a few years ago till you quit. How important has been Skeletal Family in your career and are you still in touch today?

AM: That was the band that started everything off for me, so it was very important. It was great to be able to express myself and be a trailblazer in new music & fashion at that time. It was a very exciting period and just browsing charity shops for stage clothes was a thrill. I don’t have any contact with Skeletal Family at the moment but I wish them all the best.

Q: Evoking your career, you’re now into music business for more than 40 years, right? What comes directly into mind evoking this career? What makes you proud and what makes you angry?

AM: Being fortunate enough to do it in the first place, but also again now being given a second chance. I’m really proud of previous achievements but also of the new album and how the new album has been accepted by the fans. What makes me angry is not being able to do this full time. I’d like it to be a job, not a hobby.

Q: What would you say today to the young Anne-Marie making her first steps in music business around 1980?

AM: Be yourself and follow your heart.

Q: The 80s have been exceptional years when it comes to music and still today remain a source of inspiration for young artists. Back then did you realize something special was happening and how do you look back at thislegendary decade?

AM: I think we were lucky to live through that time. You could express yourself without having much money. That meant you had to be inventive. Britain has been at the forefront of so many music explosions – especially Leeds & Bradford, where we came from. It was wonderful to be a part of it all and still be influenced by it today and still see its impact around the world.

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