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Every college freshman secretly hopes to find their niche right out the gate—whether you make it in a sorority, a theater group, or a band, everyone’s looking for something lasting. One of the few success stories of this endeavor is Jukebox the Ghost, a threesome that first met in the dorms at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and are bigger than ever five years after graduating. Laughs the frontman Ben Thornewill, “No one is this lucky. We’re very, very lucky.”
Part Ben Folds and part sheer joy, Jukebox the Ghost dropped into the WERS studios for an On the Verge performance this week. Now on their third album, the trio of pianist of vocalist Thornewill, Tommy Siegel on guitar, and Jesse Kristin on drums are getting bigger than ever after several years of extensive touring. They formed their reputation on a bizarre, science fiction twist on the indie rock genre with debut album Live and Let Ghosts (2008) and sophomore follow-up Everything Under the Sun (2010), but the band happily moves in a new direction for their latest release, Safe Travels.
Between playing rising hit “Somebody” and the album’s concluding track “The Spiritual”, Thornewill talks about the new album and why Jukebox the Ghosts’ sound is changing for all the right reasons. “It was never an issue this time around, every decision felt good and we never made a bad one because of time”, he smiles. He also speaks highly of the production team for “Safe Travels” and specifically producer Dan Romer, who guided the trio and was determined that they “wouldn’t suck”, as the band jokingly puts it. Through their hefty touring career, the guys have had plenty of influential acts to draw inspiration from—since Live and Let Ghosts was released four years ago, the group has gotten the chance to tour with piano rocker Ben Folds himself, Adam Green of the Moldy Peaches, Skybox, and the Barenaked Ladies.
As the group continues to grow, the friends look forward to producing more material and (they stress) getting to know and build a fanbase through continuous touring. Jukebox the Ghost is proof that working with your friends isn’t such a bad idea as it can seem, and that no sound or personal chemistry can be manufactured, even in the treacherous spokes of the music industry.