I N T E R V I E W S
Interview with Thane Farace, guitarist for Ghost of War by Eric Compton
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I was granted the opportunity to cover "Welcome to Rockville" in Jacksonville, FL back in April. The two day festival offered a great line-up of artists, some that I was very familiar with and others not so much. Day two of the festival started early with Gettysburg, Pennsylvania's GHOST OF WAR. During a weekend showcasing over forty bands of modern hard rock and metalcore, Ghost of War stood out as truly unique due to their straight laced traditional approach. I could hear influences ranging from Metal Church to Exodus during the band's performance. A few days after the festival I was able to talk with guitarist THANE FARACE about the band's denim and leather philosophy and his experience with Ghost of War and other notable acts on the east coast.
EC – Thane, congratulations on the performance at "Welcome to Rockville". I know it is sometimes difficult to gain crowds that early in the day. I can say that after the first few notes the crowd started migrating to the stage. What did you think of the turnout and response to the band's performance?
TF- It was awesome! We were very humbled by the response we got playing our brand of "old school" metal. With all the modern bands growling and screaming we took a chance and played what we love and it seems to have worked!
EC - Did you pick up some new fans?
TF- Yes sir! We met tons of new friends. We prefer to call our ever growing Ghost Of War Army "FRIENDS and FAMILY" instead of "FANS". Our social media page has been on fire!
EC – I've been following you a little bit on Facebook and keeping up with the band's happenings. Thanks for sharing a copy of the 2012 debut "Only Death Is Real" and some other goodies with Maximum Metal. The thing that really peaked my curiosity from the beginning was the band's name. I saw it listed on the line-up sheet but didn't realize you guys are from Gettysburg, PA. The band's name and city obviously correlate with each other. Tell me a little bit about why you chose the name Ghost of War and what it means to you living in such an important place in American history.
TF- Well you hit the nail on the head! I have always loved Gettysburg. I remember going on tours through the battlefields as a child. Our drummer Jim Mathis is actually a big civil war buff and has done many civil war re-enactments. The man is a walking encyclopedia of the civil war. With all of us having played in so many bands over the years we wanted to create something unique, special and very marketable. I have never seen any popular bands come out of Gettysburg, so maybe we can be that band. Many people claim to see "ghosts" on the battlefields and I have personally felt some pretty wild vibes on the battlefields and at the Cashtown Inn where confederate general A.P. Hill had his hospital above the Mason Dixon line. The Cashtown Inn is only three miles from where I live in the Appalachian Mountains. It's also where the movie Gettysburg was filmed.
EC – From a patriotic standpoint I really liked Ronnie Peterson's (vocalist) introduction for "Absolute Nothing" at "Welcome to Rockville". The flag that he brought out had some significance. Can you tell us what the history was with that particular flag?
TF - The flag was given to Ronnie by a lifelong friend of his, Navy chief Joseph Conway, who at the time was stationed in Afghanistan on the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The flag was flown at a ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of all the wonderful people we lost on that fateful day. A certificate was presented to Ronnie along with the very flag we used at "Welcome To Rockville" in his son RJ's name as a token of appreciation for all the loyalty and dedication and support we show for our troops. As a reminder of how great our nation is and how sometimes war and sacrifice is needed for our freedom. Never take it for granted!
EC – So getting into your background here and some of the things we have talked about. In the booklet for "Only Death Is Real" you thank your parents for getting you into music at an early age. Tell me how you got started playing guitar and some of your early influences. Were you self-taught or took lessons?
TF - My folks got me into music very early, at around age 4 I got my first guitar. I learned the whole Ventures greatest hits album and started my rock and roll guitar work with Queen and ELO. My early influences were Brian May, Eddie Van Halen, and Randy Rhoades. When the Shrapnel Records releases started coming out, Steeler with Yngwie Malmsteen blew me away. I then got heavily into John Petrucci from Dream Theatre and continue to love his work to this day. Early on I took a few lessons for a year or so then I started trading licks with my teacher. He would teach me classical and jazz and I would show him flashy metal licks.
EC – You mentioned to me that you have been playing out live since 1981. What was your experience between then up until forming/joining Ghost of War? What other bands were you in to bridge the gap?
TF - My high school bands were "Live Wire", the first band I ever gigged with playing mostly AC/DC. Then "Blind Thunder" where we played Maiden, Priest, Sabbath and my first original band was Antrim. We were the popular band in our county opening for the older established bands in the area and gaining some local homegrown radio play. We pretty much were kids kicking the older guys' butts! Haha. My first big break came when I joined an established 80's hair metal band with their own record called Cry Tuff. After touring with them and gaining tons of live experience I had quit on New Year's Eve of 1986/87 and formed Chaos, an original metal band with a female singer. We enjoyed limited success playing the mid-Atlantic region and opened many times for a band that was very popular back in the day called Wrathchild. Their drummer Shannon Larkin would later become the drummer of Godsmack. Two of the musicians in Chaos then moved to California and went to the Musicians Institute. I was supposed to go but had a child instead. After settling down for a few years I then had formed a band called Not Inc which many people said was "way ahead of its time". Some of the riffs off of "Only Death is Real" were written back then and the acoustic song "She" was written at that time. The singer that I had in Not Inc had passed away and I dedicated the song "She" to him on the Ghost of War debut. Not Inc actually opened for Metal Church when Ronny Munroe first got into the band. After Not Inc I played in many cover bands to make money and eventually in 2006 teamed up with a popular local growler and formed "Beyond the Scar". We were signed to Dirtbag Records and that's where I started my long relationship with Jagermeister.
EC – Ghost of War is officially sponsored by Jagermeister. How did that happen and how supportive have then been thus far?
TF - I started working with them in 2006. They are an awesome company to work for. We all love Jagermeister and promote responsible drinking. We travel in an RV and many times have opened our doors to "our friends" at shows so they can get some rest and sober up. Some things I have done for them…Hellyeah's first show ever at Ramshead live in Baltimore, the 2008 Jager Music tour with Hatebreed /Type O Negative/3 Inches of blood, 2008 & 2009 "Rockstar Mayhem" festivals and most recently "Welcome To Rockville." My wife Jennifer is a Jager promotional model also.
EC – How did Ghost of War form? Were you guys friends at the time and had the same interests or in other bands together?
TF - Ronnie Peterson's band Schindlers Fist used to open for Beyond the Scar a lot and I always thought "God that guy can sing". In 2008, I formed a Dio tribute band with him called Holy Hell. We came out blazing, headlining some of the mid Atlantic's best clubs. Then the tragic death of Ronnie James Dio made us not want to continue with Holy Hell. We didn't want to make money off of our hero. So the only answer since Ronnie and I liked playing together so much was to create Ghost of War. Gary Daniels, bass player, was in Ronnie's previous band and comes from the death metal realm playing in bands such as Dwelling Madness, Psychotegen and Pessimist. Jim Mathis, drummer, comes from a long line of bands as well including the area's most popular southern rock band, The Boot Hill Band, and a popular Pantera tribute band. Jim and I live very close together in PA and we connected on all of the right levels. The rest is history!
EC – "Only Death Is Real" is the band's debut album and was released in 2012. For me personally this album is really honest and genuine. In hearing your passion about playing old school heavy metal…well nothing emphasizes your passion more than hearing this album and these songs. Tell me a little bit about the writing that went into this record. It is your first recording as a band and obviously breaking new ground. What was the general consensus of what you wanted the album to sound like early on and are you pleased with the end result?
TF – "Only Death Is Real" is writing from the ages. The music I wrote for it spans over twenty-five years and the lyrics were written by Ronnie while his mother laid on her death bed. She revealed many things to him as she was dying and if you listen to the song "Beautiful Lies" you will hear some very touching lyrics coming truly from the heart. Ronnie still tears up sometimes when he sings that song. With the cohesiveness of all four band members influences, ranging from traditional metal, southern rock, 70s classic rock and even death metal, all combined, we feel we came up with something truly unique. We wrote what we wanted on this record not what we thought others wanted us to write to "fit the mold". When it came time to record, we called upon the best engineer/producer we knew, Drew Mazurek. He helped us bring our vision to life and overall it's everything we dreamed of and then some.
EC – This album includes two cover tunes. The first one is track seven, "Fire", originally recorded by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown in 1968. That particular song really stands out on this record and helps diversify the sound a bit. Why did you choose to do that song?
TF - Our drummer Jim came to me one day at practice and told me his dad, Tom Mathis, had introduced him to the original 1960's version of "Fire" and said we should remake it. Jim and I watched it on Youtube and I ran with the ball keeping it true to its original structure. Then Jim and I got together and metalized it quite a bit.
EC – The second cover tune is a bit more mainstream, Grand Funk Railroad's "We're An American Band". That song embodies the "blue collar working man's band." That really fits Ghost of War's work ethic and spirit I think. Do you feel the same way about it? Why did you choose that song?
TF- Again you hit the nail on the head! As Ronnie Peterson says before every performance of that song, "We are a nationally sponsored Jager band, we are a Gettysburg, PA metal band BUT most importantly we are a mutha f'n AMERICAN BAND!"
EC – Thane, not only are you the guitarist for Ghost of War but you are also involved in a few other things as well. You have a relationship with Metal Church singer Ronny Munroe's touring band, is that correct? How did that relationship start?
TF - Ronny has his own full time solo band. However we backed him up last year at a rock festival in Baltimore, MD playing Metal Church classics and some of his solo material. Then we did some support for Metal Church on their most recent tour and plan on supporting them in the future. Ronny is an awesome guy and a monster talent. There is a very good possibility he may be a guest vocalist on the next Ghost of War CD. Stay Tuned!
EC – You also do some work with Neil Turbin, former singer of Anthrax. What do you work on for him and how did that partnership begin?
TF - Neil and I are very good friends. He is one of the pioneers of thrash metal. We have a side band called Bloodied Angels. I met him several years ago and we became very good friends. He invited me out to California this past year to play with him and a bunch of all stars for the 2014 NAAM Metal Jam held at the Whiskey a Go Go in Hollywood. I am actually a Co-Coordinator with him for next year's 2015 NAMM Metal Jam. Neil and I are going to be writing some great music together in the very near future. Neil is a very soulful singer and a super cool dude. "Fistful of Metal" is one of my all-time favorite Anthrax albums.
EC – Well I've got to ask about a new album. The debut was great, it was a perfect introduction to a band that I think is important for US traditional metal, but better things are coming I'm sure. What is planned for a new album? Any songs written, recording time set aside, what's the scoop on a new Ghost of War album?
TF- Oh yeah! It's definitely in the works. I have the music for about seven or eight songs worked up and Ronnie has the lyrics done for three of the new songs. We are continuing to pound out the "old school" feel and the record is tentatively going to be called "Parade of Human Suffering". We are leaving no stone unturned for this sophomore release. We are very proud of what we are coming up with. I can see the recording starting late 2014 with a summer/fall 2015 release. Metal!
EC – As always it is a pleasure to chat with you. I am really excited to see where Ghost of War take it from here. You guys are working hard, spreading the metal and so involved with "friends and family" through social media and the shows. I wish you the absolute best of luck and please keep us informed on all the band's happenings.
TF - Like I said before you all are our "friends and family". Thanks for all you do!
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