RIFF RADIO: Ghostland Observatory reinvigorated for ‘Simulator’ tour

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Eight years ago, Austin electronica duo Ghostland Observatory realized it was time to hit the brakes. Aaron Behrens and Thomas Turner had been touring nonstop alongside four consecutive albums. The band’s DIY attitude took a toll as its popularity began to rapidly pick up steam. While they kept the operation all in the family, Behrens and Turner burned themselves out from managing themselves, running a record label and touring with a very small staff and low overhead. The two decided to take a break that turned out to be eight years.

Ghostland Observatory
MPHD

10 p.m., Saturday
August Hall
Tickets: $30. 21+

While Aaron Behrens and Thomas Turner went their separate ways musically, they stayed in touch, especially on the long drives to occasional one-off gigs they played over that time. The creative spark was finally lit when they played a New Year’s Eve show and decided to write and record together again.

“If you had told me this time last year we’d be going on tour again and had a new record, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Turner said. “But there’s just so many exciting and positive things happening right now.”

The band kept the recording process very straightforward. Behrens and Turner kept only the essential studio gear. Rather than obsessing on layering, effects, and experimentation, the two focused on being spontaneous and off-the-cuff. If they liked an idea, they immediately recorded it. If they didn’t, they moved on. The result is September’s See You Later, Simulator, is a raw and ambitious work. The bold record takes a deep dive into the concept of differentiating between what’s real and what’s fake. The duo joined us from the road to talk about flipping the switch on a reunion, their creatives process, and their big plans for the live show.

It’s likely not a surprise to fans that lasers will be involved. Known for their high-energy and visually stimulating live shows, Ghostland Observatory plans to up the ante in getting back out on the road in support of See You Later, Simulator. Behrens says the excitement about the reformed Ghostland Observatory already has him looking to the future.

“I’m already friggin’ ready to write the next record, we’ve already started writing things for the next record,” he said. “We’re going. This ship is taking back off.”

Ghostland Observatory brings its traveling spectacle to the Bay Area this Saturday, with a performance at the new August Hall in Downtown San Francisco.

Follow writer Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald.

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