Melody Lane had a very interesting interview with JÁNOS STEFÁN, bass player of the Hungarian Experimental Prog band GHOST TOAST.  Their music is mostly instrumental and combines Prog Rock with Metal. The use of the Cello and some electronic effects gives a unique sound and the songs structures shows a band that enjoy creating different atmospheres through their music.
Don’t miss GHOST TOAST’s fourth full length titled SHAPE WITHOUT FORM, that‘s been released last March via Inverse Records.
Band highly recommended to fans of King Crimson, Tool, Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment and Porcupine Tree.

MELODY LANE: First of all, also if it can sound a bit expected…Can you tell us where does the name GHOST TOAST come from? 
JÁNOS STEFÁN: There’s not really a super-interesting story behind it at all – as far as I can remember, it was on a shortlist of a few names we wrote together, and this was one we all agreed on.

MELODY LANE: The line-up of the band is confirmed, is it the same from the beginning of the band…or have you had changes in the last years? Can you tell us anything about the roots of GHOST TOAST? And where the band was born?
JÁNOS STEFÁN: It was the same for 13 years, but last year we had an actual change, we parted ways with our drummer Laszlo Papp and Zoltan “Zoma” Cseros arrived in his place. Officially we started the band in 2008, but even before that we had some minor projects (me and Laci were jamming and practicing odd-meter stuff from time to time) and together with Bence and Zoma we made a half-serious metal band – actually many songs’ riffs are coming from that little project even to this day.

MELODY LANE: Can you list us 5 songs, from  GHOST TOAST ‘s discography (including new material), that can define the sound of the band … 5 songs that can help our readers to know GHOST TOAST at the best.
JÁNOS STEFÁN: Well this is definitely going to be subjective as I think all of us would give a different list, but here’s mine: 1) Gordius (for the punch) 2) Fake Western Analogue (for the versatility and the changes) 3) Y13 (for for the movie score-type song), 4) W.A.N.T. (for the epic stuff), and 5) Sane Shove (for the odd-meters and the psychedelia).

MELODY LANE: Tell us something about the creative process of your music. Is there a main composer or we can talk about a team work? The songs come from ideas of a single member and then the band works on these ideas in the studio jamming together, or your songs are written in the studio and all the members compose together?
JÁNOS STEFÁN: There is no main composer as such – in fact, all songs have their own main composer, usually that person is Bence or myself, and Pusi and Laci (now Zoma) would chip in with their own ideas for song parts. Since we use so many different sounds, effects and rhythms, even the demo of each song requires heavy production to fit everything in and have it sound right. Everybody creates and records their part at home, we do not do rehearsals or jams as such (only before live concerts to shake back into it) – and these tracks usually end up on my computer for creating the demo, and from this the actual studio-ready material is eventually made.

MELODY LANE:  Can you tell us something about contents and messages of your last album? We read that’s inspired by The Hollow Men by T. S. Eliot…Can you tell us anything about the whole concept?
JÁNOS STEFÁN: Indeed, it’s Eliot’s poem that the title is from. The song W.A.N.T. is definitely the key element to this idea, and incorporates the actual performance of the poem. Although the songs were not specifically created with this in mind, yet they all sort of became a bit darker than our earlier stuff, and therefore somewhere met the idea of the poem, life generally becoming weirder and more hollow as time goes on. Initially we would have liked to make this a double-album, and almost could actually pull it off, but then Covid hit, and therefore the second one, Shade Without Color had to be delayed – we are working on it right now, and hope to release it sometime later this year.

MELODY LANE:  This is your fourth album…After time, are you totally satisfied with your choices about sound and the writing of your previous albums? If you could… would you change anything? 
JÁNOS STEFÁN: Fourth, yes, if we count the first two, but these are more demo-albums than proper ones, they definitely sound like that. It took some time until we all figured out how our instruments and all the electronic stuff and samples should be blended together to achieve the sound we wanted. The songs are still good though, our live setlist contains more songs from the first two albums than the other two, so it would be pretty nice to be able to go back and re-record them. Maybe it will happen some day, who knows?

MELODY LANE:  So apart from the covid/pandemic situation…will you tour in the next future? Have you already a touring schedule? Any chance for us to see  GHOST TOAST playing live here in Italy in the next months/year?
JÁNOS STEFÁN: Hate to burst anyone’s bubbles here, but no, not likely at all. We are all workers (strivers, builders – haha), so we all have our jobs and families – wives, kids. It’s quite a rare occasion if we even manage to get together just for a beer or something (and of course the pandemic here does not help at all). If we do live concerts, we do them as a trio, as for Pusi it would be quite difficult to join us on stage with the cello, and his schedule is also different than ours. Another important factor is that we like to do video projections at our shows, with videos specifically created for this purpose, and at some venues this is difficult to do – though it’s getting more common with the years for places to have this capability. But we are quite ok with having only 3-4 concerts a year (or even less), we try to make sure that the aforementioned technical obstacles are avoided, the audience is able to have a good experience and it’s better to have quality than quantity. Of course we are not shutting the door on anyone who comes with an offer, but these are the factors considered.

MELODY LANE: Could you tell us two bands, from the actual international scene, you’d like GHOST TOAST to tour with?... Two bands that would represent a perfect line-up for GHOST TOAST  to play with. And why these bands?
JÁNOS STEFÁN: Again this is going to be subjective, I would go with Ott and the All Seeing I (the live band setup), and with aJna, for me that would be perfect. It’s not actually easy to choose a perfect lineup for us at all. I would go for Ott and the band because I personally want to see them perform live for years now (never got to it), and how great would it be to play beside them – and aJna, well, I don’t it needs any explanation, we are good friends, we already played together several times, it just clicks with those guys.

MELODY LANE: We know that ‘to define is to limit’… but how do you define GHOST TOAST
’ sound? Are you an Experimental Prog Metal band…an Alternative Prog band…Or…?
JÁNOS STEFÁN: I don’t even like the word Prog, to be honest. If you say that, people always immediately think of these back-and-forth weird riffs with blistering arpeggiating solos on top of each other. I would just call ours instrumental/experimental/psychedelic rock, and that “experimental” word only because it’s a mixture of live instruments and electronica – and the cello as the cherry on top. And even the “instrumental” is not exactly correct, because many of our songs have singing in them – it just wasn’t us who performed the actual singing. So is it still instrumental? But generally we are usually classified as instrumental prog metal, and that’s ok.

MELODY LANE: Which musicians are/have been your main musical inspirations?And which are your favorite bands nowadays?
JÁNOS STEFÁN: I think we are lucky here because all of us have listened to different bands/musicians/genres throughout the years, and this is a big advantage that we make use of. There are of course ones that all of us love, but I think all of us have their own weird taste as well, and that sometimes show up in our songs too. There’s the usual metal greats, could list for hours, but there’s also the quieter side, jazz, movie scores, there’s the psychedelic electronic world, ranging from goa trance to drum&bass. I intentionally do not want to name any specific bands, there would be too many of them.

MELODY LANE: As a musician, what has been your biggest achievement to date and what do you want to achieve in the near future? 
JÁNOS STEFÁN: I think the fact that we have managed to land a contract with Inverse Records, create two albums in the super-awesome studio Denever is definitely up there. I used to have a punk-rock band for 16 years, we toured the whole country, had tons of fun, but I believe this thing we have going on here is larger. I think we all would like to finish the next album, and hopefully continue to be able to write songs and see what’s still in us.

MELODY LANE: Until today...What was the most important concert for  GHOST TOAST’s career? And why?
JÁNOS STEFÁN: Well maybe the first one, even though I can’t even remember when and where that was, it was so long ago. But I would rather say the one occasion where we actually played at a festival twice. After the first one we saw that they brought this huuuuge LED screen on a truck, and they set it up behind the stage (wasn’t there yet when we began), and we thought “oh man, would have been so great to use that for projecting our video”. So it turns out, one of the bands later on the next evening canceled their show, and we asked the organizers “can we go once more?” And they said yes. But there was another thing: the control room of this screen was inside the truck, so how would you start/stop the videos? There was only one solution: edit all of our videos to one huge 45+ minute file, with some 15-20 seconds in between the songs, add the background audio for the synths/effects/etc. Then go on stage, ask the guy to press play, and then hope to whatever supreme being that we don’t screw up, as there’s no way back. And we managed to do it, and it was super cool and it looked awesome with that huge screen – there’s a video of it on Youtube, I think. That was memorable for sure.

MELODY LANE:  Last year, your label mates, the Hungarian  instrumental prog band AJNA, ended up in our INSTRUMENTAL TOP TEN 2020…Do you know the guys in AJNA?...Any chance for these bands to play together or have you ever shared shows or stages, being from the same country and playing a similar music style?
JÁNOS STEFÁN: We love aJna, we have played together many times already and hope to do that in the future as well. So happy for them that they finally recorded and released their album, it’s absolutely brilliant. We just click with those guys on all levels, so shoutout to them from here as well!

MELODY LANE: In the end…A message from you to all MELODY LANE readers.
JÁNOS STEFÁN: My message is: stay safe, stay at home, wear a mask, be nice to your family and generally to people, listen to the stuff you love and support artists in whatever way you can. It’s a tough world out there right now, but need to make it through these times. Peace to all readers out there.