INTERVIEW: GHØSTKID’S SUSHI TALKS MUSIC INDUSTRY, 2020, AND HOW KORN INFLUENCED THEIR SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM
Sebastian “Sushi” Biesler (ex-Eskimo Callboy), is certainly going to be a busy man when touring resumes. His new band, GHØSTKID, sees him once again front and center screaming his lungs out one second and parting the clouds with gorgeous melodies the next. What GHØSTKID offers a saturated metal scene is incredibly dynamic, innovative and contemporary songs that groove and bend but also contain incredibly huge choruses. Sebastian tells us all about this ambitious new project ahead of the release of his band’s self-titled record, out this Friday November 13th.
So the record, ‘GHØSTKID’, I really enjoyed it. I think many people will say the same. And I think that this, along with the new Emmure record this year are like the most forward moving metalcore records I’ve heard. You have that industrial metal “stomp” to it that that’s always cool. It’s got that great low end, but it’s also just really catchy. I mean, it might be the catchiest record I’ve heard this year.
Sushi: “Oh really? Thanks, I really appreciate that man.”
It’s really good. And the guest spots on it run the gamut. You got Johnny3 Tears from Hollywood Undead, you got Mille Petrozza of Kreator and then you got Marcus Bischoff of Heaven Shall Burn. But it’s so cool that you have three very diverse guest stars on there. And I think metal is definitely moving in that direction where it used to be kind of pigeonholed. Before it would be like “oh, well, this is to nu-metal to be on this deathcore track” or, “oh, well, this is too death metal to be in this metalcore song.” It’s really becoming more blended, and I think that’s cool.
Sushi: “Yeah, I think nowadays metal is more open-minded than ever. I mean, listen to the last Bring Me the Horizon song with YUNGBLUD. I mean, okay, YUNGBLUD, it’s hard to say what kind of genre he’s in. I think he can collaborate on every song, you know? It doesn’t matter if it’s just hip hop, or if it’s metal, or whatever.
But there are actually four features on the record. I did two versions with, “THIS IS NØT HØLLYWØØD” and there is a German rap guy on there, who is a really good friend of mine, Timi Hendrix.”
I was curious about that name. I hadn’t heard anything from him before.
Sushi: “I mean, he’s playing in a really, really big rap crew in Germany. Those guys are REALLY big. What’s pretty cool about Timi is this time he did some really serious lyrics on that track. So usually, those guys are well known for not taking themselves that seriously, you know, so it’s like a huge honor to have him on this track and performing something serious.
And I would say like each feature on that record is kind of “unconventional”, I would say, for the type of music they are usually doing.”
Yeah! Johnny 3 Tears in particular kind of stuck out to me. He fits so well on “THIS IS NØT HØLLYWØØD”. I’m just kind of curious what brought you to wanting to work with someone from Hollywood Undead?
Sushi: “So the story for “THIS IS NØT HØLLYWØØD”, at first, II got Timi [Hendrix]. I gave him a call and said, ‘Okay, I got this one track. Do you want to collaborate with me on that one?’ And he did it and it turned out amazing. But, that song really means a lot to me. So, I wanted to spread the message more internationally. So we got in touch with Hollywood Undead and I thought ‘okay, if I now have a personal contact with Johnny, why not ask him? Why shouldn’t I ask him to collaborate on that track as well?’ Because, I mean, the message behind “THIS IS NØT HØLLYWØØD”, to keep it short, it’s basically about the whole show business and things that are totally fucked up about that. So I thought it would be great to have two successful artists telling their own story on that track. And that’s the reason why I released two versions of the track. I wanted to have an international artist and a guy from Germany. The features turned out totally different. Both tell their own story, and this is great. I mean, it’s like a different perspective, I would say, even if the topic of the song is the same.”
Which is really cool that you have that flip side version of each. And I find it kind of funny that Johnny 3 Tears, for him, “THIS IS NØT HØLLYWØØD” is actually pretty literal for him, because it’s not Hollywood Undead *laughs*. I think Hollywood Undead don’t get the credit they deserve either as far as being “forward moving”. You could almost call them pioneers of like a new movement for metal, for rock, even hip hop, they were very ahead of their time.
Sushi: “That’s the reason why I really dig Hollywood Undead. They got the perfect combination of a lot of different styles of music. I’m always impressed by their songs. They got some songs that are a bit more “heavy”, you know, when it comes down to the guitars and stuff. And they’ve got some stuff that is more like, I would say, more focused on rap, you know? And this is like, pretty cool. They are a really, really interesting band for me. And yeah, it’s a huge honor to have this guy on my track.”
And I thought it was cool how he had the line “for blood and for glory”. That took me back to ‘Swan Songs’. It’s a great song.
Sushi: “He did an amazing job. It totally blew my mind. I knew he would kill it. The meaning behind the song, this is something that he totally can relate to. I guess that’s the reason why it turned out that great, you know?”
The record is very dark. It definitely has a very brooding bassy, low tone to it. But at the same time, it’s just so much fun to listen to. And it sounds like you had a lot of fun making it.
Sushi: “So for me, it was more like a relief. When I split with my old band, I couldn’t identify any more with the music that I did back in the day. I went through some crazy ups and downs after that. I would say the whole record is like a whole relief. Even if I’m not talking about something that I was confronted with, personally, I represent something that I really thought about. When I’m not talking about situations that I was involved in myself, I’m talking about the thought. For example, like “SUPERNØVA” is a song which is dealing with the problems right now, because there is a lot of bullshit going on in this world right now and I really thought a lot about that. I would say it’s like a really personal record.”
I think that some fans that are going to carry over with you from Eskimo Callboy in your work with them before, are going to be able to draw parallels between the two, they could say that this is almost like a mature version of that sound— a darker, kind of grittier version of that sound. Do you agree with that?
Sushi: “I would say maybe like 50%. I mean, of course, there is an Eskimo component. And it will always sound a bit like Eskimo because it’s my voice, you know? But I would say, the sound is a bit different, because I was always focusing on the groovy riffs. I don’t know if you recognize that, but I don’t have a single double bass part on my record.”
I noticed that actually, it’s just all really “stompy”.
Sushi: “Yeah, exactly! So I tried to focus more on that heavy, groovy, riffing. I tried to create a ‘happy sound’, you know, which is aggressive, but without, using the components you would use in a metal band. The writing process as well. When I did the pre production in Berlin, it was like, ‘okay, don’t call it mosh prod, just please say ‘drop’’ *laughs*.
That’s the difference between Eskimo and the sound that I’m doing. Of course, it’s a bit darker. The sound is more dirty, I would say. It basically has no real mosh parts in those songs.”
Between this project, GHØSTKID, and Eskimo Callboy, you’re getting quite the street cred for putting out something that’s really creative. We both these projects are super forward-thinking, creative ideas for metal or metalcore. I wish that more artists would do that. You got some out there that they definitely try to do that, and it doesn’t necessarily come across as well. They don’t have the songs, but I feel like every song on this, this self titled ‘GHØSTKID’ album, nails it, I think that a lot of people are gonna feel the same way.
Sushi: “Each song, I think, has its own vibe. This is what I really focused on in the beginning. So I said, “okay, I need different tunings.” I wanted to make each song sound different to the next one. And basically each song, like I said before, is based on a feeling or like a thought. So that’s the reason why each one turned out different, I would say.
Sometimes there are artists that write a whole record, I would say, like 30 tracks, and just pick 10 of them for the record. For me, it was always like, okay, I got an idea and a vision in my head, or maybe like a little movie, and I wanted to put that in the track. You know, so I just really wrote those 10 songs, and not more or less.”
There are definitely some movie score-esque elements to it. So some songs, especially “SUPERNØVA”, with its bassy, almost like a spacey intro to it. Sounds like it would start out a movie trailer, or hit during the most impactful part.
Sushi: “Yeah, that’s basically the reason it sounds like that, because it’s like about the last day on earth. Because the people totally fucked it up and now the world is cleaning itself from humanity. This is a really short explanation of what the song is about you. I think you could have those images, the “apocalyptic vibe” when you listen to it a bit… I hope so *laughs*”
The way I’ve been describing this project to my friends is like, if you took Rammstein or Nine Inch Nails and combined that with like, old Asking Alexandria minus the dance parts.
Sushi: “Oh really? *laughs* That’s addressing to hear, because I’ve talked to my friends a lot like “okay, what kind of music is this?” and they say, “we have no idea”. So it’s always interesting to hear how the people describe the kind of music that I’m doing, because I don’t have a clue *laughs*. It’s really hard to say for me.”
The album is catchy, really catchy, and it’s got a good beat to it. And my favorite aspect of it is probably how the guitars sound. Like you said, that really groovy factor. I’m so glad you threw that in there. Because it makes the songs more moving. They have more moving parts, I think.
Sushi: “Yeah, thank you. I mean, yeah, this was the goal I wanted to reach. To write songs that are not typical, like metal riffing, but still has an aggressive sound and I discovered — for example — Bring Me The Horizon is like a really good example for that, because they’re basically doing a lot of the heavy riffing, but it’s really groovy. That was a really big influence for me, because I discovered that you don’t need to fast and heavy metal riffing. Sometimes a really simple riff really kicks in, you know? Just remember those old KoRn records that have been SUPER heavy, and they don’t have that ‘fast riffing’ and shit.”
So who are you kind of looking to in the current scene, or even, maybe not even the current scene, but just outside the scene, as far as bands that you’re watching/bands that are inspiring you? I know in the press release, you said FEVER 333, Bring Me The Horizon, and Marilyn Manson.
Sushi: “I really get really inspired by artists that are not doing that “heavy sound”. I mean, yeah, these guys were definitely an influence when it comes down to the sound that I try to achieve. But for example, like the song with Mille [Petrozza], Billie Eilish was basically the idea behind that a bit *laughs*
Different music really inspires me. So right now, I must say that, I really love that new Machine Gun Kelly record, because it reminds me of that old Blink-182 sound, and that’s amazing! Probably on the next record, I will do something that sounds a bit more like pop punk, with screams obviously, and do it like dirty as fuck *laughs*. It’s always been so inspiring to see what artists nowadays are doing.”
Would you say that GHØSTKID is an “evolving project”, and that each record is going to kind of have its own agenda/do different things?
Sushi: “It’s hard to say, I don’t know. I always used to say, if a song is telling a story, that’s the most important thing. So it doesn’t matter what kind of genre it is. So probably, next time, it will be a more “rap” album, I don’t know. Maybe it’ll be heavier, you know, but I always try to find something that’s interesting. I think if you want to evolve, you need to just check out different music. If you wanted to do a really interesting metal sound, don’t listen to metal bands, you know? Check out how Jimi Hendrix is playing the guitar.”
I’ve said a few times, but ‘GHØSTKID’ is a dark record, but it also has “that energy” and almost has that same kind of nihilism that Bring Me The Horizon uses in a playful way. So those parts are kind of upbeat, but then you also have the heavy parts. In a lot of ways, you could definitely draw parallels between you and Bring Me The Horizon in that way. It’s definitely got that same syncopation between nihilism and bright, but not necessarily optimism, just “bright sounding” at parts.
Sushi: “I’m a really big Bring Me The Horizon fan, exactly because of that. They’re always playing with a lot of contrasts, and they are just doing things different. It always tells the story, and that’s what I really love about that band. It seems like with every song, there’s a new invented Bring Me The Horizon. This is pretty cool because you don’t know what to expect. It’s so interesting what they’re doing every time. I think this is what a good band is all about— to tell a different, and more interesting story. And they’re still evolving!”
Do you plan on bringing GHØSTKID to The States next year?
Sushi: “I really would love to play in the United States again. Back in the day, we played with Eskimo and I would love to do it, man. But to be honest, it’s kind of hard to get a chance as a band from Germany or from Europe to play in the United States. You know, I mean, you got a lot of fucking great bands there. Probably that’s the problem *laughs*. If I would ever have the chance I would definitely do it.”