I had the chance to sit down with Nathan Pyles of Ancestors Index to discuss his new album, Ghost, the unique merchandise designs he has created and artists he admires in today’s music scene.
Thank you Nathan for allowing me to interview you today. Tell me a little bit this current project of yours called Ancestors Index. How would you describe this band’s sound?
Well, the band is mainly myself. I do all the writing for it and the sound is really whatever I feel like writing. There is no one desired sound, and I try to do whatever I’m thinking at the time.
How would you describe your writing style?
That’s a tough question to answer…I just get ideas from little things in my life, such as hearing a sound, or a lyric, and I start kind of fleshing out ideas in my head and I kind of go with it after that. There’s really no one set way of writing for me, and it’s hard to really nail it down.
Are there other artists you look at as far as using similar sounds or styles?
Yeah, there are definitely some artist that influence my sound overall. I look to Radiohead, Steven Wilson, Opeth, and Nine Inch Nails. I listen to a lot of different music and I kind of draw from different artists and people like that.
What are your current touring plans surrounding the release of your new record, Ghost?
At the moment, I’m trying to just collect feedback on how the album is doing. If people are saying the album is shit, then I don’t have the desire to do it (touring) as much. I have had some feedback, I like feedback where I’m not just talking to a person face to face and it’s a little more genuine. But since I’m doing a lot of this by myself, I’d have to put a band together to do shows, and I have a certain idea of how I’d like the shows to go. It wouldn’t be the cheapest show to do, ya know? It would cost some money to do and I’d want to make sure it’s worth it if I do it.
Do you have any musicians in mind that you can draw from (for touring), or people you have played with before?
Not really. I’ve tried starting bands a couple of times, and that’s kind of why I’m doing this by myself. It’s hard to get musicians all the time, because they can be kind of flaky. So, some of the musicians I worked with in the studio would be fantastic, but other than that I don’t have any set names in mind.
What does the LP title (Ghost) come from?
It’s something that kind of means something to me as it goes with the album, but I don’t really want to give that out to people so they say, “Oh, this is what that means.” I want people to come up with their own meaning on their own.
What are some other artists that you admire in the music scene today? Which particular characteristics do you get drawn into for these artists, specifically?
I would say my number one influence is Steven Wilson, a guy who has done so much music from so many different genres. And he doesn’t care if the music sounds completely different from the last album. He does whatever he wants to do and I’m kind of the same way. As long as it has a cohesive sound, you obviously don’t want to put some death metal with something really light, that could jar some people a bit too much. Sometimes that’s good, but you have to do it right. So, he’d be one that I have really gotten into. Others, such as Radiohead, where they kind of do whatever they want, regardless of what other people think. And Nine Inch Nails, with Trent Reznor, kind of the same thing. I like people that do whatever they want in music and they don’t think about what people want. Like, this is the album I going to put out, and that’s the type of artist I would like to be.
Cool! So it sounds like you’re drawn to some of those “musical entrepeneurs,” those artists that kind of blaze their own path. Is that kind of what you’re modeling yourself after?
Yeah, I’d say so.
Tell me a little bit about your promotion strategy for this record. Any unique merchandise designs in the works?
The album is pretty much on all major streaming platforms, such as Spotify, and as far as the promotion, I let Deanna handle a lot of that. One thing I’ve kind of found out with this album, since this has turned out to be a lot bigger of a project than the last one I did, is that it can be very consuming to do everything by yourself. As long as the people I work with are doing what I’d like them to, I’m very happy to hand off some of the promotion to them. We’ve done a lot of merch for this album. There’s this big photo book that comes with the album, if you buy it, and it features tons of images that go along with the music. It’s a huge, 120-page book that tells the story of the album as you listen to it. It doesn’t have lyrics in the traditional sense of a lyric book, but it them embedded into the images from the book. It’s something that you don’t see a lot of smaller bands doing often, mostly because it’s not financially feasible for most bands to do, but it’s something I really wanted to do for this album.
Who came up with most of the designs for the book? Was it mostly just you, or did you do other collaborations?
So, when I came up with the concept of the photo book, I knew what I wanted to do for the cover. I went online, and I basically found someone who did pretty much what I was wanting. They were from Spain and her name was Laura Tietjens. So I contacted her and then I went to someone local in my town named Wade Hawk from Hawk Eye Photography, who I approached about doing the photo book. Steven Wilson, the artist I had mentioned before, had done photo books that were a little more elaborate than mine was, but I showed Wade this and said I’d kind of like to do something like this. So we kind of figured out how the story should go, and then got the model. From there, I kind of let him do his own thing since I didn’t want to micromanage it, because I felt it come out kind of poor if I did it that way. So, I kind of let him go, and I didn’t really fear what he would do since we had the same idea on this. I think as long as it tells the story the same way, and I think it does. It’s kind of its own thing, but it also goes with the music, which is really what I wanted in the end. It’s been harder to get people to purchase the book, since it isn’t cheap to produce, but when people do see the book they have been impressed with it. I think as long as I get it out to enough people, people will eventually start ordering it. If people see it in their face, it will be something that they will really want to have with the album.
Last question, Nathan: If you could think of a perfect collaboration with another artist in today’s music scene to pair with your music, who would it be and why?
Hmm. If I was going to do a collaboration with my music, I’d want to do something completely different than what my music is. I definitely share some stylistic similarities with Steven Wilson, but I probably wanted to do that (collaboration) since we sound similar. If I’d pick one, I’d probably say Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth. It would be completely different that the sound I’m going for now, and something new would come out of it. Their music is very unique, especially in the death metal genre, where the guitar playing is very melodic and special.
Thank you Nathan for the interview! Anything else you would like to share today?
If people would like to go check out the new stuff out on the website, as far as the music, merch, and photo book, all of the things I talked about are there. As far as the future…touring and/or another album. I don’t like to sit still, I’m very busy with the new music.
Thanks again, and I wish you the best of luck and I hope we cross paths again in the near future.
Thank you again for you having me on to do this interview.