Florida’s Roadkill Ghost Choir releases its new album In Tongues next month but the band is already on the road in support of the record. In some ways that’s fitting as songwriter and vocalist Andrew Shepard explains. Many of the lyrics are about coming to grips with life as a touring musician.
“There’s definitely a few themes that all the songs—or most of the songs are connected by," he says. "Being on the road for most of the year. Being away from your family and friends and stuff. There’s definitely a sense of loneliness or trying to figure out what home is.”
Some of that longing is captured on the song “HWY.” The instruments capture the eeriness that accompanies late night travel and Shepard’s vocal delivery conveys the confusion and longing of the road.
“You just kind of lose sense of the date. Or the day of the week,” Shepard says.
Shepard describes the band’s first year or so on the road as “bleak” with thin audiences and bad pay. Audiences have grown over the last year, making the initial hard work pay off. However, there are still difficult moments.
“I do enjoy touring because not a lot of people get to see the country like we do," he says. "We’re incredibly lucky to be able to do it and be able to play fun shows and have the opportunities that we have. But there are those moments where it’s, like, ‘Oh God! What have I done?’”
Shepard adds that this new album also touches on some of the things the band has faced together, such as critics who have drawn some unlikely comparisons between Roadkill Ghost Choir and its contemporaries.
“We’ve been compared to a lot of weird bands over the years, like Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers," he says. "I guess these new Americana, radio-ready bands and I never really understood it.”
In fact, Shepard says that his greatest musical influences couldn’t be further away from the pop sensibilities of those two acts. He points to artier bands such as Wilco and Radiohead and, especially Wilco’s 2002 album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
“It doesn’t care about the listener," he says. "They just did what they wanted to do and luckily it worked out for them. It’s a great album. Radiohead? I’m a huge fan of them and how they go into making records and writing songs. It’s just fearless. I take a lot influence from those guys. It’s cool for younger bands to look at that and realize that you can do whatever you want.”
Roadkill Ghost Choir performs at Lucky’s on Tuesday night.
The band’s new album In Tongues is out on August 19.