A beer and a whiskey with Ann Arbor’s Ghost City Searchlight

. March 1, 2017.
Members of Irish punk band Ghost City Searchlight relax (from left): Sian Miller, Tommy Couper, Dave Brandt, Joe Sleep and Rick Dempsey
Members of Irish punk band Ghost City Searchlight relax (from left): Sian Miller, Tommy Couper, Dave Brandt, Joe Sleep and Rick Dempsey

It’s always cool to see an Irish influenced band rocking out on St. Patrick’s Day. Ghost City Searchlight raises a little hell and sticks some mud in your eye not just on March 17, but throughout the year. Current spoke with members Tommy Couper (guitar and vocals), Sian Miller (vocals and crashing things), Joe Sleep (bass), Dave Brandt (guitar and banjo), and Rick Dempsey (drums) about their brand of storytelling music and the Ann Arbor music scene.

Not your mama’s folk music

When people think of punk rock, a vision of ripping guitars filled with distortion and machine gun paced drums comes to mind. When people think of folk music, they think of melodic acoustic guitars and poetry-like lyrics. Tune down the distortion, change the poetry into narrative lyrics, and keep the energy high (maybe toss back a beer or a shot of whiskey), and you get a feel for Ghost City Searchlight. “We have a lot of punk influences. The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, and Bad Religion are some of our favorite bands.” said Couper. Some of the songs are fast, some are slower, and depending on the song and the night of the performance, the song might be a different speed, but the energy remains high.

Pirate Band and Ghost Lights

“I always liked the ghost light shining down on stage after the bands finished playing. That’s where our name came from.” said Couper. Dave Brandt and Tommy Couper, both aspiring musicians, saw an ad on Craigslist for a pirate themed band. Along with Joe Sleep, they formed a band called the “Stone Crazy Pirates”. The band even dressed the part— as pirates. “We wanted to start another band with punk and Celtic music.” said Brandt. With the addition of Miller and Dempsey, Ghost City Searchlight was formed. In the spirit of pirates and bandits, Ghost City Searchlight tells Current that one of their favorite tunes is “Grave Robin Hood”. A snippet of the lyrics are: “He robs from the rich to the poor after the rich are already dead.”

“Lots of fun in our songs!” said Miller.

The Ann Arbor Music Scene and favorite places to play

“There are a lot of cool bands and a lot of folk music in Ann Arbor. We’ve met so many great folk bands.” said Couper. Crazy Wisdom Tea Room is one of the band’s favorite places to play. “We do a lot of story songs, and Crazy Wisdom Tea Room has a neat vibe.” said Miller. Another one of the band’s favorite venues is the Wolverine State Brewing Company. “We’re a nighttime band; they’re always good to us!” Couper exclaims. “We’re dedicated to playing live music. It would be cool to see more music venues in Ann Arbor”. Ghost City Searchlight has played across Michigan and Ohio. “Putting on a tour is on the horizon,” said Couper.

St. Patrick’s Gig at the Session Room

If Whiskey is your favorite drink, come raise a glass at the Session Room (3685 Jackson Rd, Ann Arbor) on March 17, with Ghost City Searchlight. They’ll be playing their hearts out. “You should come see us live for the ridiculous fun we’re having!” said Miller.

For more contact information, check out their facebook page and their website at www.ghostcitysearchlight.com

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