Jun 25, 2019
Singer, songwriter and pianist Ben Thornewill started his band, Jukebox The Ghost, with two friends in 2003 when he was in college at George Washington University. “From day one we were just kind of making it up,” he says. He adds “It’s the same three members from the very beginning and everything is a series of great compromises.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. He says, “It tends out to work out to something that defines who we are.” The power pop trio features piano, guitar, and drums. Their songs are clever, catchy, poppy, joyful, sometimes dramatic, and often tinged with elements of classical and even musical theater.
As he tells it, “We are the exception to the rule because we have all been making a living as a band for over a decade...there’s only three of so we don’t have to pay for a bass player. A bass player would have bankrupted us a long time ago.”
I met Ben earlier this year during the first of a series of solo shows he was doing, alone at the piano. He made a point from the stage of talking about how part of what he was doing was improvising but rather than doing it in a jazz or blues idiom, he was doing it using more classical cadences. The open and outward embrace of classical music into contemporary pop was intriguing to me.
We talked about what it means to be successful, maintaining a productive and creative life, the existential crisis of coming off the road, putting in the work, introducing classical elements into pop music, and the importance of Bourbon to Kentuckians.