Returning to the studio for the first time since the success of 2012’s Albatross, Big Wreck approached the making of their fourth full-length album Ghosts, with a renewed sense of wonder toward the very things that turned them on to rock and roll in the first place. "Prior to this and before Albatross, I always had to sneak music in somewhere between a designed pop hit,” says frontman and guitarist Ian Thornley. "That was never really my bag. This time I just sort of said, ‘you know what, I’m going to make an album that I would really, really want to hear and that I’m madly in love with,’ and that’s what we did.”
The album, which took upwards of 6 months to complete and was recorded at Revolution Studios and Vespa Studios in Toronto, was a seemingly natural next step for the band. While it stays true to the driving intensity, booming drum sound and unbridled guitar virtuosity that has always made Big Wreck so appealing, it also explores bold new aural territory which sees the band letting their guard down for the first time to return to the seeds of long forgotten ideas. "Now I find that I’m finally getting through a lot of concepts and tricks that I’ve always wanted to try on a record but had previously put on the backburner or even forgotten about, because it was always about crafting a hit,” says Thornley. "This time, nothing felt forced or rushed, everything just felt right and it’s so great to finally be able to indulge and to have that be okay.”
While crafting hits has never been an issue for Big Wreck, the recording of Ghosts was really more about closing out those outside pressures, checking their doubts at the door and tuning in to really let their creative juices flow. "It just takes one little drop of doubt to ruin the whole thing,” says Ian. "When you start second guessing yourself, you’re pulled out of the moment and out of the creative flow. Our little group here understands that and always tries to move in a forward motion. If you’re turned on by something and it sounds right then it is right, regardless of someone else’s opinion of what it should or shouldn’t be.”
While the recording process, which engulfed the making of Ghosts, was an all-consuming 24/7 ordeal, what was produced as a result will surely be regarded as some of Big Wreck’s most inspired work. "It’s really all about what happens when you’re sitting at the desk and you’ve got your head between the speakers,” says Ian. "There’s just a feeling that I’m aiming for, whether that’s making the hair on the back of your neck stand tall or tearing up, I’m totally consumed by trying to get that feeling; it’s definitely my drug of choice and I’m a junky for it, I need it.”
Atmospherically, the album [Ghosts] explores an incredibly wide range of sounds, some that fans might not expect to hear from Big Wreck. "The creative palette is a lot broader on this record, and sonically there’s a lot more going on that I just haven’t heard before,” notes Ian. "This record has it all for me. We’ve cut out the things that just didn’t feel right––there’s none of that in there––every little noise, every little nuance adds something to the ether of each track and it all sounds exactly like what we wanted.” Having tackled everything from piano interludes to 80’s inspired gated reverb, Ghosts reveals a side of Big Wreck that is unabashedly musical.
Capturing that long sought after vision with such raw fervor is an achievement Ian largely attributes to the chemistry he and the rest of Big Wreck share with long time friends and producers Eric Ratz (Billy Talent, Cancer Bats) and Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Rush), whom with they worked alongside during the recording of Albatross. "I think we just finally have a good team and a good family in place,” he says. "Everyone from the management all the way through the camp is on the same page and tuned to the same channel.”
In an effort to give every song exactly what it needed to flourish, both Eric and Nick worked day in and day out to help spark and guide the band’s creative efforts. "They’ve given us a lot of rope––granted I might hang myself with it––but that is something I love creatively,” jokes Ian. "If Albatross sort of re-opened the door for us as Big Wreck, then this new album definitely kicks it down.”
All joking aside, Albatross did much more than just re-ignite an old flame; the album debuted at #5 on the Top 200 SoundScan chart in Canada and hit #25 on the US Billboard HeatSeekers chart. The album’s lead single "Albatross,” also made Big Wreck the first Canadian band to hit #1 on the Canadian rock radio chart in over a year, a position they maintained for six weeks. Quite the feat considering they had just returned from a near decade long hiatus.
"This time around, it really feels like we are a band that has a direction and a thing that we are going for,” says Ian. "I truly love each of the songs on this record equally because in my mind they all came from and are going to the same place.”
For a band that planted their roots nearly 20 years ago, Big Wreck has finally arrived at that place where all of the pieces fit. The walls are down, the chemistry is electric and the output is their most fearless brand of rock and roll to date. It’s that same rumbling voice, those gut-wrenching lyrics and those brilliant reverb drenched guitars that erupt from the speakers before soaring skyward, it’s just been blown wide open further down the track. "I haven’t changed, and for the most part, the people who are directly around me haven’t changed either,” says Ian warmly. "I think the attitude is just different this time. Once you give up that rock star bullshit it’s a whole lot easier to get down and dirty and make music, and it’s really nice to know that we can spend our time focusing in on what I call "the good shit” and still have a career.”