November 19th, 2015 marked a devastating day for U.S. metalcore outfit The Ghost Inside: the band was involved in a fatal accident while on tour. Following five years of intense recovery, the collective have made their grand comeback with a powerful self-titled album.
Nearly five years ago, tragedy struck Los Angeles band The Ghost Inside while they were travelling between concerts from Lubbock, Texas to Phoenix, Arizona. With only four shows left in their The Locals Only tour, their tour bus collided with a tractor trailer causing multiple injuries and fatalities, subsequently leading the band to a four-year hiatus.
The repercussions of the traumatic accident led to the death of the driver in the opposing vehicle, Steven Cunningham, as well the driver of The Ghost Inside’s tour bus, Gregory Hoke, while leaving the five members of the metalcore band, as well as the five members of their crew, with serious injuries.
Stemming from this accident, frontman Jonathan Vigil suffered from a fractured back, ligament damage, and two broken ankles, while guitarist Zack Johnson survived through 13 surgeries to repair his femur, thus far, and drummer Andrew Tkaczyk having his right leg amputated above the knee.
The past five years has stood as a testament of strength for the band that they can make it through anything that life throws at them, and it is truly evident in their self-titled comeback album, which is out today.
To commemorate the journey the band has underwent, and in celebration of the incredible, and encouraging, stamina they possess, drummer Andrew Tkaczyk shares with Tone Deaf the endurance that occurred in the making of their new album The Ghost Inside.
“It’s been a long time coming, and it’s almost surreal that in a few days we’re going to be able to say that a new The Ghost Inside record is out in the wild,” Tkaczyk speaks of the new record.
“It’s something for a certain period of time we thought would never happen. We didn’t know when it would happen and now we’re just looking back through the entire journey,” he states.
With the new record out today, Tkaczyk notes that it feels as if the album is “a final stamp” on their recovery: “We did it and we did this comeback 100%.”
Check out ‘Aftermath’ by The Ghost Inside:
Serving as a follow up to their 2014 album Dear Youth, Tkaczyk expresses that they were on track to have a new album much sooner than this six year gap, but that is another thing that was stunted due to the accident.
Even though this album is arriving now, five years after the disastrous day, Tkaczyk finds an interesting, and eerie connection to songs that feature on the album that were written prior to the accident: “The one that stayed, almost structurally, exactly the same was ‘Aftermath’,” he stated.
“I saved the demo after I wrote it as ‘Aftermath’ for absolutely no reason at all. I don’t know why. It’s just the word I chose. It, almost, eerily foreshadowed what happened to us, and it sort of put a twist on the negative connotation of the word ‘aftermath’.
“In this situation, our aftermath was realising that there was quality of life after what happened to us, and with hard work and dedication, we got back to a level we thought we couldn’t get to before, and that’s pretty crazy.”
The powerful single from the new album, ‘Aftermath’, moved fans to tears in the company of its music video, which included an intro of the news report from the accident, archived footage of their comeback gigs, and remote recordings from the band members during COVID-19 isolation.
After addressing that the initial idea was to meet in Los Angeles and shoot a professional music video, the global pandemic shunted those plans to the back burner, but created a different magical element in itself.
“I think I can confidently say that it turned out probably better than it would have if we’d done a professional video,” Tkaczyk says. “The impact that it’s made on people – it’s just hit the mark in every single way that we wanted it to, and that was incredible. The video takes that song to the next level. The visuals in it give a completely elevated and amplified effect, I think.”
Check out drummer Andrew Tkacyk’s road to recovery:
Although it’s difficult enough in itself to produce a new album and share it with the world, The Ghost Inside has shared a different journey in getting this record out by having to overcome multiple health obstacles to get them back into the position that being in a band would be viable, specifically with Tkaczyk, the band’s drummer, losing his right leg.
“For myself, personally,” Tkaczyk begins, “it was obviously the task of having to relearn how to play drums again. The years of going back and forth with assistive devices in different ways and finding what works and what doesn’t work, and having ups and downs of ‘I want to do this’ and ‘I don’t want to do this’ and ‘I can’t’ back to ‘okay, I can do this’.”
Although Tkaczyk notes that the experience was very taxing, and an emotional rollercoaster, with the help of his dad he is able to have the freedom to play the drums, and play them in an empowering way, with a custom tool to help him use his right kick pedal.
“I have a device that my dad made me so I can play with what limb I have left on my right when I don’t have a prosthetic attached to my body. It gives me this freedom to swing my weight around and move around, and I’m not bound to the kick pedal like I was with a prosthetic.
“With the prosthetic and the kick drum, my foot had to be strapped down, or else it would slide off. This new device that my dad made just totally changed the game for me. Other than that, my drum kit is exactly the same. The hammer is what I call it.”
Check out The Ghost Inside’s 2019 comeback:
With all the resilience The Ghost Inside has exhibited across the past five years, and in making this comeback, Tkaczyk expresses that he doesn’t want people who listen to the album to view the band as wounded, but rather take the music in for what it is, yet he understands that the accident will always be intertwined with their musical career.
“I think we’re all pretty aware that those two will always be intertwined. That’s just something we’re going to have to accept and embrace actively. It’s not about getting bummed out about it, it’s reality, and it’s going to be there. We have to embrace it.
“I look at it as if this message, and our message, can help even one person out there with something they’re going through, then we’ve done our job, and we’ve put something positive into the world, and that’s what the world needs right now. The world needs positivity, and that’s our goal.
“I think that’s always been our M.O. in the band. I think there’s going to be a good amount of people that maybe haven’t heard the band for themselves that will hear the band for the first time with this record, and they might hear it and have no idea of our story. They’re still going to be into it and be floored by it. I’m totally confident that it will happen.”
On a final note, Tkaczyk noted that while they’re not able to do any sort of tour to support their album due to coronavirus suspending concerts, the entire band is keen to get themselves on Australian shores once again, and fully come back to life as a band.
“Australia is our home away from home, Tkaczyk details. “I think it’s collectively the band’s favourite place. We would absolutely love to. There’s no set in stone plans yet, no, but we’d love to. We’re just kind of adapting as the world is at the same time.”