Cool Ghouls Revive The Lost Spirit of Rock

Any ghoul can haunt a nightmare. But it takes a cool ghoul to haunt a house party.

Meet San Francisco’s Cool Ghouls. You can find them at your local chill-ass party kicking back with a good tall boy and a blunt, rocking out throwback tunes.

Pairing mesmerizing rhythm guitars with vocals that are rich in harmony but occasionally harsh, the Cool Ghouls make music that’s catchy as hell. The tragic, yet dreamy lyrics transport listeners to a time when rock ‘n’ roll really reigned.

Cool Ghouls Ryan Wong (guitar/vocals), Pat Thomas (bass), Pat McDonald (guitar/vocals) and Alex Fleshman (drummer) are true-blue rockers eager to take listeners on adventures though the best eras in music history.

“We’re just rock ‘n’ roll,” Wong says. “We’re not trying to go towards anything or have a certain genre in mind, it’s just under the umbrella of rock ‘n’ roll.”

Photo by Arvel Hernandez

It’s easy to believe Cool Ghouls came out of a time capsule. Wong tells BTRtoday that they all grew up surrounded by Motown, The Beatles and lots of ‘60s and ’70s twang.

Their latest release, Gord’s Horse, kicks it even more old school. It’s currently only available as a cassette tape, in person, for sale at a show. Wong describes the tape as “a country gospel about a horse.” He admits that this time around Frank Zappa was a heavy influence on him, “his songs are very inviting humor-wise.”

The Cool Ghouls let their funny bone lead them. The idea for the title track of Gord’s Horse came from an album Wong spotted in the $1 bin at the record store where he works.

“I saw a Gordon Lightfoot album called Gord’s Gold and I just thought it was really funny. The name G-o-r-d, it’s just like a plant or something,” Wong laughs. “The song kind of wrote itself after that.”

Photo by Arvel Hernandez

Gord’s Horse is the first time the band has recorded and produced material entirely on their own.

“It just felt like we needed to put these ones out, because we’re going to record in the fall again for another proper album,” Wong says. “I think these songs were the in-between that we needed to do before that—it was just getting them off our chest.”

This is the second full US tour for the Ghouls, ending June 3 in the California graveyard they call home. They recently played two shows in NYC and brought out the monster in everyone. One on the roof of Our Wicked Lady with local punkers Thick, Bueno, and Human People, and another at Brooklyn Bazaar with local rockers The Mystery Lights, Breanna Barbara, and out-of-towners The Nude Party.

Each gig was drenched in true-blue rock ‘n’ roll, tequila shots and beer showers. You couldn’t have asked for more entertainment.