Caught a Ghost's Jesse Nolan Melds Motown with the Modern World
In a town whose notoriety is soullessness itself, it comes as a surprise that Caught a Ghost is a Los Angeles-based band, best labeled as a modernized take on Motown with enough funk to move the hips of even the most jaded music critic. It's the most recent project of self-taught producer and songwriter Jesse Nolan, who unabashedly belies his sunny Southern Californian roots with his full-throated crooning.
BB Gun Press Jesse Nolan of Caught a Ghost
While it's easy to draw conclusions between Nolan's direction and Stax Records greats, there's more to the mix itself than just paying homage. If anything, Nolan's list of influences alone, from Bob Dylan to Neil Young, emphasize that Caught a Ghost's brand of pop music is about storytelling.
"I've modeled myself lyrically after people who were really intelligent individuals and had a way with words, put a lot of thought into their lyrics to not necessarily overcomplicate them but to make them sound powerful," Nolan says.
Raised in Los Angeles' beach cities west of the 405 and having studied English at University of California Berkeley, Nolan's lyricism has the elements of social understanding. He discredits notions of consumerism on a song like "Sleeping At Night," where he croons "You're the kind of emotionless creature, bites at heels of the needless seekers, mouth moves along with the meaningless speaker," yet he's careful to exclude political motives from his songs.
"I'm wary of the idea of using your music as an mouthpiece for your political voice -- on some level I believe that music is a unifier, and a lot of what happens in American political discourse is centered around specific, polarizing issues," he says. "At the very least people I think people should resist apathy and inform themselves, and then make [up] their mind about issues."
Nolan is just as calculating on an aesthetic level, donning tailored, GQ-ready suits for both press shoots and live performances. Such wardrobe choices help Caught a Ghost to stand out that much more. While we are in the era of "Suit & Tie," Nolan's rationale leans more toward hearkening to yesterday rather than a newfound Tom Ford obsession.