Interview Q&A: Johnny Baab, Guitarist for Ghost Hounds Blues/Rock Band

Photo: Ghost Hounds by Jay Arcansalin

Interview Q&A: Johnny Baab, Guitarist for Ghost Hounds Blues/Rock Band

By Martine Ehrenclou

Pittsburgh-based, rock & roll infused blues/rock six-piece, the Ghost Hounds have been touring with the Rolling Stones. It’s not their first time either. That’s how good they are. And with a vocalist like Tré Nation and guitarists Thomas Tull and Johnny Baab, Joe Munroe on keys, Bennett Miller on bass, and Blaise Lanzetta on drums, this outfit is headed for the big time. The band has already impressed the masses enough to also tour with Bob Seger and ZZ Top and they opened for Garth Brooks the day after their new release You Broke Me was released in May of 2022.

their third album, You Broke Me out on Maple House Records, co-written by Tull and producer Kevin Bowe, is modern blues/rock at its best, dynamic and fresh while paying tribute to the roots of the genre. With uncompromising swagger, Tre’ Nation is their sure advantage with his gritty, soulful voice. The band is a freight train, on track and tight with outstanding musicians and great songs. You Broke Me follows their last LP, A Little Calamity which they played on a seven-night run with The Stones their first time around and Roses Are Black was unleashed in 2019. With remarkable guitar by Baab and Tull, they conjure rock & roll with a bluesy edge. After a year of touring, they congregated in the studio together, to collaborate on You Broke Me.

Rock & Blues Muse
Thanks for making the time for the interview. I introduced Ghost Hounds to our 9,000 member group and everyone loves your music. Now, members are sharing your music on a regular basis, especially from your new album, You Broke Me.

Johnny Baab
Thank you so much Martine! We are so thrilled to be a part of it. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

RBM
You’ve been touring with The Rolling Stones. What’s it been like to reunite with them on tour?

Johnny
This is the third time this summer that we’ve linked up with the SIXTY tour in Europe, and it’s always a blast. We’re in Germany right now for the tour finale and couldn’t be more honored to help them close out their 60th Anniversary tour.

RBM
Do you have planned setlists for your shows from You Broke Me, A Little Calamity and Roses are Black?

Johnny
Yeah, our setlist has tunes from every album, and even some unreleased songs too.

RBM
You Broke Me has some scorching and rocking songs, some with a rock & roll spin. Why a blues album now?

Johnny
Blues is the root of all music that we hear today- especially rock and roll. We wanted to pay tribute to that and the lineage of great music that has come before us and inspired us.

RBM
Your track “You Broke Me” features you playing stunning guitar. Tell me how you came up with the riffs and solo? Improvisation in the studio or did you pre-pave the way?

Ghost Hounds band photo

Photo: Ghost Hounds by Jay Arcansalin

Johnny
Aw shucks–thank you! This album was really fun because we all just got into the studio and hit record, so a lot of it was improvised as far as guitar solos go. Of course there’s always a framework, but a lot of it was unscripted.

RBM
How did you all start playing together?

Johnny
Thomas and I were introduced by a mutual friend, Ty Taylor from Vintage Trouble. When we first started hanging and jamming together, we really wanted to play music that we wanted to hear. He’s an incredible songwriter and it’s been very fulfilling to see these songs come to life.

RBM
How and when did you first form as a band? Have you always had this unique and signature sound or did it transform? When did your lead singer Tré come into your band?

Johnny
This iteration of Ghost Hounds came together in 2018, and that’s when Tré and the rest of us linked up. As we’ve played together more and more I would say there has definitely been a natural evolution of the sound.

RBM
“Still You” has some stinging, beautiful guitar on it. Love the solo. Tell me about how it came about.

Johnny
Thomas plays the solo on that track–he was on fire that day! I’m pretty sure we cut that one in one or two takes. In the blues it’s important for the feeling to come through.

RBM
Who are your musical influences as a band?

Johnny
Well, obviously The Stones have influenced most of modern music haha, but we also love older blues stuff like Howlin’ Wolf, BB King, Muddy Waters, etc.

RBM
How about guitar heroes?

Johnny
Oh, there are probably too many for me to name here, but I am a huge Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan fan.

RBM
Your slide guitar playing on You Broke Me is stellar. How long have you been playing?

Johnny
I’ve been playing since I was about eight- which makes for about 25 years now. I’m actually playing slide guitar on the title track, and Thomas takes care of most of the leads.

RBM
You play electric and acoustic guitar on the album. Beautiful playing. Do you write on acoustic?

Johnny
I love guitar in many forms haha… but when I was a kid I thought that playing electric guitar was just the coolest thing… I still do for that matter! A good song has legs on its own so I usually prefer to write on acoustic.

RBM
Tell me about “Lonesome Graveyard.” Great cover. The acoustic guitar is so soulful.

Johnny
That’s a deep cut from Lightning Hopkins. A big part of this record was paying homage to the lineage of the blues. We cut that track early one morning and really wanted to capture the haunting nature of it. When you’re playing the blues it’s all about emotion so I’m proud that we were able to capture that.

RBM
What’s coming up for The Ghost Hounds?

Johnny
Well, first, we are in Berlin tonight with The Rolling Stones, but we are also working on new music and are lining up some more shows. We should have some cool announcements coming up soon!

For more information on Ghost Hounds see their website Here

Listen “Baby We’re Through”

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