When one gazes upon the vibrant music landscape, it becomes evident that originality truly is the lifeblood of our aural fascination. Nestled within this tableau of sound is a band that takes the mundanity of our breakfast table and transforms it into a spine-tingling rock and roll spectacle. Enter Atlanta’s own campy rock’n’roll spooksters, The Tomb Tones, featured on the amazing Horrorpunk’s Not Dead!, Vol 1 compilation, whose sophomore album, “Ghost of Toast“, promises to serve up a delightfully hair-raising experience.
Brimming with a distinctive Halloween punk rock sweetness, The Tomb Tones have carved out a niche for themselves in the musical underworld. Their ability to seamlessly weave hokey horror references, infectious hooks, and spine-chilling narratives into their music harkens back to the band’s influences – the iconic novelty rock of The Cramps, the punchy rhythm of the Ramones, and the quirky energy of the B-52s.
“Ghost of Toast” springs forth from a theatrical well of ghoulish creativity, toying with listeners as they journey through the loosely connected narrative of an unfortunate wheat mill worker turned midnight snack. Echoes of late-night horror host specials, such as Elvira’s Movie Macabre and Tales From the Crypt, reverberate through the album’s structural bones, providing a framework for the band’s cinematic storytelling style.
A track by track dissection of this album we’re hosting today begins with the opening salvo “Wormhole”, a rocking cacophony of ghastly humor and pulsating rhythm that sets the stage for the tales to come. Following close on its heels is the earworm “Halloween Mart,” a tune that successfully interweaves tongue-in-cheek terror with a rhythm that refuses to let your feet remain still. This approach, of encapsulating each bone-chilling short horror story within a rock and roll track, pervades the album, culminating in a blistering punk rock cover of Ritchie Valens’ 1958 hit “Come On Let’s Go”.
Since their debut at festivals such as Bubbapalooza, Rockabillaque, and Dragon Con in 2019, The Tomb Tones have been captivating audiences with their unique fusion of vintage rock rhythms, spooky narratives, and a comically eerie aesthetic that conjures images of Buddy Holly meeting The Twilight Zone. Their DIY-style debut album, “Pumpkin Guts“, released in 2020, laid the foundation for their distinct sound, which further evolves in “Ghost of Toast“.
As “Ghost of Toast” prepares for its independent release on June 23, 2023, The Tomb Tones remain an innovative force, combining their love for rock-and-roll, comedic horror story wordplay, and late-night horror specials. They have turned their creative vision into a spectral symphony that continues to haunt and delight listeners in equal measure.
“Ghost of Toast” is a journey through the uncanny, brimming with inside jokes, theatrical narration, and the musings of a band that’s found its stride in the outlandish. Each track reflects a distinct aspect of their unique blend of influences and ideas. From tales spun out of adolescent inside jokes, nods to the relentless enthusiasm of their Halloween-obsessed fanbase, to songs inspired by pop culture phenomena, the album explores a spectrum of comedic horror scenarios set to punk rock. Revisits to early demos, “boo-wop” inspired numbers, and a cheeky foray into commercial-like narrative offer a variety of tastes for the discerning listener. Whether they’re stirring up mischief with startle pranks, layering countless tracks for the perfect cacophony, or diving into the world of classic horror, The Tomb Tones find a way to keep listeners guessing while firmly planting their black-clad feet in the unusual.
Track by track commentary, by Kyle from The Tomb Tones
Track 1 – Intro/ “The Ghost of Toast”
The phrase Ghost of Toast goes back almost 20 years, to when my bandmates and I were in high school (we used it as a “fake band” name for our senior year talent show – and won! – and again to play at a house party years later, which is actually the show that the Tomb Tones grew out of) but it wasn’t until we were putting the finishing touches on our second album that we thought, maybe we should do a song about an actual ghost of toast. While kicking around ideas, I landed on the concept of a spoken word poem rather than a song – inspired by late night specials like Elvira’s Movie Macabre, or a Vincent Price reading. I soundscaped the background to feel like a cheesy Halloween FX track and narrated over it. Pretty fitting that an inside joke with so much shared history for us ended up as the throughline for the album!
Track 2 – Halloween Mart
When we first started gigging, we found ourselves quickly immersed in a “Halloween 24/7/365” culture of fans. Clearly we’ve got our own love for the holiday, but I have a whole other level of respect for the DIY home haunters, cosplayers, and artists who breathe it with every waking breath. And so many of them do it because they want to share their enjoyment in horror and Halloween so that other people might find that same enjoyment. But what if there was a guy who took that mentality too far and was a bit possessive about it? So the song is a bit about the absurdity of gatekeeping, but trying to keep it light and fun. The main character is also an arsonist, so it was fun to do a bit of research on arson (like that the perpetrator often gets off on it, and enjoys telling people about the crime afterwards) and try to incorporate that into the lyrics.
Track 3 – Wormhole
This song has been gestating for a long time. I had written a rough draft of it when I was probably 19 or 20, and sat on the idea for years. I was actually in the process of trying to record it myself (poorly) when the band started in 2017. But thanks to my bandmates and especially the mixing prowess of our bassist Jesse (Carl Sin), we were able to arrange it into a full song that I absolutely love, which became the first single for the new release.
Track 4 – Dead Meat
This track is a re-record of our very first demo, about a guy who thinks his significant other might be having an affair but discovers she’s actually a serial killer. I love using lyrics to write stories that take a dark turn, and the “look inside it’s a dead body” twist at the end of the first verse has become a big singalong moment at hometown shows. I’m also pretty big on gender swapping traditional roles in these type stories and comedically framing myself as the recipient of any violence in our songs. There’s more than enough horrorpunk about chopping up women in my opinion. It’s their turn to hold the axe.
Track 5 – Googly Eyes
What’s a spooky retro-rock band without some cheeseball doo-wop.. er.. “boo”-wop? I listen to a lot of Ricky Nelson, Del Shannon, Dion, and that type of stuff, so I wanted to fully commit to the idea of a 1950’s heartbreak crooner. But of course, make it Tomb Tones weird. We had a blast recording the backing vocals. This song is always a hit when we play Atlanta’s huge pop culture festival Dragon Con; there’s a whole subculture around googly eyes there.
Track 6 – And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor… (Miracle Bread)
After I had finished the intro and epilogue with the story about the Bill, the unfortunate flour-based phantasm, I felt like the album needed a little midway reminder to help tie things together. Going back to the late-night special horror host idea, I thought it’d be fun to cut to commercial break here, and add a little lore. Where did Bill work? Is anyone looking for him? Fun fact: that’s me (Kyle) doing every voice on that track – even the dozen layered tracks of kids singing.
Track 7 – Mr. Babadookie
At an early practice for the band, our bassist Jesse said “Let’s do a song about the Babadook.” I walked up to the mic and said “weeeeeeeellll” and with no hesitation we immediately played a mumble-jam version of the entire song right off the bat. I went home and finalized the lyrics, and that was that. One of my favorite parts of playing with Brent (or drummer) and Jesse is that we often have an inherent musical understanding of what each other are thinking. Sean MacFarland of Atlanta band Taj Motel Trio plays the sax solo on the recording – Thanks Sean!
Track 8 – Jumpy
This is one of my favorite songs on the album. I wrote it on an acoustic while at a friend’s Halloween party shortly after the band started. I absolutely love to walk up behind my wife and startle her to make her scream, which, obviously, she’s not a huge fan of. But the song is meant to be an endearing little nod to that. I’m definitely leaning into my best Mick Jagger impression here.
Track 9 – Think Tank
This song idea came to me while watching Stranger Things, when Eleven is in her deprivation tank. I often bite off more than I can chew in terms of having creative ideas but not enough time or means to follow through on them (see my above comments on “Wormhole” taking 20 years to produce). I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to. Part of forming the band was a resolution to actually do something with all these ideas rather than just sit on them. It was Jesse’s idea to put organ in the intro – I think he may have been trolling me when he suggested it – but we ran with it, but I got the final revenge by adding that transatlantic accent for absolutely no reason.
Track 10 – Come On, Let’s Go
Our first public performance ever was at a local festival called Hollyfest, held at the Star Community Bar in Atlanta, GA. It’s a tribute to Buddy Holly, Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens, so we closed out our set with a rendition of Ritchie Valens’ song “Come On, Let’s Go.” You can find it on Youtube if you look around. It’s become our standard show closer, so we’ve been itching to record it for quite some time, but we really went wild with it for the recording – I think I layered 25 or 30 tracks of nonsense babble and screaming at the end. I’m sure the neighbors loved it.
Track 11 – Epilogue
So ends our tale – thanks for letting me guide you through our album Ghost of Toast! Special thanks to Dan at We Are Horror Records for helping to set up this feature. I hope you enjoyed it – and we love connecting with people so please look us up and send a message! And… Stay spooky!