Likened to being lost in the woods at night, Grandpa’s Ghost (Ben Hanna, Bill Emerson, Jack Petracek) is interesting, intense and inspiring, but also alarming—especially for those who prefer the well-lit, clear-cut path of musical genres and three-minute radio-friendly singles.
For the adventurous, however, Grandpa’s Ghost is the perfect companion through the musical wilderness. Not so much as a forest ranger who demands you follow, but rather as a trouble-making friend who dares you to come with them someplace you’re not sure anyone has ever been before.
Founded in Pocahontas, Illinois, in 1995 by Ben and Bill, the band was originally known for its cow-punk, country/psych sound but over the course of 20+ years, has moved into more experimental terrain, collaborating with other musicians, filmmakers, writers, painters and performance artists.
In 2000, the band signed to Upland Records (a label run by former SST chief Joe Carducci and Black Flag/Descendents drummer Bill Stevenson) and released a trio of highly acclaimed albums with the Village Voice of New York describing them as "one of America's best bands.” Also throughout the 2000s, the band worked with avant-garde underground filmmaker/visual artist James Fotopolous, a collaboration that culminated in the band providing the core music for his take on Alice in Wonderland in 2010.
"Grandpa’s Ghost ground their hypnotic country rock deeper into psychedelia than anyone short of Neil Young & Crazy Horse" - Joe Carducci
"Certain sequences of the band's passage may remind me (or you) of second album moves by the Meat Puppets, or Kris Kringle, or Pink Floyd, but the exquisite excess of their root-sound is unique and unparalleled" - Byron Coley
"Thrilling and confounding in equal measure...it’s hard to tell if Grandpa’s Ghost is the strangest normal band in the world or vice versa" - Time Out NY
"They’re a lot closer to side two of Rust Never Sleeps than to side one. Especially if Crazy Horse were a Kraut-rock band" - Chuck Eddy, Village Voice
"Weighted by expectations of what a band playing a country bar should sound like, those who split didn’t notice one of America’s best bands standing in front of them. They weren’t aware — though you could hardly blame them—of an obscure outfit’s evolution from slightly off genre-players to first-rate musical oddballs; they weren’t aware that Grandpa’s Ghost brainstormed this remarkable evolution at the fringes of perhaps the most reactionary subgenre around" - Jon Fine, Village Voice
"Grandpa’s Ghost, an Illinois group operating without a safety net, whose wilfully drawn-out experimentation co-exists with the distorted guitars and lonesome whine of psychedelicised country rock...deeply fried..." - Tom Ridge, The Wire
"Guitarist/vocalist Ben Hanna and multi-instrumentalist Bill Emerson, with the help of numerous hired hands along the way, launched Grandpa’s Ghost on the edge of the Missouri alt-country scene that sprang up around the Bottle Rockets and Uncle Tupelo. They soon progressed into a deeply fried rural psychedelia, alternating delicately pretty acoustic tunes with epic electric space-rock freakouts, a marriage of No Depression and krautrock, Pink Floyd and Sonic Youth. If Faust or Ash Ra Temple had been Illinois farmboys not German hippies, they would have made music like Grandpa’s Ghost" - Trouser Press
"Grandpa’s Ghost welds dark back-porch alt-country to heavy psychedelia in beautifully implausible ways...startlingly good" - Chicago Reader
"Most Likely To Have Experienced At Least One UFO Abduction Without Reporting it: Grandpa’s Ghost" - Noisy Paper
Machine (1995, Milk The Cow)
Click and Drag (1996, Milk The Cow)
Gun Shy and Trigger Happy (1996, Milk The Cow)
Il Baccio (2000, Upland)
Stardust and Smog/Early Autumn Waltz at the Two/Fourteen (2001, Upland, 2xCDs)
(the tumble/love version) : hear past the static (2002, Upland, 2xCDs)
Music From the Fotopoulos Projects (2005, Phosphorus)
Anesthetize the Dissonance of Your Cranium (2007, Phosphorus, 4xCDs)
Bardot/The Void (2007, Phosphorus, 2xCDs)
Harry’s Passion/Painted Skull and Other Fun Songs (2007, Phosphorus, 2xCDs)
The Prairie Drone Refraction (There Is No Time) EP (2007, Echolocation/Phosphorus)
The Carnage Queen (2017, Transduction, 2xLPs)
Country of Piss (2017, Transduction)
Lilac Perfume & Stomach Pump (2018, Transduction)
The London's Cat-Meat (2020, Phosphorus)