Most bands tour. Very few bands choose to play an “anti-tour.”
That’s what James Acton, the drummer of L.A. psychedelia-inspired band Spindrift, calls the band’s new venture. “Usually we pass by all these places and, if we are lucky, catch a quick glimpse of them out the window as we speed along to the next show. We are turning the whole thing upside down and the focus of the tour is to explore all these amazing sites, mingle with the spirits and play a few shows along the way.”
Spindrift’s Ghost Town Tour will take the band to traditional club shows — like its Wednesday stop at Garage on Beck — as well as semi-acoustic sets in actual abandoned ghost towns along the route. The ghost-town performances will be documented by a live film crew and will be included on Spindrift’s next album, “Songs Born of the West,” due to be released in early 2013.
Spindrift’s live show includes Western garb, an array of instruments from indigenous to electric and cinema-inspired projections. The band plays an array of songs from low-budget indie filmsit has scored that include classic cowboy songs and original material. And, if the audience is lucky, some spirits might be part of the live show. “Places have spirits, times have spirits,” Acton said. “The spirit of the West, for example.”
The band came together far away from the West, in a state most Westerners know little about: Delaware. In 2002, Kirkpatrick Thomas, singer and guitarist, decided to move the band to Los Angeles. As he began driving west across the Great Plains, he began to see landscapes that inspired him. He quickly made a mix-tape of classic spaghetti Western scores, and the band listened to it nonstop while crossing the desert through deserted towns.
It seemed inevitable that the band would return to explore those deserted regions. “It’s a coincidence the tour is around Halloween,” Thomas said. “But once I realized that, I thought, it all makes sense.”
Even though they are happy to be in Los Angeles because of film work, you get the sense that the musicians will truly be at home in places that others have left vacant, places like Bodie, Deadwood and Tombstone.
“Living in Los Angeles makes me crave space and solitude much more than I ever have before,” Acton said, “because no matter where I go here, I can’t avoid people. My need for escape has never been greater.”
On the road as a musician, he gets to experience a different life, including vast panoramic scenes, small towns, massive cities, cultures that are stuck in the past, cultures that are pushing ahead into the future and people from all walks of life.
Life on the road helps to explain the cinematic nature of the band’s music. “Music and film are teleportation devices,” Acton said. “The less the music is laden with lyrics about boys and girls falling in love, the more the imagination is given free rein and is able to transport the performer and listener to distant lands and times. Our music sounds like the places we will be visiting on this tour. It’s an invitation to the listener to join us there.”
While in Utah, the band plans to take a side trip to Park City, intrigued by the way the place transformed itself from a mining mecca to a tourism resort.
Garage on Beck isn’t known to be haunted, despite the fire in June that sparked a remodel. But the band is traveling with a Ouija board, just in case there’s a need to investigate.
Ghost Town Tour
When • Wednesday, Oct. 24, 9 p.m.
Where • Garage on Beck, 1199 Beck St., Salt Lake City
Tickets • $5 at door