For nearly twenty years, Milwaukee’s Cactus Club has been among the finest live music venues in the Midwest, featuring such acts as The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age, Interpol, Death Cab for Cutie, The Sword, High On Fire, The Faint, Bright Eyes, Eyedea & Abilities, Red Fang, Sylvan Esso, Redd Kross, Sharon Van Etten, Polica, Russian Circles, King Tuff, and countless other national, international, and local bands.
On August 1st, 2007, John Goff was pronounced dead. He died in his home in Abilene, Kansas from a severe asthma attack. This was the influential event that caused his best friend Steve Moss to start The Midnight Ghost Train as a eulogy to John. “John’s memory and life had to be remembered in some way.” Moss then moved back to Buffalo, New York planning to form a band and start touring. This was the idea and drive that fueled The Midnight Ghost Train.
As soon as Moss arrived in Buffalo, he began to recruit members for the band. The original lineup consisted of Steve on vocals and guitar, and friends Keith Harry-Carrey on bass, and Jake Levin on drums. They weren’t yet sure on what direction they wanted to take their sound or what genre to ordain to. Moss is a big delta blues fan, so it was inevitable that the music would have strong roots in the blues. It was the hard rock side of their music that was most surprising since there weren’t many heavy band influences.
Steve MossTheir first EP, The Johnny Boy Ep, was recorded in early 2008. It experimented with various genres, ranging from heavy rock to acoustic and psychedelic songs. Once the record was finished, Moss booked their first DIY U.S. tour. Before the tour started Keith was replaced by Moss’ longtime friend Brandon Burghart due to Keith’s inabililty to join them on the road. So Burghart, Levin, and Moss took off in the summer of 2008, and started the first TMGT tour. They had no idea how to make it succeed with the little money the clubs paid. There were even a few instances where they resorted to panhandling for gas money.
After a couple tours drummer Levin was asked to leave the band, and bass player Burghart taught himself to play drums in order to fill the void. The bass role was filled in by Odie Lallo. On their 2009 tour they were playing new songs, and started writing what would become their first full length record. After this tour the band decided to relocate to Kansas. Burghart’s home state, and where Moss lived for seven years prior. They chose to affordably self-record their new album in a country house outside of Topeka, Kansas. They built a studio in the basement and recorded it all on Garageband. Odie had medical complications with his hand, so he could no longer play with the band. As a result, Moss recorded the bass parts for the record. After the release, they found Topeka native David Kimmell to be the new bassist. Burghart, Kimmell, and Moss, went back out on the road for a long period of touring. In 2010 they went on their first DIY European tour, in which they were met with great success.
The Midnight Ghost Train released their second full length album, Buffalo in 2012. The album was recorded and mixed completely analog at Chase Park Transduction by David Barbe. It displays a more powerful and organic sound. TMGT recorded all the songs live in the studio, as to replicate the intensity of their live shows. Buffalo was faster and more driving than their previous releases. It was released on the Louisville label, Karate Body Records. Soon after the release, Kimmell left the band. Searching for a bassist is a common theme for TMGT. In April of 2013, they played the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, Netherlands with friend Joseph Hester on bass. Shortly after, Live from Roadburn 2013, was released on Roadburn Records.
Brandon BurghartIn May 2013, they found bassist Mike Boyne from Lafayette, Louisiana. He was a great compliment to TMGT’s sound. In 2014, TMGT signed with Austrian metal label, Napalm Records. Napalm released their third full length album, Cold Was The Ground, in 2015. They returned to Chase Park Transduction for this one, and once again recorded live on analog tape. The songs are more uptempo and structured than Buffalo. Engineer Dave Barbe also had more influence on the production of the album. It’s single is titled BC Trucker. Napalm released TMGT’s fourth album, Cypress Ave, in 2017. Also recorded at Chase Park, this release strays away from TMGT’s hard rock roots, and focuses more on song writing. They wanted to show they could be more than just a hard rock band. Overall a more mature and listenable album. It even features a funk/ hip-hop track featuring Camp Lo’s Sonny Cheeba.
No matter how big or small the crowd is you will never catch TMGT playing any less than to the best of their ability. Their live show has become the pinnacle and well sought out experience of their existence. Touring in both the U.S. and Europe, TMGT currently spends as much time on the road as possible hoping to leave their artistic impression on the world. In 2010, Moss’ father and mentor died of a heart attack. His last words to Steve were “Don’t ever stop playing music no matter what. Push it as hard as you can.” These are the words that the band lives by. The Midnight Ghost Train will never stop. They’ve given it all up for the stage. This band is the ultimate eulogy for John Goff.