Lead singer talks to the News-Press about the band’s music and lyrics before its gig at SOhO
True to its name, Spooky Mansion likes to boost everyone’s spirits on the dance floor.
“The band was started by me and my drummer,” lead singer and guitarist Grayson Converse told the News-Press by phone from Colorado Springs, where the Los Angeles ensemble was playing on tour. “We both studied jazz in college. The basis of the music comes from that — an analysis of harmonies and song structure.
“We got into this upbeat, dance-beat, happy kind of music,” Mr. Converse, 32, said. “My end goal of the music is to make it fun.”
Mr. Converse will show how he does that when Spooky Mansion gets people dancing May 26 at SOhO Restaurant and Music Club, 1221 State St., Suite 205, Santa Barbara.
In addition to Mr. Converse, the band consists of lead guitarist Braden Lyle, bass player Marty Reising and drummer Rob Mills.
The News-Press asked Mr. Converse how the band got the name “Spooky Mansion.”
“Band names — who knows where they come from? They usually come before the band is formed,” Mr. Converse said. “That word ‘spooky.’ Everyone sees that as an interesting word. I think of the Dusty Springfield song, ‘Spooky.’”
Mr. Converse, who writes Spooky Mansion’s songs in collaboration with the band, said he thinks of the word “spooky” as more intriguing than scary. “It fits the music. I’m not sure why.”
Certainly the band’s music has spirit.
“ ‘Glass Mood Ring’ is a song that the band likes, the audience likes, and it’s a good representation of the style I’m talking about — upbeat with a lot of intricate melodies and countermelodies,” Mr. Converse said. “It has a good feel to it. People always end up smiling.”
Mr. Converse said the band likes to release songs every couple months or so on Spotify.
While the music is upbeat, Spooky Mansion’s lyrics address subjects such as relationships with frankness. One example is its recent song “Bad Bet.”
“We have a music studio in Los Angeles that we built, where we do a lot of our recordings and songwriting. ‘Bad Bet’ came from a group of songs I was making in my spare time,” Mr. Converse said. “It starts with this little piano hook. I thought it was an earworm that sticks in your brain. We recorded that.”
Mr. Converse said “Bad Bet” is about a man watching as a woman leaves him with “a broken heart and a messed-up relationship.”
He still loves her anyway.
“He’s calling her a ‘bad bet.’ ‘You can leave, but I’ll be waiting,’” Mr. Converse said. “He’s betting on her coming back and having a successful relationship. It didn’t work the last two times. Maybe one more time will work.”
Another of Spooky Mansion’s songs is being released today on Spotify: “I Want You,” Mr. Converse’s duet with female vocalist Ida Hawk.
“I want this person, describing how much I want her but also revealing all the crappy things I’ve done to her,” Mr. Converse said.
Ms. Hawk sings the chorus, in which her character essentially tells this jerk who was her boyfriend to get lost.
Mr. Converse said it’s a modern love song with a twist.
Two of Spooky Mansion’s songs from 2016 go together: “I’m the Moon” and “You’re the Wave.”
“The moon pulls and pushes the tides,” Mr. Converse said. “Once again, this is about relationships and how you’re trying to pull this person who’s resistant, trying to make them do what you want them to do. I need you to be this kind of person, and they’re resisting.”
Mr. Converse was born in Santa Rosa and earned his bachelor’s in jazz piano in 2013 at San Francisco State University, where he met Mr. Mills, Spooky Mansion’s drummer. They lived together in San Francisco, where they started Spooky Mansion in 2014.
The former jazz student said Spooky Mansion’s music is syncopated.
“I don’t have to make a conscious effort to make it jazzy,” Mr. Converse said. “The best thing I can learn from jazz is the way harmony works and how you can put melody against that, to make it (the music) provocative or stronger.
“You can have these peaks and valleys of tension and release,” Mr. Converse said. “It’s different sonic landscapes. It’s thinking more analytically and structurally about the music.”
Spooky Mansion’s first album, “Alright,” came out in 2018, followed by its second album, “The Curse” in 2020. Mr. Converse said the latter deals more with “things I was doing in my life, places I’ve gone.”
The band has also recorded three extended-play records and many singles.
Spooky Mansion members decided to move in 2018 in Los Angeles, where Mr. Converse lives today in the city’s Silver Lake area with his fiancée, Sheridan Gomez.
The band has had more than 20 million Spotify plays and has toured across the U.S. for the last eight years.
Spooky Mansion will perform at 9 p.m. May 26 at SOhO Restaurant and Music Club, 1221 State St., Suite 205, Santa Barbara.
The concert will also feature Tino Drima.
Tickets cost $15 in advance and $18 at the door. To purchase, go to www.sohosb.com.
The concert is for ages 21 and older.