Gun Street Ghost Took Ten Years to Gain Traction

After nearly a decade on the scene, Gun Street Ghost has finally found its footing.
After nearly a decade on the scene, Gun Street Ghost has finally found its footing. Adam Rojo

Progress isn’t always linear, particularly in the music industry. For Gun Street Ghost, it took almost ten years, two LPs and multiple iterations to arrive at a place where the Denver Americana band's future finally made some sense.

Gun Street Ghost formed in 2010. Since then, frontman Mike Perfetti, a longtime drummer in the Denver punk scene, has witnessed the seemingly endless game of musical chairs local musicians play with bands. If there was a constant to count on, it was the revolving door of people performing with him.

After the band released a debut self-titled LP in 2014 and gained some traction around town as a six-piece, members Tiffany Brown (vocals, keyboard) and Dave Pinto (pedal steel guitar) left the band. The departures, though mostly expected, derailed the group’s momentum, and finding long-term replacements proved challenging.

“It gets discouraging,” says Perfetti. “People get busy, and you know how it goes with Denver musicians: Everyone’s spread so thin. It’s not to talk shit about it, but it doesn’t make it any easier to focus on any one thing. Some of the reasons why people have come and gone are because they’re too busy doing other things with other bands, or they have other opportunities and duties, and I’m cool with that. That’s just how it goes.”

There were even extended hiatuses when it was unclear who, besides Perfetti, Gun Street Ghost was.

“At that point, what are you gonna do? Find someone else to do it or quit and start something else? You just gotta make that call," he explains. "Without sounding too negative, it’s been pretty rough keeping it going. There’s time where you’re just like, shit, I don’t have a band right now. So what are we going to do?”

Following the band’s big re-shuffling on the heels of a debut record, Perfetti set a goal for himself of putting ten years in as Gun Street Ghost; if it didn’t work out after that, he would feel good about his efforts and the time he spent on it, regardless of the results.

“After we got Kim Baxter [on the drums], I just told myself I’d give it ten years and just see what happens and do whatever it takes to keep it going,” he says.

Five years later, Gun Street Ghost has rebounded. The band's second LP, Battles, is more polished and fuller-sounding than previous efforts, and the core group intends on staying put.

On Battles, the group mostly keeps to its early recipe for success: Perfetti’s booming, powerful vocals, surrounded by exceptional musicians. Though they incorporate more rock elements and pick up the tempo on the record [particularly in the middle, from tracks “Trust” through “Sold”], the biggest difference is the stability that comes with having a permanent core of Perfetti on guitar and lead vocals, Baxter on drums, Jordan Nichols on lead guitar, and Mike King on bass.

For Battles, Gun Street Ghost also called on outside help, since the band still hadn't replaced its pedal steel player or Brown's vocals. Murry Mercier of Strange Americans and John Macy came in to play pedal steel, and Brown returned as a backing vocalist. The project was recorded by Colin Bricker at Mighty Fine Productions.

"I’ve known Colin Bricker for years,"" says Perfetti. That whole situation he’s got going over there is amazing. We were just excited about doing a record in a big studio and in a more pro setting. That was really the only goal we had in mind from the start.”

It took nearly a decade for Perfetti to find a band that he could count on to be around for the present and future, and he's looking forward to what lies ahead.

“I feel like at this point, we’re finally in position to push it and take it more seriously and try to get it out there," he says. "We didn’t do a very good job in the past. Part of that is because we’d get to a certain point and we’d lose someone. We’d get knocked back a little bit.

“I think we’re finally at a point where we have a really good new record and recordings to be taken more seriously, and just get out there and maybe get out of town for some touring," he continues. "Just see where the next step takes us, I guess. I think that’s pretty exciting.”

Gun Street Ghost album-release show, with Jeff Cramer and New Mexican, 9 p.m. Saturday June 9, hi-dive, 7 South Broadway.
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Ben Wiese is a writer in Denver. He covers music for Westword.
Contact: Ben Wiese