Interview: Ghost Key’s Austin O’Brien gets deep into mental illness, new album

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Debut albums are often a make or break affair for musicians. It’s almost always the first opportunity to introduce themselves to the world – whether a solo musician or a full fledged band, the way it’s received often determines how fast they can get off the ground and gain a fanbase. For Illinois hardcore band Ghost Key, though, debut full-length If I Don’t Make It (the band’s debut LP for InVogue Records) is a legitimate statement album. In a genre where it’s really, really hard to stand out among a sea of similar acts, Ghost Key does just that by being brutally honest lyrically and being sharp and melodic, musically. Songs like “Downpour” and “Indecision” recall the older band of melodic hardcore bands like Verse, Modern Life Is War, and especially Blacklisted, with the band’s honesty coming in the form of lyrical barbs like “Winter came and dried out my lungs. It’s been months since I’ve seen the sun. The past collides with the present and reminds me of who I was.” evoking a real sense of desperation that other bands in the genre simply can’t touch.

Clearly, the band’s passion has shown through, as they’re starting to get on some bigger tours – including a big one opening for the recent Silent Planet tour a couple months ago. The success is deserved, as the band’s work ethic and passion for creating something real are really starting to connect. The band’s passion shows through Austin O’Brien’s powerful vocal abilities, and also shined through in a recent interview we did, where we discussed the new album, what Austin does when he’s not on tour (pretty much the coolest job ever – spoilers!!!), and the mental illnesses and struggles for acceptance that we all face on an everyday basis. It’s rather emotional, honestly – you can check out the full audio portion of that below.

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