The Ghost of Paul Revere Takes One Final Tour
Maine’s own American folk band on how it feels to come to the end of their journey as a band and what they’re looking forward to next.
After 11 years of making music and touring across the country and world, the Ghost of Paul Revere announced in April that the band would be breaking up after its summer tour. The Maine-based folk band got its start singing in Portland bars and went on to perform on Conan and had a song named as Maine’s official state ballad. The bandmates said in the Instagram post announcing the news that their two-day Ghostland festival on September 2 and 3 in Portland would be their last shows “for the sake of our own health, our families, and you, our fans.” Three of the four band members, Griffin Sherry, Sean McCarthy, and Max Davis, grew up together and graduated from Bonny Eagle High School in Standish. Charles Gagne joined in 2018 as the band’s drummer. We spoke with three of the members shortly after they made the announcement.
How did you feel when the band made the decision to break up?
Sean McCarthy: Being a part of the band, there were certain things that I knew I would always have to have a reckoning with, whether it was time away from home or the way in which we tour. There’s always been a sense of inevitability that I can’t have my cake and eat it too. I can’t be home with my hopeful kids every weekend for their softball games and be a professional musician. But when the decision was made to do what we’re doing, it was kind of like two separate sides of the same coin. Is this the right decision now? All these coulda, shoulda, wouldas popped up. Trying to keep the confidence in the decision and knowing that it will be the best thing for us moving forward is something you have to follow up all those doubts with each time.
Charles Gagne: I was focused more on the importance of people looking out for what’s best for themselves and their health and their lives and their families, which is, at the sum of its parts, bigger than this band and ultimately more important. It’s life. I don’t know why my brain goes there, and maybe it’s a defense mechanism. But in the weeks following, the reality of it began setting in. We are talking about it like an open book. It’s an interesting thing to have a kind of public dismantling. That is something that I’m still kind of adjusting to and learning to deal with. The silver lining and the greatest thing is that we still for the rest of the summer get to go out and play. That’s the best medicine for me, personally.
Griffin Sherry: In accordance with any type of loss, you do go through the stages of grief. I think that with the exception of maybe disbelief, I probably went through most of them in the first couple days. We spend a lot of time together, so to say the writing wasn’t on the walls would be kind of a lie. But any time you come to a crossroads in your life, there’s going to be some type of momentary hindsight, where you go, “If this had changed, maybe this could have persevered, or if we had done something differently here, maybe this would’ve been different.” But at the end of the day hindsight is just a lesson to learn from for the future and not something that can change the present or the past. No matter how difficult it was, there’s another part of it that does have me excited about what comes next for us and what that means creatively for individuals and people’s lives. We are fortunate to be able to play until the end of summer and finish this out with a big bang at Ghostland. That’s going to be one of the few proper send-offs that we possibly could have given this kind of experiment that we’ve been doing.
How was it to play that first show in Waterville after the announcement?
SM: When the comments and all the heartfelt messages started coming in, I got a little nervous about how we’re going to continue to go through the rest of the summer shows because I was getting all choked up. Then when we had our first show and people were coming up to us, I was surprised at how not sad that was. It’s very hard to put into words. It felt like we were tying up loose ends in a way. When all these people were coming up to say goodbye, they’d always start out with something like, “Heard this terrible rumor, say it isn’t so.” But then the next sentence was always, “We’re so proud of you guys. We can’t wait to see what you do next. And thank you.” Every single time. That’s made it easier in a lot of ways. Harder in a lot of ways, but easier in a lot of ways, too.
CG: It was kind of like that Band-Aid that’s been on for a little too long and the hair starts growing into the glue. I think the Waterville night ripped that Band-Aid off, and it was a weird sense of relief. It’s relieving in the way that you don’t have to create in your head what it’s going to be like when you first have those interactions or how you’re going to react. I don’t want to say that we’re going to start getting more comfortable with that, but I think that we will, just because of how repetitive it’ll be. Every show is going to be potentially the last show we play in front of X or Y amount of people or at a certain venue, like that probably was the last show at the Waterville Opera House and at Higher Ground the next day in Burlington. Every one of them is going to have a whole lot of meaning.
GS: The amount of support and love we’ve received as a band has never been lost on me. It’s really incredible what we managed to grow over these years and how invested other people were in the music we were making. So, it is sad to know that there’s no repeats for the rest of the summer. Every time we hit a stage, it’ll be the last time we play on that stage as this band. The hope is that we can put on a performance at each of these shows that will be one that people won’t forget and is deserving of how much love and support we get. After all these years, every time I get up on stage, I still feel like I owe the crowd a lot.
What are you looking forward to in life after the band?
SM: I’m looking forward to being able to take a step back and see the forest for the trees a little bit more. Even though this job is expansive in a lot of ways, you can get hyper focused on it. For so many years now we’ve been making this our priority. So, the process of figuring out what comes next or, rather, how what comes next comes next is exciting.
GS: I’m really looking forward to something that’s totally new. I think that’s a very exciting prospect of this whole thing, moving forward with something that I can bring some of the lessons that I’ve learned and just move forward into the future. And just keep creating. That urge isn’t going to stop. I know I’m always going to want to write songs and perform them.
Is there anything in particular you’ll miss about the fans?
GS: I’ll just miss them. They are the reason for this, all of this. We had a little bit to do with it, but, honestly, it’s the people who have supported us all these years that truly made this thing into what it was and what it is. And we would be lost without them. I could never thank them enough in my entire life for what they’ve done for us.
SM: They’ve provided an opportunity of a lifetime, quite literally. You hear people say that phrase all the time and the weight of it always kind of goes over my head. But it really has been an opportunity of a lifetime, and it is all because of the fans. I feel very, very lucky.
Do you think you would ever get together for a reunion show?
GS: Never say never. The Bond movies taught me that.
CG: I think Elton John’s been on a farewell tour for like five years now.
GS: How many reunion shows has KISS done? Hundreds?
CG: Too many.
GS: Who knows? If it happens, it’ll be in the future. That’s for sure.
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