Pittsburgh rockers Ghost Hounds just released their cover of the Howlin' Wolf classic "Smokestack Lightning", and to celebrate we asked guitarist Johnny Baab to tell us about the track. Here is the story:
Back in May 2021 when we were recording our blues record, You Broke Me, we were trying out a bunch of different blues standards to cover for the release. We had been off for some time because of the pandemic, so it was a really fun process of just jamming on some classics with the band. One day our guitarist Thomas came in with that "lightbulb" expression and cued up Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack Lightning."
As we were listening to it together, our singer, Tré Nation, started singing back the words and we all knew that this had to make the cut. With any classic song, it's important to do it justice, but we also like to add some of our own flare to it. So, over the course of a few run throughs we added a little bit of a different beginning, and some little dynamic details throughout the song. It came together really quickly and it often moves at that pace when it feels right.
Afterwards we added harmonica and background vocals, but aside from that- it's a completely live take. There are definitely different processes you can use to record, but for me live in the room with each other is my favorite, because then you are essentially just trying to capture that energy of what's happening so someone who wasn't there can experience it later. We hope that when people listen to this version of "Smokestack Lightning," they hear the essence of the original with the attitude of Ghost Hounds.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below and learn more about the upcoming album here