California-based musician Kepi Ghoulie, who primarily handles vocal and bass duties in his projects, is a man on a mission. He tours nonstop playing his signature garage-y, catchy, pop-punk songs, is continuously making new music, and creates original art that he sells at shows. He was in Chixdiggit, and spent over two decades in the poppy horror-punk band the Groovie Ghoulies, and since the latter's split in 2007, his dance card, as they say, has been full.
He says it all stems back to those first artists to whom he was exposed as a kid.
"Musically, the first seven-inch record I got was 'Monster Mash,' and then after that, I got Johnny Cash at San Quentin," he says. "That was in third grade, so you can see that not a lot has changed."
Ghoulie is someone who is continuously exploring the artistic freedom that comes from being an independent artist. For example, he recently made a record of music for kids. He has a few more styles he is planning on adding to the mix.
"I have toured a lot with Vic Ruggiero from the Slackers, Jesse Wagner from the Aggrolites, and Dan Potthast from MU330, so everybody is expecting a reggae/ska record someday," he says.
"Actually," he continues, "Just prior to I Bleed Rock 'n' Roll, I was working on a fully electronic album — no kidding! I probably had at least half the music tracked before shifting gears. Maybe I will revisit that project in the future."
Part of what is infectious about Ghoulie is his attitude. In addition to being a great songwriter and a stellar showman, the persistent positivity he exudes and the way he treats those he interacts with, from fans to fellow musicians to venue owners, is commendable. Trunk Space is a spot Ghoulie often plays when he visits Phoenix. The venue's owner, Steph Carrico, says, "Kepi may actually be the nicest person, ever." The singer says it wasn't any life-changing event or anything that made him that way.
"I have always tried to have a positive attitude, even when I was an angry punk," he says. "You survive a while and decide to evolve."
Ghoulie is a traveling man, playing shows in and out of the country all the time, and the future holds more of the same.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"Being on the go is where I got the song 'Rock 'n' Roll Shark' from," he says. "My friend in Italy said, 'You are like a shark; you always have to keep moving or you will die.' I do enjoy to travel and to keep moving, so I guess it works."
He is excited for this return to Trunk Space — an acoustic performance.
"The show at the Trunk," he says, "Will be acoustic and solo but that just means no set list and freedom to take requests . . . You're never really solo because the audience is free to sing, dance, and clap along.
"I haven't played the Trunk all year, and I put out a nice collection of acoustic songs, so I am really looking forward to it . . . It's called Kepi Goes Country, but it's really just acoustic — I have to keep myself amused. I will have some original art with me, too, and I may even stop and have a visit in Tombstone."