Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Handsome Ghost

Handsome Ghost, a musical project started by Tim Noyes, recently released the single “Graduate” from the band’s upcoming LP, which Noyes hopes to release on Photo Finish Records this fall. Handsome Ghost released an EP last year, but Noyes said that the LP would have all new songs.

“It’s all new stuff, which feels really special to me. It feels like a new chapter,” Noyes said. “Sonically it has a lot of similar characteristics, but to me it feels like a stop forward. I’d like to think that I’m improving as a writer. I’m really excited for people to hear it.”

HANDSOME GHOST. (Photo: Daniel Silbert)
HANDSOME GHOST. (Photo: Daniel Silbert)

What people have heard from the album so far, although it’s only one song, seems to be getting some traction. Since “Graduate” – a pining from one love to the other to elevate the status of their relationship – was released it has been streamed over 700,000 times on Spotify. Noyes, the Boston native who is on tour with Handsome Ghost and is coming to U Street Music Hall on Tuesday, May 24, said that he thinks the reception to the song has been good so far.

“It’s been out there for about three weeks now and we’ve been playing it every night and it seems to be going over well,” Noyes said. “I’m happy. People seemed to be connecting with it and it’s really all that I can ask.”

For Noyes, the use of graduating as a metaphor for an escalating romance is a fitting artistic choice. That’s because he was a high school English teacher in the Bronx for three years before deciding to perform and make music full time. “I loved it,” Noyes said. “That was a really great time in my life. I was really sad to give it up.”

Although Noyes misses teaching, he said that he hears from his students from time to time, when they hear his music a reach out to him to express their love for it.

“It’s funny, occasionally I will get like a YouTube comment and I’ll recognize one of the kids, who will be like ‘Mr. Noyes, do you remember me?’,” Noyes said. “But that’s far enough removed from when I was teaching that it’s only a handful of kids who would have heard my stuff. But it’s always a nice blast from the past.”

There are two blasts from the recent past that Noyes cited as important musical influences for him, which you can hear in his music: Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service. But he doesn’t follow in that tradition of contemplative, emotional songwriting on top of a melancholy electronic melody in a way sounds overly derivative.

“Elliott Smith was really important to me. I went through a big Dave Matthews Band phase,” Noyes said.

“It’s mostly singer-songwriter stuff for me. Lyrics were always very important to me. But it kind of ran the gamut.”

The influence of Ben Gibbard, the frontman of Death Cab and Postal Service, especially his voice, is part of what led to Noyes naming his project Handsome Ghost. “It honestly was a joke at first because when the band started my vocals were very affected and kind of strange sounding,” Noyes said. “And a friend of mine said ‘You sound like a ghost’ and, as a joke, I replied ‘A handsome ghost’ and then we kind of just went with it, we kept it.

“Yeah, I like it. I know it’s kind of odd and people are curious about it, but I’m going with it. I’m a fan.”

• For more information about Handsome Ghost, visit