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The Ghost Inside’s Zach Johnson Talks Bus Crash, Recovery & More On ‘The Jasta Show’


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The Ghost Inside guitarist Zach Johnson is the guest on the latest episode of Hatebreed, etc. frontman Jamey Jasta‘s ‘The Jasta Show‘. Johnson speaks in two separately conducted interviews at length about the fatal bus crash the group were involved in last November. That crash claimed the life of their bus driver, as well as the driver of the other vehicle. It also left various members of the group and their road crew with extensive life changing injuries. Johnson himself suffered a severely broken pelvis and other various broken bones in the crash and also lost some of his toes. Some excerpts from the conversation, which you can hear in full below, include:

On the crash itself:

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“Some of the photos that are online show—most of them show the back of the bus tipped over. But I haven’t seen online like the front of the bus where the damage was done. But obviously I’ve seen photos and I saw it there that day. It was just an insane wreck. I grew up touring in bands, like The Ghost Inside we were in vans for years. The bus is always like you think, ‘OK, it’s safe.’ Professional driver, big rig, nothing can like, fuck this up. Of course for us it was an 18-wheeler, so it had to be the other biggest vehicle.”

On if he suffers post traumatic stress after the crash:

“There are a few guys who have kind of been experiencing that—I mean all of us did. I haven’t had too hard of a problem with it lately. You know directly after and figuring out what happened… I was awake throughout the entire accident, so I remember that and then waiting for help. And then I also… The last thing I remember was the helicopter taking off to take me to the hospital and then I’m pretty sure they pumped me full of pain meds or knocked me out or whatever when they got me in a medical vehicle.

But just thinking about that a lot and the first time when I got back on my phone, obviously I had quite a few calls and messages and stuff. But like seeing… I got on Facebook and saw articles that had pictures of the bus and I was like ‘yeah, that’s too soon right now.” I’m decently fine with it now, just, you know, the road’s a pretty fucking freaky place sometimes.

The first time I was in a transport vehicle and a semi merged onto the highway next to us, I was just… I was a little shook. But just seeing the size of those again, it was like ‘fuck.’ When I got pulled out of the bus it looked like a scrap yard basically, there were just metal parts everywhere.”

On returning home from the hospital:

“Some of my friends at home did something that was fucking awesome. Pretty shortly after the accident they were like ‘well, obviously when he gets home, he’s going to be probably bedridden for awhile or sitting like that.’ So I walked into my bedroom, which I would never like hang out in or anything, so I had a small TV or whatever. They bought me a 48” TV and an Xbox One, so that was pretty awesome of them to do. So now I have that so I watch Netflix, play a little Call Of Duty, but I’m not like super big on video games. Between that and the guitars and seeing friends and having people come over I keep pretty busy. I never thought I’d be ya know… Sleeping in to me is like 8am now which fucking sucks.”

On getting back to playing:

“For us as The Ghost Inside it’s going to take awhile for everybody to get to the point where we can be a band. You know, like physically play with each other. But we were already writing—our plan was to record, like early 2016. So I’ll continue riffing and writing stuff for TGI, depending on… Our bass player Jim is like, he’s possibly gonna be going out on a tour. Cause he broke and ankle and a tooth and it wasn’t as terrible as some of the others.

He’d rather get back out there if he can until all of us are ready. Which like, same for me. you know. It’d be fun to play guitar with another band or do whatever, but the thing is for me personally, my recovery is probably going to be up there as one of the longer ones. So I’ll just keep writing for TGI and just playing guitar for fun.”

Regarding the new material they wrote for their new album prior to the crash:

“That bus we were on was a studio bus and we did use it. But everything was backed up on like personal hard drives and emails. So yeah, we didn’t like lose any of that. I mean that [the studio] got trashed. I had one of my ESP Eclipse‘s on a guitar hanger in the studio area. I asked, cause some people went through to salvage whatever possible, and I asked about my guitars. They said no, it looked like it got shot with a rifle multiple times, it was just in chunks.

But you know the music that was written already, we all still have. I know the other… Andrew will want to write as soon as he can and I’m sure Vigil will be jotting down some ideas cause he has a lot to work with after this.”

On first being pulled out the wreckage of the bus:

“I’ll be totally honest, the first thought when I was getting carried out of the bus. I was like, looking around trying to see because at that point I didn’t know if people were alive or dead or what kind of injures. I only saw one other person from the band and they were just barely awake so… Didn’t know that, so at the time I was just like ‘I wonder if we’ll still be a band?’ It was like I wonder who all…

One of the firefighters who pulled me out and helped get me on the helicopter said I told him something that bummed him out, cause they all came to visit at the hospital. And he just said ‘thank us all in your next record’, because I was just saying ‘thank you, thank you for getting me out of the bus.’ I guess I told him I’m not sure if there will be one, but I was also in shock and kind of out of it and I didn’t know who was okay and who wasn’t, but it’s so amazing to hear.

It’s terrible that people did pass away in the accident, but I feel like having survived is overwhelming. It’s pretty wild that all ten did and all ten will be fine, for the most part. I mean lives will be different, for sure, after this. But they’ll all go on and our band will go on and we all still want that more than anything, especially with this. Like I don’t want a fucking bus crash to be the reason our band’s done, that’s stupid.”

On his mobility (which has improved extensively since the time the interview was conducted earlier this year):

“When I’m at home now, I can get around decently well. There’s like some areas I can’t go cause a walker won’t fit through. but everything’s slowly getting better. I remember when I was in the hospital at one point I couldn’t move either of my legs, so it’s wild to think how quick of a comeback all of that is. If you just sit there and wallow in it, like you were saying, it’s easy to get pissed off about it, but ya know, life happens, can’t control it so…”

On drummer Andrew Tkaczyk who lost a leg in the accident:

“He woke up, found out about it, and that day already was making jokes. And he understood the severity of it, but he woke up and was like ‘alright, this is what I’m deal with, it sucks, but I’m gonna plays drums, I’m gonna walk, I’m gonna be fine.’ He’s really kicking ass with it. He keeps all of us laughing in general, even after all the shit he’s been through. He’s killing it, I’m excited to see how he’ll do once he gets back behind the kit.”

There’s a lot more from Johnson to be heard in the podcast, including his various treatments and surgeries, being overwhelmed by the support they saw from their friends and fans and a bunch more. Dig in below and if you have yet to do so, help out the band with their extensive medical bills and such over at Gofundme.

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