The Ghost Club. Photo courtesy of the band's Instagram.

The Ghost Club is a band, but it’s also Domenic Dunegan, its creator, lead singer and songwriter. The definition may be fluid, but The Ghost Club’s rapidly expanding fan base doesn’t differentiate. 

The band includes frontman Isaiah Ross of Jack Swing on guitar, drummer Christian Laliberte, bassist Logan Casper and Jake Barber on saxophone. They headlined a raucous show at Mr. Small’s on March 18, featuring screaming young women, a smashed guitar and a setlist full of Dunegan’s originals. 

Melodic, danceable and hard-driving, they’ve been compared to the music of Panic! At The Disco and The Killers. (And strangely enough, though much younger, Dunegan bears a passing resemblance to both Panic’s Brendon Urie and The Killers’ Brandon Flowers).

But Dunegan’s central inspiration comes from a different generation. Growing up, he enjoyed the classic rock his parents would listen to. 

“When I was a kid, I was really into KISS,” he says. So he was happy to join his dad at a Bruce Springsteen concert at PPG Paints Arena, then Consol, on Sept. 11, 2016

It was the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and Springsteen paid tribute with “New York City Serenade,” as well as songs from “The Rising,” his 2002 album that grappled with the tragedy. By the end of the 3-plus hour concert, Dunegan had had an epiphany:

“The energy made me feel a different way than I had ever felt. I wanted to make people feel the same way.”

The Ghost Club’s Domenic Dunegan. Photo by Joseph Herman Photography.

At the time, Dunegan, now 25, was studying film at Point Park University. He had never written a song and barely played an instrument. But he switched gears in a big way, studying YouTube tutorials on songwriting and practicing piano and guitar while driving for Uber. Within a couple of years, he was composing and releasing his songs on social media, while looking for musicians to work with. 

As often as not, he says, they’d commit to playing, then disappear — hence “The Ghost Club.” 

The band finally came together, just in time for the pandemic. Even that had a silver lining, Dunegan says: “It gave us a chance to practice every week.” 

When venues began opening up again, The Ghost Club was ready. They sold out their first headlining show at the Thunderbird Cafe and Music Hall in December 2021. They toured last year with indie glam rocker Micky James.

In September, they opened for Gene the Werewolf at the South Park Amphitheater, as part of Allegheny County’ Summer Concert Series. That same month, Dunegan suffered a serious fracture of his right hand during a rehearsal, which put him out of commission for much of the rest of 2022. 

But The Ghost Club came back strong this year. The latest single, “Don’t Let Go,” is racking up plays on various streaming platforms. As with all of Dunegan’s releases, he worked on the song with Los Angeles-based producer Eric Palmquist. Dunegan describes it as “a modern take on Springsteen.” 

The single has garnered local attention as well. The Ghost Club performed live in the WYEP studio before their July show at Mr. Small’s, and the station had featured their earlier songs, “All I Know” and “I Feel Fine.”

When “Don’t Let Go” came out, “the program staff all agreed it was a great song and we added it to rotation right away,” says Kyle Smith, WYEP’s music director. “Don’t Let Go” made WYEP’s list of the Top 91 Songs of 2022.

“They’ve already amassed a large following,” says Jeff Betten, manager of Misra Label Group and a longtime part of the local music scene. “They’re professional to a fault, and they not only have the ambition and the vision to move to the next level of success, but they have the drive to do so.”

The Ghost Club is opening for rapper Bryce Vine at  La Roche University on Thursday, April 13, and will be announcing a lot of other dates soon, Dunegan says. A record deal and more touring are on their wish list. 

“We all enjoy ourselves. We’re compadres,” Dunegan says of the band. “As long as we’re staying busy and playing shows, it’s great. I just want us to be as good as we can be.”

Annette Bassett

Annette Bassett is a freelance writer and grant writer living in Bloomfield. She likes visiting local breweries, going to concerts and walking the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh while listening to audiobooks. She prefers wired earbuds.