Since he left Christian metalcore band Zao in 2004, Jesse Smith has started — and stopped — a few different projects. But Jesse Smith & The Holy Ghost, which he began as a solo project but has since evolved into full-fledged band, might just be the one with staying power.

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“When I started, it was just me and a producer,” explains Smith. “I figured once I started playing live, the cast of musicians would be changing but present. Fortunately, I’ve found a great group of guys.

“I had recorded an EP and was at the point where I had to come up with a name for the project,” he continues. “‘The Holy Ghost’ was thrown out there. I was raised in a Pentecostal church, so those overtones of spirituality, whether positive or negative, are definitely reflected in the music. Sometimes music reminds me of church or a cult. The ritual aspect. Someone creates something. They find a group of people that believe in it and try to spread that idea to the masses.”

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Smith hopes that people will come to believe in his version of the Holy Ghost, which is releasing its first full-length album, Self-Titled, on Standby Records on July 8. “My musical goals are to grow as a band and hopefully connect with some people. To continue to improve myself and the art I get to make, and to open doors to spending more time on the road,” he says. “I think as a band that’s where we shine. It’s where we want to be: meeting new people and turning them into fans. It’s important to us to stay present and find joy in whatever this band gets the opportunity to do.”

Listen to Jesse Smith & The Holy Ghost’s “The Mountain” the second single from Self-Titled, exclusively on Billboard below.

Smith says of “The Mountain,” “It’s about the climb to the top. The desire to reach one’s higher self. The goal of safety and the inevitable journey to the end. I envisioned a small group of people running from their adversary. Dropping off one by one, yet still believing they were headed to the only place that’s ‘safe,’ only to realize they have been surrounded. In the end, they’re left with nothing but surrender.”

“The Mountain” is a sample of the eclectic styles that inspire Smith. “I love Southern rock, stoner rock and classic rock,” he says. “Black Sabbath to the Rolling Stones. David Bowie, He Is Legend, Dynatron, Elektrik People and Foals. Big Black Delta, Wild Throne, Deftones. Influence, for me, comes from many styles that are not necessarily genre-specific. I get an idea for a riff or a melody and just go with it. There are so many amazing talents out there to take inspiration from.”

To pre-order Self-Titled, click here.