Posted on June 3, 2020

The beat goes on for The Ghost Inside drummer seriously injured in 2015 crash

When Andrew Tkaczyk wrote a guest blog in 2016 about his recovery after a devastating traffic crash, the drummer for The Ghost Inside was very clear.

“I have no doubt I’ll get back to doing what I love,” he wrote. “That’s still a while away, but I’m very confident it will happen. Very confident.”

It’s been a long and difficult journey for the 32-year-old Michigan native and his bandmates, who were seriously injured in a November 2015 crash. Andrew spent five weeks at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital after the metalcore band’s tour bus was involved in the head-on collision in Texas. The drivers of both vehicles were killed, and several people were seriously injured, including his bandmates. Andrew sustained more than 50 injuries, including a brain injury, multiple fractures and a dislocated right shoulder that caused severe nerve damage. His right leg had to be amputated above the knee.

After his Mary Free Bed inpatient graduation, Andrew traveled from his parents’ home in Charlotte, Michigan to Mary Free Bed for months of rigorous outpatient therapy. He mastered walking with his prosthetic, the paralysis in his right arm vastly improved and specialists developed an adaptive drum kit so he could start playing again.

“I can’t say enough good things about Mary Free Bed,” Andrew said. “Everyone there played a gigantic role in getting me to where I am today.”

Andrew Tkaczyk, Ghost Inside drummer, in northern Michigan
Andrew Tkaczyk spent a recent summer weekend visiting friends in northern Michigan. (Courtesy/Andrew Tkaczyk)

In the years since, Andrew and his bandmates have focused on their recovery, taking comfort in support from legions of fans around the world. In July 2016, The Ghost Inside was honored with the “Most Dedicated Fans” award at the Alternative Press Music Awards. It was the first time the band was together since the crash and marked a new beginning, soon proving Andrew’s declaration true.

The band reunited last summer for a special live show in Los Angeles that sold out in five minutes. And on June 5, they’ll release a new, self-titled album. The first song, called “Aftermath,” “is a tribute to the community that supported us, stood by us and raised us from the ashes,” the band posted on its Facebook page. “It’s proof positive that the strong survive and the beat does go on.”

“We worked all of 2019 on the album, and we’re insanely proud of it,” Andrew said. “‘Aftermath’ is my personal favorite song … what’s weird is, I wrote the instrumental five years ago – just a few months before our accident. I saved it as ‘Aftermath’ completely at random. It’s spooky, thinking of that now. It’s very emotional.”

The video for the song was created using footage from the accident scene and aspects of the band’s recovery. It also includes recent video shot on Go Pros by each of the band members at their homes across the country.

And it even features a cameo by Mary Free Bed physical therapist Jennifer McWain, one of Andrew’s rehabilitation team members.

“I’m just ecstatic that this group – whose members endured enormous tragedy and barriers after the trauma they sustained – is back together and producing music,” Jen said. “I think it’s wonderful the new song and video captures the tragedy, journey and a successful outcome. It shows that you don’t have to do things the same way to be successful after a life-changing injury.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic forced The Ghost Inside to cancel shows in support of the album until next summer, Andrew’s keeping busy and staying positive.

“(The pandemic) is so complicated … it’s so new,” he said. “We just need to pay attention and take every day as it comes. Releasing the video and album have been a great way to engage with our fans and provide a little release from the madness.”

True consideration for the band’s fans isn’t surprising to Jen.

“I have a ton of respect for Andrew for overcoming so many challenges with perseverance and total kindness,” she said. “I feel very honored to have been able to work with Andrew. His spirit never wavered through his journey to accomplish every goal and share his experience with anyone who could benefit. To see that he’s using his passion and talents to provide music to the world again puts an enormous smile across my face and in my heart.”

Watch the video and read the lyrics for “Aftermath” here; catch Jen’s cameo at 3:50: