Ryan Gosling Once Toured With a Ghost Magician, Is a Total Valentine’s Day Mood for Singles

Many know Ryan Gosling for his work in films like The Notebook or La La Land. The former Mickey Mouse Club performer had a side hustle in 2009 — the band, Dead Man’s Bones — and it’s giving us major throwback vibes.

How did Dead Man’s Bones come to be?

Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling of Dead Man’s Bones performs at FYF fest 2010 at Los Angeles State Historic Park | Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

The band, Dead Man’s Bones, started with a chance meeting in 2005 between Ryan Gosling and bandmate, Zach Shields. At the time, Gosling and The Notebook co-star, Rachel McAdams, were filming and dating. Shields had been dating McAdams’ sister, Kayleen, making things very “in the family.”

The two came up with Dead Man’s Bones on a trip to Vegas for Gosling’s sister’s birthday.

“We started putting on these performances for our friends in the [hotel] bathroom,” Gosling previously told Rolling Stone. “We’d go in the shower and we’d use the shower curtain as the stage curtain.”

Those performances became the basis for which Gosling and Shields would shape their stage show around. Their first song, “a love story about a guy and his butterfly knife,” left many thinking the whole thing was an elaborate joke or possibly one of Gosling’s method acting games.

“They were would laugh afterward and be like, ‘That was so funny!’ And we’d be like, ‘We weren’t kidding,’” Shields added. Turns out, they weren’t in fact, kidding.

The shows included ghost magicians, among other things

Some mystical parts of a Dead Man’s Bones show included neon skeletons and glowing ghosts, which they showed off during their residency at L.A.’s Bob Baker Marionette Theater with the Silverlake Conservatory Children’s Choir.

“People kept coming up to us after the show, like, ‘You’re taking the puppets with you on tour, right? You have to. It doesn’t work without the puppets,’” Shields said.

Dead Man’s Bones used different children’s’ choirs from every North American city they performed set them apart. Their goal, Gosling said, was to make each performance “a talent show for local entertainers,” as opposed to opening bands.

“We’re trying to find acts that are unconventional. I want to find somebody who knits food — knits steak, knits carrots, peas. When we first wrote the songs, all the vocals were for the children’s choir to sing,” Gosling said.

“We were never going to sing on the record. But when we were working out the parts for them, we started singing and decided to make it into a duo between us and the kids.”

To highlight the “dead” in Dead Man’s Bones, Gosling and Shields also invited a ghost magician to their 2009 tour.

Adding to the spook-factor, their video for “Name in Stone,” shows the band performing in a Los Angeles cemetery. The video also includes a baby donning a skeleton onesie, which is important information, honestly.

Where Gosling sings and plays guitar, Shields accompanied with piano and more guitar, despite claims neither had any musical experience (Mickey Mouse Club Aside). The two contributed nearly all parts of every song on their self-titled debut. Gosling even took up learning to play the cello for “Buried in Water” when the two they hired turned out to be “frauds.”

“They came in and we pressed record and they had never touched a cello before in their life,” Gosling said. Was it easy for him to pick up? “It wasn’t as hard as they were making it out to be!”

Will Dead Man’s Bones ever reunite?

Though there’s surely still a fanbase for the goth-centric music, it doesn’t look like either will reprise their role as bandmates any time soon. Gosling is the father of two girls, who enjoys staying in to cook for his life partner, Eva Mendes.

Meanwhile, Shields found his own success acting, producing, and writing for projects like Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Krampus, and more.

Neither have any projects coming up, per their IMDb pages, but that doesn’t necessarily negate an impending return to the stage of death. If anything, their online presence as Dead Man’s Bones is almost non-existent, suggesting both Gosling and Shields may want to tuck that piece of history away for the time being.

Regardless, the culmination of this musical befuddlement is something that should never, ever be forgotten on Valentine’s Day or any other. Like, ever.