Interview - Gozer Goodspeed

With The Rattlebone Colour EP released today, Steve Taylor-Bryant sat down with the man himself and talked festivals, favourites and annoying the auto-correct with Gozer Goodspeed...

Always on the lookout for emerging talent I have been following an artist for a while, Gozer Goodspeed, and marvelled at how inclusive he has been in his debut release. Pictures from the studio, commentary as he goes through his recording process, all things that other artists should maybe think about doing as I'm now hooked and that's before I heard a note! Social media is most definitely a powerful marketing tool when used right and Goodspeed has quietly gone about his subtle advertising without you knowing you've been sold to. Clever. Very clever. Let's hope the music is just as good.

Spoilers... It is. The review is here.

But enough about my thoughts, time to turn this over to the man himself. Ladies and gentlemen Mr. Gozer Goodspeed...

Firstly, congratulations on the EP. You have to be pleased with how it's turned out? 

I’m very pleased, thanks. You never know how these things are going to go until you get into the studio and start things happening. And even then, it ain’t over til it’s mastered!

Where did the title come from? Is it something you picked just purely to annoy my autocorrect?

Solely to annoy your auto-correct, yes. In truth it was name of one of the songs (the first song on the EP, in fact). That song sets the tone for the EP, so it seemed a natural move to name the EP after that song. The song itself is named after some of the lyrics… as most songs are!

I mentioned in my introduction about the clever and subtle build up to the release. Did you actually plan it like this or is the inclusion of your fans a happy accident? It reminds of being 'back in the day' when bands like Aerosmith would do a making of videotape before a release to really ramp up fans affections. 

 I don’t feel clever or subtle, ha ha! I like sharing little snippets of things where I can, stuff that is at least vaguely relevant to what I’m doing. It’s what I want when I follow bands – little glimpses of their process, their gigs, their everyday lives, irreverent stuff that somehow speaks to who they are. By the same token, I still feel a bit rubbish with social media. I’m not comfortable over-sharing, so I try to keep things music-related. If people like what I’m doing… it’s probably a fluke!

You've been doing well on the live scene for a while now but stepped up to festival appearances this year, how was that experience? 

Well I’ve played numerous fests now… I love them. LOVE them. Festivals, to me, are where it’s at. Big or small, each one has its own vibe, people are having fun, and interesting folk are everywhere just concentrating on having a good time. From my perspective, the more the merrier! Next big one I have on the cards is the Looe Festival in September, which is going to be a great one. I’m also playing at the Exeter Oxjam one-day festival in October too, which is a first for me, and in honour of a really good cause.


So entering the studio. How does the mind-set differ to planning for a live show? 

Well, in some ways it’s similar, because you have to figure out a way to generate the enormous amount of energy you need to make the music really work. On the other hand, you have to be able to step back and be very analytical about what you’re doing. And you’re on the clock – in the studio, if you’re wasting time, you’re wasting money, so you’d better know what the hell you want you to achieve, and you’d better figure out how to do justice to that in the most efficient way possible. At the same time, you also need to be able to be able to trust the people (or in my case, person) you’re working with and appreciate that you’re involved in a collaboration. When I’m planning a live show it’s only me I’m trying to satisfy or convince. With a producer – like the great one I worked with, Josiah Manning – there’s two of you involved, trying to get the best results. In the studio you have to have trust, and you have to realise that sometimes the best ideas may not be yours. Personally I love both environments but in different ways.

The tracks themselves are incredible. I noticed though they are a mixture of influences rather than one distinct style. Is this intentional? 

Thank you! Is it intentional – uh – yes. I mean, I wanted all of the tracks to sound different, but still of a piece, if that makes sense. I myself am a product of all my various and varied influences, and my songwriting style is a mish-mash of all the styles I’ve played over the years – indie, folk, funk, blues, even metal. So that naturally comes out, I think, when I write songs, but a lot of that is unconscious. When it came to picking songs for the EP, though, I deliberately picked 4 songs that were very different from one another, because I wanted the listening experience to feel varied and dynamic. Hopefully I’ve succeeded!

There are a lot of harmonies within the four tracks, not just on choruses like ‘other’ musicians do. I really enjoyed this style and it makes me wonder why more singers don’t show their talent in this way. How did the idea to include so many harmonies come about in your writing process? 

Uh… it just felt like the natural thing to do. On an acoustic EP like this you want to avoid anything sounding too thin, and you’re always looking for natural ways to broaden the sound or arrangement. Also I kept hearing the harmonies in my head, and so including them felt important. I left them there because, to me, they give the recorded versions a lot more character, and allow me to make the most of the melodies. I’m a sucker for good harmonies!

There is one thing I felt at the end of the four tracks, something that carry through all the differing styles, and that was happiness. Your music makes me smile. Again, was this intentional? A happy accident? Or is happiness, so lacking in much of modern music, an important part of the Gozer Goodspeed process? 

I definitely wanted to make an upbeat record. I wanted the EP to be reflective of what I like to do onstage – which is have a damn good time! However, I also hoped that there would be enough there in the lyrics to take people on a (here comes the cliché I swore I’d never trot out) journey that felt interesting and wide-ranging and yet still, overall, highly positive. The truth is you just never know how things will shake out, though! I’m glad you got some positivity out of it.

The cover is amazing and the bright colouring really suits the release, especially with the ‘colour wash over me tonight’ line in the title track. How did you and the artist, Susan Omand, go about picking the art? 

First of all, Susan is an amazing artist. She’s done some great original work and some amazing stuff for authors – she’s an online friend who deserves to get much more recognition! Secondly, I mainly just trusted Susan’s instincts. I had a very vague idea of what I wanted but Susan came back with some ideas off the top of her head. One of them was a basic version of what we ended up with, and I fell for it immediately. Susan and I talked about how to refine it, she listened to the song Rattlebone Colour, and then she came back with what we have now, which is bold and colourful and thematically in keeping with the title track. Really what I’m saying is, artists, writers, creatives of all stripes: trust Susan Omand with your promo art. She knows what she’s doing!

I like the fact that amongst those of us in the office here we all have a different favourite from the EP. My particular fav is Raise & Not Lose. Is there a particular favourite of yours? One that maybe you are slightly more proud of than the others? 

I’m proud of all of them. I was a little worried Raise & Not Lose was going to be the unloved orphan of the songs, to be honest, because it’s not as fast-paced as the others, but surprisingly it seems to be a favourite among quite a few listeners. However, it’s probably Man with the Ruined Knee that I’m most pleased with, simply because it’s ended up sounding much more sweeping and epic than I’d anticipated. I put that mainly down to Josiah, my producer, who seemed to just know what it needed to give it that extra edge.

The acoustic style is superb but on multiple listens as a mere drummer I have licks and fills in my head that would suit the material. Do you think you’ll ever try a full band approach? 

I’ve been in numerous full bands before. I love them, but it’s unbelievably difficult to keep a full band together for any length of time, unless you’re all making great money. But who knows? We’ll see what opportunities come down the pipe. For the moment things are simple, because it’s only me I have to satisfy – and set up onstage!

What next then? Bear in mind the answer I am looking for is complete album… 

A full album would be a blast, and it’s definitely on the cards sometime down the line. However, I’m thinking another EP is more realistic at this point; I like the speed that you can get EPs together and get them out. I’m hoping to get back in the studio early next year and, maybe, get a new EP out in the spring. And in the meantime, it’ll be gigs, festivals… oh, and maybe a few music videos too!

The Rattlebone Colour EP by Gozer Goodspeed is available now from Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Google Play and other platforms.

Images - Gozer Goodspeed

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