Interview with Ben Falgoust
Emerging from the swamplands of New Orleans, a city rich with urban legends of voodoo curses, ghosts and murder, Goatwhore was formed in 1997 by guitarist Sammy Duet. Their history has been marked by lineup shifts, temporary paralysis, haunted studios and the survival of one of the five most destructive hurricanes in US history. Undeterred and perhaps all the more driven by the consistent bout of bad luck, Goatwhore have continued to hammer out battering-ram rhythms and apocalyptic charm with their most recent album, 'Carving Out The Eyes Of God'; a heavy-handed title that challenges God's alleged purity. With Australia in their sights, Falgoust has graciously taken the time to relay
some insight into Goatwhore.
How did you come about obtaining the band name?
Ha! We are asked this quite a bit. Let's see, where should I start? So at the time we were reading a lot of like Aleister Crowley, occult literature, for lyrical influence of course... and personal reasons. He had this one woman... I wouldn't say she was his wife or his girlfriend or a very nice girl anyway. But she would have sex in the rituals that he would have with many men and at the end of the ritual at the climax she would have sex with a goat. So, technically, that is the first goatwhore. That was definitely the influence for the name at first and then from the influence of a very unattractive exotic dancer if you will. That definitely put the final nail in the coffin as far as us using Goatwhore for the name of our band.
How would you describe your music?
Metal. No variations or sub-genres. I just call everything Metal at this point. You either like it or don't.
Serenades To The Tides Of Blood - Demo Tape - Released by ourselves in 1998
The Eclipse Of Ages Into Black - Released on Rotten Records in 2000
Funeral Dirge For The Rotting Sun - Released on Rotten Records in 2003
A Haunting Curse - Released on Metal Blade Records in 2006
Carving Out The Eyes Of God - Released on Metal Blade Records in 2009
What one thing do you feel sets you apart from the rest in this genre?
Not too sure. Maybe we are much closer to our roots than others. Maybe we approach the ideas of mixing in our older influences with newer more contemporary ideas. Maybe we stick really close to our roots and we don't stray that far from the path of change. Who really knows? I don't feel we are really trying to set ourselves apart from anyone, we are just playing music we enjoy and building from music that influenced us greatly.
How long did it take to record your latest material?
About one month. It was a very smooth and relaxed environment this time.
What is the inspiration behind your latest material?
Traditional Metal. The roots and the beginning of Metal; Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Slayer, Venom, Celtic Frost and Bathory. Some punk mixed in as well. Discharge, Doom, Misfits and Samhain.
Which label, if any, have you produced this album through? And how much of a difference has it made to the overall production process?
We are currently involved with Metal Blade Records. Well, they are a bigger label from our previous one, so we have a slightly bigger budget when recording. Allowing more time and not being in a rushed environment. That helps a great deal.
Any plans for a music video?
We have already done three videos for the last two records. We did videos for 'Alchemy Of The Black Sun Cult' and 'Forever Consume Oblivion' from the 'A Haunting Curse' record. We also did a video for 'Apocalyptic Havoc' from the 'Carving Out The Eyes Of God' record. There may be another one soon or for the next record.
When you go into recording mode, do you find it easy or challenging?
Recording is always a bit of a challenge. I guess it depends on the atmosphere and the attitudes in the studio. We are always pretty much prepared, but you do run into issues at times.
Is there a particular market or country you are trying to reach?
Nothing in particular, I would say everyone.
What kind of message are you trying to relay to your audience?
The weakness of mankind and its lack of self worth.
Who's responsible for the bands artwork?
As far as the new record we did the entire art and layout with some help from Brian Ames (Metal Blade graphic designer). We do all of our own t-shirt designs or have an artist that interests us to do some. We had Jacob Bannon from Converge do the art and layout on 'A Haunting Curse'. Currently we have been into the more harsh black and white imagery; the simpleness behind it as well as the blunt visual effect it has. It reeks of early underground metal.
How hard has it been to get to this point?
We have had our share of obstacles. We have had member changes, fights, drug use and disputes. A little bit of everything involved with being in a band. I think every band faces obstacles. Especially when you have been doing it for 10 plus years! You get to points where some people aren't on the same page as the rest of the band and they usually leave or you have to dismiss them. I think all these drawbacks help a band grow more solid or even break them, depending on the people. In our case it has made us all more of a tighter knit unit.
Where does your main fan base / support tend to lie?
It is scattered. Just when you may write a town off for not being that good, you return and then it is like they had a Goatwhore virus loose in the water! I think every area has its ups and downs. The bigger cities like New York City, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, San Francisco, Vancouver and Calgary are always good but you could have a lesser show in those towns as well. Then again you could play some small town in the middle of nowhere and have an amazing show, like Eau Claire, Wisconsin or Rapid City, South Dakota. Anything is possible and we try to do as many shows and everywhere we can, or allowed.
What is your favourite venue?
I don't have an actual favorite. I do enjoy smaller venues, where the crowd is close, in your face, and the sound is so damn dense and loud. I like the personal experience much more than a huge stage with a barricade separating the crowd and the artist.
What are some of your favourite local acts?
We have some really good local bands like Haarp and Pacifist.
What would be your most memorable gig / performance to date?
We played Japan which was awesome. Did a tour with Dark Funeral and Zyklon over there. We did a one off Ozzfest show in Texas. We played around 11am and it was packed and the crowd was really intense that early in the morning. I have to say I am quite eager to see the outcome of these Australian shows with Behemoth and Job For A Cowboy. I have a good feeling these shows will become quite memorable as well.
Have you got a favourite song you like to play? And is there one in particular you've noticed your fans have started asking for?
I enjoy playing all of them. I do like certain songs placed in the set at different points because they do add a certain attack to the set but overall, we have a good time playing everything. If we haven't ever played it live, then we must have felt it doesn't have what we need in a live setting. We get a lot of response to 'Alchemy Of The Black Sun Cult', 'Apocalyptic Havoc', 'Blood Guilt Eucharist' and 'Forever Consumed Oblivion'. Depending on the audience and place we play it may be some other, but those are usually the top ones.
If you were playing at a metal festival, who would you prefer was playing alongside you and where would that be?
Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Slayer, Venom, Celtic Frost and Goatwhore. That would be sick! It would be in England somewhere. That would do it complete justice. No offense to other countries, but match that choice of place to the top two on the list.
What kind of instruments do you use? And have you done the 'Rock Star' thing yet and smashed any equipment?
Nope. We are not that financially set, so all of gear is quite important to us. Just like a good cook that never reveals his ingredients, we can't reveal what is used to get our sounds. We will give the basics that our drummer plays Pearl, our bass player plays Ampeg, and our guitar player plays Randall. From there you will have to dig.
Have you had many chances for signings?
Nothing weird. The usual like any other band. I do have to say it is unique how people in Japan wait in a single file line to get things signed rather than swarming the artist in a crowd. The discipline is quite amazing! I did have the opportunity to sign someone's ID once. Pretty odd!
Have you ever had any Mystical experiences?
When we recorded our second record, 'Funeral Dirge For The Rotting Sun', the studio was haunted. There were some late nights where we'd witness things during the end of that evening's session. It was a two story studio and we were in the control room on the bottom floor and we heard tons of footsteps running back and forth. Checked it out and no one was around. Another night, while in the same control room, a figure ran by the door of the control room. Caught it out of the side of our view! It happened and all three of us turned to see what it was. The studio ended up getting destroyed after Hurricane Katrina, so it doesn't exist anymore.
Where can people purchase your music and merchandise from?
Right now it is hard to obtain merchandise from us unless you go to a live show. Metal Blade Records has two shirt designs, 'A Haunting Curse' and 'Carving Out The Eyes Of God' CD's currently available through their webstore. You can also get 'The Eclipse Of Ages Into Black' and 'Funeral Dirge For The Rotting Sun' from the Rotten Records webstore. In Australia, you can purchase items through Riot.
What was the main reason you chose this career path and has it turned out as expected?
This is what I wanted to do. I went to college for a while but always enjoyed the band and being on the road. The way I look at it is that college will always be there and this won't. Once this comes to an end, because the end is always inevitable, I can always go back to college and chase after a possible lucrative career.
Fame, fun or finance?
I think I pretty much do it for the enjoyment. I guess that would fall under fun. If I could make a living at it, then that would be nice. I still work a job at home when I am not touring. You get small increments of all of the above but I like the adrenaline rush from live shows. I like playing the music. It even helps when the crowd is getting into it. I guess that might fall under a small angle of the fame part for that 30 minutes to an hour of playing.
Let's pretend you were creating a tour survival guide. What would be your top three tips for surviving a long tour with the band?
Alcoholic Libations, Satan, Patience. No particular order there.
What words of advice can you offer anyone looking to enter the music industry?
Be Smart. Don't sign your soul over to a complete stranger. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. You spent all that time writing the music, are you really just gonna give the rights to it to someone you don't even know? Are you really going to give all your merchandise rights over to a complete stranger? Come on, be smart and not some typical dumb jackass. Oh, and when things get tough you need to get way tougher. No one said it will be easy.
Anything you'd like to add or say to your fans?
The Earth is suffocating... Swear to make them cut me open, so that I won't be buried alive.
'Interview with Goatwhore' by Déa di Morté © 13 April 2010
Hails! to Goatwhore for agreeing to participate and taking the time to complete this interview.
All pictures courtesy of Alex Solca, Metal Blade Records and Goatwhore.