Goat's Electric Ballroom poster by Adam Pobiak
Potential. A lot of artists and bands have it, but few ever dig deep down in and reach it to the fullest. Over the past year, the electrifying Swedish afro-psych collective Goat has been the rare exception. Not only have they continuously met my ridiculous expectations, but they have time and again exceeded them. Goat first came to my attention in the summer of 2012 after the release of their first 7" single and i was instantly mesmerized by their dense, trance-inducing afro krautrock sound. My expectations were deliriously high for their debut album World Music that August by Rocket Recordings. It was an instant classic and, in my opinion, light years above everything else released that year. To make things even more mysterious, the band had never performed live outside of their Arctic Circle commune until that fall with a few exploratory live rituals around Northern Europe. These shows revealed a band hitting the ground at full speed with a blistering live show and stunning stage presence. By the end of 2012, i was fully on board with Goat, hook line and sinker, drinking every drop of Kool Aid set in front of me, excited for what 2013 would hold. No band started off the year with more potential than Goat, but what would they do with it? Would they reach up and grab it or would they remain in obscurity and let things fizzle out?
Goat started off in the spring with the release of the "Stonegoat/Dreambuilding" single, two new compositions that deepened and widened their sound even further, before unleashing their first US tour. The group's destination was the Austin Psych Fest, with a handful of East Coast and Midwest dates leading up to and following their great American unveiling. The shows took on an instantly mythic quality, with the realization to all in attendance that something special was being witnessed. The music was stretched into expansive Zeppelin-esque mind altering jams that dove deeper and harder into outer and innerspace than their recorded material, and by the time the group returned to Europe to hit the major summer festival circuit, Goat's live performances were air fucking tight. With complete self confidence, the band shared stages with some of the very best bands in the entire world, and were consistently hailed as standout performers. Glastonbury. Roskilde. Primavera. How amazing that must have been, being out in the crowd and obliviously stumbling on Goat at a show like Roskilde, and getting your mind turned inside out? The thousands of new fans and instant converts that followed in Goat's wake after every performance is proof of the group's power. Goat wrapped up 2013 with an honored appearance at the final All Tomorrow's Parties festival, and with one last intimate club show at Koko's in London in December. This was a release party for their live album, Live Ballroom Ritual, a recording of their London club gig at the Electric Ballroom in June which acts as a document that captures and preserves their monumental year.
It was refreshing to see a band confidently step up, right out of the gate, and slay at every given opportunity without any wavering. Goat's year long steamrolling of music fans around the world was truly remarkable to watch as it unfolded, making them HEAD MEDICINE's easy choice for Band of the Year. And if there is another album and touring involved next year, they will be frontrunners for the 2014 title as well.
HEAD MEDICINE recently checked in with Goat, who have retreated to the recording studio, to see what lies ahead for the band in 2014.
HEAD MEDICINE: Rocket Recordings recently released Live Ballroom Ritual, a live album capturing Goat's performance at the Camden Electric Ballroom in London this summer. What are your thoughts on this recording and it's release? In your opinion, what were the top Goat performances from 2013?
GOAT: We are very happy with the release. It captures the set we have been playing most of the year and it has a good sound where you can feel the energy as well as the Beauty spots. And we like that it captures a whole show. It becomes some sort of album where we can look back and relive 2013 shows. We discussed which shows that we remember the most and everyone feels differently of course but I think most of us could agree on the Glastonbury experience, Roskilde festival, Austin psych fest and now at Koko in London. Chicago and New York was special to. But it is hard to point out anything since we are happy with all of the shows really.
HEAD MEDICINE: The mostly-instrumental track "Goat Jam" appears on the "Crystallized - Celebrating 15 Years of Rocket Recordings" compilation. its laid back vibe sounds like nothing else you have released so far and adds a new flavor to your catalog. What can you tell us about this track? is this a new recording or is it from an older session?
GOAT: it's an old session. Don't know from when but I think in the mid nineties. No one in the current live lineup are playing on the song. Not sure who does at all actually. I think it is a jam with some overdubs on it.
HEAD MEDICINE: San Francisco psych dj Al Lover has been releasing some pretty incredible projects lately and has a highly anticipated Goat remix 12" coming out in 2014 on PNKSLM. Have you heard anything that he has been cooking up for that project? what are your thoughts on Goat remixes?
GOAT: we have absolutely nothing against that anyone makes remixes of our songs, just go ahead. And about this Al lover, we have heard what he has done and I seriously consider this man a genius.
HEAD MEDICINE: Goat recently played at the final All Tomorrow's Parties Festival in Sussex, England, and later a sold out headlining show at Koko's in London to close out a phenomenal year. how was that experience? it must have been quite an honor to be invited to perform at the Loop-curated festival for its final run, and by all accounts the Koko show was an electrifying success.
GOAT: yeah! This weekend was amazing! So nice to hang out at the ATP area where we all stayed in flats having a great time. Met Michael Rother from Neu! And those people from Beefhearts magic band. Wonderful people! And the Koko was a stunning club. It was magic to play there and to end this year there, it really was.
HEAD MEDICINE: Has there been any progress on writing or recording any new Goat material? What can you tell us about the sessions?
GOAT: we are working on it. But we take it in parts as we did with the last one and we don't wanna stress it. That is not good for creativity. But we got about 7 tracks more or less finished, and we are gonna do 4-5 more. It will be fine. We feel no pressure and just play what feels right. Don't wanna tell you to much of how it sounds yet but some tracks have a little bit of a desert feeling to them.
HEAD MEDICINE: Is the lineup for these new recordings essentially the same as World Music and/or the touring group, or are there new contributors?
GOAT: it always depends on who has time and who is present at the session. It is a relaxed atmosphere and people come and go.
HEAD MEDICINE: How has the past year influenced, inspired, or helped evolve the new material?
GOAT: can't say that what we have been doing this year really affect our way to work in the studio but we have discovered some new music, at least new to us, and those kind of discoveries always works themselves into the music unconsciously you know.
HEAD MEDICINE: are any of the members of Goat involved in any other bands or musical projects that we should know about?
GOAT: No. There is no member of the Goat band that are involved in anything else at the moment. Maybe after we quit doing this rockband thing people will do other kinds of music in other formations but we will see.
HEAD MEDICINE: any tentative plans for 2014?
GOAT: no, not really. We are gonna finish the new album, do some touring and some festivals but mostly we are gonna try and stay true to ourselves and the collective and be at home with our families most of the year. Goat will never be a hard touring band.
thanks again to Goat for taking the time to speak with HEAD MEDICINE!