Phoenix band GoldenGoat discusses Arizona's dying (or not) music scene

A band’s growth cycle is similar to a plant. Seeds buried in soil are like friends deciding to start playing music together. As the seed germinates, the band begins its slow refinement into its own sound and personality. Soon a small sprout emerges from the soil, marking the band’s first live show.

Growing steadily, the stalk gains strength and uses its momentum to stand tall among the other germinating groups, making a name for itself. With enough water, warmth and light, the plant forms its first bud — eventually opening into a thriving flower.

It’s here though, that the plant becomes most reliant on those around it. Cross-pollination builds stronger plants, but needs tiny fluttering animals like bees and hummingbirds to complete the process. It is the key to the plant sustaining its own being while simultaneously helping those in formative stages nearby.

Local music scenes need the same mass pollination to become its own flowering success. The problem is, doing so isn’t an asexual process.

Scenes need collaboration. Venues and promoters, bands and journalists, photographers and fans, all need to harness their inner bumblebee and support one another anyway they can. If Arizona’s local music scene can’t fertilize, it will fizzle out and fade.

I saw Phoenix-based rock band GoldenGoat perform an explosive live show with Sunshower at Yucca Tap Room a few weeks ago and was floored.

See more: Phoenix grunge band Sunshower stuns with tight set at Yucca Tap Room

Chris Parsons, vocals and guitar, is a fierce band leader supported by Brent Gutierrez and Kevin Lorenc, who also play the guitar. The trio of six-strings slathers thick layers of musical concurrence over a tantric rhythm section comprised of Matt Van Gelder on drums and Chris Ortega on bass.

GoldenGoat is finally cracking through the soil and strengthening its stem. But now it’s time for the buzzing bees of Arizona to lend a hand. Thankfully, GoldenGoat explained in an interview just how to do that.

I saw one of you posted on your Facebook that you all want to make GoldenGoat into a band that encourages the communal gatherings around music. Is Arizona’s music scene dying? Is an increased community going to save it?

Hey everyone, just finished tracking the rest of our EP for all of you guys to hear. This is not just a giant staple of...

Posted by GoldenGoat on Monday, September 14, 2015

Van Gelder: Without people, without fans and without community, that will be the end result here in the Valley. That will be what happens if we can’t come together and rebuild, in a sense, our music scene. The key is to expand your mind and accept things that don’t sound like this band that you’re really obsessed with at the moment.

Parsons: I feel like, no matter what, there’s always gonna be a lot of different subgenres that you can get connected with. You just have to hunt for it. But the biggest thing is, if you really wanna be a part of local music, to stay connected with your local venues. If you know of certain venue that you’re a fan of and you like the sound there, find out what shows are gonna be there and go to the ones that you have no idea about.

The music scene is never going to really die, it’s just that certain people are going to agree to it being dead.

There’s been a few breakout stories, but Arizona isn’t known for breeding very many huge bands. How can bands here get to that level? Is it even important for that to happen?

Lorenc: It just requires acknowledgment. People don’t really perceive music here as a ritual. 

Van Gelder: Like Kevin was saying, anytime we’re together, we’re jamming. Listening to music and discovering new music. But at the same time we’re constantly discovering new ways to improve ourselves in music, both by listening to it, creating it, going to shows and being a part of the music scene we’re trying to build. 

If any other band out there right now that doesn’t have a certain amount of exposure wants it, just stay consistent, stay strong and stand next to it.

I think a big problem with music I liked in the past and don’t anymore is that they treat their music like a label or as something material. I find myself more inspired nowadays to see musicians emotional when they play. That it’s not routine. That they can make mistakes. That it’s completely organic. I think these are the keys to exposure.

Parsons: If you wanna get out there, you need to tour. It’s not about having a Facebook, it’s about going to different states and pinpointing yourself in many different places. The only reason we haven’t done it is because we need to get our EP out there, we need to get some merch and we need to save up money and schedule time. But as soon as all that’s done, we’ll be out there.

Does there need to be more of a record label presence in Arizona?

Lorenc: A lot of bands just don’t have recordings and I don’t think there needs to be a record label to provide that. There’s tons of students at ASU that are learning how to record and do that exact same thing. A label could help, but then you’ll have a bunch of people who are trying to get experience robbed of what they want to do.

Guttierez: I feel like our generation, the “smart-phone generation,” gets caught up in hype. They like something for a brief second and it catches their attention, but they don’t really come to love it. And I’m not speaking for everyone because there’s a huge amount of artists and people that really appreciate that stuff, but the mass doesn’t cling to things like we do.

How can venues help support bands and cultivate the scene here?

Parsons: The biggest thing venues can do is not necessarily having great sound equipment but having great sound guys. Like having sound guys that genuinely want local bands to sound good. That’s always the most important element to a band’s live sound. When people go to shows and hear that difference and it’s like, “Why is it that when I went to this Alicia Keys show it sounded incredible and when I went to GoldenGoat’s show I couldn’t hear the vocals?”

It’s all on getting a good sound guy and keeping a consistency with giving them the best possible live sound that they can have and not singling them out because they’re not a huge touring band.

Lorenc: I don’t want to talk bad about all sound guys, but just help us out. We want to help you out, too. We want your name to be good just as our name is good. It goes back to that communal sense.

Your new EP “Summer Catalyst Demos” isn’t available to hear yet, but your live show conveyed a lot of post-rock crescendos. Is that the sound you’re going for? 

Van Gelder: I’ve had a little bit of a problem trying to describe our music to people I know outside of our circle of friends. For convenience’s sake it’s easy to say we’re a post-rock band. But we all come from such a different background of music.

I think the real kick to our band is when you hear it you can kind of put that thing on it and say, well this definitely has a rock feel to it, but you can tell, if you pay enough attention, how all of our influences come together. And they don’t blend together as one, they all stand out individually.

Can you describe one of the songs from your upcoming EP?  

Parsons: The opening song is called “Hate (For the Love of Art)” and it’s honestly about being so driven by your passion that it almost weighs down on you, but you’re still almost forced to do it – and I’m sure a lot of musicians feel that way. That’s why a lot of them quit.

There’s a lot of things that I’ve almost been on the cusp of giving up just to play music. I mean like, limiting my meals and doing whatever I can just to afford gas to go to practice.

It’s kind of like having a love hate relationship for something that you will never give up because it defines you. Honestly if I could just chill and play music all day and not have to worry about bills I’d be set. But, that’s just not how it is.

I’d love to be able to go live out in the forest, but I wouldn’t be able to plug my amp in.

Phoenix grunge band Sunshower stuns with tight set at Yucca Tap Room

Phoenix grunge band Sunshower stuns with tight set at Yucca Tap Room

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Contact the reporter at nlatona@asu.edu or follow  @Bigtonemeaty on Twitter.

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