Ask anyone who’s even a little into the live music scene these days and you’ll hear one name that may bamboozle you: Goose. Aggressive waterfowl would hardly seem the proper inspiration for a group occupying the sweet spot that Goose currently relishes; praise from critics across the genre spectrum has Goose migrating into the lead spot of an ever-evolving music scene.
Guitarist/keyboardist Peter Anspach took some time out of his busy schedule recently to chat with me about where he sees Goose, the music scene in general, the famous Trey sit-in, and more.
Andrew Howie: Goose has been on quite the ride lately; what can you tell me about how the last few years have been for the band?
Peter Anspach: Well for me, it feels like what we’ve always done, except there are a lot more people involved, and a lot more resources to do really cool production at shows, but at the end of it we’re going out there and playing music like we always have, you know? We still practice in the same spot. I will say though, getting used to going out to concerts and people recognizing me, that’s something that has been surprising. It’s just part of it though. I love meeting all our fans and it’s always a special experience to get to say hi to somebody out in a random location.
AH: What can you tell me about this new record that was a departure from previous studio efforts?
PA: So, we kind of approached the record in a totally new way than we had the last one, Shenanigans Nite Club. We had a bunch of songs that we sent to this producer D. James Goodwin, probably 25-30 songs. He listened through and said he liked this and that, could see this as a good group of tracks for a record. It was a cool process, because our initial idea was quite different from how it ended up. Song-wise, we wanted to record every single song we had written; we wanted it to be two records, we wanted to record at least 20 songs. He told us to focus on a few, and he would hear things that would be cool in certain songs here and there. That was his approach for crafting the record.
His whole thing was he wanted to bring something to it himself; he didn’t want to be there just to record us, he wanted to bring in his own influence and ideas, so it was collaborative in the sense that we brought in the material, but he was picking the songs where he felt like he could add something, and that ended up being Dripfield. We weren’t coming into the studio with the idea that a song had to be this way or that way; every day it was more of how could we record this in a way that’s cool, fun and interesting for us? It was a very fun and open-minded process, so new and exciting. We’re probably going to do it again in a similar fashion, but of course with a twist.
AH: Evidently there’s been some confusion betwixt you and a separate, unrelated Goose?
PA: For a while a lot of people would hear about us on the internet, and they would say ‘Oh you’re from Belgium?’ It’s actually hilarious; there’s an electronic band called Goose from Belgium, and we joke about it, because sometimes things like this still happen; a venue will post a ticket link from us and somehow it gets populated with the other Goose’s photo. We joke about which one of them is which of us, you know, the European version. It’s never been easy to Google Goose because you also just get the animal. It is funny that that is still a thing though.
AH: You’re playing the inaugural Sacred Rose Festival alongside some pretty legendary names; your thoughts on the festival?
PA: It’s stacked! When I saw it, I was honestly shocked; it’s incredible. All the great jam bands are on this festival. Tons of really cool acts. We’re only going to be there on Saturday (we play 9:15-11:15), but my girlfriend is a big fan of Orchard Lounge, and they’re playing before and after us, so hopefully I can catch the set after. That would be fun to see them and what that’s all about.
AH: This tour included a lot of first-time venues for Goose, correct?
PA: Yeah, a lot of them were first times. We played High Sierra out in California, earlier in July, and that was the first time we went out there. It was the first time at Newport Folk Festival, Bonnaroo, Red Rocks, the Greek in L.A., some of these legendary spots. It’s been a fun summer to say the least. We’re having a great time. Sacred Rose is a great way to close out our summer tour. We will be plenty warmed up by then.
AH: Speaking of your tour and Goose on stage: you often switch between keys and guitar; what can you tell me about figuring out the right instrument for the moment?
PA: That’s a great question; usually, during a show, on specific songs I’m on certain instruments for jams. It’s a jam thing as far as which one I play. For the structured tracks themselves, it’s more of a set thing, but if we’re in an improv situation, I’ll start on guitar; like Wysteria Lane, I end up starting the jam on guitar, and I’ll sometimes switch over to keys. Basically, if I feel like there’s a different texture that can lend itself to the music at a particular moment, I’ll switch to that instrument.
Sometimes, I’ll set a synth pad and play guitar at the same time, but I don’t really feel any pressure one way or the other. I think I feel confident enough on both instruments that it’s just kind of anything goes, whichever is going to lend itself to the most creativity for the moment. That’s a big factor for me. If I play guitar for three jams in a row, I might immediately go to keys, because creatively it’s going to be a different landscape for me and might lend itself to some different ideas that can take us down a different path.
AH: What are your thoughts on reinvention in terms of songwriting and the music world moving forward?
PA: Well, look at it like this: we’re playing rock n’ roll, which has been played for how long now? We are looking for new ways to discover music and new ways to be creative with what we have as far as our musical upbringing. In terms of the jam world, back to the Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa, Allman Brothers, all these groups did their own thing back in the day. When we get up there it is reinvention. You’re taking what was in the past, mixing it with your own experience, and creating something new.
AH: Is there anything in particular about the current music scene that has you excited about where things may be headed in the future?
PA: I see a lot of interest from some other indie bands that we’ve crossed paths with, interest in jamming with longer-form songs instead of just three-minute tracks. That has been super cool to see. Vampire Weekend and Dawes, both of those bands have definitely expressed interest in jamming, and that’s not really something that I would have expected.
On the other hand, we love improv, but we also love songwriting, you know? We’re trying to create songs that can stand on their own at four minutes and take you on a journey and just be a great song and a great experience, but also take things in the opposite direction a lot of the time as well. I’m excited to see more crossing of the aisle there in the future.
PA: We kind of got word that Trey wanted to come sit in with us; this was probably a week before the show, so it all happened kind of quickly. We sent him some ideas, like 10-15 songs that we were planning on playing. He listened through and picked out two (‘Hungersite’ and ‘Arcadia’), and then once we were all hanging out at the show, it was interesting. The curfew there was at midnight, but shows end up stretching longer, and we thought it would be great if we could play a little longer, you know?
We had planned to bring him out in the third set; and our managers were able to extend us by an hour, and we asked him if it was cool if he went on a little later. He was totally cool with everything. Then once we were up there, we had a lot of time to fill! We were going to play some other songs, but the sit-in was going well and he was having fun, and we asked if he wanted to stay up for another one or two. It was casual; the extra couple songs, ‘Dripfield’ and ‘Empress of Organos’ happened on the fly. It was very laid-back once it was all going down. Trey was extremely flexible and super humble, just an amazing guy. We had the best time hanging out with him. It was a great experience all around.