Storytelling with The Mountain Goats
With two members of their band having formed a musical partnership over a decade ago, and having been friends for a decade before that, The Mountain Goats are more like a family to bassist Peter Hughes than a band.
“The thing is, like I said John (Darnielle) and I have been friends and pretty close friends for twenty years and for the last ten years we’ve been working together, touring together, recording together and it actually, for the first about five years it wasn’t even really a band. It was just the two of us,” laughed Hughes down the phone from Rochester, New York, where he currently resides.
“We’re kind of like an old married couple. I know exactly what he is thinking almost all of the time, and he knows exactly what I’m thinking almost all of the time… you know when you watch a school of fish and they all kind of turn at the same time, you know when that happens? That’s kind of the thing that John and I have got going on a lot of the time.”
Hughes first official recording with the band was on the 2002 record Tallahassee, which was also the start of a more polished sound for The Mountain Goats. Previously the band had been a solo act for singer John Darnielle (despite the plural moniker) and all previous recordings had been of a lo-fi, home recording quality.
“Well completely definitely for the last five to ten years, with a couple of brief appearances in the ten years prior to that,” said Hughes of his time in The Mountain Goats.
“In 2001, you know we stayed in touch, but yeah in 2001 he called me up and said he wanted to do some recording together and low and behold a few weeks later we did… and the rest kind of followed from there.”
The rest being the addition of drummer Jon Wurster as a permanent member of the band, releasing three studio-albums in this current line-up (thirteen overall for Darnielle) and a relentless touring schedule that has seen The Mountain Goats visit our shores possibly more often than any other international band over the past decade.
“We always have a really good time when we come to Australia. It’s always one of our favourite places to go which sounds like something I have to say but it’s actually true! It’s absolutely true!”
There must be some element of truth to it, as the trio are returning to our shores this May for a six-date tour to promote 2011’s All Eternals Deck, an album inspired by 1970s cult films, centuries old paintings and the American death metal band Cannibal Corpse.
“We did this tour on a bus and on the back of the bus there’s like this big giant TV and this DVD player and I don’t know at what point we came into possession of this DVD but it was like a really long, three-hour documentary about the history of Cannibal Corpse,” explained Hughes
“We became really obsessed by this film as these guys, their just dudes you know, they are just best friends, three real people and they happened to make just this incomprehensibly evil music right? Which just goes out of its way to be completely beyond the pail of, but these guys they are just really likeable and such funny characters.”
Despite Cannibal Corpses’ influence on the band, The Mountain Goats aren’t going to be moving away from their unique brand of American indie storytelling in favor of a new death metal sound anytime soon.
Especially considering their passionate fan base.
“People that come to see The Mountain Goats, people that are fans of The Mountain Goats tend to be really big fans of them (laughs) which is completely awesome and when we play it really, it’s really just kind of this communal cathartic, emotional thing.”
Australian fans are no exception, with Hughes adamant that some of the shows they have previously played in Australia top their list.
“I say this kind of as more of a spectator than a participant, but The Mountain Goats shows are some of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Period. So I hope that it happens this time around too but like I said, we always have a good time!”
Touring Perth and the east coast of Australia in May, you’ll be hard-done-by to find a more captivating band to see than The Mountain Goats.
Tuesday May 1st – The Bakery, Perth
Thursday May 3rd – The Great Northern, Byron Bay
Friday May 4th – The Zoo, Brisbane
Sunday May 6th – The Metro, Sydney
Tuesday May 8th – The Clarendon, Katoomba
Thursday May 10th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne