A dialogue with Goat about Goat
“Absorbed in our discussion of immortality, we had let night fall without lighting the lamp, and we couldn’t see each other’s faces. With an offhandedness or gentleness more convincing than passion would have been, Macedonio Fernandez’ voice said once more that the soul is immortal. He assured me that the death of the body is altogether insignificant, and that dying has to be the most unimportant thing that can happen to a man. I was playing with Macedonio’s pocketknife, opening and closing it. A nearby accordion was infinitely dispatching La Comparsita, that dismaying trifle that so many people like because it’s been misrepresented to them as being old. . . . I suggested to Macedonio that we kill ourselves, so we might have our discussion without all the racket.”
A Dialogue About a Dialogue, Jorge Luis Borges
Crack Magazine spoke to Goat about their forthcoming album Commune. In keeping with their inspirations, we based our conversation on a short dialogue by Jorge Luis Borges, entitled A Dialogue About A Dialogue. Goat have no concrete connection to Borges, but their music holds a mirror to his principles and practices. Marrying spiritualism and ritual with scenes and images from the relics of global cultures, both Goat and Borges’ work build twisted fantasies from the rhythms of our shared histories.
Splintered text rattling through the keys. Playing Commune and letting the room fall into the swell of night. A low voice on the sixth track spoke: the spirit world is more real than most of us believe. This album is the realness; the world owned by, occupied by, embodied in and throughout by Goat. Crack was in contact with Goat O’Carroll. He assured us calmly, revealing within an email exchange the experiences and motions that inform the group and their albums.
C: You draw on such a wide collection of traditions and sounds. How do you create continuity and singularity from such sparse and sprawling influences?
G: We let everything we hear and like flow through our systems, and when it comes out, it sounds like this. We try and leave the thinking outside the studio. That is the trick.
C: Is your sound informed purely by music? How far does art, literature and environment guide your creation?
G: Well, we are no professors, but everything we experience in life goes into our systems and helps us create music. So does art, movies, literature, people, the weather.
C: Your first album World Music was hugely acclaimed. Was this a pressure that weighted upon you or did you create Commune as a completely separate entity?
G: We just did some music. Nothing harder than that really. It is not brain surgery. Doing some drumbeats, some riffs. Turned out quite cool I think. I don’t think anyone felt any pressure from somewhere. Not that I noticed anyway.
C: Commune evokes shared space and divided responsibilities. Is this an ethos for your band or a wider philosophy?
G: Isn’t that what we all do? What is the society? It is just a big collective or commune where everyone shares responsibilities and space. This is how we all live. In different collectives, family, job, friends, neighbours. So yes, it is our ethos and philosophy. Be aware of that, you are part of many collectives. Play a positive role.
Commune reminds Crack of this positive ritual through its own language, a language similar to our own but a further and more fervent one. Crack (now deep in mysticism) was forced to consider the chapters of Goat. They claim they hail from Korpilombolo – some flung region of Sweden where they collect and feed from bizarre energy and ancient influence. Characters re-spring on both of their records: Goatman/Goathead/Goatlord/ Goatchild/Goatslaves. They gather among light and God and ancient tribes in a body of residual images peculiar to this band.
C: Both Commune and World Music share a mythos. Are these figures part of a wider universe or are they simply titles?
G: Sooner or later the mystery with the Goat songs will be revealed … It is a big puzzle … lots of pieces.
C: Your band lore – hailing from Korpilombolo – and guised identity on stage isolates you from the bulk of alternative rock. Do you see yourselves as part of any movement or genre?
G: No. Not any movement or any genre. We don’t need to put any label on ourselves. You journalists do that for us anyway.
C: How important is your live show to understanding your music?
G: There is nothing to understand. It is just music. Either you like what you hear or you don’t. You can like our album, or maybe you don’t, but you enjoy our live show. Or vice versa. Either is fine. It is ok if you don’t like us at all, also.
C: Your albums engage with colossal ideas of meaning and ritual. Do you feel your albums personally reflect your band members or do they serve a grander purpose?
G: Goat is one organism as we see it and the music is the soul of the Goat. If it serves a higher purpose … I guess it can for some people. At least I wanna think that. You know, to play a tiny part in the great unification of man … But it is also OK if you just wanna head-bang to the solos.
C: When are Goat at home?
G: Right now.
C: With all the world’s music do you ever feel lost?
C: No. The more positive energy there is in the world, the more home I feel.
Knowing they are setting out with new music, Goat are moving to make this home greater. As our emails concluded, Commune rung out. And in a moment, we did the same.
Commune is out now via Rocket Recordings.