Getting ready to embark on their first national tour February 5, Seattle’s My Goodness will arrive in Portland February 8 at the Doug Fir. They will be touring in support of a 30-date whirlwind tour with Augustines that finishes in Salt Lake City, March 22.
My Goodness is guitarist/singer Joel Schneider and drummer Andy Lum. The pair have already built a strong following over the last few years throughout the Pacific Northwest, and established themselves as a lean, blistering rock & roll band with bluesy rawness that gets your attention. With just guitar and drums, their focus is synchronicity and simplicity. There’s plenty of excitement when the duo plug in and let it rip.
On a recent interview with Schneider, he graciously fielded some questions about the band and their upcoming tour with additional member, bass player Cody Votolato (The Blood Brothers, Jaguar Love).
When asked about the blues/rock connection, Schneider reflected saying, “I think it is really in the feeling and energy generated by the music. Blues and rock are definitely not the only types of music I enjoy listening to, but they're by far the most satisfying for me to play and perform. There is something about the raw emotion in blues/soul music that just gets me. I feel I can get things off my chest and speak my mind through the music...at the same time I'm able to add a rock element and keep it loud and high energy.”
In listening to a preview of My Goodness’ upcoming debut, Shiver + Shake, three of the four tracks previewed are as gritty as can be. Back Again, Cold Feet Killer, Check Your Bones, rip through your speakers with rawness and intensity, as Schneider’s controlled wail is grounded by the duo’s tight musicianship.
With their musical foundation firmly built as a power duo, what makes playing as a duo special? Schneider explained, “Being able to keep it simple and feed off the energy of the other person is really the biggest appeal of playing as a two piece. The music is able to move a little more dynamically without it being rehearsed ahead of time. Improvisation in certain parts can be a little easier as well.”
But Votolato is a welcomed addition to the duo, and Schneider and Lum have discovered an instant chemistry as a trio, finding someone that really gets the music and the feeling behind it. Schneider continued, “The transition to playing live has been pretty seamless and natural. I think it’s added more energy and feeling to our live show as well, which was very important to us when we decided to start playing out as a three piece.”
In creating their own version of crunchy blues rock other subtle influences can be heard, and Schneider explains, “Andy and I were both really influenced by heavier music in our teens. Bands like Soundgarden, Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age have always been big for us. We were also exposed to the Seattle hardcore scene which really took off while we were teenagers. Harkonen, These Arms are Snakes, and Botch among others were bands that we would go see often and be inspired by. We sound a lot different from those bands, but that spirit and energy has really seeped into the way we write and perform now.”
Building on that spirit and energy, what is the inspiration for My Goodness? Schneider described it as the way it makes him feel. "I think it is somewhat therapeutic for me in a way. I really write about a lot of personal things. I use it as an outlet for a lot of feelings I need to get out.”
With the legendary history of blues and rock artists come inevitable comparisons. My Goodness stamps their own energized signature that put bands like Led Zeppelin, Humble Pie, and UFO on the map. Schneider cites additional inspiration saying, “We've also been inspired by some both recent and older blues, soul, and Americana artists. To the latest recordings from Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones, Lee Fields to some older stuff such as Jim Ford, Junior Kimbrough, and Muddy Waters.”
Asking Schneider to elaborate on the Americana shift of their fourth track, Lost In The Soul, he explained “I actually write those kind of songs all the time at home on acoustic. Lost In The Soul was the first one where I thought it could be appropriate for My Goodness. I was listening to a lot of our friends, The Cave Singers and also Devendra Banhart, at the time. I'm pretty sure that inspired me a bit to write the tune. Also, certain relationship things that I write about aren't very appropriate for a loud aggressive song. This is definitely one of those instances.”
Musically, Seattle is known for many things, and seems to be synonymous with Nirvana, Soundgarden and the 90s grunge scene but is so much more as evidenced by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ Grammy Award for 2014 Best New Artist. So what are the benefits of being from and playing in Seattle and what are the drawbacks? Schneider thoughtfully replied “The music scene in Seattle really is incredibly diverse. I think what makes it so special and beneficial to be a band from here is the sense of community amongst bands regardless of genre. We have played with all sorts of bands in town and the majority of them are incredibly supportive and tons of friendships have been developed. For the most part, bands here understand that the most important thing is to have fun with music....because when it comes down to it, that's what it’s all about.”
And from the sound of it, the tight-knit musical community looks after its own. Schneider continues, “If a band starts playing around Seattle with a negative or pretentious attitude about them, the word usually gets around and it most definitely doesn't go unnoticed. That's what I love about it here though, Seattle bands really try and build up their peers and it’s a great thing.”
It’s no wonder, with the vibrant profusion of creativity that is the Seattle music scene, there can be a downside. Schneider notes “Because the scene is so diverse, I feel sometimes certain genres can get ignored a little more than others. Usually someone comes along to champion them though. For instance, the creation of Good to Die Records a couple years back has really brought local heavy music to a much larger audience than it had prior. It's been a very refreshing thing to see. I believe there's a couple Portland bands on the label now as well which is super cool.” In fact, one of Portland’s Willamette Week’s Top 10 Best New Band in Portland for 2013 is, Gaytheist.
With the obvious excitement of a national tour Schneider enthusiastically shared, “We really could not be more excited for this tour with Augustines. They are great friends of ours and an equally great band. We haven't really been outside of Seattle much so we can't wait to get our music to audiences in cities that have not yet heard it.”
Once back home in Seattle Schneider & Lum’s attention is focused solely on their debut album, “Getting this record finalized and into people’s ears is our number one priority. We have a tentative release date for Shiver + Shake that is set for June 24th via Votiv Music.”
With the opportunity to continue to perform their album after its release, is it back on the road for the summer fest circuit? Schneider acknowledges, “I'm sure we will do one of the Seattle festivals this year although it would be nice to do something outside Seattle as well. Maybe this first national tour will help in that department. Fingers crossed.”
2014 is off to a rockin’ start for My Goodness, and Schneider and company are bringing the goods. If you like your blues-driven rock down and dirty, gutsy and gritty, My Goodness is your ticket, which are available at the Doug Fir, doors open at 8pm, My Goodness plays at 9pm. Be there!