SXSW 2017: Goon x Vinyl Mag
Los Angeles indie rockers Goon are a breath of fresh air, generating buzz around South by Southwest with their enticingly individualistic lo-fi jams. Singer-songwriter Kenny Becker leads the quartet, writing songs in his room and fleshing them out with the rest of the band.
Kenny’s affinity for making music stems from an unlikely place; he suffers from a medical condition that periodically deadens his sense of smell and hearing. Instead of letting it bog him down, he decides to make music during the periods in which he can hear clearly. The result is a pleasingly subdued sound that can only be described as summertime music.
They’re first EP Dusk of Punk establishes a seasoned sound that most bands don’t develop until after they pop out a couple of records, which is impressive to say the least. Goon is in the process of creating their debut album, and we caught up with Kenny to get the details.
Vinyl Mag: How many times have you played SXSW?
Kenny Becker: This is our first time playing SX.
VM: Do you have any pre-festival rituals?
KB: Not like officially, but we took a bunch of rest stops just any time we saw them. Also we found this tunnel, and we just yelled at each other. It was very cathartic.
VM: Dusk of Punk dabbles in a variety of musical styles. Is that sort of what we can expect from your first full-length album?
KB: That is a great question. I hope to continue that sort of range. At the same time, I’m not trying to make that, like, something that has to happen at all costs. It was just kind of something that happened from writing songs and just being down with whatever we make. We’re trying to maintain that spirit of music first. We’re trying to not be pigeonholed into a genre.
VM: Are there any specific artists whose sounds you try to emulate or who inspire you in other ways when you’re creating your music?
KB: For me, personally, I’m inspired a lot by Pavement’s sort of sparkly guitar work. Boards of Canada is maybe my favorite band of all time. Their crazy sounds and synth tones are something I kind of aim for a little bit. I guess I would say Pixies, too.
VM: The album artwork for Dusk of Punk really encapsulates the general feel of the EP. Who created the artwork? Was it one of you guys?
KB: I actually painted that. Actually, before I was trying to pursue music full time, I thought I would be a painter full time, but I kind of ended up being both. I had this phase of painting monster dudes and after doing that, that particular image happened. I ended up really liking it. It kind of looked like the Kid A bear for Radiohead. Kind of simple imagery but still iconic. I just loved that it’s a potentially menacing looking figure for music that isn’t particularly menacing.
VM: What’s your creative process like for writing a song?
KB: Usually I just kind of write a song in my bedroom and record it, and we’ll sort of learn it as a band. And sometimes we’ll end up fleshing it out more as a band, but I usually have a pretty good idea of where I want to take it.
VM: Are there any artists outside of your genre that you’d like to collaborate with?
KB: I’ve thought about this in the past, and I’ve often thought of Bibio. He’s really similar to Boards of Canada, but he’s really capable. His production style is just insane. Every time I listen to a Bibio song, I’m just like amazed.
VM: If you could bring one artist back from the dead to play a show with, who would it be and why?
KB: This is probably the most obvious answer, but it would be Kurt [Cobain]. Jake and I were actually just talking about this last night. He died at this crazy moment where they were still a huge band and they potentially could have continued their upward trajectory. I was hearing recently about how Michael Stipe [R.E.M.] was talking to him about making a new record and making it more acoustic sounding. But on top of that, it’s fucking Nirvana. Playing a show with them would be insane.
VM: What albums have you been listening to recently that you’d like to recommend?
KB: There’s a band called Porches–their album Slow Dance in the Cosmos. It came out in 2013, and honestly it’s just kind of perfect. It’s really good emotional rock ‘n’ roll. I also relistened to In Rainbows and kind of had my mind reblown.
VM: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at SX?
KB: If I had to pick one, it would have to be our friends, minihorse. We played with them in San Francisco. It’s like muscly shoegaze. They’re so in control of their fuzz tones. Also Charly Bliss. They’re kind of like pop grunge in a way.
VM: What’s your favorite part of the festival experience?
KB: It’s just really exciting that so many people are here just for music. It’s easy to get bummed out as a musician, because you feel like nobody really cares about music anymore, which I don’t think is ever really true. Still, it’s cool that they like shut down a city for a day for music.
VM: What would be your dream festival lineup?
KB: Definitely Boards of Canada, because they never play live, and they’re kind of like a bucket list band. It would be kind of a weird lineup. It’d be Pixies, Pavement and our friends, Draag. The term muscly shoegaze also applies to them I guess. They have really cool synth stuff going on.
VM: Do you prefer barbecue or tacos?
KB: I’d have to go tacos. I grew up in San Diego, so I just grew up eating tacos.