Interview with Chris Goss
|I guess the
obvious starting point is to ask about the new album
That stuff had been sitting around for so long, especially 'The Ballad of Jody Frosty', I've always wanted to get that out, and a few of the other songs from that record, and then more and more songs seemed to fit into it. I think five or six of the songs on the record are from 4-track cassettes, just fucking around at home, and with my friend Chris Palmer singing on a couple of them with me. The Lennon cover I just had laying around for years. It was the same with the artwork for the record, all those paintings and drawings, it was like 'Let's just get it out there'. I've had this material hanging over me for years and it's a real good feeling to start afresh.
Will there be further releases from the vaults?
There are more tracks, but I'm gonna have to go to basement level number 2 for those. I need to do some new shit.
So what's next?
When I get back home, I'm playing at the Coachella festival with Desert Sessions. Then in June, Twiggy Ramirez gets off the road with A Perfect Circle, and that's when we start the Snowballs record. Twiggy has already said that he would tour as the bassist in Masters, so we'll probably do the Snowballs record and then come here and tour in the fall with Twiggy playing bass for Masters of Reality. Snowballs album release springtime or winter next year, and probably a Snowballs tour for next year, and we might play a few Snowballs songs on the Masters tour. God knows who'll end up in Snowballs!
Anyone besides you and Twiggy in the line-up right now?
There's a drummer named Zach Hill from San Francisco. He plays in a noise band called Hella, but I jammed with him and he may be the best drummer ever. Not technical, completely primal, not clunky, kinda like Keith Moon in a way. He's able to drop out of the beat. We'd be jamming, and in the middle of the jam structure he'd stop playing the kit and go to the hi-hat and you wouldn't notice the momentum stopping. He'll switch to one drum, something completely minimal, and it doesn't affect the song - it's still there! Completely amazing. Now all these other people are onto him. Mike Patton's onto him, the guy from Primus is onto him... all these people are after Zach, and he's calling me saying 'We gotta jam again'.
How does Snowballs material differ from the Masters?
The co-writing with me and Twiggy is a lot different. I was a fan of Marilyn Manson right from the start, and as the records came out I'm noticing that Ramirez is writing or co-writing all my favourite songs on these albums. He wrote 'The Beautiful People'. He wrote 'Dope Show'. Then I noticed that he started playing almost all the guitar from the second album onward. They got rid of the first guitar player in the middle of Antichrist Superstar and Twiggy took over.
Then the records after Mechanical Animals started to get a little bit more computerised, more industrial like Nine Inch Nails. The first record sounded like a band to me, but as they got more industrial I started thinking 'I wonder if Twiggy is getting bored sitting around in front of a computer?' You make an industrial record and half the time you're waiting for the programmer to lay out the beats. It's not like a band, it's like going to the hospital to get an MRI and sitting in the waiting room. So I saw Twiggy a few years ago at a festival, just when The Strokes and The White Stripes were starting to get a lot of attention. I said to him, 'This garage thing's great, isn't it?' and he said 'Yeah, I love this shit', so I suggested 'Good time to get together and do simple rock - wanna do it?' Next thing you know, we got together, and every time we get together we write a half-dozen songs. It worked out really good.
Over what period of time were the songs on the new album recorded?
The oldest thing is the last song, 'The Huntsman's Bow', which is a cassette recording from twenty years ago. I couldn't remix it or anything. I didn't have the original version, just the one cassette copy. The newest was probably 'Brown House on the Green Road', which had been revamped a few times over the years. I cut it with everybody over the years.
You named the record label after 'Brownhouse'. Is that an important song?
That was their [Mascot Records] idea. They heard the song a while ago and said, 'We're naming your imprint Brownhouse, what do you think?'. I thought it sounded like Shithouse Records but, sure, why not?
Is Brownhouse exclusively for your own releases, or would you consider putting out records by other artists?
I wanna put WE on there, the Norwegian band that I worked with, and I'll be talking to Brownhouse about that. I just did a record with them in Oslo in December and they deserve to be heard.
Any possibility of a Masters DVD being released?
Probably, but it would take some work to get that done, going back through archives that are in boxes within boxes. It'll be a tough one but there is enough material to do it. Shows with Ginger, video stuff, documentary style stuff that deserves to see the light of day.
In the liner notes for the re-issue of Sufferbus you hinted that some of the jams with Ginger might one day be released. Is that something you'd seriously consider putting out?
The frustrating thing about the jams is the recording quality. On a lot of them you can hear Ginger's drumming but my guitar is washed out by Daniel Rey's guitar playing. Sound quality-wise they're just not that great. I don't have possession of all of them. I have lots of them but Daniel Rey has a lot of the original jams, the very first jams with Ginger, and I don't think he wants to give them up.
What about Pink Wolves? Is that another side project, or was it just an excuse to get out and play live?
That's actually what this acoustic stuff is like. On any given Pink Wolves show, these are the songs that we would play. It was an excuse to play live, and I guess it was my version of Desert Sessions, just calling up friends and doing a live show. That'll be back around too, because there's always people that wanna do that.
I'm very comfortable sitting down with an acoustic guitar. I learned on acoustic. This next Masters tour, if I can't do an acoustic set within the show, I'm not doing it. I wanna do everything on this next tour, the loud and the soft stuff. I don't want to go out and just play 'The Blue Garden', I really wanna play the soft stuff too. I used to love that about the shows I'd go to, the mood changes which made the show interesting.
Do you know if there are plans to tour Desert Sessions, or is the Coachella show a one-off?
I've heard there was supposed to be a tour but I don't really know. It's Josh's thing, and whoever's available when he wants to go, we'll be there. By the time fall comes it may be a Desert Sessions/Masters of Reality tour for all I know.
Any comment on the recent QOTSA split?
It's sad. That three-singer line up is gone, probably forever, and that really was something. But you don't have to worry about innovative music coming out of Homme, that's a given. Mark will do Mark stuff and Nick will do Nick stuff. It's not a mixed bouquet of flowers anymore, but you'll definitely see great things from each of those guys.
What's next as producer?
The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster right now is my favourite band, and the record turned out spectacular. It won't be out 'til fall though, I just found out it's not released until September.
Roxy Saint is gonna be huge. Very charismatic, fun, kinda punk rock, sexy. We got three new songs that I just cut with her before I came over, and she's gonna be huge. Kerrang! is all over her, and without a record out! And with a DVD that she made herself for nothing. Begged and borrowed and stole to get that DVD out. One of those artists that will call me and she'll say, 'Goss, we need to cut some tracks. I have a new song and you need to cut it for me.' and I'll go, 'Well, I'm really busy Roxy. What's your schedule look like?' Then she'll say, 'I was thinking of coming down to your house tomorrow'. She pushes, and usually artists who push are the ones who make it. So I love it. When someone says, 'I'm coming over, we're gonna write', it's like 'Oh, you bastard... Okay, come on over...' because I know something good will come out of that.
There was a rumour that you would co-produce the next Soulwax record with Dave Sardy
They just finished the record with Flood. There was a point when we were talking about doing that, but it turned out that Flood ended up doing it. Dave's also a musician/producer. He had a band called Barkmarket, so there's another frustrated musician who's had more success as a producer than as a musician so we relate to each other. I would like to do something together because Dave's more of a hands-on producer, a behind the desk guy, while I'm a song guy. My biggest help to a band is the arrangement and the harmonies and the aesthetic direction - sonics come second to songs, so I think we would work really well together.
You say that sonics come second to songs, but a lot of the records you worked on have a great, warm sound to them.
I know what I like when I hear it, so what I tell the band is that the board is the engineer's kitchen and when we like what he does, we'll tell him, and when we don't, we'll tell him that too. So when you start working with an engineer who really knows what you're looking for, and exceeds that too, then it's very easy. I tend to be more on the side of the glass with the musicians in the studio, and then if there's any tweaking sound-wise to be done my ears are fresh, and I can tell the engineer, 'You're fucking crazy, these drums sound like shit. You've been in here too long'.
Ever been offered a fortune to work with someone whose music you didn't like?
I can't do it. I get physically ill, and my physiological well being is more important than the money. And in the long run I think you lose money doing that kinda stuff. I'll only work on shit I'm interested in.
Final question, would you ever consider having an outside producer work on a Masters record?
Yes! I'm tired of wearing so many hats, and I believe my music suffers from being the writer, the manager, the producer, the lyricist, the accountant... so I would love to just sit there with a guitar and a joint in my mouth, and let them worry about how much the tape costs, or whether the pro-tools just froze up and all that bullshit. I don't know who it would be. I love Nigel Godrich's production with Radiohead on OK Computer. I'd love to work with someone like that who can see things so out of whack, like a hi-hat so loud and a voice really low, just an out of whack perspective.
Thanks Chris, it's been a pleasure talking to you.