When the expansive sounds of Goat’s debut album, ‘World Music’, suddenly appeared from an unknown, supposedly voodoo-practising village in Sweden in 2012, it shattered the worlds of many, including my own. But it wasn’t until Primavera that I got to see the magic that had been captured on that record put to force on a live stage. Only then did I see all the oddness, extravagance and mystery come to life, breathing and moving under the blackness of two o’clock in the morning.
As the band took to the ATP stage, they unfurled a groove-laden, tribal-soaked, guitar and rhythm-fuelled fury of a show that sent us all into a dizzy, while Blur shouted “Parklife” next door. It was a marvel of a performance, and a highlight of the festival. Prior to that moment, I managed to pry a few words from the usually clandestine and reserved outfit, or the member that goes by the name ‘Benny’, at least.
Congratulations on the success of ‘World Music’. Was the level of acclaim it received expected by you at all?
“Thank you very much. We expected nothing when we recorded the album, that is the plain truth. So we were totally surprised, I still am to be honest. It was an effortless spontaneous creation made out of nothing. A silent hymn to the eternal. A celebration of life, love and joy! We are all very grateful.”
Almost as striking and memorable as your record was the photo’s of yourselves that circulated along with it. Can you tell us a little bit about the intention behind them. Is there a sacrificial, ritualistic meaning behind them?
“I think you are referring to a photo taken at the temple? Who knows what went on then and there but I guarantee that it was far out and that the meaning is of the most profound order. We do not like to partake in any kind of violence so sacrifices are of course out of the question. We are peaceful people.”
Can you tell us a little bit about the geographical anchoring of the group, both physically and musically? How have the cultures, traditions and music experienced in your hometown of Korpilombolo shaped Goat?
“To the very core. Korpilombolo is essential to Goat. Some of us reside there, some in Gothenburg, others in Stockholm and Malmö and others still outside of Sweden. But that does not matter for the Goat resides in us all.”
How has the conventional touring circuit affected you as a group? Have you felt removed and alienated from your original and musical home or enthralled and excited by the varying experiences of different places?
“First off, when it comes to playing live, we only do what we feel like. Goat will never be a conventionally touring band for many different reasons. There is just too much of an effort involved. We have other priorities. But while touring and playing live we have met a lot of wonderful people and seen a lot of nice places. It has been very inspiring and I can ask for nothing more.”
By focusing on keeping your anonymity, it must create rife opportunity for false words and stories to circulate about you.
“I don´t care much for these things actually. The only thing I can say is that not one of the many speculations I have heard or read about us are even remotely close to the truth, which suites us just fine. We will spend our time however we choose and people that feel that they have a need to speculate can speculate all they want. As long as I don´t have to sit around and listen to it I am fine.”
Do you still consider the group to consist of a core of three?
“I consider the group to be in constant change. Like it has been for decades. Members come and go as they please, and money too my friend. Nothing is permanent. For live shows there is more or less one set of people at least for the official live shows. That does not necessarily mean no one else partakes when we record stuff. Speaking of rumours, there never was any such thing as a core of three by the way.”
You once said: “We don’t really make songs, we just play.” Is this still the case?
“This is how our records are done. When we play live at festivals and such, then we of course use a set list and play the songs more or less like they are on the album with some room for improvisation. You must give the people what they want, at least some of the time.”
Do you view your music to be spiritual in any traditional sense? And how much of the success in creating music with Goat lies in the ability to become transcendental?
“Yes very traditional. We move along according to the ancient scriptures. I have no idea about us being transcendental but one of the most transcendental bands ever around were Suck. The cosmic voice of India – Mr. PPN himself is another good example.”
As something of a follow on, are Goat drug experimenters? And if so, how has that affected the tone of the group and its ethos?
“What individuals choose to do is up to them. There are many ways to alter the content of the mind, drugs being one. Herein lies a great misconception of our time I think. We see the mind as equal to its content, which is just very primitive. All concepts are fleeting; there is no permanence in concepts. Not even the ones that you hold most dear. The seer is vast and ever expanding always on. Goat (the band) is about music so I´ll stick to that topic here.”
Is there anywhere else in the world you have visited that comes close to resembling Korpilombolo?
“No, not yet. Well, Baltimore maybe.”
How has your time been spent since the release of the album in terms of creating new music?
“We constantly play music and some of it we record. Some of the stuff we record someone releases. Other stuff we hold on to for various reasons. Do you know that there are old Goat recordings from the ’80s being released in a near future, by the way? Check out Cardinal Fuzz Records, boys and girls!”
You released two remix LP’s for Record Store Day. Did anyone’s re-working of your work particularly strike a chord of intrigue? And has there been any thought or discussion about a live performance involving any of the artists on the record?
“Thank you. I am equally grateful for everyone’s effort. That anyone would care enough about us to remix our stuff is just humbling. And then on top of that when it´s done by people/musicians you admire, it just fills your whole being with gratitude. If there are any opportunities to collaborate live we are open for this.”
What are your creative musical plans for the rest of the year? What will the next Goat record sound like?
“I don´t know, I´ll spend time with friends and family. Go on vacation. Goat will travel for a bit doing some festivals. For the new record there will probably be some more of what you already know and who knows what.”