King Goat are one of doom metal’s hottest bands. Combining a plethora of influences that include, but are certainly not limited to, psychedelia, jazz and traditional Middle Eastern music, they’ve forged a sound that’s all their own. Their 2016 album, Conduit, made quite the splash, and made a huge impression on yours truly. Now, the band were kind enough to sit down and answer some questions about tour life, the band’s future and more!
Indy Metal Vault: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Conduit was one of my favourite albums of 2016, so I was very excited at the opportunity to do an interview. When Conduit came out, it made a pretty big splash not only in the psychedelic/doom scene but in all of underground metal as a whole. What’s it been like to ride that wave of notoriety?
Trim: The reception that Conduit got and, indeed, still gets has been brilliant. Much more than I think we had expected. As far as notoriety goes, though, I’m not so sure- there’s still a lot of work to do before we get to where we want to be.
IMV: I first discovered King Goat through your inclusion on one of Metal Hammer’s compilation CDs that they like to toss in with albums. I believe the CD was called Breaking Bangers? It had a zombie Walter White on the cover. The song was “Nuclear Messiah,” and when I first heard it, I was completely blown away, but when you compare it to any of the songs on Conduit, it’s clear to see you’ve done some serious maturing as songwriters. Has your songwriting process changed at all between then and now?
Trim: I remember that CD! It was a strange listen because there were a lot of great tracks on it but a lot of them, in many ways, sounded quite similar. But that’s the nice/nasty thing about compilation CDs if your band sounds a bit different. People are either going to think, “What the hell is this?!” and flip straight past it, never to listen again, or they’re going to think, “What the hell is this!?” and really dig it and seek you out.
Jon: The recording on that CD is with Trim, but the song “Nuclear Messiah” was originally written before Trim was in the band, with our original singer Jockum- so the writing process has changed in at least as much as it now includes Trim! Petros it’s still the main source of riffs, but the way they fit together and how they’re used in songs is much more of a group effort now- we’re a lot quicker to try out new ideas and variations while we’re in the room, so there’s a more collaborative and exploratory vibe to the writing.
IMV: One of the coolest aspects of Conduit was the inclusion of very Eastern-sounding segments and influences. Was this the direction King Goat was meant to take from the start, or were they something that simply came about as you were writing?
Jon: It was actually something we talked about from the start, but we all agreed it couldn’t be forced or ‘tacked on’- it had to be natural. Reza and Petros have some traditional instruments (Persian Setar and Greek Bouzouki) that are used lightly throughout the album. It was important to us that the album flowed correctly- so the pacing of the tracks, and the way they form the album together was something we spent time on.
IMV: I know it’s a pretty stock-standard question, but for the sake of my own curiosity, I gotta ask who your influences are as a band. Who helped make King Goat sound like King Goat?
Jon: Between the five of us, we listen to a very wide range of different music- I think our influences probably end up coming from a combination of where our tastes differ, and where they overlap. Due to our varied musical interests, I think we learn more from each other than we do from music we listen to individually.
IMV: Seeing as Conduit ended up being one hell of an album, and really resonated with so many people, there’s obviously going to be high expectations for a follow-up. Has this put any pressure on you guys when it comes to writing the sophomore album?
Trim: I can honestly say I haven’t felt any undue pressure on writing album two. The time constraints that were put in place to have the new songs completed so that we could stay on schedule were certainly a new challenge but, as far as quality goes, I’m very happy with what we’ve come up with for album two.
Jon: It would be the wrong approach to think about people’s expectations while writing. I think we have our own internal understanding of the qualities that make up what we do, and we have to trust that. The only source of pressure comes from ourselves.
IMV: Obviously when you put out an album as good as Conduit, lots of people are going to want to see you live. If you could put together your dream tour, which acts would you be hitting the road with?
Petros: Just like our influences, there are just too many bands we’d like to play with, to list them all would take a while! We love the idea of being part of a really strong lineup formed by bands that relate in an interesting way. To give you an example, I once saw Wardruna with Enslaved and together they formed a different act called Skuggsjá. Although the two bands sound nothing alike individually, together they made something truly unique!
IMV: When it comes to touring, there’s often two types of bands: those who could pretty much live out on the road for a year, and those who can’t get home fast enough. Where do you see King Goat fitting into that?
Trim: Another tricky question! This, I suppose, is different for everyone. For me, touring and playing shows is what I’ve wanted to do for years. We haven’t really been away for more than a couple of weeks at once yet to know for sure- but I’m sure we’ll find out soon.
IMV: Alright, now I know people must have already asked you this before, but I gotta know. Where does the name King Goat come from?
Jon: We can’t tell you. There’s actually a bit of a puzzle behind working out where the name came from, and if we told you- it’d spoil it for people who are trying to work it out.
IMV: I always like to wrap up interviews with this question. You always get different answers no matter who you ask, and as the end of the year gets closer, it’s especially relevant. What are your favourite albums of the year so far?
Jon: There’ve been some great albums this year. Here’s one: I’m currently listening to Retrocausal by Cleric- there’s a so much to take in on that album. I think everyone I see regularly is sick of me going on about them. Then probably Dead Cross, and the new Dead Rider album… I don’t want to make a whole list in this interview- but those are three that come to mind immediately.
Thank you so much to the dudes in King Goat for taking the time to talk to us today! We can’t wait to see what 2018 brings for the band.