It’s a rare opportunity indeed to sit down with the members of a busy indie band, much less a far-sighted group like Goodness Gracious Me. To pick the mind of a talented lead vocalist and guitarist such as Jeremy Green, bassist Sean Arrent, and drummer Skyler Henry is a profound honor — and that is exactly what happened on Wednesday the twenty-second day of the Babylonian year of our Lord, two-thousand and nine. It was a chat that this writer would be hard-pressed to deny as one of the most intrinsically amusing interviews in the history of Sacramento indie bands. Full of interesting quips and facetious humor, the trio of musicians had me struggling to keep my feet planted as a journalist. Yet despite the spattering of comical flavor, the group presented many intriguing and relevant observations about the current state of the music industry, and delivered some of the most valid points from an inside perspective.
This is how it went down:
When did you, as a band and individually, decide to devote your lives to music?
Sean: “Last Wednesday”
Jeremy: [concurring, with a malicious grin] “Wednesday”
Sky: “High school.”
Have you experienced any setbacks?
Sean: “Yeah — Goodness Gracious Me”
Jeremy: “Aside from being broke?”
Sean: “I think all of our projects have been failures before this one”
Jeremy: “Well, minor successes that didn’t lead anywhere”
Sky: “We’re always broke all the time. Sean’s the only one with a real job.”
What music has inspired you in your life, and more recently?
Jeremy: “Barbara Streisand, Cher.
Jeremy: [With sudden conviction] “Rock ‘n roll!”
Sky: “This band has a bunch of 60’s glam kind of influence.”
Jeremy: “Desert rock — or even stoner rock. A lot of throwback stuff, pretty much across-the-board”
Sean: “It kind of doesn’t matter, because at this point everybody’s listening to a lot of everything.”
Sky: “I actually get a lot of my inspiration, at least for my drum parts, from other local bands. I see Prieta every other week”
Sean: “Yeah, you start to take an analytical view of music in general, especially the musicians around you. You start to wonder, ‘how can I do what he does’ and not just for the pure aesthetic enjoyment of it.”
Jeremy: “A lot of the people we play shows with actually push us to be better.”
Do you find that there’s more of a sense of camaraderie among Sacramento bands, or more competition?
Sky: “There are little crews and cliques, but I would say in general there’s definitely a sense of camaraderie. Everybody’s stoked for everybody.”
Jeremy: “We all go to each other’s shows. There’s a lot of support.”
Sean: “I can’t even think of one person I don’t like here.”
Have Ipods killed the mixed tape?
Sky: “Ipods kind of are a huge mixed tape.”
Jeremy: “I’m out of the loop, because I’m probably the last person on the planet who doesn’t own an Ipod.”
Sean: “More than the mixed tape, it’s killed the whole album format!”
Have you thought of putting out a concept album?
Sky: “That’s the thing, with everybody downloading singles, what’s the point?”
Jeremy: “The internet has changed everything.”
Sean: “That’s a tough nut to crack. Just putting together this album [slated for late Fall] is difficult enough, let alone coming out with a concept album.”
Jeremy: “But it is important for whatever you release to have some sort of general feel, you know.”
Sean: “Yeah, like right now it’s more of a stylistic mold we’re trying to match — nothing intellectual — but the songs do flow into each other aesthetically.”
Is it possible for a band to reach a level of financial success, yet still retain a genuine underground sound?
Sean: “Good Lord if I know!”
Jeremy: “Maybe not the point where you’re buying your own jets, and gold toilets, but at least to the point where you get to go on tour — and maybe see some money in the end– yeah. Independent music is a lot stronger than it was ten years ago. There’s a lot more of a need for it”
Sean: “If there’s any revenue stream that’s going to corrupt us, I think it’s the other way around. We don’t have enough money to make our sound exactly what we want, and we keep dumping everything we have into it. We need to be able to portray the music the best that we can.”
If you had ten-grand to invest in the band, how would you spend it? Recording equipment, Sound reinforcement, cross-platform marketing?
Sky: “Recording equipment, and a large chunk would have to go into touring.”
Jeremy: “Recording. That’s the way you can reach as many people as possible, because not everyone’s going to have a chance to come and see us live.”
Are you planning a 2010 tour?
Sean: “We’re hoping to start before then.”
Sky: “As soon as we’re done with this album — late fall.”
With the sun dipping behind the rooftops of the Sacramento skyline, the interview drew to an appropriate close. It was time to let the band members begin doing what they do best — play music — and to let the information they divulged find its way into the minds of astute readers. The views they presented, embedded in a sense of camaraderie and the good-natured need for entertainment, would certainly last for interminable lengths of time, as a kind of manifesto for the underground life of *not just* aspiring musicians, but those who have been down that sterling silver path of self-fulfillment, and who have waltzed headstrong into the full knowledge of what they are really doing. Thank you Goodness Gracious Me for being you, and showing us what it is like to be tried-and-true.