Friday Night’s show / Buck Gooter interview

June 26th, 2008 · No Comments · By

There’s a pretty awesome line-up playing at Dust on Friday night:

Corsairs are a new 70’s-rock /metal-style act, led by Marie from Mass Sabbath. The Wiles are some nice semi-local boys who do 20-min surf-rock jams. Buck Gooter are a confounding and compelling two-headed, multigenerational musical monstrosity from Harrisonburg. Articulate Chewbacca is another new band which includes members of Truman Sparks, the Nice Jenkins, and others exploring far-out krautrock territory.

In all honesty I’m really excited about seeing all four of these bands; they’re all really worthwhile and interesting and distinct from each other, and I expect it will make for a great show.

Buck Gooter have volunteered to be interviewed for the occasion; if you’ve never heard these boys before, you’re in for a shocker. Check out the interview and a video below the fold.

I’ve attempted (and largely failed) to accurately describe Buck Gooter’s sound before; perhaps it’s best just to watch this YouTube clip:

James Ford of Nailgun Media: If I have this correct, you guys met because you worked at a restaurant together, right? How did you decide to start playing music together?

Billy Bratt: i started working at the grill back in ’04. Prior to that i had noticed Terry’s artwork hanging in the Grill and was really intrigued by it. He does some amazing stuff and has accumulated thousands of pieces over the years.

After working there a while I became acquainted with all the solo material he had released and then he would have me over to his house and play other songs he hadn’t recorded yet in his living room. One open stage a friend and I did this funny medley jam where he played the guitar and me the washboard. The energy from my end was pretty high and Terry knew we could be in a band together because of our rapport. He said he’d buy a drum machine and I could program that and we could get some stuff together for a show that summer. I had a theremin laying around from a previous musical foible in town and it was itching to live again. Stuff just got added from there. pretty boring origins, really.

Terry Turtle: At my age it’s hard to get people to rock with you, especially if you’re into original music. It was cool to finally meet someone in touch with reality that wanted to get a band together.

Nailgun: So this is a pretty dorky/obvious interview question, but: what are your influences, musically? I’m asking because I would actually have a hard time guessing. You do a (sort of) Talking Heads cover, but you sound pretty unrecognizably distinct from any of the current Byrne-inspired dance-rock acts. Perhaps the closest comparison I might be able to make is that Terry occasionally sounds like “Trans”-era Neil Young. Do you guys have a lot of overlapping tastes or is there a conflicting generation-gap? Seriously, what do you guys rock out to?

BB: That’s funny about trans-like Young, that’s my favorite neil young record.!!! also, the heads cover is really just the chorus(maybe the riff). see, i wanted to cover this book of kills song called bad person and terry wanted to do psycho killer. we compromised and made the verses bad person and the chorus psycho killer. turns out bad person was inspired by psycho killer, according to jim of the kills!!!
i listen to so much stuff, it all influences the music in some way. I know I’ve conscientiously ripped off a few of my top bands in terms of song structure when writing lyrics and whatnot. but it all changes once it reaches the Buck Gooter machine. I like a lot of crappy synth pop, Book Of Kills, anything by Nick Cave, US Christmas, Human Pippi Armstrong, Lungfish, David Bowie (the entire catalog except Never let me down/Tin Machine), Ramones. Terry’s musical tastes are always more impressive to the music heads we meet in the world. I dig most of what he likes that i hear.

TT: I liked Neil Young as a teenager in buffalo springfield, drifted away from him as he got popular. Love tom verlaine, patti smith, the punk stuff (which billy brings), hawkwind, stuff like that. Blue oyster cult. There’s probably a generation gap, I don’t like a lot of Billy’s stuff but I like some. I like nick cave, I like the isolation and the musical landscape he brings. We bring some political viewpoints, we’re Ramones-ish folkish (loud, but american) and there’s sci-fi elements and create our own landscape. Ramones are highly influential for my guitar style.

Nailgun: The last time I saw you guys play, Billy had a lot more electronics on stage … in addition to the Theramin, there was a GameBoy and some other boxes I couldn’t recognize. What is all that stuff? Did the music come together from the interest in low-tech electronic junk, or is it something that’s been added along the way?

BB: I think the band was more bred out of an interest to do something besides sit around and watch movies than an interest in electronic crap. There’s lots of pieces that I’ll learn about from interviews or live videos of bands I like then I’ll seek them out on the bay or get them for Christmas/birthday or something and then they make it into a song. The thing about Buck Gooter is we never break the bank for gear. terry’s got a decently valuable guitar but it’s probably not worth 1000$, and if you factor in the broken-ness of my theremin, all my junk might set you back about 200 or 300. you can buy anything these days, i like working with limitations.

Specifically, in the box there’s a cheap drum machine, a lame multi-effects processor, a 40$ behringer mixer, a 20$ mini-mixer (that’s a cool piece), a game boy, some tapes, power supplies, bullshit mp3 player (pre-ipod), lots of plastic creatures, an atari punk console (hate that name), stylophone (incredible), tuner pickup, noah’s gameboy, and a synsonics drum machine – possibly the only drum machine you can still buy on ebay for less than 30$!!! totally awesome and analog!

TT: we played the outback lodge and some fuck mentioned on stage that we played “interesting radio shack devices”, which i resent. we love that stuff. it’s something new. if you hear our records, you might think it’s all studio wizardry but we play it pretty much exactly the way it is on the disk LIVE.

Nailgun: In your performances, it sometimes seems like there’s a deliberate attempt to provoke the audience; but there’s also a lot of sincerity in your music, and a fair amount of political commentary. It’s an interesting mix, especially with the unconventional instrumentation. I have to admit I was pretty baffled the first time I heard it, but you guys definitely won me over after a song or two. How do people ususally respond, especially when you play outside of Harrisonburg where folks are less familiar with the band?

BB: I think lack of sincerity and weird instrumentation kind of go hand in hand, which is where we differ from bands we’ve been compared to. For us LYRICS are about the most important element. everything else kinda coalesces around them. And while some of our lyrics may be a little whimsical, we aren’t one-trick ponies in that regard. i think people might be pretty baffled at the subjects we cover, given the context.

if there is an audience anywhere for any music the hope is that it will provoke them to do something. whether it’s leave (pretty common w/ us), stay, dance, shout, fight, recoil, clap, listen, whatever. if you’re playing to a bunch of pieces of plywood and various chotchkes then you are practicing.

as for our particular response, it’s a mixed bag. Out of town we typically do better than anywhere in virginia, really. I don’t know what it is about the old dominion but it’s not really for Buck Gooter. (which is all the more reason to stay here!!!) We’ve played in 15 states so far. The best place for us, without a doubt, is western North Carolina. Lots of good friendships there and people turning out in droves.

I think most people who aren’t 100% square (and some that are) will give the band a chance because they realize that what we’re doing isn’t based on being popular or sounding exactly like something that’s out there. From instrumentation to amplification, some bands are carbon copies. It’s just not possible for us, for a host of reasons

TT: (people think:) “What Da Hell!?”

Nailgun: What can we expect from Friday night’s show? How come more good rock bands don’t have Theramin players? Do you think that stuff they found on Mars is really ice?

BB: Friday night will be a delicate cotterie of old slappers, and new bangin club trax from the album we just released for FREE on the internets (at www.buckgooter.tk). we’ll be set up through our trusty old PA system so any sound fuck ups will be our fault.
There’s a lot of theremin in rock. I think it’s gaining steam. One thing that keeps them out of every band is the Moog etherwave is like 400$. there’s cheap alternatives out there, though. I’ll bet another barrier is stuffy “lead” guitarists who don’t want anything to shriek louder than them.

i’m sure it’s either ice on mars or frozen remains of early earthling explorers.

TT: From me, you can expect an old jed clampett looking guy hobbling up to the stage and plugging in an acoustic guitar and people going “what da hell?”

It’s kind of unnerving to open up for a grindcore band when you’re 56 and you have an acoustic guitar and your hair is gray and you just want to rock. You wish people weren’t so judgmental of the things you’re trying to accomplish, and if they are, well, fuck em. THANKS A LOT! NOW THAT WAS WORDY!

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