It’s a common argument in the local music scene: Is Throw the Goat a metal band … or is it a punk band?
The Idyllwild three-piece’s new album, The Joke’s on Us, settles the argument once and for all: Throw the Goat is definitely a do-it-yourself punk-rock band.
The band is currently taking pre-orders for The Joke’s On Us, which will be released Jan. 26, via PledgeMusic. If Throw the Goat receives more than 100 percent of goal, the members will donate 10 percent of the overage to the American Red Cross.
During a recent interview at The Hood Bar and Pizza, we talked about the title of the EP the band released last year before the presidential election, Vote Goat, as well as the title of the new album.
“There are a lot of people in the political climate who dismissed certain things last year, thinking, ‘It’s just a joke.’ I think now, with how the way things turned out, the joke is on all of us,” said guitarist Brian “Puke” Parnell.
Drummer Troy Whitford, who is celebrating his one-year anniversary with Throw the Goat and will also appear for the first time on the band’s recordings with The Joke’s On Us, said it was important to “go there” politically.
“It’s almost kind of like a responsibility to say something,” Whitford said. “We all have our own opinions toward the political climate, but it would be bullshit and against ourselves to write more songs about drinking and having a good time, boys and girls, and all that other bullshit. There are things that need to be put into perspective, and people need to acknowledge what’s going on.”
The recording sessions for the album started on Halloween.
“I guess if you put it all together, it took about a month,” Parnell said. “Recording, editing, mixing and getting the masters back took about 32 days.”
Bassist and lead vocalist Michael Schnalzer said there are pluses and minuses when it comes to DIY recording.
“It gave us freedom we never had, which can be positive and a negative,” he said. “I think it made it easier to work through the problems we ran into. But it also made it harder, because you can do whatever you want. We’re really fucking picky when it comes to ourselves. The vocals drove me insane.”
Parnell laughed and added: “It would have only taken three weeks if we were less picky.”
Schnalzer said a couple of the tracks stray from the typical Throw the Goat formula.
“Puke wrote a song called ‘High,’ and it’s going to be the lead single on the album,” Schnalzer said. “That one is just an ear worm and is probably one of the poppiest tracks we’ve ever written—not that that’s a bad thing, because it’s still heavy as shit. This album gets a little weird for us, because it also has our heaviest song ever, ‘The Joke’s On Us,’ which is the title track. That song is about as metal as Throw the Goat will ever get.”
Earlier this year, Throw the Goat went on a national tour, and also played in the United Kingdom.
“We were gone for six weeks,” Schnalzer said. “In the middle of a trip like that, it feels like it’s never going to end. Once it’s over, it seems like a blur. Getting the opportunity to go to the UK again was pretty mind-blowing. But getting to tour around the country and getting to play for people who we’ve never seen, and play with bands we’ve never met before—it was super-cool.”
Of course, it was the first Throw the Goat tour for Whitford.
“(Troy) was the man!” Parnell said. “If I was riding shotgun, and Mike was in the driver’s seat, Troy would all of a sudden appear out of the back and be like, ‘A little peanut butter cracker sandwich, gentlemen?’”
Parnell said the band has big hopes for The Joke’s On Us.
“We’re trying to be on the charts, which is the main reason behind the PledgeMusic thing,” he said. “For an independent band to register with SoundScan, and do all that other kind of chart stuff that people have to do independently, it’s a big pain, but PledgeMusic makes it super-easy. With the way album sales go these days, it doesn’t really take that much overall to make an impact. It’s the first time we’re going to be doing that, and it’s the first time we’re doing vinyl and doing it ourselves. There are people we’ve been talking to about taking it a little further, like independent labels who are somewhat interested if we chart in that opening week.”
Schnalzer agreed that using PledgeMusic was a fine idea.
“The response has been good,” he said. “I’ve always been personally hesitant at crowd-funding, but PledgeMusic is a lot more legitimate and made specifically more for musicians. It’s not just trying to crowd-fund an album; you do a pre-order and (there are) all kinds of major acts on there. It’s a professional venue to find bands, check them out and help along with the process—and there aren’t really record labels anymore. It’s a way for bands representing themselves to professionally and legitimately get the money raised to put out merchandise and albums.”
Whitford said the options for musicians on PledgeMusic are far better than those on other platforms.
“On Kickstarter, you’re trying to raise funds to do something,” he said. “With PledgeMusic, you’re doing something, but you’re making it available beforehand, and you’re able to give different options for purchase to help out the cause itself. You don’t have to buy the album; you can buy other things to help it. It’s like pre-ordering a video game and getting that package that won’t be available once it’s released. It’s like you’re saying, ‘We’re doing it; here’s a chance to get it before everyone else.’”
Whitford added that PledgeMusic has given them the opportunity network with other bands, and breaks down the demographics of who is buying the record—some of which have surprised Whitford.
“You have people pre-ordering your album all over the world,” he said. “There have been the same amount of people pre-ordering our album in the UK as there have been in the desert.”
Parnell said that the process has made them add another goal to their 2018 list.
“Arthur Seay from House of Broken Promises has told us, ‘Hey, man, you definitely want to go play in (continental) Europe,’” Parnell said. “For 2018, that’s one of the things we want to do. We’ve played the UK a couple of times, and it’s cool that we have a solid fan base there, but the next time we do that, we’re going to attach it to a European tour playing in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and places like that.”