Local music fans should be no stranger to Throw the Goat.
The semi-local band—it’s based in Idyllwild—has been a dominant force in the music scene since 2011. Its brand of punk and thrash melds well with quirky lyrics on standout tracks like “Havin’ a Beer” and “Beef,” while more-political lyrics on “Melt Away” blend with pounding punk to create a sense of anger.
The band went through a major lineup change last year, with the addition of Derek Timmons—of Sleazy Cortez and Death Pretty Wrapping—on bass, and the departure of lead vocalist/bassist Mike Schnalzer. Brian “Puke” Parnell remains the guitarist, and is now taking on lead-vocal duties, while Troy Whitford remains the drummer.
The band has now performed a handful of shows with the new lineup, and I recently sat down with the Goat bros right before one of their practice sessions, which I was intrigued to learn are actually rather busy sessions—that sometimes result in recordings.
“We’re working on a new album right now, so we’ve been writing and also going through the old Throw the Goat repertoire that Derek still has to learn,” Parnell said. “It’s been a combination of learning old songs, learning new songs and rehearsing what we already know and play.”
Whitford added: “Puke’s been bringing songs in that we’ll work on and start to feel comfortable with. Then when we go up to Idyllwild, at Puke’s studio, if we feel good enough about the song, we’ll spend the whole practice tracking it.”
Clarified Parnell: “We have three new songs recorded, plus a cover so far.”
Posts on the band’s social media have hinted that a new record is coming—with the hashtag #votegoat2020 used on every post. Parnell explained what’s going on.
“We’re planning on doing our own political-ad campaign,” he said. “It’s especially good that Facebook came out and said that they’re not going to touch or censor any political ads—so we’re going to take advantage of that and make the most-fallacious ads we possibly can. We’re just trying to make fun of how ridiculous it all is.”
I was curious to ask how Timmons is adjusting to the group.
“It’s been a pretty natural adjustment,” Timmons said. “I haven’t played really punky stuff in a while, and it’s been real fun. I had to work on my right-hand speed a little bit, and it’s a more-aggressive vocal style then I’ve done before, but it’s been easy—and real fucking fun! I liked these guys before, so when they asked me to play bass for them, it was impossible to say no.”
Added Whitford with a laugh: “That’s the correct answer.”
Of course, with Parnell taking on the vocals, I had to know how he was adjusting to the more-demanding role.
“I was just doing backup vocals before, so it’s been an interesting transition,” Parnell said. “I wasn’t going to do an impersonation of how the vocals (used to) sound, so I’ve just been going with what seems right and feels comfortable. I’ve been working on improving my stamina, because I did not have very much vocal stamina in the beginning—I got very tomato-faced and squeaky-voiced quickly. But it’s been working out pretty well, and the feedback I get, albeit biased, has been good.”
As for playing and singing at the same time, Parnell admitted there have been a few bumps in the road.
“That’s been a little bit more of a challenge, because I tend to write very intricate guitar parts, so trying to remember the words, spit out the vocal lines and keep the right speed and notes going has been a little tricky,” he said. “But it’s worked out really well.”
During the time I spent with the guys, I noticed how well they all play off each other, and how much fun they seemed to be having. They shared some highlights of their run together so far.
“With this lineup, I think our best show was our Idyllwild show in early November,” Parnell said. “It had really great energy. We played for two sets, which we had never done before, with a lot of improv thrown in. I broke a string, so I had to change it while these guys were playing some jazzy number.”
Added Timmons: “Another strong contender was our Halloween show, where we dressed up as (local metal band) House of Broken Promises. It was suggested as a joke, but we thought it was too good of an idea to be a joke. It was our first show (with the new lineup) in the desert, and we were dressed up as another band.”
The guys shared some of the new recordings with me, and all I’m legally allowed to say is: They rock. If you think some of the songs mentioned in this article sound heavy, just you wait: Throw the Goat is planning big things in 2020.
“We’re thinking about doing releases throughout the year—putting out some new songs, videos, tours, etc.,” Parnell said. “Then, (we’ll do) more stuff toward election time so we can capitalize on all the weird political shit going on. For the tour, we’re negotiating for one- to two-week jaunts in the Midwest, along the coast, and more!
“VOTE GOAT 2020!”
Throw the Goat will perform with Mega Sun and Captain Ghost at 6 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, at La Quinta Brewing, 77917 Wildcat Drive, in Palm Desert. Admission to the all-ages show is free. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/throwthegoat.