PHOTOGRAPHY David Evanko
WORDS Julian de la Celle
Walking into The Echo at around 8:10 we were able to catch most of The Side Eyes' set and were pleasantly surprised to finally see them live after listening to their music on the internet for a while now. A crowd slowly started to congregate to watch the ever-so-charismatic frontwoman Astrid McDonald (daughter of Jeff McDonald of Redd Kross and Charlotte Caffey of the Go Go's). She has a great band to back her up and I'm sure we'll be hearing more from them soon!
While I was upstairs watching Red Aunts and Boss Hog, our photographer David Evanko caught Meatbodies downstairs. I was going to join him, but once Red Aunts began their set, there was no going back. I don't think anyone expected it - the girls seemed nervous beforehand and for good reason since this was their first show in 20+ years, but as soon as they started playing these girls put on one of the best Rock n Roll shows I'd seen in a while. Boss Hog, which brings together Jon Spencer of The Jon Spender Blues Explosion and his wife Christina Martinez, also blew the audience away with the incredible chemistry between them and their connection musically.
The first show by GØGGS was incredible. It was everything you expected it to be, and more. The supergroup consists of frontman Chris Shaw (Ex-Cult), Ty Segall, and Charles Moothart. There was an obvious air of nerves among everyone in the band - this was their first show, the one that would ultimately showcase what they have been working towards for the past year and they were pacing back and fourth nervously by the side of the stage. The nerves, however, were for nothing because as soon as they all came out (after Ty came on just to turn on his guitar and amp for a feedback noise lasting more than 5 minutes) they were commanding the stage like no one else could. I was lucky enough to interview Chris afterwards which you can read below.
FOXES: So how did you feel playing the first show with GØGGS?
Chris Shaw: Man, it was fun. Pretty nerve wrecking. It's been a while since I've played a first show with a band, so there's always that level of anxiety.
FOXES: Do you think it went well?
Chris: Yeah, man. It was a blast! I thought it was the best case scenario for a first show, in a festival environment, ya know?
FOXES: When did you first meet Larry [Hardy]?
Chris: I first met Larry at Permanent Records in LA. He came out to our show [Ex-Cult] and Ty introduced us and it turned out he was a big fan of our band since the first record which was a huge compliment because I'm a big fan of Larry and everything he's put out. I think this whole festival is a testament to the label and he's done an amazing job in the past 25 years!
FOXES: So, what sparked the idea to create GOGGS?
Chris: Well, me and Ty have been friends for a while before Ex-Cult started even. We used to hang out, he would crash at my place in Memphis and we would run into each other on the road because I was always jumping in the van with random bands. Once he figured out that I had a band, we were starting to play shows - I think he saw one of our first shows and then just kept in touch. He ended up producing out first record and taking us on tour. When he took us on that tour we were hanging out a lot - you have a lot of time on the road before the show starts to talk about stuff and we were like "Man, we should start a band together, that would be really fun!" It blossomed from just a cool idea to an actual thing. Then it got to the point, last summer, he called me and was like "Hey, I have some time if you wanna fly out here. Larry has already expressed interest in putting it out, you should come out here and let's do it!"
FOXES: My first memory of you is actually going to Memphis for the Ty Rex show and you coming out and doing a Doors song and being like "Who is this guy, this guy is fucking cool!" Then Ty tried to open a champagne bottle and accidentally hit someone in the head.
Chris: Oh yeah! [laughs] That was actually Ty's idea to do a Doors song. I love The Doors, though. I love Jim Morrison. Ex-Cult used to cover LA Woman and it was really funny. If you ever want to divide an audience, cover The Doors - half the audience will be like "Oh shit, this is amazing!" and the other half will be like "This fucking band just covered The Doors, fuck them, I'm not allowed to like them!" I find that hilarious because you should like whoever you want to like. I like The Grateful Dead, but at the same time I like Crass, I love Vial, Chronic Sick. If you're a real music fan, who gives a shit.
FOXES: Writing wise, do you find that you have to be in a certain mood to write music? How do you go about it all?
Chris: I mean, I love writing. I would probably consider myself a writer first and a musician second. I love it, it's really refreshing. I look at writing as a way to get out of your own head, your own psyche, your own hang ups and let it flow. I come from that train of thought when I write lyrics for bands too. I think that writing should explore parts of your brain and parts of your personality that maybe you're not comfortable with expressing in, like, a conversion or a social environment. Writing is one of the most pure forms of creativity, where it's just you, and your own thoughts. In that sense, writing lyrics is really important to me because it's a means of expressing myself that I don't experience in any other way. It's always been attractive to me. Plus I'm not a painter, I'm not going to take up piano or some shit. Writing is the great equalizer.
FOXES: You write for Memphis Magazine as well, right?
Chris: Yeah, I write for a few different publications in Memphis. I've written for some Nashville publications, music columns and stuff like that.
FOXES: And you had your own zine?
Chris: Yeah, when I was in my teens and early 20s I did a zine for a while. I was in-between bands and had all this creative energy built up and was too lazy to learn how to play an instrument so I did the zine. I did like 4 or 5 issues and it was cool - I mean, honestly the writing was great, stylistically the layout was probably pretty shitty. [laughs] It was more of a way to get this writing out.
FOXES: So, the name GØGGS means absolutely nothing?
Chris: Yeah, it's just a made up word and Ty actually came up with it. He called me one day saying "Hey, what do you think of this?" I asked what it mean't and he said he didn't think it mean't anything and I said "Even better! It's fucking cool!"
FOXES: What is the most memorable experience you'd had seeing a band?
Chris: I don't know, I mean... I guess modern bands come to mind as opposed to bands that have come and gone. I still love finding out about brand new bands. That's some of the best shit - I would much rather listen to a new up and coming band or a band that just released their first record than a band that's been around for 15-20 years. There's nothing wrong with that, but at the same time the fact that it's fresh and hasn't been pigeonholed into this category of, like, "Oh it's okay for me to like this, but not like that." When a band is brand new, you can make your own decision about it. Some modern bands I've really liked seeing live...I saw that band Lust for Youth a couple years ago, they were fucking awesome. Total Control, every time I've seen them they've been fucking great. That band Institute is fucking rad. This band Inhalers, they're one of the best bands I've seen live in years. I tend to like more aggressive music because it's what I grew up with, so a lot of the time more aggressive bands are more underground and they come and go. Which is cool, but also kinda sucks because there will be a band that'll put out one record or a couple 7 inches and then it'll be gone! I like serious music, I don't like bullshit, like, "Oh this would be a cool record to put on while I'm having a barbecue." Fuck that shit.
FOXES: [laughs] Do you have barbecue's often?
Chris: Naw, I mean, if I do, I'm not listening to music. I just don't like "feel-good" bullshit music that doesn't take itself seriously. I feel like so many bands nowadays are like that or they're afraid to put themselves out there because they're afraid of criticism or rejection. I would rather someone put themselves out there and me not like it than have to watch someone half ass something and be like "Oh well if you don't like it, it doesn't matter I'm just a goofball anyway." You can go through life like that, but being creative with that kind of mindset, in my opinion, is just fucking stupid.
FOXES: Well, to me, the whole point, or the goal in being creative is to surpass this line that you fear.
Chris: Yeah and to me, like I said, I'd rather watch a band where I'm going "I don't get this at all." But these people are going for it, than to watch some goofy, dumbass not even break a sweat because he's still in his comfort zone.
FOXES: Do you remember the first record you ever bought?
Chris: Um... damn. Probably like a Michael Jackson record. I really liked him when I was a kid. At that age you're still young and forming opinions, but here's this dude that's cool, but also a pop star. There was some level where I like "I get this." Weird enough for my 5 year old brain to understand [laughs]. My dad got me into Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd, so those bands were like the springboard. I remember being 7 or 8 riding with my dad and blasting Black Sabbath and being like "This is fucking rad!" I didn't know what I was listening to, but I knew I liked it.
FOXES: Was Ex-Cult the first band you were in?
Chris: No, I was in a band called Vile Nation, it was a hardcore band that put out three singles. The guitar player, he has a band called Useless Eaters now. They're fucking great! Me and him have been best friends for half my life as this point, it's pretty rad to see the two of us doing shit on a national level now. We used to jam records in our parents houses way before either one of us had a license or anything. Sitting there waiting for our pizza rolls to cool off. [laughs]
FOXES: Last question, if you had to choose a spirit animal, what would it be?
Chris: Oh man...probably a snake.
FOXES: I 100% thought you were going to say a snail.
Chris: A snail, oh come on, man, give me some credit!
FOXES: No, actually a snake is very representative of seeing you live.
Chris: Hey, that's pretty cool. I had a drink the other day called The Cobra Fang, it was some kind of Tiki drink, it had rum and some other shit. I got it solely based on the name. The Cobra Fang, I mean how can you say no to that?