buck gooter - the MFOA interview with billy, preview track 'fun in the sun' from new LP

buck gooter is an increasingly well known duo of industrial noise-blues madness from rural virginia, and an MFOA favorite. i have had the pleasure of sharing bills with them in our shared native land and experiencing their visceral live presence a number of times as well as listening to their stark, abrasive and confrontational recordings. in my opinion, this is one of the few bands in existence that can truly claim to be 'punk', despite the fact that their music doesn't traditionally fit that bill. perhaps this ringing endorsement from henry rollins is evidence enough. the goot are MFOA fellow travelers par excellence because they keep doing what they do no matter what, they are road warriors and DIY legends, and they have helped release music by and support many other acts along the way, including an LP by the excellent psych/prog organ rock band MOUNDS and a comedy tape by the international man of mystery frank hurricane. the boys are about to release a new LP, 'the spiders eyes', as a joint effort by feeding tube records and sophomore lounge records, and i thought i would take this opportunity to ask billy a few questions about their approach and philosophy. as you read the interview, check out this blistering track, 'fun in the sun' from the new record, which i think is about global warming.

MFOA: buck gooter has been extremely prolific over the past ten plus years, not to mention extensive touring, various solo releases and side projects by billy and terry, and releasing works by other artists, all with a hard DIY ethic. what thoughts and motivations keep buck gooter going?

BB: what motivates me and keeps this band going is an inability to figure out something else to do that's as satisfying. i'm just on that tip, can't really figure anything else out that i like to do. when i look back on life before being involved with music, i was always headed towards music. i'm not sure what is after music for me. it's currently beyond my conception. SO doing the work is just part of being in the music and as far as i can tell music is life.

MFOA: buck gooter has made records in proper studios as well as many home-recorded efforts. do you find one process or the other to be more inspiring/satisfying? what was the recording process like for "the spider's eyes"?

BB: budget constraints have determined where an album would be recorded. i feel like we've done good work in both home and pro studios. we always go into a recording session with the songs completely fleshed out and rehearsed deeply so typically it's just a matter of capturing something we've tuned up in a different space, once and for all. recordings are funny like that, they are the definitive version of the song to (most) audiences but not so much for the band, maybe. over time, as songs are no longer played, they become the "definitive" versions. i guess that's better than nothing.

For 'the spider's eyes' we recorded with the incredible don zientara at inner ear studio. awesome. he is the best and really believes in our band. he knows us and treats us right. we spent more time mixing and fixing things than we normally do but still spent significantly less time than most bands do on these matters. it's just the way we work and kind of the only way it's possible given budget and psychic constraints on the group. the album was recorded in the same sequence as on the record and mixed accordingly so for me it's funny to listen to and note how bizarre the last few songs are. towards the end of mixing don and I started getting into a weird space and adding some effects and strange stuff to the mix that we normally don't mess with too much. another funny moment was when terry's amp died a little bit in the middle of 'eat my isolation' and we didn't realize his amp had lost some oomph until about  a month later during practice! HA! but you can hear it cut out on the recording and it cracks me up every time.

MFOA: we share a hometown in harrisonburg, VA (harrisonturd, as you often call it). how has growing up there and performing extensively in the local underground music scene informed your music and approach to performing, recording and touring?

BB: harrisonburg is a pretty caustic environment for music. It's turning into blacksburg, little by little, aka very university-centric to the point where there's just nothing but that collegiate culture. sterile. there's little pockets of resistance here but it's hard when there's just no money in anything anymore and everything costs too damn much, real estate especially. there used to be more of a 'scene' in town that's dwindled considerably but we were never part of that very much anyway. so we've always done our own thing, started out throwing our own shows in town then realized that was a pretty fruitless endeavor so we ventured out on the road more and more, finding better places to play and also attracting friends to town and hosting better shows here as time progressed. harrisonburg has given us very little so it forced us / influenced us more towards doing everything our way as the only way and not looking for too much help here locally. harrisonburg's harshness helped us broaden our scope.

as a sidebar i don't mean to short change all the cool people that have helped to make this town cooler and also included us in their events, etc. i'm speaking from a place of extreme frustration after the closing of the only adventurous venue in this town [MFOA: yes...a sad event to be sure] (and possibly in the entire western portion of the state of virginia). I also see the overall trend and big picture as being one of artistic de-prioritization in town and it blows.

MFOA: while not traditionally 'punk' in terms of your sound, I have always found buck gooter to be one of the most spiritually 'punk' bands I have ever experienced, live or on record. what drives the sustained angry and antagonistic energy that is expressed so well on buck gooter records and in live performances? i have an idea, the world is a fucked up place to be in. but i would like to know your thoughts for this interview, because you express it so well, in a way that has caught many people's attention.

BB: first off, thanks for considering us 'spiritually punk', which i consider a high compliment [MFOA: as it was intended!]. if i had to identify i'd identify as punk. to me 'punk' is more about the free space, as one luminary said. the free expression. not chained to a style or a pretense, just an artistic reaction forged with whatever tools can be wielded. folk art. the underground. the deep mind. an expression of a feral consciousness and an acceptance of that. words are divisive and mean different things to different people but i think 'punk' has held up pretty well for describing the 'fuck it all' trip. the world IS a fucked up place. for us it isn't a game, this is how we feel and this is what we do. i believe it to be a pretty pure expression and i try and follow that primal, raw impulse with the music as much as possible. 

MFOA: buck gooter clearly has a signature sound, that is consistent across your discography as well as unique. what artists, in any medium, inspire your approach?

BB: as we get older as a band we seem more self-influenced and self referential. 'the spider's eyes' album is named after a song with that title which is pulled from the lyrics to the song which is about listening to the beat of that song before it was a song and killing a spider. mise en abyme. looking further inward. the cover art could be construed as a 'spider eye' and there is a spider with eyes in the "eye"...

we'll write tunes and be like 'let's do it like we did on that one song' and then it sounds nothing like that one song. i know some of TT's riffs are his knock off versions of various songs of his that end up being completely different riffs. some of my lyrical forays come from band experiences or influences the band has had on my life. It's all knotted up. maybe I'm speaking too much here...


awesome! also, check out this bitchin' video for another tune from 'the spider's eyes'

pre-order 'the spider's eyes' from sophomore lounge records or feeding tube records.


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