CHRIS GOSS is one amazing musical mind, helping shape some amazing music. He is a musician, producer and songwriter for many bands that are recognized as part of the ‘desert rock’ sound from the Joshua Tree and Palm Springs, CA areas. As a producer, Goss has worked with Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age, shaping their sound into what is well known today. As a musician, he has been the mastermind behind Masters of Reality, where he has built a cult fan base across the United States and Europe.
Now he has formed the unlikeliest of collaborations with Geordie “Twiggy Ramirez” White in a new project called Goon Moon. White is well known for his time spent as a bassist with Marilyn Manson, and is now a touring bassist with Nine Inch Nails. His drummer is Zac Hill, who is best known in Hella and Team Sleep.
Their full length CD is titled ‘Licker’s Last Leg’ and it is quite the musical trip. From the beatnik-esque ‘Apple Pie’ to up-tempoed rockers “My Machine,” each song on here has its own personality.
Goss talked about how this oddball collaboration came together, their unique musical bond, the possibilities of Goon Moon playing live, and his love of his desert surrounding.
How did Goon Moon come together?
Chris Goss: I started jamming with Twiggy (Geordie White) a little over three years ago. Just hanging out and writing together. No plans really. I’d either show up at his place or he’s show up at my place, and we’d just play. We found out that we wrote really quickly together.
Do you remember the first bit of music that came together?
The first song we wrote together never made it to any Goon Moon record yet. I remember one song in particular…Twiggy is an Oasis freak. He played me an Oasis song and said ‘let’s write a song like that.’ And we did (laughs). It sounds nothing like Oasis, but it was a chord progression or something the way the song moved. I said I could do that.
The songs on the EP “I’ve Got A Brand New Egg Laying Machine” has a lot more improvisational jams, versus the full length “Licker’s Last Leg” which has more song structures. Was that intensional?
The first EP that we did, it was more jamming. Zach Hill came in one day, and said he had an idea on how to piece some of these jams together. So Zach sat there with the engineer and edited the jams and the noise. That EP was literally put together in five hours. A couple of songs were from different sessions. We recorded some jams and Zach said, “Let’s throw them together and Suicide Squeeze will put it out.” It’s really loose and spontaneous. The whole project has been that way.
There are a lot of flavors to “Licker’s Last Leg”. ‘Apple Pie’ has a Janes Addiction or a Pink Floyd-like feel. There were also some stuff in the Masters of Reality vein as well. Was each song treated differently, due to whenever you worked on it?
‘Apple Pie’ has an old drum machine that I love to write with. That would be an example of three or four hours of work with Twiggy in a studio. I’d turn a drum beat on. He starts playing a bass line. I start throwing the keyboard down to his bass line. He did a vocal. I’d do backup vocals and the song is done. It’s literally that quickly. A lot of free association words. The lyrics too. He’ll be singing a lyric and he’ll stop at a line. I’ll look at a picture of a dog on a wall and say ‘dog!’ That becomes a lyric! We’re able to work spontaneously together, without overanalyzing. It’s not tortuous. Twiggy had a lyric book and he was going through it, pulling lines out. When we throw it down, it sounds more professional than it is.
‘The Autumn That Came Too Soon’ has a cool step beat in it. How did that come about?
That’s a goth thing (laughs). That particular song, with the way that drum machine and the guitar, the bass lines… that’s me stoned with a drum machine… and depressed probably.
You and Twiggy are from different musical areas. How did you two first meet?
Very few would picture you two working together. I loved his work with Marilyn Manson. Marilyn Manson was my favorite band in the 90s. I went to a zillion Manson shows and met Twiggy. I was a real fan of his work. I found out that he was unhappy with Manson, I said “let’s jam.”
Are there any talks about ever doing Goon Moon live?
We’d love to when he stops touring with Nine Inch Nails for a few months. He gets off the road with Nine Inch Nails, and I start a production in the studio. It’s been going on for three years non stop. I’m hoping this time, around the fall, this cycle might stop and we may be able to tour. I’d like to do some kind of combination tour, maybe of Masters of Reality, Goon Moon and maybe another band onboard where we could do three bands worth of material, so we’re our own opening band.
Could you see yourself playing this stuff live, considering songs from the EP are longer.
There are a few things on the first record I’d definitely love to get to live. Some of them we’ve only played live once, and that’s so annoying. Played live once in the studio, and never to be touched again. I know that happened a lot with the Beatles. At the late stage in the Beatles’ career, when they were more like a studio band and then never got to perform some of those songs live. It’s really a shame.
You’ve been producing a lot of bands lately. Which do you prefer, producing or playing music?
I have done an equal amount. I prefer playing. I just got done producing two years straight. I played with Goon Moon, but it was studio. The new Unkle record’s coming out, and the new Queens of the Stone Age. It’s really two years in the studio nonstop. I’m taking a break for about a month, but now I’m going into the studio with Duke Spirit.
How’s that going?
I love Duke Spirit. They’re an English band we met a little over a year ago. I didn’t think it was going to happen because the Queens of the Stone Age album went on so long. It turned out that the timing was perfect. So I’m excited about that. I’m recording them in the desert. That is the ultimate for me when I’m able to bring a band out to Joshua Tree and record there.
Is there anything you’ve yet to do, either in Masters of Reality or Goon Moon?
I’d like to do more improvisation, all of that fusion type of music. I don’t think it would fit into Masters or Goon Moon territory. But I have a trio that I’m working with. Mike Garson, David Bowie’s piano player and musical director for years; and Zac Hill from Hella. And Zac’s in about five bands too. That is more like free form, noise jazz. We probably have an album’s worth of material. I’d like to do a tour where I’d walk on stage and not know what we were going to do every night. That sounds totally exciting. Not in a Sonic Youth like noise manner either. Noise music is fun for the people making it and not for the audience, right? I heard that quote recently. But it’s music that’s still groovy. There’s something for the body and the bridge to write on. It’s not just anything banging away.