The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats

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The Mountain Goats is an American indie rock
Indie rock
Indie rock is a genre of alternative rock that originated in the United Kingdom and the United States in the 1980s. Indie rock is extremely diverse, with sub-genres that include lo-fi, post-rock, math rock, indie pop, dream pop, noise rock, space rock, sadcore, riot grrrl and emo, among others...

 band formed in Claremont, CA by singer-songwriter John Darnielle
John Darnielle
John Darnielle is an American musician, best known as the primary member of the American band The Mountain Goats, for which he is the writer, composer, guitarist, and vocalist.-Places Darnielle has lived:...

. For many years, the sole member of the Mountain Goats was Darnielle himself, despite the plural moniker.

Darnielle remains the sole core member of the band, but has worked with a variety of collaborators over the years, including bassist Peter Hughes
Peter Hughes (musician)
Peter Hughes is a multi-instrumentalist currently with the band the Mountain Goats. During live performances, he accompanies leader John Darnielle on bass. His first official recording with the band was 2002's Tallahassee, but he also sang backup vocals on the song "Cubs in Five" from the 1995 EP...

, drummer Jon Wurster
Jon Wurster
Jon Wurster is an American musician and humorist best known as the drummer for indie rockers Superchunk and recently for The Mountain Goats, as well for his comedic work with radio host Tom Scharpling on the The Best Show on WFMU....

 (of Superchunk
Superchunk
Superchunk is an American indie rock band from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, consisting of singer/guitarist Mac McCaughan, guitarist Jim Wilbur, bassist Laura Ballance, and drummer Jon Wurster. Formed in 1989, they were one of the bands that helped define the Chapel Hill music scene of the 1990s...

), singer-songwriter Franklin Bruno
Franklin Bruno
Franklin Bruno is an American singer-songwriter, academic, writer, and blogger originally from Upland, California. He has been a member of Nothing Painted Blue since its inception in 1986....

, bassist and vocalist Rachel Ware, singer-songwriter/producer John Vanderslice
John Vanderslice
John Vanderslice is an American musician and songwriter. Previously a member of the band Mk Ultra, he now records and performs as a solo artist.-Early years:...

, guitarist Kaki King
Kaki King
Kaki King is an American guitarist and composer. King is known for her percussive and jazz-tinged melodies, energetic live shows, use of multiple tunings on acoustic and lap steel guitar, and her diverse range in different genres.In February 2006, Rolling Stone released a list of "The New Guitar...

, and Annie Clark
Annie Clark
Annie Erin Clark is an American multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter who performs as St. Vincent. She was a member of The Polyphonic Spree and also part of Sufjan Stevens' touring band, prior to forming her own band....

 (of St. Vincent).

Throughout the '90s, the Mountain Goats were known for producing "militantly lo-fi" home recording
Home recording
Home recording is the practice of recording in a private home, rather than in a professional recording studio. A studio set up for home recording is called a "project studio" or "home studio". Home recording is practiced by indie bands, singer-songwriters, hobbyists, podcasters, documentarians,...

s
(most famously, on a boom box) and releasing recordings in cassette
Compact Cassette
The Compact Cassette, often referred to as audio cassette, cassette tape, cassette, or simply tape, is a magnetic tape sound recording format. It was designed originally for dictation, but improvements in fidelity led the Compact Cassette to supplant the Stereo 8-track cartridge and reel-to-reel...

 or vinyl 7" formats. Since 2002, the Mountains Goats have transitioned to a more polished approach, recording studio albums with a full band.

The Mountain Goats are currently based in Durham, North Carolina
Durham, North Carolina
Durham is a city in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is the county seat of Durham County and also extends into Wake County. It is the fifth-largest city in the state, and the 85th-largest in the United States by population, with 228,330 residents as of the 2010 United States census...

.

History


In 1991, Darnielle began performing under the name The Mountain Goats in Claremont, California
Claremont, California
Claremont is a small affluent college town in eastern Los Angeles County, California, United States, about east of downtown Los Angeles at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. The population as of the 2010 census is 34,926. Claremont is known for its seven higher-education institutions, its...

, where he attended Pitzer College
Pitzer College
Pitzer College is a private residential liberal arts college located in Claremont, California, a college town approximately east of downtown Los Angeles. Pitzer College is one of the Claremont Colleges....

 and worked as a psychiatric nurse. The band's name is a reference to the Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Jalacy Hawkins , best known as Screamin' Jay Hawkins was an American musician, singer, and actor...

 song "Yellow Coat". Darnielle released his first album, Taboo VI: The Homecoming
Taboo VI: The Homecoming
- External links :*...

, on Shrimper Records
Shrimper Records
Shrimper Records is an independent record label based in Upland, California. It was founded in 1990 by Dennis Callaci.-Bands:* Ah Bus* Amps for Christ* The Aum Rifle* The Babies* Bingo Trappers* Bugskull* Joey Burns * The Bux...

. Many of his first recordings and performances featured Darnielle accompanied by members of the all-girl reggae band The Casual Girls, who became known as The Bright Mountain Choir. One of this group's members, Rachel Ware, continued to accompany Darnielle on bass, both live and in studio, until 1995.

The first five years of the Mountain Goats' career saw a prolific output of songs on cassette, vinyl and CD. These releases spanned multiple labels and countries of origin; many were unavailable to the majority of fans until recent reissues.

The focus of the Mountain Goats project was the urgency of writing. Songs not recorded adequately to tape within days of being written were often forgotten.

Darnielle graduated from Pitzer College
Pitzer College
Pitzer College is a private residential liberal arts college located in Claremont, California, a college town approximately east of downtown Los Angeles. Pitzer College is one of the Claremont Colleges....

 in 1995. Most of what could be considered classic Mountain Goats conventions (boom-box recording, song series, Latin quotes, and mythological themes) were abandoned in favor of a more thematically focused and experimental sound. This period was marked by Darnielle's collaborations with other artists including Alastair Galbraith and Simon Joyner
Simon Joyner
Simon Joyner is a singer-songwriter from Omaha, Nebraska, United States. Considered by some to be the forefather of the burgeoning Omaha music scene , he has profoundly influenced the music of Bright Eyes. Joyner also collaborated with John Darnielle, of The Mountain Goats, and Beck listed Joyner...

.

2002 saw the release of two Mountain Goats albums: All Hail West Texas
All Hail West Texas
All Hail West Texas is an album by the Mountain Goats. After the slight increase in production values on 2000's The Coroner's Gambit, All Hail West Texas is the last Mountain Goats album on which all the songs were recorded on John Darnielle's trademark Panasonic RX-FT500 boombox.The album is...

 and Tallahassee
Tallahassee (album)
Tallahassee is an album by the Mountain Goats. It was the band's second new album to be released in 2002, and it marked quite a few changes...

. These albums mark a distinct change in focus for the Mountain Goats project, being the first in a series of concept albums that explore aspects of The Mountain Goats' canon in depth. All Hail West Texas featured the resurrection of Darnielle's early boom box recording for a complete album. Darnielle considers this album to be the culmination of his lo-fi recording style. Tallahassee, recorded with a band and in a studio, explores the relationship of a couple whose lives were the subject of the song cycle known as the Alpha Series.

Martial Arts Weekend
Martial Arts Weekend
Martial Arts Weekend is an album by indie-rock band The Extra Glenns, which features members of The Mountain Goats and Nothing Painted Blue...

, also released in 2002 under the band name The Extra Glenns
The Extra Glenns
The Extra Lens, formerly known as The Extra Glenns, are a band made up of Franklin Bruno of Nothing Painted Blue and John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. They were something of an underground legend in the '90s, recording tracks for singles and some compilations...

, is a collaboration with Franklin Bruno
Franklin Bruno
Franklin Bruno is an American singer-songwriter, academic, writer, and blogger originally from Upland, California. He has been a member of Nothing Painted Blue since its inception in 1986....

 on several previously unreleased Mountain Goats songs. Since that recording, Bruno has joined Darnielle in the studio along with bassist Peter Hughes
Peter Hughes (musician)
Peter Hughes is a multi-instrumentalist currently with the band the Mountain Goats. During live performances, he accompanies leader John Darnielle on bass. His first official recording with the band was 2002's Tallahassee, but he also sang backup vocals on the song "Cubs in Five" from the 1995 EP...

, who is the second official member of the band and accompanies Darnielle on tour. These three musicians form what may be considered the Mountain Goats studio band.



In 2004, the Mountain Goats released We Shall All Be Healed
We Shall All Be Healed
We Shall All Be Healed is a 2004 album by The Mountain Goats. The album focuses on semi-fictional accounts of band leader John Darnielle's years as a teenager, particularly his friends' and acquaintances' experiences in California and in Portland, Oregon as methamphetamine addicts...

. The album marked a number of changes for the Mountain Goats. It was the first time Darnielle worked with producer John Vanderslice
John Vanderslice
John Vanderslice is an American musician and songwriter. Previously a member of the band Mk Ultra, he now records and performs as a solo artist.-Early years:...

 and the first album of directly autobiographical material. We Shall All Be Healed chronicles Darnielle's life with a group of friends and acquaintances addicted to methamphetamine
Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine is a psychostimulant of the phenethylamine and amphetamine class of psychoactive drugs...

 in Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

, though the album is set in Pomona, California
Pomona, California
-2010:The 2010 United States Census reported that Pomona had a population of 149,058, a slight decline from the 2000 census population. The population density was 6,491.2 people per square mile...

.

In 2005, the Mountain Goats released their second Vanderslice-produced album, The Sunset Tree
The Sunset Tree
The Sunset Tree is the ninth studio album by the Mountain Goats, released on April 26, 2005 by 4AD.-Notes:While We Shall All Be Healed focused on Darnielle's years as a teenager involved with other methamphetamine users, The Sunset Tree focuses on his childhood, and a recurring theme is domestic...

. Again autobiographical, Darnielle tackles the subject of his early childhood spent with an abusive stepfather. Darnielle had previously dealt with this subject in what he often refers to as the only autobiographical song he had written before 2004, the unreleased song "You're in Maya."

In 2006, the Mountain Goats relocated to Durham, North Carolina
Durham, North Carolina
Durham is a city in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is the county seat of Durham County and also extends into Wake County. It is the fifth-largest city in the state, and the 85th-largest in the United States by population, with 228,330 residents as of the 2010 United States census...

 and issued Get Lonely
Get Lonely
-Personnel:*John Darnielle - vocals, piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar*Peter Hughes - bass, percussion, vibraphone*Franklin Bruno - piano, organ, horn arrangements, acoustic guitar, electric guitar*Corey Fogel - drums...

, which was produced by Scott Solter
Scott Solter
Scott Solter is a recording engineer, record producer, mixer, remixer and musician. As a producer and mixer, Solter has worked with numerous indie rock artists, including John Vanderslice, Superchunk, Okkervil River, The Mountain Goats, Erik Friedlander, The Balustrade Ensemble, Pattern is...

, who had worked with Vanderslice on engineering for prior Mountain Goats records. In 2007, Jon Wurster
Jon Wurster
Jon Wurster is an American musician and humorist best known as the drummer for indie rockers Superchunk and recently for The Mountain Goats, as well for his comedic work with radio host Tom Scharpling on the The Best Show on WFMU....

 played drums on the last leg of the Get Lonely tour.

In 2007, the band recorded tracks for its next album at Prairie Sun studios. Entitled Heretic Pride
Heretic Pride
Heretic Pride, is the eleventh studio album by the Mountain Goats, released on February 19, 2008 by 4AD, their sixth album on the label. The album was produced by Scott Solter and John Vanderslice.-Notes:...

, the album was released on February 19, 2008. It was produced by John Vanderslice and Scott Solter. Franklin Bruno and Erik Friedlander returned to the studio with Darnielle and Hughes, and they were also joined by Superchunk
Superchunk
Superchunk is an American indie rock band from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, consisting of singer/guitarist Mac McCaughan, guitarist Jim Wilbur, bassist Laura Ballance, and drummer Jon Wurster. Formed in 1989, they were one of the bands that helped define the Chapel Hill music scene of the 1990s...

 drummer Jon Wurster
Jon Wurster
Jon Wurster is an American musician and humorist best known as the drummer for indie rockers Superchunk and recently for The Mountain Goats, as well for his comedic work with radio host Tom Scharpling on the The Best Show on WFMU....

 (who appeared during portions of the Get Lonely tour in 2007) and vocalist Annie Clark
Annie Clark
Annie Erin Clark is an American multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter who performs as St. Vincent. She was a member of The Polyphonic Spree and also part of Sufjan Stevens' touring band, prior to forming her own band....

 of St. Vincent.

On February 3, 2008, the Mountain Goats released a song called "Down to the Ark" that was commissioned by Weekend America
Weekend America
Weekend America was a weekly public radio program dealing with news, popular culture, the arts and more. The program was produced for American Public Media and hosted by John Moe in Saint Paul, Minnesota....

.

On March 19, 2008, Darnielle posted on the band's website that their Australian tour would be canceled due to "personal health reasons".

Darnielle is featured on Aesop Rock
Aesop Rock
Ian Matthias Bavitz , better known by his stage name Aesop Rock, is an American hip hop artist and producer. He was at the forefront of the new wave of underground and alternative hip hop acts that emerged during the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was signed to El-P's Definitive Jux label until it...

's song "Coffee" from the 2007 album None Shall Pass
None Shall Pass
-Personnel:Contributing artists*Allyson Baker – guitar *Carson Binks – bass guitar *Derek Layes – bass guitar *Big Hollis – additional vocals *Camu Tao – additional vocals...

. Aesop Rock also released a remix of the track "Lovecraft in Brooklyn" from the album Heretic Pride
Heretic Pride
Heretic Pride, is the eleventh studio album by the Mountain Goats, released on February 19, 2008 by 4AD, their sixth album on the label. The album was produced by Scott Solter and John Vanderslice.-Notes:...

.

In 2009, Darnielle and Vanderslice released Moon Colony Bloodbath
Moon Colony Bloodbath
Moon Colony Bloodbath, is an EP released while on tour in 2009. It was recorded by John Darnielle and John Vanderslice, with a cover art collage by Michael Pajon...

, a concept record about organ harvesting
Organ harvesting
Organ harvesting refers to the removal, preservation and use of human organs and tissue from the bodies of the recently deceased to be used in surgical transplants on the living...

 colonies on the moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

. The EP was produced in a limited vinyl run of 1000 and sold during their "Gone Primitive" tour.

The Life of the World to Come
The Life of the World to Come (album)
-Track listing:-Personnel:*John Darnielle - acoustic guitar, vocals, piano, keyboards*Owen Pallett - strings, arrangement*Peter Hughes - bass, electric guitar*Jon Wurster - drums, percussion*Vaughan Oliver - art direction, design*Phoebe Richardson - artwork...

 was officially released on October 6, 2009. It was leaked
Internet leak
An Internet leak occurs when a party's confidential information is released to the public on the Internet. Various types of information and data can be, and have been, "leaked" to the Internet, the most common being personal information, computer software and source code, and artistic works such...

 on September 8, 2009. The third track, "Genesis 3:23", was released as a free download via the band's website on July 28.

On October 6, 2009, the Mountain Goats performed "Psalms 40:2" on The Colbert Report. It was their first television appearance. Darnielle also had a short interview with Colbert in which Colbert professed himself a fan.

On August 5, 2010, the band announced that they had signed to Merge Records
Merge Records
Merge Records is an independent record label based in Durham, North Carolina. It was founded in 1989 by Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan. It began as a way to release music from their band Superchunk and music created by friends, and has expanded to include artists from around the world and records...

, home to drummer Jon Wurster
Jon Wurster
Jon Wurster is an American musician and humorist best known as the drummer for indie rockers Superchunk and recently for The Mountain Goats, as well for his comedic work with radio host Tom Scharpling on the The Best Show on WFMU....

's other band, Superchunk
Superchunk
Superchunk is an American indie rock band from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, consisting of singer/guitarist Mac McCaughan, guitarist Jim Wilbur, bassist Laura Ballance, and drummer Jon Wurster. Formed in 1989, they were one of the bands that helped define the Chapel Hill music scene of the 1990s...

. It was also announced that The Extra Lens, formerly The Extra Glenns
The Extra Glenns
The Extra Lens, formerly known as The Extra Glenns, are a band made up of Franklin Bruno of Nothing Painted Blue and John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. They were something of an underground legend in the '90s, recording tracks for singles and some compilations...

, will release their new record Undercard via the label in October 2010.

On October 8, 2010, the Mountain Goats performed at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

On December 8, 2010, the band announced their new album, All Eternals Deck
All Eternals Deck
All Eternals Deck is the thirteenth studio album by the Mountain Goats, released on March 29, 2011 by Merge Records. "All Eternals Deck" refers to a fictional set of Tarot cards, the history and details of which are described in the album's liner notes....

, and that it would be released March 29, 2011. They were also chosen by Jeff Mangum
Jeff Mangum
Jeff Mangum is a musician best known for being the lyricist, vocalist and guitarist of the band Neutral Milk Hotel, as well as being one of the cofounders of The Elephant 6 Recording Company. Mangum, along with the other founding members of the Elephant 6, attended Ruston High School in the late...

 of Neutral Milk Hotel
Neutral Milk Hotel
Neutral Milk Hotel was an American indie rock band formed by singer, guitarist and songwriter Jeff Mangum in the early 1990s. The band was noted for its experimental sound, obscure lyrics and eclectic instrumentation....

 to perform at the All Tomorrow's Parties
All Tomorrow's Parties (music festival)
All Tomorrow's Parties is a music festival which takes place at Camber Sands holiday camp in East Sussex and Butlin's holiday camp in Minehead, Somerset, England....

 festival that he was due to curate in December 2011 in Minehead, England but are unable to appear due to a rescheduling.

Members

  • John Darnielle
    John Darnielle
    John Darnielle is an American musician, best known as the primary member of the American band The Mountain Goats, for which he is the writer, composer, guitarist, and vocalist.-Places Darnielle has lived:...

     – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard
  • Peter Hughes
    Peter Hughes (musician)
    Peter Hughes is a multi-instrumentalist currently with the band the Mountain Goats. During live performances, he accompanies leader John Darnielle on bass. His first official recording with the band was 2002's Tallahassee, but he also sang backup vocals on the song "Cubs in Five" from the 1995 EP...

     – Bass, backing vocals
  • Jon Wurster
    Jon Wurster
    Jon Wurster is an American musician and humorist best known as the drummer for indie rockers Superchunk and recently for The Mountain Goats, as well for his comedic work with radio host Tom Scharpling on the The Best Show on WFMU....

     - Drums

Former members and collaborators

  • Rachel Ware – bass, vocals (1992–1995)
  • The Bright Mountain Choir
  • The North Mass Mountain Choir
  • Franklin Bruno
    Franklin Bruno
    Franklin Bruno is an American singer-songwriter, academic, writer, and blogger originally from Upland, California. He has been a member of Nothing Painted Blue since its inception in 1986....

     – piano
  • Lalitree Darnielle – banjo
  • Alastair Galbraith – violin
  • John Vanderslice
    John Vanderslice
    John Vanderslice is an American musician and songwriter. Previously a member of the band Mk Ultra, he now records and performs as a solo artist.-Early years:...

  • Erik Friedlander
    Erik Friedlander
    Erik Friedlander is an American cellist and composer based in New York City.A veteran of NYC's experimental downtown scene, Friedlander has worked in many contexts, but is perhaps best known for his frequent collaborations with saxophonist/composer John Zorn...

     – cello
  • Scott Solter
    Scott Solter
    Scott Solter is a recording engineer, record producer, mixer, remixer and musician. As a producer and mixer, Solter has worked with numerous indie rock artists, including John Vanderslice, Superchunk, Okkervil River, The Mountain Goats, Erik Friedlander, The Balustrade Ensemble, Pattern is...

  • Alex Decarville
  • Richard Colburn
    Richard Colburn
    Richard Colburn is the drummer of the Scottish indie band Belle & Sebastian. Before he joined Belle & Sebastian, he used to sell pies on match days outside Celtic Park and study Music Business at Stow College. He was also a semi-professional Snooker player. His nickname is "Rico" and he also...

     – drums
  • Christopher McGuire
    Christopher McGuire
    Christopher McGuire is an American drum set player, session drummer, drum teacher, and producer. He is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States.-Early life and career:...

     – drums
  • Nora Danielson – violin
  • Maggie Doyle – keytar
  • Kaki King
    Kaki King
    Kaki King is an American guitarist and composer. King is known for her percussive and jazz-tinged melodies, energetic live shows, use of multiple tunings on acoustic and lap steel guitar, and her diverse range in different genres.In February 2006, Rolling Stone released a list of "The New Guitar...


Related bands

  • The Congress (John Darnielle with Mark Givens and others)
  • The Extra Glenns/Lens (John Darnielle with Franklin Bruno)
  • The Seneca Twins (John Darnielle with Lalitree Chavanothai and Chris Butler)
  • The Bloody Hawaiians
    The Bloody Hawaiians
    The Bloody Hawaiians were a band made up of John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats and members of Wckr Spgt. They formed in 1985, the same year they recorded their first album, The Magnificent Bloody Hawaiians. Darnielle played drums on the record, but he also did vocals on other releases...

     (John Darnielle with Joel Huschle, Mark Givens and Caroline)
  • The Salvation Brothers (John Darnielle played drums for the band's live sets)
  • The Comedians (John Darnielle with John Vanderslice)

In other media



The band's music has been featured in the Showtime television series Weeds
Weeds (TV series)
Weeds is an American television comedy created by Jenji Kohan and produced by Tilted Productions in association with Lionsgate Television. The central character is Nancy Botwin , a widowed mother of two boys who begins selling marijuana to support her family after her husband dies suddenly of a...

. "Cotton" was prominently featured in the season one episode "The Punishment Light", and "International Small Arms Traffic Blues" was featured in the season four episode "Yes I Can."

The songs "No Children", "Old College Try", and "Love Love Love" were each featured in separate episodes of the television series Moral Orel
Moral Orel
Moral Orel is an American stop-motion animated television show, which originally aired on Adult Swim from December 13, 2005 to December 18, 2008...

s third season, which has featured major running themes of alcoholism, regret, and domestic discontent.

The band made their television debut on October 6, 2009, playing "Psalms 40:2" on The Colbert Report. On January 19, 2010, they played "Genesis 3:23" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is an American late-night talk show hosted by Jimmy Fallon on NBC. The show premiered on March 2, 2009, as the third incarnation of the Late Night franchise originated by David Letterman....

. On February 23, 2011, they played "Birth of Serpents" in support of their album, All Eternals Deck
All Eternals Deck
All Eternals Deck is the thirteenth studio album by the Mountain Goats, released on March 29, 2011 by Merge Records. "All Eternals Deck" refers to a fictional set of Tarot cards, the history and details of which are described in the album's liner notes....

, on The Late Show with David Letterman.

The author John Green is a fan of the Mountain Goats and frequently references them in his vlogs and in his novel Paper Towns
Paper Towns
Paper Towns is the third young adult novel by John Green, published in October 2008 by Dutton Books. It debuted at number 5 on the New York Times bestseller list for children's books and was awarded the 2009 Edgar Award for best Young Adult novel....

.

Further reading


External links