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Goat. Whatever one thinks of their music, the Swedish group hiding behind ingenious masks and costumes is nothing less than a phenomenon. Up to now, they were renowned for the rather hysterical and yet very catchy mix of psychedelic rock and (mainly) African traditional music, but the new album ‘Requiem’ also has a new sound. Mellow, almost mature. Reason enough for a chat. In line with Goat-folklore, it is not entirely known whom we spoke. Let’s just say it was someone from Goat.

By: Jan-Simon | Archive under alternative / pop

Thank you for taking time to answer a few questions. It has been a pleasure listening to your albums. First of all, for the few people reading this who are unfamiliar with Goat, can you tell us a bit about the band's background?
Well thanks you for your interest in our music. The commune from where some of us was born into was founded in northern Sweden a couple of hundred years ago by travellers. Then the girls and a couple more moved to Gothenburg, built a studio and started to jam with some other people from here. Then we made a record and started to play live.

Just to get the record straight, how would you describe your musical style yourself?
Spiritual Rock n roll. Or maybe simply World Music.

Are there contemporary (rock) bands you feel connected to? Bands that have the same philosophy and the same way of making music?
We feel connected to all musicians. For us most music are similar in many ways and we are proud of being part of this human tradition of creating music. We don't feel connected to some more than others just of how they sound.

How did seminal African musicians like Tinariwen and Ali Farka Touré end up in the musical melting pot that stood in your ancestral Swedish communal homes? Did they perhaps mystically channel their music into your subconsciousness?
Maybe it was like that. I don't know. People from our commune have always travelled a lot and we are an open minded crowd so everything the soul digs are brought home and shared. We still live by that idea here in Gothenburg also.

How does wearing masks and remaining an anonymous bunch of musicians help you creating your distinct type of music? Do you need to hide behind the mask in order to be able to make this music?
I’m not sure it helps so much. We wear them to strength the music and to keep anonymous. But we could probably do it without masks also. But that won’t happen so we will never know.

Aren't you afraid that it will work against you: like "there you have that bunch of crazy Swedes in silly costumes again"?
Ha! I couldn't care less. And we won’t probably stick around long enough for that to happen. Life has got a lot more to offer then being another rock n roll band that won’t quit. This thing just happened to us, we never sought it. Right now we just go with the flow and when the flow stops we go and do something else.

Have you noticed a change in the way Goat is looked at in this time of increasing isolationism, a time where many people retreat to their own cultural background rather than expand their horizon and embrace influences from other cultures?
No… not really. The way I see it there is two things going on now at the same time. One is the thing you talk about, isolationism, nationalism , you know. The other is that the world is rapidly opening up. Discovering and connecting and mixing everything together. This will of course win in the end. Looking backwards doesn’t lead anywhere. It have never worked and it’s not how we evolve. And when you talk about cultural background, when does that start? How far back? And from how big area? The world is one soul and should be experienced that way.

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Is Goat the epitome of the idea that modern rock music has entered a dead end street and the only way forward is fusion? A fusion of styles, ideas and culture that will result in something new?
It have always been like that. Rock n roll was simply a mix between things, so is everything else. Go back to isolated tribal music in some jungle somewhere and it is still probably a mix between other kinds of music created hundreds of years before. This is how mankind evolves, mixing us and all of our expressions together. The problem is that people seem to have a problem to see further back then 50-100 years.

Compared to the previous albums, 'Requiem' appears to be less of a cocktail of psychedelic freak rock and so-called "world music", but a more purist, folky approach of non-Western traditional music. Is that a correct assumption? Has Goat become more mature or mellow or was it time for something new?
It is always a time for something new, we just follow where our creativity leads us. But it is true that this is a more mellow album, with more acoustic guitars and stuff. Less effects. But we are not purist of anything. It’s definitely our best album.

How do you create the songs? Is it the result of endless jamming, or do you enter the studio with a finished song that only needs to be recorded?
It can be both ways. And all other ways. All ways that are enjoyably are good. To make music shall be enjoyable otherwise it’s no point to do it.

A striking difference comparing the new album with 'World Music' and 'Commune', is that many songs on 'Requiem' are instrumental – or at least the vocals are far less prominent. Why this change?
There is not that many more if you think of that this is a double album. I think it’s three or four instrumentals of thirtern songs? Am I right? So not that much?

In the past four years your music has brought you to almost all corners of the world, from the world's largest festivals like Glastonbury, Lowlands or Roskilde to smaller "connoisseur" happenings like Roadburn. How do these gigs compare?
They have all been great for us. I don't compare them so much actually. As long as people are getting into it and giving some energy back it’s always nice.

Have you ever played for a crowd that hadn't got a clue what you were doing and could not be won over?

In the past, Goat claimed not to be a hard touring band. Now I noticed that the release of the new record is accompanied by a European tour bringing you to a lot of places, mainly in Germany and the UK. A change of heart?
No. We do between 25-30 shows in total this year and that is what we have done these past years. It’s not that hard touring. Most bands from what I understand do a lot more shows after an album is released but we do as many as we feel is fun for us. Not more.

Are there plans to visit the Netherlands again as well?
If there isn’t any show on the tour I don't think we have any planned unfortunately.

On October 15th you will be playing the Desertfest in Antwerp, Belgium. It might be fitting given your Saharan influences, but don't you feel increasingly out of place on a line-up that exists only of doom, stoner and other metal bands?
People that are into music mostly like variations of sound. And I think that the people at Desertfest that would like to hear us will come open minded. Those who are not interested will probably go and see another band. But we will probably play our highlife stuff here also and not just play our heavier stuff. That would be to underestimate the audience.

Which of the bands on the Desertfest line-up would you like to see yourself??
Would be nice to see our friends in Graveyard. Haven’t seen them playing in a while.

What would you recommend to someone who just heard your records and became enthusiastic about the type of music you play. Are there any "educational" must-hear records for him/her?
Pet sounds with Beach boys.

Thank you for your time. Any final words or wise thoughts you would like to share with our readers?
No not really, I believe that your readers are wise enough.

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