By Davis Blount
For a band like Grizzly Goat, you can never have too much mandolin, too much time outdoors, or too much freedom. In a way that most bands fall short of, these local favorites find a way to encapsulate those loves in their music. This Saturday, November 21st, Grizzly Goat will be on the bill for Velour’s annual Cowboys & Indies event, joining Sego, Timmy the Teeth, and The New Electric Sound. In anticipation of the show, we sat down to talk to the band about music and much more.
You all are a pretty large outfit by most standards… How many members are officially in the band?
Nate Waggoner: We have about 5.6 members… 5 official members and then Scott Monson plays drums for us almost all the time. We hope to have six, but right now we are trying to figure all of that out.
You all are on somewhat virgin land when it comes to the kind of music that you are making… Provo doesn’t have a huge Bluegrass/Americana Folk scene. How did you all come together and make the decision to make this kind of music?
Nate Waggoner: So Ben and I knew each other in high school down in Las Vegas. There wasn’t much of a bluegrass scene there either, so we tried to make our own. We went our separate ways to serve missions – Ben to Germany and myself to the Philippines. While serving there, I met Connor and found out that he liked the same kind of music. I basically told him “Hey, you’re joining our outfit.” Alex, Grace, and Scott came to us through various channels as we tried in earnest to build a real band around us.
Watching you all play live, there is a lot of switching of instruments going on. There is a buzz of energy while mandolins, guitars, and more all get passed around. Are the songs that you create made with the intention of each of you playing so many different instruments?
Connor Forshee: At first, it was the product of necessity. It has been hard for us to keep bassists and drummers on the bill, so we all have a little bit of experience with those instruments. Alex and Nate are probably the most versatile, musically speaking, and can be seen switching instruments around quite a few times during any given show.
Alex Vincent: We are actually trying to incorporate more switching and more instruments, but we know that it is just a nightmare for the sound tech. Most venues can’t accommodate us switching instruments every few songs because they have to readjust the levels and make sure that each instrument is audible. We know that is asking a lot, so we try to find the right balance.
While one of Provo’s signature sounds is folk music, you all are tackling it from a less recognized sub-genre. Has it been difficult for you all to establish yourselves as a band here in Provo?
Alex Vincent: It has never been hard for us to get people to like the kind of music that we are making; sometimes it is just trying to get enough people who would like our music in a position where they can hear and enjoy our music, especially live. As it stands now, there isn’t much of an alt-folk scene in Provo for us to settle in to. We have to make our own. We take some fans from the alternative scene and some from the “true folk” scene, and that is where we make our home.
You all are on the bill for Velour’s 10th Annual Cowboys & Indies this year. Tell me a little bit about that.
Alex Vincent: So on November 20th and 21st, Velour is hosting a running tradition of Cowboys & Indies where they pull together bands that apparently fit one of those two titles. Corey Fox, owner of Velour, has been so great to us during every stage of our band’s journey. He has helped coach us after shows and allowed us to continue playing at the Velour even when we don’t bring out as big a crowd as we (or he) would have liked. In short, Corey and everyone else at Velour have been very benevolent to us.
Nate Waggoner: We will be opening the show on Saturday, November 21st. We will be sharing the stage with Sego, Timmy the Teeth, and The New Electric Sound. All of these guys are incredible musicians and we are so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a cool event.
So, at a recent Grizzly Goat show, you all mentioned that you had a convicted arsonist in your ranks. Would you care to expound upon that?
Nate Waggoner: Ben is the one who wears that title ever so proudly. A while back, he and some buddies all went out into the desert. Come to think of it, I was planning on going but had to duck out at the last minute for some reason. At any rate, he was setting off these homemade explosives that they had concocted with tin foil and detergent in a water bottle. After setting those off, one of the guys mentioned that he had a Molotov Cocktail [laughs]. The idea only got worse from there, because they decided to throw it at a wall on the back of a residence. So, they throw it and the whole wall goes up in flames. While there was no permanent damage, a police officer happened to drive by just in time to see the wall engulfed in flames. So, Ben got to spend a few hours in jail that night. That experience led to the song “Where I’m Going To,” which at that time happened to be jail.
Is there anything exciting around the corner for people who are looking to hear more from the band?
Connor Forshee: Recently, we just released a music video for the song “Grizzly Bear Tracks.” There are things in this video that we really think people will like. Alex has a grizzly print on his chest, he shoots lasers out of his eyes, and much more. Without trying to sound biased, this music video is really a can’t-miss.
Lastly, Joshy Soul asked you all what you would do if music didn’t work out… Any thoughts?
Alex Vincent: For me, music is going to work out in one way or another. If somewhere down the road it becomes impossible to continue with Grizzly Goat, I am looking to become an ethno-musicologist, someone who looks at cultures through the lens of music. That to me would be a really fulfilling career.
Nate Waggoner: For me, I feel like if this doesn’t work out, I am going to end up going into agriculture. That is what I am studying right now and it is what makes me happy, so I figure that is what I ought to do. If things go according to plan, I am going to have a pig and name it Mud.
Is there a question that you all want to donate to our next artist interviewed?
Grizzly Goat: If you could have anybody’s voice in the world, who would it be?
Make sure to like Grizzly Goat and listen to their song “I Will Not Lay Down In No Grave” below!