Q&A: Goat Herder- New Haven Metal

When it seems like there’s an overabundance of local bands starting up, sometimes it takes a little more for newer bands to stand out. Luckily for New Haven’s Goat Herder it doesn’t take much for them to make their presence known. I caught them at Cafe 9 last month, and was impressed by what I saw. They aren’t reinventing the wheel when it comes to their sound, but they have a blast doing it live on stage and blending the best parts of punk rock, metal, and hardcore.

They will be playing at the Summer Slamfest at Toad’s Place this Friday and I chatted with drummer Sean Saxton about the band.

Can you give me a brief history of the band?
We were formed in Summer of 2012 as a project to keep us from starting trouble. Since then we have been playing the local CT circuit and a jaunt out to Philly (thanks to the Punks!).

What can we expect at the show at Toad’s?
An all out throw-down. It is SLAMFEST after all!

Who else is on the bill?
Crown of Life
Dangerous Animals
Goat Herder
Mongolian Monkfish
Nine Lives
This Was A Tragedy
Woodstock Band

Have you ever played with any of these bands before?
Nope, but there is a first time for everything.

I’ve heard rumors that the show at Toad’s is your last before heading into the studio. Can you tell me about your upcoming recordings?
We are recording with Vechel Jaynes as producer. We look forward to offering up an album with some raw intensity that the people dig.

Will it be a full length or EP or just a handful of songs, and where will it be recorded?
10 songs in somewhere in Milford or Hamden. Hey, we are musicians not cartographers.

Tell me about one of your most memorable shows.
We don’t have so many shows under our belts that each one does not stand out for one reason or another. Life is an adventure. We always have a blast and look forward to more memorable moments supporting our new album.

I know Nick is a homebrewer. With plenty of bands like Pig Destroyer and Corrosion of Conformity having their own beers, how would you guys feel about having a beer named after you?
Like we finally made it. And we would consume mass quantities.

What would you want it to be like?
Cheap, dark and tasty; that’s how we like ’em.

What’s your after-show beer of choice?
Whatta ya got?

Goat Herder will be performing at the Summer Slamfest at Toad’s Place in New Haven on Friday, June 26. The show starts at 7:15, get there early so not to miss all the awesome bands on the bill. Tickets are available in advance for $8.50 online or at the box office, or at the door day-of-show for $12.


LIVE HOPS: Q&A With Modern Merchant

Modern Merchant will be performing Tuesday, February 26 at Cafe Nine in New Haven with Caveman and Computer Magic. I chatted with Modern Merchant about their upcoming record, playing shows, and of course, what beer the band drinks.

You have a new record called For The Fields coming out. You’ve already made one track, “Like Minded” available on your bandcamp. Can you tell me what to expect from the rest of it?

The final stages of releasing our record are taking a bit longer than we expected so we will be releasing it March 30th.  We will be handing out download cards at the Cafe Nine Show for two free songs as a gesture of our gratitude for anyone coming out to see us.  We would tell you which two songs but why ruin the intrigue?

Each song on “For the Fields” definitely has its own flavor, a few are dark and noise, others are a bit more crisp.  Overall there are plenty of 3-part harmonies and dynamic shifts.

I’ve heard a lot of compliments on the album artwork for this and I really
like it too. Can you tell me a little background behind it and who did it?

 The artwork was designed by the incomparable Brian Cook (thecookblog.com) who has done the majority of our gig posters and also designed our demo cover.  We wanted something that stood out. Brian always creates really tasteful artwork and we couldn’t be more grateful.  He’s basically an honorary member of the band at this point.

The art is really open for interpretation, but here’s how we see it: The majority of the tracking for this album was done in the woods during the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy; we then mixed it during a blizzard up in Buffalo, NY.  Even amidst the pandemonium of these storms, we somehow managed to make something cohesive, and suppose the red letters could symbolize our stedfast bravery during that chaos.

I know you [bassist Mike Skaggs] personally from being an audio engineer. How does that
experience affect the recording process with Modern Merchant?

 Think of how a mechanic works on their own car.  We know how we want it to sound and feel and the engineering experience just helps get that sound more efficiently.  That or drive ourselves crazy, its a double edged sword.

You guys did a brief tour in September- are you planning on touring again
in support of the new record?

Definitely.  We’re planning a short tour at the end of April and working on a bigger tour for this summer.  We had an absolute blast in September and can’t wait to get back on the road.


I understand that the band as individuals resides in Brooklyn and
Connecticut. Does being in two different states add a different vibe to the

It definitely allows us to cross-examine ourselves a bit more than if we were to always be playing in the same room with one another.  Basically we have to constantly record each song as we are developing them which has worked really well so far.  We always manage to come together at the end – that’s what’s most important.
Your hometown shows in New Haven are always a great time. What’s your
favorite part of playing locally?

We love the enthusiastic crowd and playing for friends and family.  It’s also great that there’s such a tight-knit music scene — bands really support one another other.  And the pizza… bacon, broccoli and mashed potatoes from BAR!

And of course, the beer blog question du jour, what beer will you be
enjoying after the show?

We typically drink IPAs (Sea Hag) but this cold weather is making us want a good stout (Left Hand Milk Stout).

You can check out Modern Merchant’s music on their Bandcamp page, or just come out to Cafe Nine and see them live! Tickets are $10 and are available at Redscroll Records in Wallingford, online, or at the door.

New Haven Rock And Roll Q&A

punk rock birthday

I love rock and roll, especially local rock and roll. Even more so when it’s celebrating my birthday! The Elm City’s own The Lost Riots, The Defcon Five, and The Hulls will be taking over the Outer Space December 6th, and some of their members did some Q&A with me. Find out what beers they like to drink and all about their 7-inches. No pun intended.


You guys did a weekly residency at the Outer Space a few months ago- home of the 30-in-30 club which I know at least one of you is a member. Any particularly memorable brews?

Jeffrey Thunders, The Lost Riots: I am the only member of The Lost Riots who is in the club. There are a lot of great beers coming in and out of The Outer Space so it’s tough to pick out only a few. My all-time favorite is Innis and Gunn (the original) and pretty much anything the Berkshire Brewing Company puts out is an instant classic in my mind.

You’ve been playing a ton of shows throughout Connecticut and New York lately- any plans to go on tour in the near future?

JT: Touring is tough when you have to hold down a full time job. I would love to do a little extended weekend thing. Maybe go down to D.C. and back or up to Portland and back. That’s probably all we can realistically do. Unless some label picks us up and wants to pay my mortgage for the next year.

You recently contributed to the “It Came From Connecticut” compilation; can you tell me a little more about it?

JT: Tom at Bonehead studios did a compilation many years back that showcased Connecticut punk bands called “Connecticut Fun “(bands like Youth of Today and Rude Awakening were on there). He wanted to do another one for underground bands of today. He actually asked me what bands he should be on it and together he and I contacted a bunch. Every band recorded a few songs at Bonehead Studios in Cheshire. There are 13 bands on the comp. It’s been a fun process and the best part is all the proceeds are going to the Red Cross disaster relief effort from hurricane Sandy. The Hulls & The Defcon Five are also on the compilation. Getting a sneak peak at all the songs was fun and there are some talented bands on it. Should be a good compilation.

What else can we look forward to as far as recordings from you guys?

JT: We have been working on a 7” for our single “Downtown” which should be arriving at Die Hipster! Records soon. Also 2013 is going to be a big year for us. Our plan is to get out as many ep’s as possible One every few months on some sort of format (Cd, Cassette, or 7”). We also want to do a bunch of splits with bands. So no need to worry there will be plenty of new stuff coming out in the next few months.


What’s your band beer of choice?

Sean: Anything free…although on the sliding scale, PBR means you want to make-out by the dumpsters while Delirium Tremens means we’re shacking up and getting a puppy.

Brett: I don’t know if we have an official “band beer” because we all have such unique personalities that manifest themselves in our beer choices (though if we did it would probably be PBR) But as for me personally I greatly enjoy a good Newcastle.

Mike: anything cold!

Moe: Schaefer…it is the one to have, when you’re having more than one

You guys got the band back together last year after a hiatus- how are things different now?

Sean: I’ve got twice as many records, and phones have cameras in them. Our practice space also has a sink in it, while our old one only had ceiling to floor mirrors and a stretching bar.

Brett: Technology exists now that didn’t before, such as iPhones, Facebook and Lady Gaga. It’s truly a different world. But due to our advanced ages I believe we have more experience and we’re playing at our peak because we understand each other musically now better than ever.

Mike: I’m older and more divorceier.

Moe: I’m a little older, a little smarter, act a little stupider, play a little better.

What’s one of your most memorable moments playing a show in the past year?

Sean: Watching Mike incite a riot at Ideat Village while quoting Black Flag lyrics as the tear gas was being unholstered. I keep thinking “if he had only chanted Bee-Gees lyrics, it would have been an orgy instead”.

Brett: Probably playing with David Liebe Hart (of Tim and Eric fame) at Cafe 9, and while this didn’t happen at a show, being nominated for best band and best punk band in Connecticut by CT.com was nice. We’re always pleasantly surprised when people have heard of us.

Mike: Falling flat on my ass at the space 2 secs into a song.

Moe: Getting to play with The David Liebe Hart Band was a real treat and Mike tanking during the first song of our show at The Space is classic.

Since this is an analog beer blog after all, I’ve heard you guys are planning to put out some 7-inches. Tell me more about what’s going to be on them.

Sean: Put out?! We’re not that type of band. Unless you buy us pizza. 2013, Mayans willing, will see even more new recordings, a split single with North Shore Troubadours, a single of our own, some more compilation and cover songs, so start investing in dancing shoes and mouth guards now!

Brett: Without giving away too many “spoilers”, I would say that there are some fan favorites on there, such as… ah the hell with it, it’s going to be The Girl With the Rock and Roll Belt on the A side, and Benzoyl Peroxide and Do You Have a Following on the B side. We’re also planning a split 7″ with the North Shore Troubadours, a great band that we share a practice space with. Look for those in 2013.

Mike: Only my hair dresser knows for sure. Sean Brett and Moe know too.

Moe: We’ve got a couple 7″s, a 10″, and a 5″, but I won’t tell who has what! But seriously, we’re planning two 45’s in the coming year. One with all new material and a split with North Shore Troubadours…so look for those!


I’ve seen some posts on facebook that you guys are working on a new record. When is it slated to come out, and can you tell me a little about what the production process has been like so far?

Kevin: We’ve recorded 12 songs with Jason Duguay up at Project Sound Recording in Haverhill, MA. He’s got a 40+ year-old 16 track 2″ tape machine that we recorded all the basic tracks on. I think it’s the first time any of us have recorded on to tape, given the modern day methods of recording straight to computers. It’s basically just us, no computer tricks or fixes. It was really important to us that this recording is as close to what we sound like live as possible. We recorded everything in 2 days and the mixing took another 2. We’re really over the moon about what we’ve heard so far, we’ve got a really excellent record on our hands!

Do you have any plans for release shows or a tour in support of it when it comes out?

K: We don’t have any set plans currently, we’re still waiting for the mastering to be completed. First we’re going to look around for a label that can put it out. Once we figure out who and how it will be released, shows and touring will follow. In a perfect world, I’d say a summertime release would be the earliest we could hope for.

Since this is a beer blog, what’s your beer of choice to have at a show?

K: Well, beggars can’t be choosers, so I’d have to say the beer of choice at a show would be the free kind! Personally, Guinness tops my list, but anything imported, craft, or micro-brewed would be ideal. Not such a fan of the Buds, Coors, or Millers of the world – unless it’s free of course!

Darling Musical Specimen: Zoe Boekbinder

If there’s one thing I love more than craft brewed beers, it’s independent music. Working in college radio introduced me to so many great musicians. One awesome one is Zoe Boekbinder. She most recently released Darling Specimens, which was produced by the very talented Shenandoah Davis. Zoe is currently on tour in support of this record and I was able to do a quick Q&A with her.

As a beer and music blog, I have to ask- firstly, are you a beer drinker, and secondly, if you could have any brew on tour with you at all times, what would it be?

Selectively, yes. One of my favorite countries to tour is Belgium, for the beer and the chocolate.  Unibroue (Quebec) is once of my favorite breweries, and Fin Du Monde might be my favorite of their concoctions. I wouldn’t mind if it were in every green room I ever occupied.

That’s awesome! Unibroue makes some great beers; I especially like their labels. What is your favorite bar or place to hang out when you’re at home?

If I’m in no mood for beer I go to Pravda for absinthe. I don’t really go to bars all that often though. There is a tree in Audubon Park, locally known as the “tree of life”, that makes me feel like I’m in the movie Ferngully. The branches reach down to the ground like the outstretched arms of a giant. You can walk right up them. Sea foam colored lichen hangs from every branch and when a piece is placed between one’s nose and mouth, it makes a very convincing moustache.

You released Darling Specimens last year. Can you tell me a little about making that album and working with Shenandoah Davis?

Making that album was incredible and incredibly stressful. I’ve always worked with self imposed deadlines and albums shouldn’t be on deadlines. That said, working with Shenandoah was wonderful. She is such a talented composer and gave really great direction in the studio. Our friend, Ethan Demarest, engineered the album. He can work a microphone like no one else I know.
I remember Darling Specimens on the college radio charts. What have your experiences working with college radio been like so far?
Darling Specimens got the most airplay of any album I’ve released (on my own and with previous projects). That was really exciting. I felt like all the work I put into the album paid off when it made the top 100 list. I’ve always loved interviewing and playing songs on college radio as well.
You’ve recently been working on a collaboration with inmates at Folsom Prison. How did that come about?
I’ve been volunteering at the prison (NEW Folsom actually… right next to Old Folsom but higher security) for two and a half years, playing concerts and teaching workshops on looping (I donated two loop pedals to the music room there) and songwriting. I’ve met a lot of really talented songwriters and lyricists who are incarcerated there. I asked one rapper, who I’d seen perform in class, if I could use his words for a song. That was the beginning and now I have nine songs, using songs and poems from seven inmates, and I’m still composing. I’m going to release an album that will benefit the arts program there (which is currently funded mostly through the community and not by the state).
That’s so awesome. I can’t help but think of Johnny Cash performing there in the late 60s. Did you take any inspiration from that?
How could I not? Its not the way it used to be though. Johnny Cash played in an auditorium. Its hard to get clearance for big concerts like that now because its considered a risk, additionally the auditorium is now inmate bunk housing (an effect of overpopulated prisons). I play for smaller groups, often in one of the prison libraries. Since I play at New Folsom Prison, I sometimes joke that I’m the New Johnny Cash.
Do you have plans to make this a full-length record? If not, what are your plans for the near future?
Yes. I am taking the next year off touring, something I’ve never done, to work on the record. I plan on releasing 12-14 songs. They will be a combination of covers and collaborations. Many of the songs are taken from poems or raps. In those cases, I write the melody. I don’t know how long the album will take to complete but I feel really invested in its success because its not just mine. Not only do the songs belong to the inmates, but the profits from the album are going to go towards the arts program at New Folsom and to helping start similar programs at other prisons.
Zoe Boekbinder will be performing at Cafe 9 in New Haven on Tuesday, November 27 with Mal Blum, An Historic, and Jacket Thor, presented by Manic Productions. Tickets are $6 and can be purchased in advance online or at Redscroll Records in Wallingford.

LOCAL Live Hops: Jamaican Queens/Passalacqua/Thimble Islands American Ale

I usually review shows after I’ve been to them but this is too awesome to miss. I am a huge advocate of getting some great music in the area and enjoying some local brews so here you go:

Here’s what’s going on. Jamaican Queens and Passalacqua will be in New Haven tomorrow night along with some fine DJ sets from Dooley AND local beer from Thimble Islands Brewing Company in Branford. Oh, how about some art and film? You’ve got that as well.

I just checked out the bands earlier this week and am really looking forward to seeing them live.

You can watch one of their videos below, or go to the Jamaican Queens website which I am on right now and it’s kind of insane and worth checking out of you have some time.  I am especially digging Passalacqua on this Election Day with this one line about Dennis Kucinich. But seriously. These bands are fantastic and I’m basically seeing them in a living room. As you should too! Details on the show are here.

The featured beer is American Ale from Thimble Islands Brewing Company. I just stopped by their headquarters in Branford, CT and chatted with them earlier this evening. The American Ale is classic; it has an incredibly drinkable quality to it. A bready finish without being heavy at all. I’ve had it on draft many nights at the Outer Space in Hamden, CT where it’s getting to be one of the most popular beers on tap. If you dig it but want something darker, no sweat. I asked what they are planning to brew next and it sounds like a stout is the direction that they are going.

So if you’re looking to catch a sweet blend of hip hop, electronica, good beer and good vibes, State Street is the place to be tomorrow (today?). Party on a Wednesday.

Live Hops: 3 Shows, 3 Beers

I caught a TON of great live music this past week. It would be really time consuming to write about each one individually, so I’m going to give you the highlights.


Rush- Webster Bank Arena- Bridgeport, CT

This is probably the one show I could go on for a long time about. I’ve never seen Rush before last week, which is a crime since they are one of my favorite bands. They put on a fantastic show at the arena in Bridgeport. Our seats weren’t close to the stage at all, but the sound was still good. I especially liked that it wasn’t a “greatest hits” show. Sure, they played “Spirit Of Radio” and “YYZ” and “Tom Sawyer” that get played about 10 times a day on a given classic rock station. But they delved into a lot of stuff from the 80s, with a good number of songs from Power Windows, Grace Under Pressure, and opening up with one of my favorite Rush tunes, “Subdivisions” from 1982’s Signals. They played 2 sets; the second of which covered more material from their latest release, Clockwork Angels. The on stage visuals were awesome. The stage was set up like a time machine, with weird props such as a popcorn maker, strewn about.

My beer of choice for this show was Murphy’s Stout, which, at 7.25 a pint, was not outrageous for arena pricing. Not a bad stout, but I would definitely choose a Guinness over it if given the choice.


Kvelertak/Torche/Converge- Club INT- New Britain, CT

Getting to see two of your favorite bands in the same week rules. So I was really looking forward to catching Kvelertak with Torche and Converge in New Britain. I sort of have mixed feelings about this show though. The last time I saw Kvelertak was possibly one of the greatest shows I’ve ever been to, on a Rocks Off boat cruise with Skeletonwitch last year. So it’s not really possible to top that. But they still played hard for a short set. I can’t wait until they come out with a new record. Kvelertak was the band that I really went to the show for, so after their set I wasn’t as psyched up for the next two bands. I also got hit in the nose so even physically I wasn’t that into it. Torche rocked it though; they were heavy and super sludgey, two of my favorite qualities in metal. I have to admit- by the time Converge came on, I was tired, and not really digging the crowd for them. Really full of energy which was awesome, but not what I was into at the time. As for the venue- for a place I’d never heard of until now, I would definitely go back to Club INT again. It’s comparable in size to the Webster Theater in Hartford, but way easier to get to and navigate around in.

My beer of choice was Bud Light and a shot of well whiskey- and yes, I am counting these as one drink. They were equally awful. Much like getting hit in the face.


Silversun Pickups- Terminal 5- New York, NY

Driving to New York on a Monday night was on a spur of the moment whim. My brother had an extra ticket so I said sure. This is going to sound really cliche, but I remember listening to Silversun Pickups a few years ago and thinking, “this band is great. they’re going to be really huge”. Maybe playing a packed house at Terminal 5 two nights in a row isn’t HUGE, but it’s definitely not small. I just thought they had a really cool sound. Unfortunately I never really followed their music much since, although whenever I have checked out their records I have always enjoyed them. So when I saw them live, I definitely was more familiar with them than I expected. Their live show was great. The set was just the right blend of well known songs and ones off their new record. The sound was great too- the vocals were front and center and everything was mixed really well. I also really enjoyed the visuals- I just noticed the lights more than I have in other shows at Terminal 5 that night, and they really helped to visualize the music.

After 3 shows and much partying in a weekend, my liver and wallet were depleted. It was Tecate in a can, and it was pretty terrible.
Summary: A week of great shows but horrible beer drinking. It all evens out in the end.

Live Hops: Skeletonwitch/Havok @ Cherry Street Station/Wallingford, CT

Last week I got the chance to check out a great metal show at Cherry Street Station in Wallingford, and also interview one of the guys from Havok.

Cherry Street is only about 20 minutes from my house, but for some reason I’d never been there before. I like the way that its set up- it’s spread out with the front room holding the stage, and the bar in the back. There’s also ample seating outside where you can bring your brews outdoors. Beer list was fairly standard. I was happy to see the cheap beer of choice skewed more Narragansett than Budweiser. In my opinion, even if you’re going to drink shitty beer, it might as well be local. Not expensive either- Newcastle bottles and Guinness drafts both cost $4.

Shallow Ground, Early Graves, and Pristina started off the show and they all killed it. Havok and Skeletonwitch headlined the show. I had never seen Havok before, but they were fantastic, full of energy. The last time I saw Skeletonwitch was on a boat, so this time I thrashed just as hard, but without getting seasick.

I chatted about beer and music with David Sanchez of the band Havok, who does lead vocals/guitar. He said that he’s a stout-lover and really likes Guinness, so we sat down and had a pint before the band went on stage. Havok started in 2004, and they are an incredibly hard-working band that does a lot of touring and puts on a hell of a show. I know a lot of bands on tour often have to settle for whatever beer is available. Sanchez agreed and said that they will usually drink anything, but when a nice stout is available, that’s the style he goes for.

Havok is from the Denver, Colorado area, so I asked Sanchez to tell me where he likes to hang out and drink at home. The 3 Kings Tavern and the 1-Up were his two top picks. 3 Kings Tavern has live rock every night, as well as comedy and burlesque shows throughout the month. Sanchez told me 1-Up is a video bar, so I recommended one of my favorite places to drink in Jersey City (and Brooklyn!), Barcade. You can never go wrong with beer and video games, in my opinion.

Havok most recently released an EP called Point of No Return, and a full length called Time Is Up in 2011, both on Candlelight Records. Right now, Sanchez said that Havok is working on some new riffs and plans to record a new album next year. He said they come up with new material spontaneously. The band has recording gear at their house, which makes it easy for them to record the new ideas that come up quickly.

Although Havok has played at large venues as well as smaller bars like Cherry Street, Sanchez says that he doesn’t find a difference between big and small places. “As long as there’s some people there that want to see some rock and roll, I am happy to provide that, it doesn’t matter where it is.”

With so many great records coming out this time of year, both metal and non, Sanchez said that right now the records he’s been listening to are Terra Incognita and Gojira. His musical taste also draws from other non-metal directions, as Sanchez also told me that he’s been listening to Oingo Boingo, Mr. Bungle, and Beethoven. He said that he takes influences from all those places in his performing and songwriting.

Having a beer with someone can be a complex experience, so I asked Sanchez who he would want to have a beer with, dead or alive. The first people he named were Freddy Mercury and James Brown. I can’t imagine having a drink with the two of those guys together, but I know it would be an amazing thing to imagine.

The first half of Havok’s current tour with Skeletonwitch has Early Graves opening, and the latter dates will have Mutilation Rites. Check out the rest of the dates here.