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Arts & Living
Local Spotlight: The Texas Governor
"Watchin' it all blowin' by"
By Chris Hislop
Friday, February 25, 2005
If David Bowie and Wayne Coyne (of The Flaming Lips) met at a party and happened to grow so envious of each other that they tried to think of a way to produce a collaborative offspring they'd have already been beaten to the punch. The Texas Governor (aka Dave Goolkasian) seemingly has the best of both these worlds and has transcribed them into his work with his latest band "The Totally Broken Hearted Band." Upon opening the copy of the bands first album, I was surprised to find two copies of the CD sitting in the inner tray. This has only happened to me twice in my life; the other time was Lou Reeds "Transformer." I told Goolkasian, if nothing else at least you have something in common with Lou. However, I knew I was in for something special when I popped the disc in my player. Turns out, I was right. The best part is he lives right next-door in Portsmouth, NH.
TNH: How long have you lived on the seacoast?
Dave Goolkasian: For like two million years. Well, actually, more like 1.95 million.
Sparky (Keyboardist/Vocalist): Long enough to hear about The Elvis Room, but not long enough to set the place on fire.
TNH: If anywhere, where were you before here?
DG: Touring. I graduated college, started The Elevator Drops with friends Garvy and Fitts. We toured and toured until I landed here. Got captured here. Could not leave here ever again. That was the basis for the song, "Standing on the front steps / Kinda watching the sun sets / Watching it all blowing by /Thunder in the distance / I'm missing my big chance / Watching all blowing by." The song is about one day when I was just standing on my front steps kinda watching the sunsets, and I realized everybody else was going places and doing cool stuff but I was trapped, and I was happy about it. I decided to let the music business world go on with out me. Life was like a long snow day.
The song just mentioned is the first cut off of the self-titled effort, which was released in 2001. The song "Watching it all Blowing By" is probably one of the best indie-pop songs I've heard in quite a long time. It has a life of it's own. It burrows itself under your skin, and it really gets you shaking. One can't help but dance, especially after seeing it live and watching Goolkasian wiggle and jump all over the stage. Recently, at the free MUSO show in the MUB last Thursday the band opened their set with this song twice. "The first song was about Robitussin. The second song was about feeling lonely and needing two or three bottles of Robitussin" Goolkasian explained to the audience amidst a few snickers.
It's humbling to know that there is great music right around the corner that hasn't made it to Saddle Creek, Matador or Sub-Pop, yet. The band certainly has an immense talent that should be sought after by some higher-ups in the industry, but to Goolkasian this doesn't even concern him. All he wants is to be happy. The 30-minute album is a gem and leaves the listener wanting more. A lot more.
When I mentioned The Texas Governor to several people "in-the-know" of the local music scene they simply replied, "Legendary." I asked Goolkasian how he felt about that and all he said was: "suck-ups."
TNH: Your record is very catchy with definite pop-oriented hooks that make people want to dance. What was your goal when you set out to record the album and what sorts of things influenced your writing of it?
DG: I recorded the first CD in my apartment with one guitar, one mic and one bass in a soundproof bow that I built, which looked like a homeless shelter. It was made of old pallets and moldy blankets. I was just trying to describe the ideas I had in my mind. I closed my eyes and transported myself into a much more elegant world that exists in my brain. Also, Love. I fell so in love that nothing else mattered in the world.
Sparky: Dave writes some of the best love songs without making you puke.
TNH: To you what is "success?"
DG: Feeling happy. Not crying. Not feeling suicidal.
Sparky: Crying is over-rated anyhow. Flat out sobbing is where it's at.
TNH: Any plans for a follow-up album to the self-titled disc?
DG: As we speak, "The Experiment" is being pressed by Arch Enemy Records. It's a great disc. It is much more ROCK, ROCK, ROCK and more bizarre. Also, I have another CDs worth of amazing stuff all about heartache, which is ready to record, and I want someone to pay me to go into a great studio to record it, because these songs are brilliant.
TNH: Who would you cite as influence/inspiration?
DG: The classics: Johnny Cash or Bob Dylan. I know I sound nothing like that, but these are my musical idols. I also used to love New Wave. I've recently stopped listening to music altogether, because it makes me totally suicidal.
Sparky: Wanting to be in a fun band was my "inspiration" and drinking a bunch. This band is like being at a really fun party and having really awesome discussions with friends.
TNH: Are there any albums that you love in particular?
DG: Honest to God as a teenager I once dug a whole in the ground and literally buried all my Police cassettes, because I loved them all so much I was getting a little too obsessed.
Sparky: Yeah, Dave buried my car keys in the ground the other week. I had to get a locksmith. You can't leave anything precious to you around him. As soon as your back is turned he's outside digging up dirt and burying something else of yours. Oh, I've been listening to David Bowie's "Low" LP a bunch. Basically, anything melodic and/or risk-taking.
TNH: If you could, please introduce the band members and what sort of relationship you have with each of them.
DG: I started playing music again about four months ago when I was feeling constantly suicidal from a totally broken heart. I met Sparky and his wife Anne at a party, and they managed to cheer me up a bit, so I asked them to help me play some music. Sparky plays Casios and cheers me up because he is ridiculous. He is to The Texas Governor as Flava Flav is to Public Enemy. Nick Phaneuf is the wild guitar player with the crazy pedal board. He is to the Texas Governor what the Edge is to U2. Joeseph plays drums and comes from the south so we can't understand his accent. He is a musical nut with a degree in music. He can play all instruments and sing, too. He is surprisingly great at jazz stuff, too, and that kind of freaks us out. He is to the Texas Governor what Ornette Coleman is to Ornette Coleman.
Well, I feel I should thank all the people who have helped on the various incarnations of the band. Jack Moore of (The Ghost of Tony Gold played some drums on the disc) Arina of the Soft Explosions played some great Slide work. Sydney Lidner of The Hotel Alexis played guitar for a bit as did Rick Webb and Aug Stone of Arch Enemy. Laurel Brauns has been helping me on some Vocals. Mike Conner of Torrez and I think Jerry's Kids or some punk band from Boston played drums on the disc and totally played drums at a lot of shows. Deb Klein, Danielle DeMarse and Justin Hatch (Death Punch Morning) all totally played bass.
Sparky: And whoever's reading this: You have probably played in Dave's band, but you're the only one he doesn't remember. Dave is thee "The Texas Governor". So the band will always exist as long as Dave exists. It feels like we're all part of his musical posse. We roll deep, and we roll hard or something "street" like that.
TNH: To you, what is the medium "music?"
DG: Expression. Music allows you to say truly heartfelt things that would get you into trouble in the real world. It is an acceptable way to express extreme amounts of passion. Think about it: if you walked in to a bar and someone was saying, "Every breath you take I'll be watching you," you would think they were a hopeless psycho, but you strap on a guitar and sing it and people think you're a prophet.
Sparky: You really did like The Police a bit too much, eh? We all have chemical imbalances, and I think the music we tend to enjoy sort of evens things out in our heads and makes us feel "better." If you, lyrically, are writing from the heart, there's no mistakes, no wrong interpretation.
TNH: What goal do you set for yourself when you play out (if any)?
DG: I want to be adored. I want people to feel, to understand, to become involved and sing along and dance along and feel alive and go crazy and spill a cup of water or beer, make-out with strangers, etc.
Sparky: Make each show different and to not say anything stupid, but that always happens.
TNH: What is the ideal situation for a show?
DG: To play at an orgy?
Sparky: I forgot to tell you Dave. We played a last minute orgy gig last night without you. Killer time.
TNH: What, if anything, are you looking for a patron to take with them as they leave one of your shows?
DG: A CD. Hopefully that they paid for (not stolen). Also, honestly this: a feeling. I remember playing in Providence, RI and after the show I was holding my 2-year-old daughter in my arms. I had just put her to sleep, and I saw this drunk guy stumbling through the street. He was a total stranger who had seen the show by accident, and he was screaming really out of tune: "Faith rolling down the interstate, hope blowing in the wind, love sweet love more precious than Jesus." He tripped on something "ouch" and then he said out loud to no one, "man I [expletive] love that song." I was so proud. I felt like I was on top of the world. I felt like I had written and played a song that deserved a place in history, because it connected with people in a real way. It's the most beautiful love song about the world's most beautiful women. I looked at my baby, and I felt all right. I know I am a bit of a freak and don't promote myself correctly and that I tend to concentrate on making music rather than the business of music, and, in fact, tend to screw myself over in that respect but something tells me it is the right thing to do.
Sparky: I just want to see people dancing and sweating as much as we usually do when playing.
TNH: Do you have any moments (experiences) in particular that stick out in your mind that either helped craft your songs or really committed you to a life of making music?
DG: A really pretty lady came up to me and told me that she wanted to kill herself one night all messed up on drugs, and she was listening to "Faith Hope Love and Jesus" and decided to live.
TNH: In a word, how would you describe your music?
TNH: In a word (or sentence), how would you describe The Texas Governor?
DG: I am the Texas Governor.
Sparky: I'm with stupid.
The Texas Governor will be playing a show at The Red Door in Portsmouth this Monday (Feb. 28). Be sure to attend, and in the meantime, go to www.thetexasgovernor.com for more details about the band and the upcoming March 15 release of the bands new album.
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