Gooding looks rejuvenated with ’99 Rebellions’
Listening to “99 Rebellions,” Gooding’s latest album, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s an album made by a man who walked through the darkness and came out, somehow, more whole.
The record comes after a string of albums released in 2020 and 2021, largely at his home outside of Nashville, on which the Wichitan alum probed some of the darker corners of his psyche. Her father had passed away and longtime bandmate Jesse Reichenberger took time off from the band the couple founded as teenagers. And there was the small issue of a raging pandemic leaving the musician, who had lived much of his life on the road, at home and isolated from the public who had come to love his electric live shows. .
But all this is an illusion of time and industrial cycles. “99 Rebellions” was conceived and written before the onset of the pandemic, when much of Gooding’s life was unfolding on more familiar ground. Regardless of when it was made, the album proves that a step in a song-focused direction — which features the former North High student attacking his guitar with renewed abandon — was the right one for this time of year. his career.
It’s a musically eclectic ensemble that feels like another step forward for the musician, who is now joined by drummer Kelsey Cook and longtime guitarist/bassist/vocalist Erin O’Neill.
Gooding performs at Wave on Saturday, March 12.
He recently spoke with KMUW about his continued musical evolution and some of the recent changes in his personal life.
It’s the kind of record you make when nobody’s watching: it’s like a lot of people’s early records in that sense, it’s just about writing and playing. The difference, of course, is that you have a lot of records under your belt.
It’s a record that started at a festival in our manager’s hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin; it’s called Mile of Music. We went up to this idyllic and magical place, and we played a rock ‘n’ roll set. None of the depressing stuff I put out on four records during the pandemic. Not death and fascism and all my sadness. In fact, we play our rock ‘n’ roll, man. We have guitar amps that contain tubes. No shiny surfaces – the things I always fall into with a power trio. There was no pandemic. The world was still open. My manager said, “I want you to go home and record 10 songs that are [like] what you just did up there. Get your top 10 rock ‘n’ roll tips.
I was obsessed with my underage vampire stuff. There are still a lot of my subjects in there, but there are love songs, there are a lot of songs that are not about anything that could trigger politics. It’s a rock’n’roll record. There are actually some fun songs there, God forbid. But to finally answer your question, Ryan said, “Make a rock ‘n’ roll record.” I was, like, “Absolutely, man. It’s been too long.” We stuck to it. I finished it in two weeks and played most of the stuff. And then Kelsey and Erin came back and did “Don’t Look Back”, the first track because we didn’t have Kelsey in the band when I made that record. This track is us live.
But the thing is, I wasn’t thinking about singles. I feel like Ryan thinks this might be one of the strongest things I’ve done in a while because maybe I finally stopped being so ridiculously embarrassed.
It’s interesting because I’ve heard it a lot like “Wow. He made those pandemic records and now he’s come out the other side.
I hadn’t and maybe that speaks to my need for more therapy because I mean, there are still threads of darkness. There always are. … If you want to look at the world in any way … your eyes are hopefully a little open; there will be things that you will oppose. I have the tracking for that. And I want it now. Sure, [everyone else is saying], “Do you just want to quit?” Erin has been with the group for six years now. We’re comfortable enough that she can tell me when I’m completely dumb. She says, “Play things that people want to hear. Shouldn’t be that hard, right? It showcases the best of what we do live.
Ryan sent me the record and said, “There are guitar solos on it. Some of his best.
There has always been, depending on what fabric you’re cut from, either too much guitar or never enough guitar. When we worked with [producer] Matt Wallace [Faith No More, Paul Westerberg] on a record called “Building The Sun” you could hear it was a lot, “Hey, I wanna record a live band, but you’ve got eight bars, mate, say something about that instrument. You ain’t gonna go for 32 bars. You’re not going to do your weird reverberant intro. Put away your Led Zeppelin records. We’re going to do something appetizing.
I don’t feel like I was forced. It was good for songwriting. If you don’t have any parameters, you’re going to get yourself in trouble. I think any artist, if you can do whatever you want, it can be really great for a few years, and then you’re like, ‘I’ve officially lost my mind.
The song “Daydreamers” coincided with a very weird thought I had. I was listening to Steve Vai’s new album and I was like, “Here’s a guy who’s really created his own sound but is so alien to what a lot of people like in the mainstream.” I kind of wondered about him and a lot of these people who have unique voices in their art, if there’s a part of them that says, “You know, I don’t really know the world as it is. I will create my own world through my art. That’s what I took away from this song, the idea that we need these people who get lost in thought and imagine these things that make life more bearable.
There’s a lot of that in there. It sounds hippie dippy, but how do you become your best self? How do you take all the things that are going on that can make a person feel like there’s no reason to try, that can make a person so apathetic? You suffer from compassion exhaustion. We have never lived in a place in human history where every horrible thing that happens – among 7 billion people – can reach your doorstep at the same time. There’s a lot about trying to keep a little optimism even when there’s no reason for me. If you want to see the darkness, man, you can fall in there in about a…millisecond. You can live in this, and I did, and, boy, it doesn’t make life fun.
If we could become our best selves, I think other people feel that. If we could be a little more authentic. Once you please everyone, you please no one. It’s dangerous on these songs when they first come out because… you want people to be able to get into it.
And so many times… you’ve done it before, people will have a much clearer idea of what I was writing about than what I was.
I just try to hold on as much as possible because we can all change and that includes me. I can hear things where I’m too awake, and I say something crazy. It doesn’t help anyone. And I need to hear that…I need to be open. If you can get away from it all and get rid of it, I can get rid of my own cynicism. Maybe I could; it will be a little better day for me or someone else.
When we last spoke, your father had passed away and you had been through a number of things that come with saying goodbye to a parent. Now we’re talking again and you’re about to become a father.
It was a wild ride. You know, [over the last few years] I lost my great-aunt, my father, my father’s lady died. A few of our friends in his community there. Basically, all the Goodings except my sister and I were gone.
My sister just had a little baby named Austin Daniel down in New York; I spent Christmas with them and it was amazing. We have a surrogate in Montana, my wife and I, and it’s been a long road. I’ve been going through it for a few years. But this amazing woman, my wife’s childhood best friend, named Cody, is carrying this child.
When I’m done with this tour, I hop on the plane and get into a hotel up there and in Billings, Montana, and wait to bring the baby back in April, crazy as that is.
The Gooding family grew slightly. We can’t wait. I have my lady. We’ve been together for 16 years, and she’s everything I’m not, which is a lot. She is incredibly patient and very down to earth and practical and doesn’t talk in long sentences. She is simply amazing. And so I approach this with a good person to be in the foxhole with. I am very lucky.