Goose. No, not the waterfowl we see waddling across roads from one retention pond to another. I’m talking about Goose, the funky folk band out of Norwalk, Connecticut. Lead singer and guitarist Rick Mitarotonda says the moniker originated in Colorado a few years back.
“I was working at this taco place and it was a word that got thrown around the kitchen a bunch in some strange ways that didn’t make much of any sense but we all got a laugh out of it,” he reminisces, “and I thought it would be a funny name for a funk band to play some bar gigs under. Suffice it to say I didn’t exactly envision it being the thing to stick four years later, but it stuck.”
Goose released their last album, “Moon Cabin,” in 2016 and is headed to Wilmington’s The Whiskey this Friday night. encore caught up with Mitarotonda and fellow Goose member Peter Anspach to learn more about the latest music they have in the works.
encore (e): What have you learned since releasing “Moon Cabin”—either about those songs, your overall sound or yourselves as a band?
Rick Mitarotonda (RM): That’s a great question and one that’s real tough to answer. There’s been a tremendous amount of learning I think on every level since we made the trek to record moon cabin. Everywhere from simple technical things like recording techniques, to a ton about how we communicate together musically, to all kinds of individual learning that inevitably brings evolution to the band as a whole. I would say it’s been a pretty tectonic few years in terms of creating a foundation for the band both individually and musically speaking, and right now we’re moving rapidly in a direction that we feel real good about.
e: Do those songs continue to take on new life as you tour?
Peter Anspach (PA): As we play the songs over and over again, they naturally evolve and give off new life. With a different setlist every night, a tune like “Lead the Way” could fall anywhere in the set, giving off a different vibe depending on its placement and the songs around it. We also experiment with segue ways, weaving songs into each other, quite a lot which continues to open the realm of possibilities for new life within the older material.
e: Tell us about your songwriting process. Aside from Rick, are there other lyricists in the group? Does everyone come up with music and melodies?
RM: Peter joined the band around this past new year and he was a standing songwriter so it’s been great to gradually continue adding material of his to the mix. We’re working together on arrangements and minor tweaks constantly, though we have yet to dive deep into writing from conception together. It’s only a matter of time for that. My process is generally more introverted. I work best when I have time to be quiet. At this point we’ll bring ideas to the table and bounce them around with each other and as a group until it feels like it’s in a good enough spot to try out live. There’s always room for the writing process to evolve though, especially as a group.
e: It’s been a while since you released “Moon Cabin”—is there anything new in the works?
RM: There certainly is. Our schedule is fairly consistent and does tend to take up the majority of attention. The follow up to moon cabin has been in the works for a bit now though and will be getting wrapped up sometime this fall. We’ve been looking forward to that, as well as a handful of other recording projects we’re eager to jump into after the album is finished.
e: Can you tell us about a couple of new songs, their origins and such?
RM: A good amount of the material on the second album is already in live rotation, some of which has been for a while. The rest is either songs we play infrequently at this point or stuff we’re waiting to put into rotation until after the album is finished. Each tune has its own story or arc you could say, there is however a loose theme that the album centers around, namely this club/venue that was kicking in our home area in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. I grew up with a bunch of stories about this place so it sort of became this romanticized idea that’s somewhat representative of many of the settings and times from which the songs originated from individually. Some of the ideas in the songs date back over a decade, while some were put together quite recently, and I’m sure there will be continue to be some tinkering up until completion.
e: How about songs like “So Ready” and “Madhuvan” on your website? Where do these two songs fall?
RM: Those are both on the new album in the “already in rotation” category. We’ve been playing those two for a bit now, it’s always fun to go in and reimagine how things could live in a studio context though. There’s already been a fair amount of subtle musical variation to both of those in that context that probably wouldn’t have been explored otherwise.
e: Are there songs you are “road testing”?
RM: There’s a lot of new music on the docket that hasn’t quite yet made it to the road testing stage, but there is plenty of stuff we play that hasn’t been recorded yet. In a certain sense, we’re road testing everything all the time. A lot of the songs on moon cabin for example have seen subtle to significant alterations in their form since being recorded. It’s sort of a constant thing. Even if something works and feels great for a time, there’s no saying it won’t change at some point or we might eventually grow out of it. It’s very true though that it’s great to be able to sweat out the material that hasn’t been recorded yet on the road, so when we do go to track it, we know a lot more about what it wants to do.
e: Is there anything else you’d like to add about your current tour, new music or stopover in Wilmington, NC?
PA: We are really excited to be dusting off some deeper catalog stuff for this upcoming run as well as showcase some new covers we just learned for our “Netflox & Chill” shows this past month. Though we’re constantly touring, it has been two months since we really hit the road for more than a weekend so we’re pumped to coexist as a group in the van again – an environment that is really inspiring to me and a place where I feel we get our most original band ideas. Wilmington has always been super fun, so we are stoked to be back. We’ve heard The Chris Robinson Brotherhood [encore’s cover story this week] is playing earlier down the street, so maybe we can catch a bit of their set, and likewise we invite anyone from that show to come down The Whiskey afterwards!