An Interview With LA-Based Front-Man Kenny Becker On The Formation and Growth of His New Band, GOON!
Goon is the project of LA-based musician and visual artist Kenny Becker. With a medical condition that periodically deadens his sense of smell and hearing, Becker began writing songs as a means of making the most of his life when those symptoms were absent. The results, Dusk of Punk, are a murky blend of smoldering guitars, melodic hooks, and batter-ram rhythms that serve as the musical translations of a mind that’s routinely betrayed by its own body.
Their debut EP Dusk of Punk pushes the boundaries of standard “lo-fi” music with both it’s diversity in songwriting and it’s somehow incredibly layered composition. The production is lo-fi but incredibly full and lush sounding. Their songs are loud and fuzzed out but are anchored down by beautiful harmonies. Even acoustic based songs are rounded out by delicate synths, drum machines or the occasional radio sample. The end result is a diverse and incredibly complex record that evolves with each listen.
Thanks for your time! Now that we are entering the fall of 2016, what are some words you would use to describe this year? What have been some of the highlights for the band?
2016 has been a really good year for us! It began with us as a three-piece, we had been doing that for about a year. We added our dear friend Caleb Wicker on bass around the end of February. Drew Eccleston, who was formerly on bass, switched over to guitar. Which made a lot of sense because him and I have been guitar buddies since our early days in college. Christian Koons has been old faithful on the drums through it all. After the addition of Caleb, our sound got much bigger and more exciting. It’s safe to say we sound like Nirvana post-Pat Smear now. But in all seriousness I think we do sound much better with four than with three!
The huge highlight of this last year was becoming friends with Jake Whitener who is now our manager. We were beginning to reach a point where we didn’t really feel like we were making any progress despite our best efforts. And then Jake came along full of passion for the music and completely reinvigorated us, and caused us to sorta step away from the ledge. I’m not sure if he knows he did that. It’s so powerful to find someone that really believes in your music.
Growing up, did you all always want to be musicians? Can you recall your earliest musical memories?
I always loved and found comfort in music from a young age. But I also loved drawing and painting. I always felt that I would end up pursing either music or visual art, turns out it’s both. One of my earliest musical memories is playing piano as a kid and coming up with these little compositions, and having my Nana get all excited that I was writing my own songs. She was a huge encouragement to me from a young age.
How did Goon first come together? How did you come up with your band name?
We all met in college at Biola. In 2012 I decided that I wanted to start a band, so I did with some like-minded friends, one of which was actually our current bassist Caleb! We messed around with some songs I had written but it sorta fell apart when the drummer got married. I graduated in 2013 and moved up to LA with the intent of doing music more seriously, so I reformed the band with Caleb, our current drummer Christian, and our friend Josh Kaye. It was around that time that our friend Zack Campbell approached Josh with the name Goon. He said something like, “you know what sounds like a band that should’ve existed in the 90’s but didn’t?” I stole it immediately. That second iteration of the band fizzled out after about a year, and then we reformed yet again in 2014 as a three piece: Christian, Drew and me. Added Caleb back in sometime in February, and the rest is history!
I usually just say “grunge-y” but I only do that to deflect the question. I think the music really speaks for itself. Maybe I would say something really confusing to entice them to just listen for themselves. Like happy-sad, planet-hopping, comfort-cultivating good time music!
What can you tell our readers about your recently released debut EP, “Dusk of Punk”? What was the inspiration for these songs?
Well the songs have been around for a while. I pretty much did the whole thing myself. Caleb helped record a little and he played lead guitar on Gay Rage and Merchant Hall, but other than that I did everything. We recorded it all during one of the previously mentioned lulls in the bands history, when we didn’t really actually have a band. The songs vary in inspiration but in general are born from feelings of a sexuality repressed by Christianity, unrequited crushes, feelings of having missed out, faith and doubt, all the good stuff.
I’d love to know more about why you decided to put out the first dual colored cassette ever? I love that there are hidden messages on the tapes if you a put a red light to it!
It was Jake’s idea! We really loved the idea of making a “special edition” cassette that feels truly special. We ordered 25 red and 25 yellow cassettes, unscrewed them, flipped halves, and screwed them back together. It was not a fun process. But it was really fun to be doing it together! The red light secret is a good one, but the cassettes are loaded with so much more hidden stuff. Like, maybe too much hidden stuff. You’d be surprised how many secrets you can cram into a cassette.
Who are some of your favorite artists and what bands continue to inspire you and your music? Who would you still love to work with in the future?
I find endless inspiration in Boards of Canada. Nirvana, Pixies, Pavement, Pinback and Radiohead are always easy ones to come back to. I fantasize about collaborating with Bibio someday, that would be really fun.
When you aren’t performing, working in the studio, what do you like to do for fun? How do you unwind from it all?
The five of us (including Jake) have been doing some D&D questing lately which has been a blast. Also drawing or painting outside somewhere is always a great way to sorta reset my mind.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
My favorite thing that music can do is allow someone to feel spoken for in a way they maybe didn’t realize they could be. I love when music shows you new depths to your own emotions, or gives you the means to some kind of catharsis. If our music does that for anyone, it’s a success.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
We’ve got a bangin’ LP in the works right now and cannot wait to share it with the world!