An Interview with Ben Falgoust of Goatwhore About Pretty Much Everything
Our boy Matt Bacon sat down with Goatwhore vocalist Ben Falgoust. Check it out.
Ben Falgoust is one of those guys who seems to simply define what heavy metal is all about. He is always willing to talk about just about anything and everything. Getting to pick his brain on life, the music industry, and really whatever popped into our minds was a lot of fun and led to a very long and insightful interview that left me curious to see the band again. Perspective-altering and mind-boggling, Goatwhore are the kind of band we should ALL be paying more attention to.
How the hell are you?
Pretty good. How the hell are you?
Well I got to see Goatwhore tonight!
And other bands!
So, you got our mutual friend Mark really drunk tonight. Can you tell me about your relationship with him?
We’ve known Mark for a little bit now, he’s a good dude. We just have this football relationship that he gets weird about it. The funny thing is that while yeah we’re from New Orleans we’re not huge Saints fans. We play in a metal band; we don’t have time to worry about that. But the thing is, he’s an Atlanta fan and this season they were undefeated until the Saints pulled that out from under them, and ever since that game they haven’t won anything, so he kind of gets fired up about that whole thing. I like sports, I watch them every now and then but I never let them become this overwhelming thing, but he gets fired up about them.
What I’ve noticed as music has taken over my life is that a lot of stuff I used to love, like sports, I just don’t have time for anymore. Do you ever feel robbed of a normal life and normal passions because of Goatwhore?
When you say normal what is normal? I think that some people put normal into a category because it is more comfortable and secure. The person who has the job that is nine to five and has weekends off might view that as normal because that’s a more comfortable environment than to be on tour. When you’re in a band you’re in a new city every day, nothing is secure, anything could happen. At anytime something could change.
I was discussing this with someone the other day. The way life’s going some people don’t really fall into certain categories. Maybe they can’t do a nine to five but they can still maintain their lives. Even with people in a band, we go on tour but then we come back to normal jobs. Maybe some people work it out well so that they can go on tour and then come back to their jobs.
Some people have a very regimented life, and I don’t think that works for everyone. I think everyone has different ideas for how they want to live, but society implements an idea of how things should fall. Does it have to fall like that or can you go through life and not be criticized because they decided to take a different path. When people do that they feel criticized and pressured by their family. You know the whole “What’s the matter? Why aren’t you married with kids?” I think that some people just flow along and won’t necessarily fall into that category.
A regimented life might be the norm for some people and that’s fine, but the norm to me is to do what feels comfortable for you throughout life. I think the problem is that some people start to feel pressure from everything because there is this natural kind of thing that people expect.
Are you comfortable on the road?
I’m getting older now and I definitely love my bed instead of bench seats. That takes a perspective in it as well. There’s different variations to it. When we first go on the road I appreciated and had low expectations and knew what was going on. You see bands that go on tour and you read about how members leave all the time because the road is a tough thing. Everyone has their own ideas about it and how it works. People get into it and say “Wow I thought this shit would be so different.” You have to go in with no expectations and just remember that this is what you wanted to do and you got to see how it unfolds. At the end of the day it’s not about the money, it’s the experience. Did you do something that affected people and made a difference within a scene? It’s more about the cultural value than the monetary value.
When you want to do a band you got together because you saw other bands and thought, “I want to do this.” I think that some people kind of lose that path and want too much out of it. I think you have to bring yourself back down and remember why you got back into it. If you can just get into the aspect of just playing live and having a good time then that is the complete aspect. Anything beyond that is just bonus. When you start thinking beyond that and that’s when the industry fails for you because you’re expecting something that you think should be in place when you started out just wanting to play music.
I won’t lie. It’s a struggle, it really is. But that’s what makes bands unique. When you listen to records from bands in their struggle periods you can tell. You can tell that the band was really pushing to try and make something happen.
I think that if you listen to a lot of these bands touring the country in a minivan, when you realize their abject suffering from being in that situation, it starts to make sense.
Yeah! It’s like a person in a relationship though. You have to compromise things, but in this situation you need to compromise with five to six people. That’s when you need to really sort stuff out. I think it’s definitely a life lesson. When I go on tour and see how people act sometimes I think “Wow you need to go in a van for six months and just do this and see how that changes your whole outlook on life.”
What I have to say though is that when I was growing up I was really into early hardcore punk stuff and a big book that made a difference as far as touring was Henry Rollins’ Get In The Van. They toured in a VW van with no cell phones or GPS. Crazy stuff happened but they still went on. When we first started touring there wasn’t cell phone usage but just to read that toughens you up. It’s like “These dudes did this, what do I have to cry about?” Henry Rollins set a level and said if you can’t do it, then you don’t deserve to tour. It’s very different now, but it’s still pretty similar. It’s unique to have that and to read anything about the early days of Black Flag or how like SST Records was run. The struggle was what made it so interesting and got everybody so enthralled by it.
When you’re younger everything happens by experiences. I witnessed when Reign In Blood came out. The younger generation needs have their own experiences. I can’t sit back and be all old and say “Oh they won’t understand what was going on back then.” No, they won’t be able to experience that and witness but they will be able to witness their own things. They have to make their own experiences. At the same time I have to be involved in that in some way and not just be a negative older dude hooting them and younger bands down. Everyone is working to keep the cycle moving forward.
What I love about Goatwhore is that you’re not self aggrandizing, but you’re kind of trying to be iconic…
For sure. We like to hang out and jam shit and have a good time. I don’t want people to think we’re super serious. Being in a black metal category people always assume you’re so serious, and our roots definitely come from Celtic Frost and Bathory, but we have a lot of death and thrash metal in there as well. I think all of those elements play a role and we can’t just toss that out the window. When we tour with kvlt black metal bands I’m just like, I can’t get to that point because for me it’s all about the music, there are no levels to it. I’m not going to go out in a pink shirt because I have a dedication to metal, but the idea of metal was to have no rules, no laws or anything and do what you want. As we get older though things fray out.
Speaking of no rules and no laws, are you an anarchist?
Not really. We’re not a political band but I do have my ideas of how there are different levels of humanity and sometimes the truth should not be known by everyone. Or maybe I’m bent on it. I’m on this line where I feel like if the truth was known by everyone it could just cause mass destruction. At the same time another part of me says, maybe everyone should know and we could just have survival of the fittest.
What do you mean by “the truth”?
There’s so many different variations in life because of government structures and laws and things like that. I think that a lot of people don’t want to face what’s really going on and they just do the normal life and just run it. Some people though are into conspiracies and think we need to protect ourselves. For me, I’m on a level where I don’t see why the powers that be would especially care about me. I’m not doubting myself, but is the Illuminati really looking at me and Goatwhore trying to do something mischievous? No way! There’s a lot of people who think that way though.
Personally I don’t want to delve into it too much because I jut blow it all off but I know that there’s a lot of people who are into all of that and all of those fucking aspects. My whole thing is just about having fun and living your life to the fullest. Whatever happens happens. You can’t control anything really; you just move along and have a good time. Just enjoy it. If you’re not enjoying yourself then make the change happen to enjoy yourself. I think that a lot of people get caught in a grind and think ‘this is what I need to do’ sometimes you need to struggle to get out of that grind in order to move onto something you enjoy. It doesn’t mean you have to be happy monetarily but just in general you know?
Like when I go home and I go into work, the job I have is really cool and I’m like “Alright this is really cool!” but it allows me to do something I really enjoy. I take the plusses out of it and work it out. Some people take only the negatives and make it worse. After all, you’re playing in a band and get to travel around the world. If you don’t become rich from it no big deal because I get to do things most people never get to do.
If I’m talking to a buddy I’ll mention that I’ve been “Here, here and here” and sometimes they’ll be like, “Wow, I’ve never even left Louisiana!” Which is weird to think about, but we’re in a band, that’s what we do.
Or just like trying to explain the feeling when you wake up and you’re not sure what state you’re in.
Exactly, and that word state could be taken in so many different ways. In Europe you sometimes don’t know what country you’re in. It’s a whole different monster over there in terms of how people embrace the scene and react to different bands. You do work in America and you think you’ve got it then you get there and it’s like, “Holy shit we have a lot of work to do!” Same in Australia. Some bands go to the top immediately and everything falls into place, and some bands work and work and have to wait for it to evolve and grow into something. Don’t give up though. If you enjoy it just go after it. Think of the experiences you’re gaining. Don’t make it a negative thing. I know that sounds silly because people think we’re an “evil” band.
I don’t like when people are like, “How are you positive when you’re in an evil band?” But if you look at it, there are a lot of positive things in Satanism. Satan and the Antichrist is very much the antihero. He was cast from heaven into hell and he has to fight his way back up. There’s a positive element to it. Being in the struggle to fight back to the top. Like in Paradise Lost.
The idea of the cosmic rebel is very romantic.
I think people lose things in their knowledge of literature. They don’t see that there’s a struggle there. The funniest thing about it is that satanism is basically the idea of America. You wanted to be free and you fought this war to be free. Nobody stops and goes, “Oh that’s similar.” You’re revolting against something you’re not comfortable with. I was talking about this with our sound guy, the only problem with things like that is that whenever there is something new and you create something new it eventually falls into a chasm. The original people who had this new idea don’t always follow the same regiments and don’t keep the same ideas. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. New people who come in make things corrupt and destroy the purity of it. Everything that falls apart and builds to something new is because of this weird cycle.
Well you see that in music all the time, with the way genres come up and then suddenly disappear…
For years of playing metal I’ve been through zones where people said it was dead. I don’t think it ever died. To me the underground has always been a strong positive thing. Whenever it wasn’t at its peak people were still creating stuff in the underground, and people just stumble across it. You see it with bands like Metallica, then Pantera, then Slipknot, and then Lamb of God. You see the intensity being ratcheted up. And the underground is way crazier and gets crazier as normal people start to appreciate more extreme stuff.
That’s part of the beauty of the underground is that it isn’t there for money, it’s just there to create stuff. It’s like an earth shaker, it’s always crushing through. The only people that notice are the people that come along and are interested to see what is going on before the mainstream. I’m not saying the mainstream is bad but everything peaks at certain points and enters the mainstream. The underground has always forged things though. Even if a band only put out one record and never did another one that’s cool too.
I’m actually envious of bands that do that because they feel if they go further it could ruin everything. That’s actually admirable because they severed the lifeline to the stuff that people liked. That’s amazing because it’s used as a fucking step and a building block to what goes on in the future.
I think that’s why something like the Beatles or Led Zeppelin are so huge is because those bands were only around for like ten years each. It’s preserved in time.
It’s different now too because so much comes out. Digital media is crazy. When I was growing up we had tape trading. To me Bandcamp is new age tape trading. It’s the same thing. It’s high quality and you go on there and discover a bunch of cool shit, and bands get noticed because of it. I’m definitely not one of these artists who is against the digital download thing. I want people to know what’s going on. Do whatever you have to do. So may records come out of this week no one can afford the albums that come out in a week in a month. Mathematically it’s common sense. You can’t spend four hundred bucks a month when you have other shit to worry about. At the same time the industry is partially at fault. It makes it harder and you have to work a little harder to get your shit known.
Keep up to date with Goatwhore on Facebook and tell ’em the Toilet sez “Howdy”.