Kalamazoo, MI’s The Go Rounds recently released a new record, so we asked the self-professed “psychedelic rock n roll confetti pie” (perfect description, PS) outfit to walk us through each track; go ahead and load up Whatever You May Be on Bandcamp and give it a listen while you read the band’s insight, and be sure to download a copy to keep if you like what you hear!
My friend C.V. gave me a book of Michael Dickman’s poetry at just the right time it turns out. I was heading into a three week artist residency, but in many ways had given up on any perceptions of myself as an artist. I’ve been writing songs for more than half of my life at this point. My relationship with the craft is phasic. Sometimes it’s everything, morning noon night, thinking about melodies and lyrics. Other times I’m walking in silence, getting into the rhythms of my body, thinking I might not ever write a song ever again, and that’s OK! At the residency I used this book of poetry to open myself back up to songs…. each morning I flipped the pages and chose a poem to meditate on and work my way inside of. I’d pick a key, get a drone going and wait for the music to come. Foxtrot sets this scene: finding the carcass of a dead fox in a field. Its a stark and beautiful examination of the infinitesimal that lies within this seemingly invisible every day reality. Life feeds off death. Ants and flies and maggots fill a rotting, bloody chest cavity. (Is this cycle brutal and sad or only our essential great purpose?) I see a circle within a circle. Morning into day into night. Mourning our way into the light.
Droning synth, galloping drums, layers of textured guitar, lapsteel, sub bass, washed out group vocals .. we wanted to create a soundscape that felt immense, but delicate – otherworldly, but personal. There was never a doubt that it would be the opening track for the album. We caught it from the beginning, strayed for a while in the sea of possibilities (naturally), but eventually came back around to that early essence – peeling away layers, using the scratch vocal and earliest guitar takes.
Long Legged Daughter
In LLD we continue to explore this new world we’ve found ourselves within. Its still morning – soft focus. Tracers. Fractals. Imagine a sea creature summoned to return to a life on land. How long have you held your breath in darkness, looking in through the glass upon a stranger? How good (in a way) did you feel in your depression, buried underwater? Maybe this song is about our manifestations, conscious and unconscious, and questions why we continue to look outward for salvation. I’ve been guilty of writing a narrative about myself that doesn’t allow any room for redemption. Maybe we all do that. And maybe we really want it – that utter destruction of our little world… maybe somewhere within is the understanding that necessary change is not possible without it…
So we’re floating out in the alien surph-o-sphere, right, and we’re pumpin that deep verb into our purple veins, almost lost in the haze…. But then it breaks! And we’re in double time (technically double time plus a few bpms – we recorded this one to a click and had to do so it two separate sections so this outro tempo could be a bit faster) and Mike is taking the chromatic train to shred city, yeehaw and away! the hi-hat goes ‘ya ta-ta ta-ta-ta’, the hits are off-kilter – one then two, but we have landed at full speed – onward to whatever is waiting ahead.
Be careful of who it is you think you are? Remain conscious of what you are bringing to life? (said to self)
Over and Over
Call 1-800 G’itis Baggs for a good time. Beyond being a really great human and prolific songwriter and producer, G’itis was the original Go Rounds guitarist from 2009-2012 and has been a consistent co-writer on Go Rounds songs ever since. He came over to go roundsHQ on an otherwise uneventful day and soon he was laughing and chirping out a really high and staccato ‘melody’… we filled a couple pages with a mix of winners, drivel, and humorous but impossibly insular asides…He also contributed lyrics to Fleece Down and Reviver in this way. G’itis is my favorite songwriter of all time and a really big part of why the band is still a dynamic and evolving entity.
oh.. that voicemail during the instrumental is my old landlord calling me about the city fining him for code violations at go roundsHQ. Precious.
For the arrangement we wanted to take a more familiar, groovy (yeah swing it, cats!) 6/8 shuffle and fuck it up. I remember we kept on saying, ‘Gotta go Alien Bonnie Raitt with it.’ Obviously. That aesthetic really came together once we added the harmonizer to the vocals. I already had an effect on that sort of emulated a rotary speaker a la Allen Touissaint’s ‘Southern Nights’, but the harmonizer really took it to space. Alien Bonnie. I love Bonnie Raitt.
Though mostly free, irreverent and upbeat, the last line packs a simplistic little punch ( I remember finishing the song after a particularly troubled night of sleep..) ‘do you ever dream of the days you hate to remember?’
This is one that Adam and Drew (drums and bass) might just play with a stank face on.
One morning in Southern Oregon, Graham and Drew were awakened suddenly at their host’s home. In the kitchen they observed the aftermath of an all-night acid/coke binge. Six people spun out at 8am, drinking champagne attempting to float back into some kind of apparent reality. Since we were there to make money on the trim scene, it was somewhat reassuring (?) to observe human creatures functioning at an even lower level of existence than us.
That evening with an upright bass and an acoustic guitar, the wild, binge-trippy micro-explosion that is $ombie was born. One direct quote from one of the lurkers that didn’t make it into the song was, “I’m gonna revel in every sadness I see in your eyes.” Grim!
This recording was all tracked live besides the organ, 12 string guitar, and some vocal harmonies. Kept it under two min!
Every year after Farm Block comes a special kind of decompression. A few days off after an exhausting and experiential festival? Enough said. And at the farm this time of year, the weather tends to cooperate allowing for ideal hikes, swims, water-fallings, berry gorgings. And when all the festival goers have gone and left the farm to quieter mornings and evenings, it has always been a time when the Go Rounds–through various iterations over the years–have found time to create and rehearse.
Up in the loft above the barn there are posters of childhood sports heroes and rock legends among party lights and a brood of miraculously gentle and diligent paper wasps. Here one perfect Keweenaw evening, with a Yamaha and a couple of notebooks, came the dreamy recall of exotic lands and the longing that became what is now, ‘Bali”.
Night sweats. An exorcism and full-on confrontation with unhealthy patterns of behavior and thought. — We tracked this scare-scape totally live with the addition of producer Ben Cohen on keys + nauseatingly brutal sub shit. Koltay’s endless collection of boutique fuzz and delay pedals helped us get that whole ‘meteors ripping through the stratosphere and the world is coming to a violent end vibe ‘ … Herein lies our ‘darkest before dawn’ moment from the record. Our birth/worth canal into a greater understanding of ourselves, a deeper compassion, a more balanced relationship with this Life.
This shit is scary, right?!!
Pattern and Vanity
Pattern and vanity is an examination of our mirrors – the places, times, and relationships that hold our reflection. What humbles us? What feeds our head versus our heart? What do we see in ourselves that is beautiful and worthy of honoring? Which tendencies and modes of thought do we need to rid ourselves of if we’re ever to feel worthy of the deep wisdom and gentle knowing of the natural world? How do we become the best versions of ourselves without neglecting the struggles and needs of others? How do we become our own protector and provider?
What does in mean to believe in another? Does it really matter at all? — I’d like to believe it does, and when I’m feeling hopeless, I hold on to the idea that our kindness and generosity create waves of positive change that ripple out beyond our knowing. Our intentions are our inventions, and letting go of all that is superficial and ephemeral – physical beauty, material wealth, fame and adoration – brings us closer to the essence of why we’re here. Is it cheesy and overplayed to say that I believe we’re here to lift one another up and to love without restraint? Probably, but I don’t care, even if our times seem to value irony and cynicism over humility and sincerity. So I say to myself, ‘fuck the noise – be genuine’. Don’t hesitate to tell someone how much they mean to you and how much you care for them. Don’t hesitate to stand up for those who’s voices have been silenced.
I forgot that I’m not where I’m from anymore. I belong wherever I am, and the work is never done. I am sick and I am well. Full of darkness and light. Capable of the worst and the best of things. Learning and unlearning. Can you see beyond my flaws, my weaknesses? Is it ok if I don’t plan to stay put or settle, but rather, simply trust in the transient nature and cycle of all Things?
What is fleece down? What does it mean? I’m not sure it matters. G’itis and I talked about it as a verb – ‘to fleece down’ – a shucking of ones guises – stripping naked before the ‘woo’ .. letting go of all that separates us from the world. It was also discussed as contemporary fusion textile ..
What feels most relevant here is the arrangement of this recording. Ben Cohen pulled on his hair until it was all standing straight up so he could receive messages from the great musical beyond. He transmitted a musical vision that included elements of classical, eastern, African, spaghetti western, and psychedelic stylings. Somewhere between the more celestial percussion arrangements of Sun Ra.. (very conversational call and response patters) and Ethiopian piano ballads … Palm muted guitar, simple octave piano lines, reedy organ, a stunning violin solo performed by Jeffery Niemier (which is actually just two takes panned and ducked to create a conversation), shakers, conga…
We wanted this recording to be soft and delicate. Adam turned the snares off and played the kit with his hand and a mallet. Mike and I turned our guitars down and kept them fairly clean.
Though we’ve broken through our distorted perceptions of ourselves by this point in the record there’s still a sense of longing here. your name in my head/your hair in my bed… and if any line gets the conundrum of the pain within loving across its .. true love can be cruel / if you don’t know who to get it from ..
How about a rootsy-ripper with with appox 140 interrogative statements? We got #thefuture, Charlie Millard, to play Hammond and piano on this one to help flesh it out. Ask us sometime about how we spent $600 for on a session where the engineer didn’t even know how to mic a Leslie smh…
The gist here it seems is: lifting up your friends and loved ones. We all take turns feeling low, feeling weak. Sometimes it feels as if the more time we spend with a particular person or group of people, the more often our emotional valleys are rhythmically counterbalanced by that person or persons. I don’t think any of us can hang tough all the time. We bend, we break. And what can be most difficult about these burdensome times is allowing others to help you – not even asking for help (which is even more vulnerable) – but simply allowing the people who love you to act as a source of comfort and encouragement. ‘Can I be your clear soft-focus mirror?’
Could I be your holy water supplier?
Your effeminate stay-at-home father?
Your long and strong forever forgiver?
Could I be a believer?
This structure of this one acts as the inverse of Fleece Down. Here, we start at full-sprint but eventually tumble our way into a soft landing – a coda nearly as long as the song itself. Patrick Booth really shines here on Saxophones and Clarinet. We heard his voice in this arrangement from the beginning and knew he would add the reedy crystalline beauty we needed to augment this landscape.
Light of a Heavy Love
Thanksgiving Day in Northern Michigan. In between gig days, The Go Rounds visit Mike’s aunt, Jen-Rae, at her home in Lake Ann. Mike’s brother, Jeff, came for the holiday, as well. Even though there were only six of us, the spread was fit for a family of twenty-nine. There were more pies than people. This, however, was exactly what the band needed–a day off hosted by a loving family member and dedicated fan.
Everyone maxed out–fooding and drinking, smoking and laughing, farting and snoozing. Soon YouTube videos appeared on television, and as jaguar versus crocodile videos flowed one after another, Graham seized a Casio keyboard in the corner of the living room. Jamming with headphones on as the rest of the band off-gassed, he fleshed out the chords of ‘Light of a Heavy Love’.
Days passed and it is purported the tryptophan and gluttony subsided. At the next band rehearsal, Graham presented those chords and the melody he had come up with. The band collaborated on a bridge and it was inserted into the live repertoire rather quickly. Some songs take ten months or even two years of toiling to arrange and eventually perform. This took less than two weeks.
Why Does It Feel So Bad?
Maybe this song about a past life. Same form, same body, but a different time. Anyone else feel like they’ve died five times in the past ten years? Why Does It Feel So Bad is probably the most candid and straightforward song on the record. Nearing the end of this experience together calls or a lifting of the veil. Maybe you’ve walked with someone in silence, both of you full of knowing… feeling an ending, a death. Sometimes letting go of someone or something that’s still living is much more difficult than grieving a dead loved one.
For me, the great simple fear and predicament of life is that the more you love, the more you let people in, the more you will in turn suffer the grief of loss. Nothing profound to see here. Just what it is. A circle in all directions.
We’ve made it this far. Through the re-birth, coming of age, visitation, funeral, burial. I suppose it’s only natural we’d want to take one last ride past the scene of our undoing, just to make sure it’s really dead to us – to be absolutely sure there’s nothing left worth holding onto.
I’m pretty fucking tired of writing songs about being heartbroken, tbh. But, what else should I do with those feelings? This is all happening so gradually, its hard to notice whether or not anything is happening at all sometimes. I see you though, void.
There are past selves being mourned here, regardless of the knowing that we’re better off without them.
I think this was the song we were most careful with. We’ve only played it live once or twice over the past four years. It’s not easy to sing, I can say that. The emotional context is potentially consuming, and the intensity of the final verse phrase feels somewhat dangerous to step into.
I think about all the time I’ve wasted in an unconscious state. Not blacked-out on sauce or drugs, but simply pulled so far and selfishly inward. ‘Marijuana high, fly by / I keep forgetting / I don’t wanna lie by you/ hardly caring’ I’ve been so pissed at myself for the times when I’ve checked out, sometimes for months or years.
We become addicted to our suffering. At times it feels easier occupy the depths of this despair than it does to actually fucking live. To face and embrace it all.
So it becomes a plea, ‘Drive down to the sea/ release me’ …
and the mistake of going back to the darkness is almost made, ‘Ever wonder why… ah never mind…’
And now we’re drifting off to an eternal beyond, finally free.
Again Patrick Booth adds his saxophone and sparkles of clarinet. Two sad chords in conversation. The sun and moon depending on one another, but never coming together.