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18 Jan 2017

As the Goat Turns: The Pride of Idyllwild, Throw the Goat Has a New EP—and a New Drummer, Too

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Throw the Goat. Throw the Goat.

Throw the Goat is a local band that’s finally starting to get the recognition it deserves.

The band has two full albums to its credit—Black Mountain (2012) and Blood, Sweat and Beers (2015). Last year, the band released a new EP, Vote Goat, and picked up a new drummer, The Sweat Act and 5th Town’s Troy Whitford. Catch the group in action at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Saturday, Jan. 21, and The Date Shed on Saturday, Feb. 4.

During a recent interview before a practice session at Whitford’s home in Palm Desert, we talked about the band’s name.

“It’s kind of the Ronnie James Dio heavy-metal handshake (like the devil horns gesture),” guitarist Brian “Puke” Parnell said. “There’s also this thing in Spain where these golden eagles co-exist with mountain goats, and it’s part of their food chain: If there’s a wandering goat on the side of a mountain, a golden eagle will come down and lift it up, and drop it off the side of the cliff, which tenderizes it, and then they pick up the whole fucking thing and take it back to their nest. There are videos of it on YouTube. It’s awesome! You gotta check it out.”

Throw the Goat actually calls Idyllwild home.

“It’s actually benefited us more than anything,” Parnell said. “It’s a small town; everybody knows each other, and in the really early days, we would get a lot of people from the town itself who would come to any show we would play—but I wouldn’t call us ‘big fish in a small pond.’”

Frontman and bassist Michael Schnalzer said that being from Idyllwild has helped the group when playing out of town.

“It’s an easy way to stand out when we play in places like Los Angeles,” Schnalzer said. “People usually say, ‘Where the hell is Idyllwild?’ We’re probably one of two or three actual bands up there. I think we’re the only original band currently playing in Idyllwild. Most of the other bands are cover bands that play on the weekends at the restaurants. I’d say it’s helped us a lot and given us an identity we wouldn’t have had if we tried to be a band in a major market like Los Angeles. Plus, we get to drive a lot!”

Throw the Goat has been called a metal band by some, and a punk band by others. So what is Throw the Goat’s real sound?

“When we figure that out, we’ll let you know,” Parnell said with a laugh. “We don’t sound like The Stooges or The Ramones. But when we play to punk crowds, people are like, ‘Fuck yeah!’ and when we play to metal crowds, people are like, ‘Fuck yeah!’ Every show we walk away from, there’s always somebody who’s blown away by it. There’s usually one person who comes up to us and says, ‘I’m not usually into that kind of music, but I love what it is you guys do.’ Whatever ‘that kind of music’ is, we’re pretty clueless.”

Schnalzer said he does not care much for labels.

“We set out to play guitar-based music in a slightly oppressive manner, which could be punk, metal, rock or any sub-genre you want to put a label on,” Schnalzer said. “I’ve never been one to listen to just one type of music. I also don’t identity as exclusively metal or punk. I’ve always listened to all of it. I think on Black Mountain, there’s more of a rock and metal spectrum. But there’s punk in there, too. Blood, Sweat and Beers is like a punk/thrash spectacle, but there’s some metal in there. The new EP is more punk than anything we’ve ever done, but there are some Top 40 arena-rock songs. If you like loud guitars and abrasive vocals, you’ll like Throw the Goat.”

Schnalzer explained how Whitford came to join the group.

“We were looking around for a new drummer, and when we played with The Sweat Act a few times, the first thing I noticed was Troy,” Schnalzer said. “Troy’s drumming stood out, and he was killing it. We’ve been Sweat Act fans since the first time we saw them. We knew we wanted to go in another direction as far as drumming goes, and Troy was the first person we actually hit up.”

Whitford said that when Parnell sent him a message on Facebook, he suspected an invitation to join the group was coming.

“For me, at the time that it happened, my wife was a bigger Throw the Goat fan than I was. It took Brian about 30 minutes to ask me, but I was star-struck. Within the first two minutes, I knew he was going to ask, but I just wanted to see how long I could keep him going,” Whitford said with a laugh. “‘You had me 29 minutes ago. You had me at: Hey, Troy.’” 

Whitford said he feels at home in Throw the Goat.

“I’ve had their songs stuck in my head since the first practice,” he said. “The second band I was ever in was this kind of band, and it’s always been the kind of music that I’ve followed, especially when it comes to tempo. To be part of it now, it’s amazing to me. I can’t wait to play our first show—especially with how fast things have been happening, and the music has been progressing. It is a little different, and I feel like the way that I play and my influences, I bring more of a punk side to it that makes it a little less metal.”

The beer of choice for Throw the Goat: Pabst Blue Ribbon. In fact, Throw the Goat received a grant from Pabst Blue Ribbon.

“They don’t officially sponsor bands,” Schnalzer said. “They gave us $1,000. Any artist can apply to Pabst Blue Ribbon for grants, because it’s part of their branding right now. They’re trying to support DIY musicians and artists trying to do their thing. That’s a cool thing they do. They’re hands-on with all the people they support. For us, it’s a big refund on all the beer we’ve drank. We’ve been drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon since day one.”

Whitford, however, has had to readjust to the iconic lowbrow beer.

“It was my beer of choice until I became a beer snob,” Whitford said. “It’s nice to put it back in my system. Now, I can put down $2 or $3, and it’s like two full mugs of beer. I’m building up my tolerance.”

Throw the Goat will perform with Murkocet, Bridger and Perishment at 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 21, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free; visit the Throw the Goat Facebook page for more information. Throw the Goat will play with Mondo Generator and Doors to Nowhere at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 4, at The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., in Indio. Admission is $10; visit www.dateshedmusic.com for more info.

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