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Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Last year, a group of teenagers from La Quinta High School became the talk of the local music scene thanks to their unique brand of instrumental music.

The group known as Instigator participated in CV Weekly’s Battle of the Bands competition, opened for Mondo Generator at The Date Shed, and enjoyed some gigs at The Hood Bar and Pizza. Now the band has a recording—Built to Defy, produced by Throw the Goat guitarist Brian “Puke” Parnell, coming on Friday, May 25. The group will celebrate with a show at The Hood that evening.

I asked Parnell why he wanted to record Instigator.

“When Throw the Goat played with Instigator last year at The Date Shed, and we were both opening for Mondo Generator, I was really blown away by them,” said Parnell. “I was talking to the guys after the show and talking to their parents. I asked them if they had any recordings, and they didn’t. It was something I definitely wanted to do for them, because I wanted to make sure that it sounded right. I knew how to capture the sound already at that point by ear.”

When I first saw the band last year, I loved the fact it was entirely instrumental—despite criticism from the Battle of the Bands judges’ table via House of Broken Promises and Unida guitarist Arthur Seay, who didn’t like the lack of lyrics. Seay will be glad to learn the band has now begun to incorporate lyrics—and the group sounds even better.

During a recent interview with the band members in La Quinta, they said they were embracing the vocals.

“It helps to broaden the dynamic of the entire band, especially with how you have to get a message to your listeners,” said lead guitarist and vocalist Mark Wadlund.

The members’ individual lists of influences make for a strange mix when put together. For starters, all of the members agree that drummer Joe Boomer’s punk and hip-hop influences are a big part of their music.

“They ruined me,” drummer Joe Boomer said about his bandmates with a laugh. “I was on track to being a normal drummer. It was cool, though, because I never felt challenged by school band or marching band, because there’s a lack of creativity. They give you music and expect you to play it. With these guys, I didn’t know how to do what they were doing, so I latched myself onto them and started to learn.”

Rhythm guitarist Jaxson Fischer is influenced by psychedelic rock and blues.

“We’re all individually inspired by different tastes and things, and we incorporate that personally into the way we play,” said Fischer. “Joe is the only person I know who can combine death metal and hip-hop into a song through his drumming. It just works.”

Like most bands, Instigator had problems gaining credibility at first.

“I think we struggled with not being taken seriously for a while,” Boomer said. “I feel like we had to fight for any amount of respect we’ve earned. We had little issues everywhere. At the time, it felt like major setbacks. We had a security guard at a venue not let us into our own show. I think we got to the point where we have a little more respect now—or we just don’t care. We don’t need to worry about impressing people anymore.”

Wadlund agreed.

“I think the music speaks for itself,” Wadlund said. “You have to show people what you’ve created. That’s what it’s all about.”

Recently, Instigator played a show at West Hollywood’s legendary Whisky a Go Go—but there was a downside: The band was required to sell a certain number of tickets.

“The pay-to-play thing threw us off,” Boomer said. “Most of the tickets we sold were to friends and family. We obviously couldn’t sell them out there in Los Angeles, so all we could do is sell them to family members.”

“Or to whoever was available on a Thursday night,” added bassist Garrison Calkins with a laugh. “We kind of fed off the four other bands that played. They sneered at us a little bit, but not when we got up and played onstage.”

When it came time to record, the band members’ parents dropped them off at Parnell’s house in Idyllwild for a weekend.

“All he had for us was a couch that only one of us fought for. I brought a cot, and the rest of us slept on the ground,” Calkins said. “Being in the studio was a whole new thing for us. When you’re in there, you have all these monitors surrounding you, and you can hear every little mistake.”

Wadlund said the band’s name is also its mission.

“We literally are all about instigating a movement out here in the valley,” Wadlund said. “Obviously not by starting metal—metal started a long time ago—but we’re about instigating a movement of people. It’s a musical get-together, and it’s an entire music scene, or a huge crowd of people, or meeting new friends at an Instigator show. It just feels inspiring.”

Instigator will perform with Minor Emergency and Frank Eats the Floor at 9 p.m., Friday, May 25, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information on Instigator, visit www.facebook.com/instigatorofficial.

Published in Previews

It’s a common argument in the local music scene: Is Throw the Goat a metal band … or is it a punk band?

The Idyllwild three-piece’s new album, The Joke’s on Us, settles the argument once and for all: Throw the Goat is definitely a do-it-yourself punk-rock band.

The band is currently taking pre-orders for The Joke’s On Us, which will be released Jan. 26, via PledgeMusic. If Throw the Goat receives more than 100 percent of goal, the members will donate 10 percent of the overage to the American Red Cross.

During a recent interview at The Hood Bar and Pizza, we talked about the title of the EP the band released last year before the presidential election, Vote Goat, as well as the title of the new album.

“There are a lot of people in the political climate who dismissed certain things last year, thinking, ‘It’s just a joke.’ I think now, with how the way things turned out, the joke is on all of us,” said guitarist Brian “Puke” Parnell.

Drummer Troy Whitford, who is celebrating his one-year anniversary with Throw the Goat and will also appear for the first time on the band’s recordings with The Joke’s On Us, said it was important to “go there” politically.

“It’s almost kind of like a responsibility to say something,” Whitford said. “We all have our own opinions toward the political climate, but it would be bullshit and against ourselves to write more songs about drinking and having a good time, boys and girls, and all that other bullshit. There are things that need to be put into perspective, and people need to acknowledge what’s going on.”

The recording sessions for the album started on Halloween.

“I guess if you put it all together, it took about a month,” Parnell said. “Recording, editing, mixing and getting the masters back took about 32 days.”

Bassist and lead vocalist Michael Schnalzer said there are pluses and minuses when it comes to DIY recording.

“It gave us freedom we never had, which can be positive and a negative,” he said. “I think it made it easier to work through the problems we ran into. But it also made it harder, because you can do whatever you want. We’re really fucking picky when it comes to ourselves. The vocals drove me insane.”

Parnell laughed and added: “It would have only taken three weeks if we were less picky.”

Schnalzer said a couple of the tracks stray from the typical Throw the Goat formula.

“Puke wrote a song called ‘High,’ and it’s going to be the lead single on the album,” Schnalzer said. “That one is just an ear worm and is probably one of the poppiest tracks we’ve ever written—not that that’s a bad thing, because it’s still heavy as shit. This album gets a little weird for us, because it also has our heaviest song ever, ‘The Joke’s On Us,’ which is the title track. That song is about as metal as Throw the Goat will ever get.”

Earlier this year, Throw the Goat went on a national tour, and also played in the United Kingdom.

“We were gone for six weeks,” Schnalzer said. “In the middle of a trip like that, it feels like it’s never going to end. Once it’s over, it seems like a blur. Getting the opportunity to go to the UK again was pretty mind-blowing. But getting to tour around the country and getting to play for people who we’ve never seen, and play with bands we’ve never met before—it was super-cool.”

Of course, it was the first Throw the Goat tour for Whitford.

“(Troy) was the man!” Parnell said. “If I was riding shotgun, and Mike was in the driver’s seat, Troy would all of a sudden appear out of the back and be like, ‘A little peanut butter cracker sandwich, gentlemen?’”

Parnell said the band has big hopes for The Joke’s On Us.

“We’re trying to be on the charts, which is the main reason behind the PledgeMusic thing,” he said. “For an independent band to register with SoundScan, and do all that other kind of chart stuff that people have to do independently, it’s a big pain, but PledgeMusic makes it super-easy. With the way album sales go these days, it doesn’t really take that much overall to make an impact. It’s the first time we’re going to be doing that, and it’s the first time we’re doing vinyl and doing it ourselves. There are people we’ve been talking to about taking it a little further, like independent labels who are somewhat interested if we chart in that opening week.”

Schnalzer agreed that using PledgeMusic was a fine idea.

“The response has been good,” he said. “I’ve always been personally hesitant at crowd-funding, but PledgeMusic is a lot more legitimate and made specifically more for musicians. It’s not just trying to crowd-fund an album; you do a pre-order and (there are) all kinds of major acts on there. It’s a professional venue to find bands, check them out and help along with the process—and there aren’t really record labels anymore. It’s a way for bands representing themselves to professionally and legitimately get the money raised to put out merchandise and albums.”

Whitford said the options for musicians on PledgeMusic are far better than those on other platforms.

“On Kickstarter, you’re trying to raise funds to do something,” he said. “With PledgeMusic, you’re doing something, but you’re making it available beforehand, and you’re able to give different options for purchase to help out the cause itself. You don’t have to buy the album; you can buy other things to help it. It’s like pre-ordering a video game and getting that package that won’t be available once it’s released. It’s like you’re saying, ‘We’re doing it; here’s a chance to get it before everyone else.’”

Whitford added that PledgeMusic has given them the opportunity network with other bands, and breaks down the demographics of who is buying the record—some of which have surprised Whitford.

“You have people pre-ordering your album all over the world,” he said. “There have been the same amount of people pre-ordering our album in the UK as there have been in the desert.”

Parnell said that the process has made them add another goal to their 2018 list.

“Arthur Seay from House of Broken Promises has told us, ‘Hey, man, you definitely want to go play in (continental) Europe,’” Parnell said. “For 2018, that’s one of the things we want to do. We’ve played the UK a couple of times, and it’s cool that we have a solid fan base there, but the next time we do that, we’re going to attach it to a European tour playing in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and places like that.”

To pre-order Throw the Goat’s The Joke’s On Us, visit www.pledgemusic.com/throwthegoat. For more information, visit www.throwthegoat.net.

Published in Previews

This past spring, Throw the Goat toured the United States and even made it overseas to play in the United Kingdom. The Idyllwild punk outfit seems to have a promising future; catch the band at the Red Barn on Saturday, Sept. 30. For more information, visit www.throwthegoat.net. Recently, guitarist Brian “Puke” Parnell answered the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

My dad is a bassist, so my first shows as a kid were usually bands that he was in. But when I was in my teens, we won tickets off the radio and saw The Black Crowes at Glen Helen Amphitheater. That was huge. I think possibly my second concert was at the same place the next year for the second annual Ozzfest.

What was the first album you owned?

Because of my folks, we had pretty much all the necessary classic rock, new wave of British heavy metal and hair-metal albums covered in the household record collection. I started to get into hip hop and new jack swing in the early ’90s at the same time I was getting into grunge. The first time I spent money at a record store, I came home with Kris Kross’ Totally Krossed Out on cassette, plus Pearl Jam’s Ten and Boyz II Men’s Cooleyhighharmony on CD.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m loving the new Dead Cross album. I’m a big Mike Patton fan, and everything he does with Dave Lombardo is awesome. The new Bloodclot is really cool. Same with Mutoid Man. And the new Prong. I just heard the new Dale Crover album and loved it. And I’m really looking forward to the next record from The Bronx.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

I have no idea what the fuck happened to alternative music. What is this supposed to be an “alternative” to, other than “good”? Same thing happened to hip hop. I can’t stand that robot voice on everything.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

I’m a hardcore Nine Inch Nails fan. Like, forever. Haven’t seen them live in seven years, and the last one was at a festival. I’d like to see them indoors, maybe a theater show. Other than that, I’m always waiting for the next Snot reunion.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I’m a sucker for The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Smiths and all my old school goth-boy jams. Tori Amos is my homegirl. None of it makes me feel guilty—only when I listen to whiny emo albums from the 2000s, but that’s rare.

What’s your favorite music venue?

This is a seriously difficult question. After so many tours, you end up with favorites all over the place. I’m gonna keep it California and say the Troubadour in West Hollywood. I’ve had so many great times there, and the sound is always perfect. TTG has yet to play there, actually. That would be incredible!

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

Not to plug the band or anything, but the lyric that plays in my head most is usually the chorus to our song “Bullshit.” It really resonates when you’re surrounded by people who seem to gain pleasure from making your life difficult. The line is simply: “I love it, give me more of your bullshit.” Sarcasm is my go-to coping mechanism.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

My music tastes got progressively heavier when I was in middle school. I was listening to a lot of stuff that was supposedly really scary and brutal. I ended up renting The Downward Spiral from the Ontario City Library, already being a fan of the earlier Nine Inch Nails stuff, and it blew my mind. It creeped me out like nothing else had at the time. And it was heavier and grittier than anything I’d ever heard. It was so diverse and musical. I became a mega-fan. From there, I discovered the world of industrial music and IDM (intelligent dance music) by researching bands that influenced NIN, and also bands on his label. It changed everything.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I think I’d ask Dave Grohl to do our next record for us! That would be the raddest thing ever!

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Not sure yet what I want done with my remains. If there’s a casket, I’d want them to play Pantera’s version of “Planet Caravan” by Black Sabbath as it’s being lowered.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

If there was a gun to my head, I wouldn’t have had nearly the same amount of time to come to a conclusion. I’d probably just blurt out something stupid. But after much non-gunpoint consideration, I’ve decided it’s a tie between Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile and Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf. A close (third) would either be Rage Against The Machine’s Evil Empire or Depeche Mode’s Songs of Faith and Devotion.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Halo of Flies” is Track 1 on Sieg Howdy! an album by Jello Biafra with The Melvins. It’s a cover of an Alice Cooper song. I’ve heard a lot of people cover Cooper before. That’s hallowed ground as far as I’m concerned, so I wouldn’t suggest it unless it was really good. Check it out.

Published in The Lucky 13

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.

Published in Previews