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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

Question: What do you get when you combine Glen Matlock from the Sex Pistols, Clem Burke from Blondie, James Stevenson from the Cult and Gene Loves Jezebel, and Gary Twinn from Supernaut?

Answer: You get a supergroup called The International Swingers, which will be making its second appearance at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Friday, Aug. 7.

The idea of The International Swingers was pitched to Gary Twinn by Australian promoter Bicci Henderson. While the idea seemed crazy at first, the band has proven to be a fine success, leading to an EP and a recently released album.

During a recent phone interview, frontman Gary Twinn discussed how The International Swingers came to exist.

“Many years ago, I had a career in Australia as sort of a pop star, so every now and again, I would sort of go over there and play some shows. I was asked to come back again, and I really wanted to do something different,” Twinn said. “James, Clem and Glenn were really good friends of mine, and we all happened to be hanging out at the same time. When I was asked to do this Australian tour, I was like, ‘Hey guys, how would you guys like to start a new band and come with me to Australia for a holiday? And that’s what we did.”

Twinn said the group wasn’t intended to exist beyond the Australian tour. “It just happened that we started this band, and we did it for a laugh. … When we were on our way back, and there was a bunch of stuff on YouTube and people inviting us to play here and there, we thought, ‘Let’s just keep doing it.’”

While the members are friends, it’s hard to imagine these four very different personalities working so well together.

“It’s actually been a pleasure,” Twinn said. “We can’t argue about the music, but we might argue about football.”

Last year, The International Swingers played a free show at the Farmers Market in Los Angeles. There were some concerns about whether some of the band’s material, such as the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant,” would work there.

“It was great. It’s an awesome place to play because anybody can come; it’s free to get in; and it’s a really eclectic audience. It’s a very historic part of Los Angeles, and it’s been there for 80 years,” Twinn said. “… We were proud to be part of it. … Bob Gruen, the famous rock photographer, came to the show and took a picture of us playing there. So the Farmers Market has a great rock ’n’ roll photo taken by one of the great rock ’n’ roll photographers.”

Twinn conceded there was some hesitation regarding what songs from the members’ various bands would be played.

“James and I sat down, and I wrote down a huge list of songs, and the idea was one of us had to have a connection with each song, no matter how tenuous it was,” he said. “There are actually some of my old songs from my first band I didn’t want to do, but the other three wanted to do. Glen didn’t want to do ‘Pretty Vacant,’ saying it was boring, and we were like, ‘C’mon man, it’s great!’”

The band is now selling its first full-length album. Fans can pledge money through PledgeMusic to receive a copy of Whatever Works Now.

“We just finished it. The EP, we did as something to sell to our fans at shows and were just really demo recordings,” Twinn said. “Over the last year, whenever we’ve had time, we’ve been going into the studio owned by the Foo Fighters, and our friend Tommy’s studio, and we recorded a bunch of songs and just mixed and mastered them. We kind of announced to the fans on Facebook that we were looking to make an album through PledgeMusic, so all the fans that pledged their $10 just received their digital album.”

The members do have a problem coordinating their schedules. In fact, Glen Matlock is not on the current tour.

“It’s a frickin’ nightmare, to be honest. It’s like herding cats together,” Twinn said. “With Clem, Blondie takes permanence, and these days, Blondie is pretty busy. James has another project now called Holy Holy, and they’re doing a whole production around The Man Who Sold the World. Glen has his own band, and Glen actually won’t be doing this tour with us, or doing anything with us, really, because he’s busy with his own project now.”

So what can attendees expect?

“We’ll still be playing our covers, so you can expect to hear some Blondie and Sex Pistols,” Twinn said. “During our recent gigs, we’ve been playing ‘Brand New Cadillac,’ which was a song The Clash covered, and we might throw that in the mix. But we want to try out some of the new songs from the album and see how people like those, because we’re really liking them. We’ve got a friend of ours, Steve Fishman, filling in on the bass, and he’s a great bass player. We’re happy to have him with us.”

The International Swingers will perform with Machin’ at 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is $5. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews