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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

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