Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Interview with Chris Spann of Goo Fish by Dave Wolff

Interview with Chris Spann of Goo Fish

What’s the story behind The Jonesville Conspiracy, and for how long have you been developing the concept for Goo Fish?
GOO FISH began way back in 2003 when I gave up on the ideal of forming a band in the traditional sense (too many people working towards their own agendas, and trying to find the right type of person to jam with became too much of a hassle). It was also around this time that I discovered Ween’s “The Pod”: which inspired me to just record my music at the house and not worry about waiting to find all the right pieces to form a band and start making music. Just buy a drum machine and start recording” was my mindset at the time, and still is to this day. I have great respect for people who go through the trouble of forming bands and keeping them together, but at this point I couldn’t see doing it any other way than being a one-man operation. That being said, I have had a few collaborators over the years and really enjoy working with others, but it seems like there isn’t ever enough time to coordinate. So, I just plug in and do it all myself, for the most part.
My newest release, “The Jonesville Conspiracy”, is based on the idea that a small town in the middle of nowhere is the center of all things diabolical and evil in the world. At the center of this is The FUPA. He is the master of all and pulls the strings on every conspiracy known to man.

How many independent releases does Goo Fish have out? How do you make copies of and distribute your releases? Are you working with anyone for distribution or is that also an independent duty?
Currently GOO FISH has three releases available on Bandcamp for download: “Atomized”, “The French Navy”, and “The Jonesville Conspiracy”. As far as physical copies, I haven’t made any at this point. All the music is also available on Youtube for free on the GOO FISH You Tube page. I haven’t made any physical copies because I don’t see the point to be honest. It seems like most people just listen to music via a digital platform these days. Record it, release it, and move on to the next project to be honest. I have zero professional/financial aspirations for GOO FISH. This is a truly 100% artistic endeavor. It is all about the creative process and doing what I want, when I want.

Do you have your own studio to record in? Have you been able to acquire more sophisticated equipment to record with since you started the project?
I record at home. GOO FISH has always been and always will be a bedroom band, and I don’t see that ever changing. But to your other question - the progress of technology in the last ten years alone has been staggering. From the early 2000’s to now, what has become available for home recording has been nothing short of amazing. I started out with a tape 4-Track, distortion pedals, and a basic drum machine and now I record completely digital with an I-Pad. As a one-man operation, this has opened up so many doors that would not have otherwise been possible.

How much opportunity for growth has working with digital equipment given you and Goo Fish? Is it equally important to retain an organic sound with this equipment?
The equipment has been an improvement to the overall sound quality of the recordings, but at the end of the day, without riffs and songs you don’t have anything.

Who are the artists you’ve worked and collaborated with since 2003? What have each of them contributed to Goo Fish?
Collaborations are few and far between. Mostly, my cousin H.W. shows up from time to time with some riffs and they will get incorporated into some GOO FISH tracks. Recently I’ve been working on another project with a singer/songwriter, D.K. Goudeau in a more of a producer type role. D.K. has a ton of songs and poetry and I’ve been working with him to bring some of his ideas out. One track we’ve completed is called “Devil Does” and is on the GOO FISH Youtube page. I’m really proud of that track and would greatly appreciate anyone who would check it out and give it a listen.

What is the track “Devil Does” written about? How much listener feedback has it received since it was made available on Youtube?
Overall, it has been a very positive response. DK’s music reminds me of the American Recordings years of Johnny Cash; very dark and very foreboding type work – almost tales of caution. That’s what I get out of Devil Does – a tale of caution.

How many tracks do you plan to develop with D.K. Goudeau in all? By what techniques are you helping him write and compose?
I would like to get a full-length release of his work done and really showcase his writing abilities. I try to take a more traditional approach when working with D.K. I call it my “normal music” in the sense that I turn the “crazy knob” way down on his songs, unlike the GOO FISH stuff.

How did you come up with the tale of the Jonesville Conspiracy and The FUPA? Did you intend for this story to be supernatural horror, science fiction or both? What can you reveal about the story this far?
Like most things in the GOO FISH universe, “The Jonesville Conspiracy” began as an offhand comment and just grew from there. The idea has been floating around for a number of years – take a middle of nowhere, small American town and make it the center of all conspiracies known to man. So, in one sense it’s a conspiracy theory and in another sense the FUPA is kind of a supernatural puppet master that controls everything. As far as the actual identity of the FUPA, I’d rather not say for legal and personal safety reasons.

Why was a small town in the middle of nowhere chosen as the setting of the story? How important to the plot was it to place it there?
Jonesville, LA (aka ROUGHDALE) has always played a central role in all things GOO FISH. It’s a middle of nowhere small town that I am originally from and have been fascinated by since I can remember. Nothing ever happens there and there is nothing productive to do there. I always seem to come back to writing about it for some reason or another – whether true or completely fabricated.

Explain the Jonesville Conspiracy storyline as it’s told on the EP this far. What are the events depicted in each of the songs?
I didn’t really have a clear endgame in mind when I started the Jonesville Conspiracy other than The FUPA is some type of all-knowing puppet master that pulls the strings on all the world events. That being said, I’m not even too sure what the actual story line is!!!

How aggressively are you promoting Goo Fish, and what does this project offer musically and lyrically that sets it apart from other bands?
Promotion and marketing have never been my strong suit. I’m more likely to record something and sit on it for a year or two than let it see the light of day. I’m definitely more in the creative camp rather than the promotion camp. That being said, I’ve had a tremendous amount of help from the good folks at Radio Roach! Robby Roach and Lindsay Cake have been waving the GOO FISH flag for me for a number of years! Also, Brian with Blastbeat ATX does his part to get the word out about GOO FISH. As far as what GOO FISH brings to the table . . . that’s a harder question. I don’t think it sounds too much like anyone else. Do I at times wear my influences on my sleeve? Absolutely. There is such a strong WEEN streak throughout everything I have done. I have purposely stopped listening to any new bands and only listen to what I was listening to when I was 15 or 16. I make it a point to stay with the bands that influenced me to initially to begin playing guitar. So, in that regard GOO FISH has a grunge/early 90’s vibe to it. But, overall, I don’t think it sounds like anyone, unless I’m trying to sound like someone – if that makes any sense.

Do you release your material independently? Where can people find it if they’re interested?
100% independent. All GOO FISH is available at www.goofish.bandcamp.com for downloads or for free to listen on the GOO FISH YouTube page.

How much promotion have Radio Roach and Blastbeat ATX done for Goo Fish and through which channels?
Radio Roach has always flown the flag for GOO FISH and always had it in rotation on their station – along with many other great underground bands. You can check them out at www.radioroach.com. Blastbeat ATX had been great a spreading the word about GOO FISH via podcasts and word of mouth.

How much rotation per month has Goo Fish received on Radio Roach and Blastbeat ATX so far? How much has net radio and podcasts helped the band get listeners in general?
Rotation has been pretty constant on Radio Roach and Blastbeat ATX is more of a word of mouth type of thing.

When we started corresponding you were publishing Roughdale Zine. Is this zine still in publication today? If so, what is the distribution and what bands are you helping support?
Sadly, like most print zines, Roughdale has folded. I really fell like I came to the party way too late with the zine thing. Much like GOO FISH, I really enjoyed the creative side but not the marketing or financial aspect of it – not my cup of tea. I would love to see a re-emergence of underground zine publishers, but I think the day has past for that. Like most things, the digital world has replaced the physical. That’s not to say we couldn’t see that change (and I would love to see it) but it just seems unlikely at this point.

Are any back issues of Roughdale still available for trade or purchase?
They are sitting in a box in my closet. If anyone is interested, hit me up at roughdalezine@gmail.com.

You recently started the online record and book store Roughdale Records. How has the response been since you started promoting it and what are you offering?
Books and records have always been a passion of mine and I decided to dip my toe into the world of e-commerce. The response has been really good! I have sold quite a bit since I’ve been up and running. I try to focus on mainly non-fiction, military, history, and political science types of books. I used the Roughdale name since it has some visibility from the zine days. I have phased out the re-selling of records due to market saturation. But at the end of the day, I really like buying and selling books. Books and reading have always been a big part of my life.

Name some of the books and albums you’re currently selling through the online store? How much of a demand have you seen for said items?
I’ve purposely moved away from selling too much vinyl these days – market saturation coupled with customer demands for near mint version of everything. It gets frustrating to say the least. But I did have a good run of selling Lurcher of Chalice, Darkthrone, Isis, and some vintage albums from the 1990’s: STP, Smashing Pumpkins, and Foo Fighters. People seem to really still dig all the “post-grunge” stuff for some reason. Books, on the other hand, are a much better medium to sell. They are much less-likely to be damaged in transit. That is the part of the e-commerce world that is so frustrating – your partner is the Post Office. Overall, they do a great job, but have a $90 record show up to customer in pieces is a major bummer.

How many more books have you been selling through your store compared to say a year ago? Name some of the newer publications you’re offering?
Most of the books I sell are a little older and out of date. Books are a strange item to sell. Sometimes you post something for sale and it’s gone immediately, other times a book will sit for six months before it sells. There may be a rhyme or reason to the book selling game, but I’ve yet to crack that code.

Have you sold zines online through Roughdale? Do you see an increase or a decline in print zine sales in recent times?
I haven’t tried to sell any zines though the online store yet. It may be something I need to consider. Thanks for the idea!

What part of the Jonesville Conspiracy will be told on the next Goo Fish release?
I honestly haven’t even thought of that! A part two to The Jonesville Conspiracy? If The FUPA orders it, it shall be done!

What were you considering for the next Goo Fish release beforehand?
Well, I was definitely planning on another concept type album, but I wasn’t too sure on the lyrical theme. All the songs would be in the same key and would be interchangeable from a musical point of view. But I really hadn’t decided anything yet.

If you seriously thought about it, how many chapters of The Jonesville Conspiracy could you write to tell the entire story?
Dude, that could be an epic undertaking! I could probably spend the rest of my life working on that never-ending tale. That’s a very good idea that I might have to steal from you!

At the time of this writing do you have other conceptual ideas in mind for future EPs and albums besides the Jonesville Conspiracy?
I do, but they are such outlines at this point that they wouldn’t really make any sense. Just ideas of where I would want to go.

Considering the independent nature of your project, and the original story you incorporate into its concept, would it come as a surprise if your listenership were to grow in 2021? Would you think of performing live if that happened?
It would be a real surprise if this was to grow any. It would be nice, but I will keep doing what I’ve been doing since 2003 regardless of any growth. I plan on staying true to what GOO FISH began as. Yeah, I think I could grow it with live performances, but that’s not really my thing. A lot of things would have to align – finding the right musicians to work with would be the biggest part of that equation.

What are the biggest aspirations you hope to accomplish for Goo Fish and your other endeavors?
To be recognized as something and someone with a unique outlook, sound, and integrity. Nothing more or less.

-Dave Wolff

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