The Interview, Pt. 2
David Goad (Kali Ra) Interview, Pt. 1
I expended practically no effort getting Kali Ra frontman David Goad to talk for an over an hour about music, technology, and absinthe when he dropped by a couple of weeks ago before the concert that wasn’t.
To be fair, I did plenty of talking too, which I’ve omitted from the interview transcript.
The absinthe talk took place while I was mixing vesper cocktails for the 2 of us (his wife, Alicia, opted for the somewhat sweeter witch’s kiss), so it’s not included in the interview, as I had not begun recording audio yet. However, there is an absinthe story in 10 Things You Didn’t Know about David Goad. [Sidenote: 10 Things You Didn’t Know about David Goad contains strong language and depicts behavior that may not be suitable for all readers. You have been warned.]
Mercury Photo BureauYou’re touring right now, with a show coming up in St. Louis; how big is the tour?
David GoadAt this stage, we’re just touring regionally. I’m trying to establish a fan-base [before expanding geographically], because the game in live shows is getting heads in the door; it’s about what can you do for the promoter [or the venue].
In , I’m working on New Orleans; will be Austin with The Sexual Side Effects. — I’m actually foregoing SXSW, because I’ve been there, done that. If you’re not a headliner, you’re simply 1 of many. Not to knock the festival; it’s just a crapshoot if you’re not famous.
I will be at the Noise Pop festival and NXNE and Pop Montreal and some other festivals […].
MPBOn your website, someone, presumably you, has written:
In the vein of all great iconoclasts in rock, David Goad sets out to destroy the boundaries and conventions of contemporary music […] His aspirations are to have commercial success with his catchy and darkly outlandish music, to churn out brilliant albums, and [to] continue to write for TV and film.
These are large ambitions; I have heard them before; and I’m not really sure what you mean by the part about destroying boundaries and conventions or how you intend to carry out the latter — rather specific — list. How do you respond?
DavidAlright. You may ask yourself,
Do I really need a time share? but here’s my sales pitch. [laughter]
A lot of bands do say [this kind of thing] and it’s a sort of generic statement.
MPBIt came across as marketing, and not as something you genuinely meant.
DavidDid I mention I was an Antonin Artaud fan? [Sidenote: He did, in part 1 of this interview] I plan to worm my way into the mainstream, somehow. I like the world of pop music and rock music.
MPBSo, you’re not out to destroy pop and rock music?
David I simply want to, like a parasitic lamprey […], latch onto [pop and rock music] and suck all the nutrients out of it, and then, maybe, if I can, adopt its facial features, bud off of it, and try to impose myself as it, as this grotesque monster! [laughter]
MPBWho inspires you musically?
DavidBowie, during his Thin White Duke period. Peter Murphy. Jim Morrison, because he was a rock ’n’ roll deconstructionist; he took the conventions of rock ’n’ roll and turned it into this bizarro theatrical thing that fused his [performance and poetry and visual spectacle].
MPBYou seem to incorporate the Brechtian impulse toward subversion, to discomfiting the patron, to confronting the audience, into your performance. Do you agree?
DavidYes; I think that content is very important, and lyric writing, and performance. Sometimes, it’s just a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants thing, and sometimes that may work, but that’s not necessarily my M.O. My words mean something — mean several things.
MPBIn some clubs, the sound is not very good, no matter how competent the sound person is; a lot of times you just can’t overcome bad room acoustics. So, in much of live music, you really can’t understand the lyrics, no matter how well the singer enunciates.
Beyond that, in recorded music, listeners are often drawn in by melodic hooks, and may not hear or understand the lyrics until after repeated listenings, if ever. Does it bother you when the listener doesn’t understand the words you’ve written?
DavidYou — [pauses dramatically] — are a baker, — [pauses again] — and you make cakes —
Alicia GoadI think we should stop him right there.
DavidYou can bake a cake that looks very nice, maybe uses a very smooth layer of fondant on top, but the inside could be just plain vanilla cake. And that’s okay for some people, who can be content with [surface and artifice]. But I would be be doing a disservice to my fans, my potential fans, and even my colleagues if I were to just stop there.
I don’t make music just to fill space; I actually have something I want to communicate, like any other artist […]; people can be happy with the packaging that I give them […], but for those looking for catharsis, I want them to […] delve into my music, to continuously find layers […] that they emotionally gravitate to.
MPB[Long-winded exposition on the idea that having everything available everywhere all the time makes deep exploration of any given piece of culture increasingly difficult, leading to this question]: How do you encourage deep listening of your music in an age of increasing distraction?
DavidIt is difficult, [with people treating art and music as] furniture […]. So, what I’m trying to sell is […] an alternative lifestyle, that instead of filling your life with all this stuff that is essentially wallpaper for the Movie of Your Life, which people seem to be living nowadays —
MPB— Even more so, now that people are compelled to project that movie through social media like Twitter and Facebook —
DavidExactly. You are living the Movie of Your Life, and everybody else is a bit player. I am offering an alternative to that. My performances are based on an event context. That’s something I’ve learned from [Balinese] culture […]. It’s not something that starts at a pre-determined time; it’s not something that ends at a pre-determined time; [Sidenote: David is referring to “désa-kala-patra”, or “place-time-identity,” the concept that “what is proper [in artistic performance] is dependent on context.”] it’s polychronic and it’s centered around the event and what you glean from it […].
MPBDo you find the live events are more important than preserving the music in amber, that is, recording to CD, even though that’s somewhat contrary to the idea of deep exploration, since the performances are ephemeral, whereas if you have the recording, you can go back later and “peel the onion layers”?
DavidI see music as a kind of religion, and a band as a kind of god. And doesn’t God, indeed, have 3 faces? So, you have the live performance, then you have the records and CDs and the online presence, […] and then you have evangelism.
MPBTime for our Redeem a Song segment. Name a song you like, but wouldn’t necessarily want to admit to liking to just anyone, and tell me why you think it’s a good song.
DavidHmm … Adele’s Skyfall [, from the new James Bond movie]. I think that was a good collaboration […]. She really is a great pop songwriter and singer. By God, she really does sound like a ’60s soul singer [; she’s perfect for Bond].
MPBIs there anything you’d like to add?
DavidWe have 2 albums we are going to release next year, which we’re putting the finishing touches on.
MPBWhere will they be available?
DavidAll over the goddamn place. Physical copies, digital downloads, and we may come up with some other interesting ways of releasing them.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About David Goad
10 Things You Didn’t Know about David Goad
David is a very intense and often mysterious person. We have been together for over 11 years now, and no one knows his dark side better than I do.
One: His Arms Are Tigers
When we were younger and had first moved out, David had absinthe for the first time. One night when we had a couple of his friends over, David had 5 glasses of absinthe (I think he blacked out after 3½). Additionally, the 3 of them finished [half a] bottle of Sailor Jerry [rum] and 4 boxes of take-out Chinese.
After his 2 friends left, I thought it would be very funny [to take] my profoundly drunk boyfriend to the park. I now realize that I should have recognized the signs of alcohol toxicity and taken him to the hospital, but being young and stupid I thought absinthe was supposed to cause hallucinations.
He said to me,
I think I’m hallucinating …
Oh, really? What are you seeing?
With his hands across the park table, he told me,
Well, my arms are tigers. Then he put one hand down and looked at the other on the table.
Okay, now just this one is a tiger.
[…] I proceeded to push him on the swing and [then I] lock[ed] him in the porta-potty. We were at a children’s park, with lots of cute jungle gyms and chalk drawings. David had the most epic vomit I’ve seen in my life all over those chalk drawings. The awesomeness of the puke was [from] the sheer size of it!
I thought that, surely, afterward, he would feel better and stop hallucinating. And he did feel better, but he was still sh*t-faced. He exclaimed,
The moon is chasing me forever, and I could just ‘Blah!’ I figured the puke meant he needed to go home, and he kept begging me,
Please! Don’t let me choke on my own vomit and die, it’s too rock ’n’ roll! I took him home, [made] him drink water, and [let him] watch Tim and Eric. He told me,
That’s how I feel! I feel like a big fat lady who ran into a bunch of boxes.
Two: He May Be Most Famous for Sucking Toes
To be perfectly clear, David hates feet. But to this day, people we have never met still recognize David as Demetri, […] a vampire who fed off of the Venditos guys in a movie dreamed up by Justin Hogan. One of the scenes called for a guy to awaken to Demetri sucking his toes. There was no way David would do it, so I played the stunt toe […].
He did lots of other disgusting things in the movie (i.e., masturbating with a severed hand to deleted scenes from Twilight). [I think that’s] still on YouTube […] [Sidenote: If it is, we couldn’t find it.] .
Three: There Are Pictures of Him Naked, on the Internet
Once, while we were out doing boring adult errands and sh*t, David tells me we’re going to drop by our friend, Doug’s, house. Doug Schwarz is a photographer, and he was having one last party in his apartment before he moved into his new house.
I walked in and everyone was wearing costumes, and I’m thinking,
What the Hell is going on? [Turns out it was] a bubble bath picture party! So I said,
I didn’t know about any of this, and everyone is wearing costumes; what should I wear? and he replied,
Nothing. And I’m all like,
Who are you‽
Well, that’s just what we did, plus the fake ivy I just bought at Garden Ridge. David, however, was full frontal! Let me tell you, he is a brave man; because it was damned cold in that bathroom, not flattering at all. Doug posted a whole album of pictures from the bubble bath party on his Flickr account.
Four: He’s Now Typecast As a Shameless Slut
Word got out that David has no qualms [about] doing disturbing things for the public eye. His next adventure in public nudity was for a film [produced and written] by Mike Walsh [and directed by Jonathan Shahan].
David’s character was “Naked, quacking man.” His job was to spout a bunch of craziness, quack, and then smoke from a pipe — naked. I held the robe, to decrease the chance of him getting arrested for public indecency during rush hour in Yukon.
Most recently, David was cast in a movie by James Brittain, where he plays a male prostitute. I told him these are the only roles he’s going to get now, and asked him if he worries about being pigeon-holed.
Five: He’s Not Afraid to Disturb Rednecks
Just before Route 66 Bowl shut down, [Sidenote: Route 66 Bowl was a historic Oklahoma City bowling alley, in business 1959 – 2010.] David played a show in their bar. David is very theatrical when [he plays], regardless [of whether] the setting is appropriate or not. [He’s] all about “tearing down walls” and sh*t.
[That] night, [his performance] involved canvas and paint. We all know that musicians are attention-whores. So when the hicks at the bar were doing their best [to] ignore him [and drink] their beers, David wasn’t having it. He started marching around the room and hitting himself over and over with the painted canvas.
Then they couldn’t help but take notice, and one of them [looked up and] said,
Damn boy! It’s gonna be okay! Those men weren’t laughing; I think they were truly worried about his mental integrity.
Six: He’s a Huge Fat-Ass
When David and I were first dating, I didn’t know he was a bulimic. By that, I mean he did not know self-control when it came to food, and I spent many a night beside the bathroom door listening to him vomit.
He’s still a foodie […]. If we go to a Cajun buffet, I will have to drive home, because he will be so gorged with frog legs and bread pudding that he has to [lie] down and unbutton his pants. He can finish a whole pizza by himself, especially if you crack a raw egg on top.
He once had this wet dream about stuffing marshmallows full of Reese’s Pieces. 1 night, we were snuggling on the couch [romantically], and he whispered in my ear,
Weren’t you going to make brownies? — and just the other night he said to me [, in reference to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday],
Food day is coming up; aren’t you excited?
Seven: He Hangs Loose
David’s first experience with indecent exposure was purely by accident, I think. David goes commando most of the time; just think about that next time you see him. Also, David’s pants are dilapidated, and I often have to sew them back together.
We had gone shopping at Wal-mart one day and were exhausted when we got home. David bent over to take his shoes off, and his nut sack was hanging out behind him, and I was thinking, “Wait a minute, his pants are still on!” His testicles had slipped through a hole in his pants, for Muhammad knows how long!
David! Why are your balls hanging out‽
What? He felt around.
Oh my God! Oh my God, oh my God!
I still wonder if he can be found on People of Wal-Mart.
Eight: In Another Life, He Works for (Bizarro) Hallmark
Our family always looks forward to their unique cards from David. Whether it’s for birthdays or Christmas, no 2 cards are ever the same.
The cards are time consuming [to make], and [they are] in high demand. 2 of my favorites: The card for his grandma for her 83rd birthday had ladies at the beauty parlor getting their cooked-shrimp heads blow dried. Inside were a few “coupons,” 1 being for “$Texas.” His grandmother had to put on her glasses to see this, and she read it all aloud.
The other favorite [was when] he gave a card to his cousin, Richard, for Christmas. This card had a walrus, dressed in a flannel jacket and flannel hat with ear flaps, dancing to Simply Irresistible. The inside had a close-up of the walrus with bloodshot eyes [with the caption,]
I’m going to murder you.
Nine: He Once Got a Surprise ‘Yell Job’ from a Dude
You must know Leon Manson; he is now in the band Psychic Milk. When Leon and David went to school at ACM, they were in the same school band and would practice at a friend’s house. This house was occupied only by guys, and I’m not sure how many lived there at any given point in time, because [so many people came and went].
One time, we all came upstairs from the basement from practicing, and a handful of young men were on the couch in the living room watching a porno. David and I were talking near the threshold, saying,
This is probably our cue to leave … Well, I guess Leon got excited, because that very moment he ran full force [toward us], slid on his knees up to David, and yelled as loud and as long as he could into David’s crotch.
And we [just stood] there, in shock.
But now we all know not to play ‘gay chicken’ with the fellows at ACM. [Because] they’ll win.
Ten: He Writes & Records All of His Own Music
Not all [my husband’s secrets] are humiliating or insane. [Too few people] know how important his music is to him. [David writes all the parts for the music performed by any of the bands he’s been in himself.] He records all of his own music at home, as well as recording for others too. — and [for] all of the covers he plays, he learns the music himself, replays it, and then records it before [performing it] live.
David’s friends are very important to him, and he wants to give credit where it is due. That being said, David deserves more recognition for his creativity and determination.
— Alicia Goad