Interview with Buck Gooter

Loved by some; dismissed by others.  Regardless, one thing is certain when it comes to Virginia two-piece, Buck Gotter...  You have never seen/heard anyone like them.  As musical trends come and go, Buck Gooter remains the same:  Doing whatever they damn well please.  Vocalist/guitar mangler/theremin playa' Billy Brat explains what's going on.

You and Terry are an unique pairing.  How did you guys meet, and what made you guys decide to start Buck Gooter?  And, for that matter, why "Buck Gooter?"

The origin story is not as interesting as the name origin.  We met working at the Little Grill together.  We shared similar tastes in weird/heavy music.  No one else at the restaurant was into any of that shit.  Terry got the idea to start a band, and I was down with it, being a big fan of Terry's art and music.  He said he'd buy a drum machine, and he did.  He'd been in a band before where all one dude did was pat a drum machine, so it didn't seem weird to him.

I had a theremin laying around from a previous band failure.  We jammed for like four hours the first time and "learned" like 20 songs.  It expanded from there.

My take on the name is one time I came to Terry with some band names, and before I could say anything, he said, "BUCK GOOTER," his mouth full of food.  I said, "Buck Gooter!  Hell yeah!"  But, I think he was really saying, "Fuck you," with a biscuit and peanut butter in his mouth.  Try it out some time, it sounds like "Buck Gooter."  Terry's got some bizarre explanation of the name...  Something about fusing Buck Dharma and a totally made up word to create something unique, but I don't buy it.  His is an easy answer; mine is funny.  Don't make a whole shit of a difference either way.

Locally, it seems like opinions are mixed of how people feel about BG.  But, you guys have consistently been able to tour through many states/cities, multiple times.  What's up with the Shenandoah Valley?

I feel like we get a decent reception in Harrisonburg.  It goes in waves.  Some years are better than others.  There's not much happening in the Valley, musically.  Actually, as far as I can tell, the only active music scene in the entire Shenandoah Valley is the one in Harrisonburg.  Think about it, how many towns do underground/shit-circuit touring shows regularly between Winchester and Waynesboro?

We cater to a smaller subset of the small subset of people who actually enjoy music and standing in piss covered basements to enjoy said music.  So, when that all gets narrowed even further down to a small population in a rural setting, it's not surprising that the audience is limited.

I think as a band, all you can do is tour.  Unless, you live in NYC, you will not be able to find enough gigs, locally, to stay interested in what you're doing.  You have to hit the road.  It's the only way.  This is, until you get tired of hitting the road, and you're content to just jam around every week and record or whatever.

There's something very 80's Punk about you guys, in my opinion, though you guys definitely pull off some things that would have seemed alien back then.  How do you feel about independent/underground rock-based music these days?  Is there really such a thing, anymore, with music hosting, and social networking sites making it so easy to promote music?

This is a funny question that I've thought about a lot lately, after reading an article about Sam McPheeters linking the "end" of the Wild West to the "end" of rock and roll.  You can Google that up and read it, if you want.  I'll try and make an original point, but that article is worth a look.

Underground music is an interesting thing.  You have to be a certain kind of weirdo to be able to stay the course in such a loveless environment with little return.  What keeps us going is we know there's not much else to do.  This is what we want to do.  We don't over think it; we just keep going and rolling with the punches.

Our peers in the "scene" are typically much younger with lots of possibilities available to them that could be way more fruitful and fulfilling than dealing with a shit rock band.  Eventually, they get the idea and move on.  But the stragglers, the lifers...those people are the real underground scene to me.  And, with them, it's just business as usual.  Write songs, plays gigs, do whatever.

As far as the internet and promotions go, I don't think it harms the "underground."  I feel like, historically, the underground rock industry mechanizations are the same as the mainstream, but on a smaller scale.  The only band I can think of that ever did anything different business-wise in the underground was Fugazi.  Fugazi did pretty radical things compared to the rest of the flock, and it worked well for them.

There are definitely bands that might record and release records in an odd way but don't tour like bastards.  Fugazi did it all.  They recorded and released whatever they wanted and had complete control over their live presence, and every other aspect of their band for that matter.  No t-shirts, no music videos, and, in the later days, no website.  Wow.

What are some of the things that have influenced what you do, musically?

I was trippin' out recently on how deeply influence I must be by my family's musical history.  The reason I say that is because it has never occurred to me that you needed to have a "full band" to put on a compelling performance.  I've seen many different family members - mother, uncles, aunts, grandpa - go totally wild singing gospel songs in church with nothing but a cassette backing track.  And, those folks were all very intense and in control and just totally over the top in their performances.  They never had a band play with them, but they were really kicking ass in a musical way.

My grandpa used to tour around with my two aunts.  They had their own PA system, and they would sing along to a cassette track of backing music.  The setup was sort of like Gooter!  Of course, we're not playing Holy Ghosts gospel stuff, and we do play some instruments, but we're a small band.  Self-sufficient with amps, bringing the pain down.  We even have some stands and stuff that used to be grandpa's.  So, that influence is with us in more ways than one (laughs).

Of course, we both like all kinds of bands, but I think, at the root of it, all is a compulsion to perform and create in a way that may seem like the odd way to do it to most, but, to us, it makes a lot of sense and seems like the only way to do it.  So, in summary, my experience with mutant gospel karaoke is a deep influence on me, and is reflected in this band.

Vocally and lyrically, both of you contribute.  What subjects/concepts do you guys tend to write about?

I am still unsure as to what it is we write about.  Mainly, feelings of dread and angst, like most rock bands.

What have been some of the best, more rememberable, experience you guys have had on the road?

Playing shows with Mounds and Black Pus recently were definitely memorable experiences.  Between the shows, the nature hikes, chilling at Brian's pad, eating Easter dinner with Tom's family, and the parking was definitely the most action packed and memorable tour we've been on!

A couple of years ago, we went down into the deep South; New Orleans, etc.  Hanging out in NOLA, staying in a cabin, literally, IN the Gulf of Mexico, seeing an armadillo on the side of the road in Georgia...  These are memories that last a lifetime.  Honestly, we're not a very hard-hitting, decadent rock band, so the memories and experiences really might sound quite mundane, but that's what we've got!

Actually, Terry did trash a hotel bathroom in somewhat standard rock n roll fashion.  Trash and towels strewn all over the place; water and slime all over the floor.  Not to mention he ripped the toilet seat off the commode.  Glad we paid for the room with cash!

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