Howdy Sleepwalker. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to interview me about my exploits. Those who have followed Goatcraft since its inception will be appropriately pleased with this album. Where there were fragments of ideas cascading around each other, now there are complete journeys that will challenge the listeners. Each piece has a motif, or leitmotif, that is emphasized and expanded into very complex arrangements. The mood is not sacrificed by technical playing, though there are quite some demanding movements that would foment most apt pianists. The atmosphere I set is rather dark. I avoided the precariousness of being generic and then sowed the seeds of my best compositions. In short, the demo that Pale Horse Recordings released was the canvas (or easel), and this album is the painting. I’m fortunate to have a cooperative label pushing this release.
Your music is referred to as ‘Necroclassical’, a term I believe you coined. What does that mean, to you and to the masses?
Necroclassical stemmed from the confusion that others seem to place on Goatcraft. My work has been referred to at least 10 different genres, and the end result is that it’s its own genre. Necroclassical also derived from the willingness to step outside of the comfort zone and craft something unique. My mission is for other musicians to follow suit. There is truly nothing to be afraid of in this world, so at least make the ride interesting by stepping out of the boundaries. It’s saddening to see people that mold their art into bland and commercialized forms. Great artists like Salvador Dali and Goya wouldn’t have reached their level without straying from mundanity. In furtherance, one should avoid being different just to be different. If there is no purpose to it, then it’ll be aimless and resemble Hipster hogwash.
I understand the material on ‘All for Naught’ was recorded over a lengthy period of time and that you have massive amounts of recordings currently at hand. Why release these songs and why now?
All of the compositions featured on All for Naught were written during 2012 except for ‘Journey to the Depths‘, which was written during the demo session in 2010. The Goatcraft stockpile resembles my restless mind. I have around 500 pieces recorded. Some have minor flaws, or just a trait to them that didn’t fit the album. When death comes to me, there is someone enlisted that will burn down the vault so certain pieces never become public. It’s rather frightening how much material I have at my disposal.
When I first heard Goatcraft, I was floored by your mastery of the piano. Tell us about your relationship with the instrument, when you started playing, your influences, your practice regiment, etc.
Thank you for the compliment. My father’s side of the family had mathematicians, organists and military men. My mother’s side had artists, engineers and more military men. I think I was prone to being good at certain things. I fiddled around on organ and piano/keyboards when I was a kid, but around 15 I started composing melodies for piano. I’m 28 now, so 13 years worth of learning how to mold sounds on my own. It’s much easier to do keyboards in a band format, but the challenge of creating an entire project from it is more rewarding. I only rehearse a few of the songs to work into shows.
How do you compare and contrast the piano to the guitar, you do play guitar correct in another band? Tell us about how you write on one instrument versus another.
Guitar was always a redheaded stepchild to me. I picked up my first guitar when I 12, but I didn’t reach technical proficiency enough to utilize it in a band until I was stationed in Japan. I meddled with soloing, writing riffs and such. Eventually, I found the instrument lacking for what I wanted to express. I sold off most of my guitars. I’ve played bass in some bands, but I lost interest in that too. Goatcraft is my main focus, but there’s another project that I’m going to contribute to. It won’t be made public for a while and it doesn’t have a name yet.
What is the most rewarding thing about being musically creative for you? Why?
Being creative can be harnessed outside of art. It can go into the streets and make processes more efficient (or less efficient, depending on what the goal is). I’m able to find flaws in processes in other areas of my life and fix them (or make them worse, depending on what the goal is). Our infrastructure has numerous flaws that can be rectified. What would happen if hundreds of critical levers were suddenly moved to the ‘on’ or ‘off’ positions?
The liner notes have many quotes from noted philosophers. Why these quotes? Do you consider yourself a philosopher? Why?
Nihilism is just an extreme form of realism, which could make me appear philosophic to others. The fundamental question of Metaphysics goes along the lines of “Why something instead of nothing?” which is preferred to “No reason.” Delving into science and philosophy is the closest thing to a religious experience for me. I avoid group-think, since groups cater to the lowest common denominator in order to function. I’m not much of a fan of secular humanism, since they practically borrowed their moral principles from mainstream religion. There appears to be in inflation of morality and false sense of purpose among most people. I suppose acknowledging that we’re herd animals isn’t favorable to group-think. Critical thinking should take center stage instead. Pondering on Advaita Vedanta will provide an esoteric and heightened level of thought. I am no more of a philosopher than Bruckner was when he wrote his 9th Symphony. In his 9th Symphony you will see the true beauty of the Cosmos. A man nearing his last days; aware of his mortality and expressing his talents in his art. There are pleasantries, anxieties, then finally; triumph. Death is a triumph after a life worthed living.
Tell me your views, if you will, on the occult? I find the instrumental passages of ‘All For Naught’ to be occult in someway, although it is not named directly, rather ‘hidden’.
I look at the occult as if I would at esoteric thought. I’ve collaborated with many of those on the Left Hand Path. Inhibitory gnosis can be assumed by others. . . However, I’m a Realist, so this is all purely on an esoteric thought level. I enjoy aesthetics of the art and concepts, so that was utilized in Goatcraft. Others have called Goatcraft Satanic Neoclassical, which I don’t mind that label.
The artwork for ‘All For Naught’ was done by ZVS of Plutonian Shore, a marvelous work in charcoal. Did you give him specifics on what you wanted in the piece or…?
ZVS and his family are quality individuals. I have a personal interest in watching Plutonian Shore evolve. Goatcraft and Plutonian Shore started here in San Antonio at the same time. There is a brotherhood in the music scene and outside of it. Sleepwalker from Forbidden Records and I had discussed a shift in imagery instead of the blatant blasphemy that was previously utilized. ZVS took the idea that we formed and ran with it. The album art is 100% suiting for what’s presented.
Texas has a strong music scene, especially for extreme metal. How does your local area affect or influence what you do?
From what I hear, the Texas scene isn’t nearly as strong as it was in the eighties. I don’t think it‘s strong, but it is somewhat functional. I lived in Tampa growing up. There is a distinctive difference between the two scenes. The Rites of Darkness and last Goregrowler’s Ball festivals didn’t reach the attendees needed to support the bands that were flown in. I suppose San Antonio doesn’t look preferable for out-of-state concertgoers because of those mishaps.
In the past you have worked with other labels and management companies. Give us some details on how those relationships further advanced Goatcraft, if you will.
In the early days of Goatcraft, Pale Horse Recordings stumbled upon my demo at Black Death Coven Records, then confronted me about releasing it. Plague certainly did help legitimize the project through his label. He’s withstood many of my ramblings… On the management company note, I was confronted by one that was all talk and they didn’t do anything for Goatcraft. I cut them loose and they still paraded the Goatcraft name on their roster, which was a false statement. I threatened legal action against them for the misrepresentation. Working with Clawhammer PR has been more professional.
I knew that your material would be a strong favorite amongst fans of extreme music. Why is it that extreme music and classical go together well and often share a fanbase?
Both metal and classical have romanticist themes. It’s fun when metal and classical mix. Marduk’s use of Night on Bald Mountain and Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary are good examples. I suppose the underpinning is human emotion in both genres. Having Goatcraft employing both isn’t anything new, but the way it’s presented is.
Recommend for our readers some composers that you are fond of. Why do you enjoy these artists so?
I could turn this interview into a very lengthy article with this question, but I’ll list 2 of my favorites and keep it brief.
Classical was high class music. Beethoven focused on tragedy in his 3rd symphony, thus transposed it to the middleclass. The 2nd movement alone justifies this.
I would impose Bach’s Passacaglia & Fugue and Great Fantasia & Fugue to any metalhead that might be interested in classical music. Also, unearthing well-executed symphonic renditions of his organ work could possibly provide more parallels.
What does the future hold for Goatcraft? Do you anticipate a desire to release older recordings or would your rather write and release new material? Why?
I’m composing more and trying to take the project further. I have a difficult time equating to being comfortable. There is always a new challenge that awaits to be taken on. I’m okay with certain old pieces being released, but the focus is always improving myself and taking things to a higher musical level. It floored me with how much Forbidden Records has pushed this release. I hope to work with them in the future.
Which is a better way to experience Goatcraft, live on stage or at home on the stereo? Why?
At shows I’ve been known to indulge in alcohol a bit. I’ve played drunk a few times, but there aren’t any bad performances I can recall. No one has told me there is a difference to playing sober versus playing drunk. If I notice concert attendees being from the classical music scene, I’ll usually keep alcohol to a minimum to keep up with the joneses more efficiently. I haven’t had any train-wrecks playing live, but I’m taking the project more seriously than when it started. Playing live also is an intimate scenario; being those inclined can see my finger movements on the keys and see what notes I’m hitting.
What upcoming shows or performances can fans find you at?
The only confirmed show I have booked at the moment is later this month here in San Antonio. Imprecation, HOD, Burial Shroud, and Plutonian Shore. They’re all friends of mine, so it’ll prove to be a ‘fun’ night. I have offers to play other scenes, but I’m waiting for confirmation. It’d be very interesting how Goatcraft goes over with the Classical scene.
It has been a fucking honor to work with you on this release. The last words are yours!
It’s been a great time collaborating with Forbidden Records. I’m a fan of A Transylvanian Funeral, so this has rather pleasant as a whole. I’m shocked at how hard Sleepwalker works. I hope the label gains more recognition. Thank you for this interview.