Hailing from the Belly of the Beast, San Antonio, Texas, Goatcraft is a one-man self-dubbed necroclassical instrumental orchestra, and has quickly become a staple of the Texas live metal scene, pounding away dark ambient piano compositions drenched in blood as a part of local, regional and touring extreme metal lineups. The brainchild of keyboardist and sound sculptor Lonegoat, the project is in the process of releasing its sophomore album, The Blasphemer, through Voidhanger Records. The Blasphemer, true to his live performances, consists of instrumental piano pieces played over subtly layered synth-scapes. It is a concept album based on artist-poet William Blake and is a follow-up to the freshman release All For Naught. My take on Goatcraft is that if Hell has a saloon, Lonegoat is the piano player hammering on the ivories while demons erupt in gunfights over cheating poker hands. But enough of my opinions, let’s find out what the goat himself has to say.
ZT: Tell me about the new album, The Blasphemer.
LG: The sophomore Goatcraft album is a concept centered around William Blake and his art and theological observations. His work has grown on me immensely since I began writing the album, and I tried to make his art come to life through piano and some brief synth sections. Moreso, each piano piece coincides with one of his paintings and conveys a sort of narrative to interpret the painting through sound. It’s an entirely different experience writing music for paintings, and I believe I’ve stayed truthful to the medium.
ZT: I’m assuming that the first album was more of an expression of the nihilistic side of Goatcraft, being that this album is the mystical complement. Compare and contrast the two albums. From the point of view of composition, production, and instrumentation, how does each approach in your opinion bring out those specific elements?
LG: The Blasphemer reconciles the nihilistic and earthly side of Goatcraft with its mystical side through delving more into abstract thinking, though more well-rounded and thought-out. All For Naught was essentially spewing my load, where The Blasphemer is was approached with different eyes. There is more sublimity in The Blasphemer than the abrasiveness in All For Naught. Though, once the album progresses to the Great Red Dragon section, there are darker and more violent piano pieces than All For Naught had.
ZT: Most of the performances you’ve done so far have been at metal shows. Will this continue to be your emphasis or is it an ends to a greater means? Do you envision Goatcraft at some point transcending the metal scene, or do you see yourself as a necessary adjunct or complement to the scene?
LG: Goatcraft is in its own category. It’s been categorized as many things which is too long to list. To keep it brief, it’s neoclassical with dark ambient touches. I go over well at most metal shows. I recently played at the Housecore Horror Film Festival which had an overwhelming response to my music. As well, I just headlined the last Anti-Christ Mass showcase in Houston. I think for the most part that metalheads are open-minded to music that shares the same spirit of metal.
ZT: You have dubbed your music “necroclassical”. Which are your favorite three composers, and why? Which are your least favorite composers?
LG: It’s very hard for me to list just three classical composers since so many have contributed to the collective whole and have worked off of each other. You can see this from Bach to Mozart, and even Beethoven was a master at playing Mozart. It’s a continual evolution which has been passed and changed through the ages. If I had to pick the three that I listen to most it would be: Beethoven, Bach and Wagner.
ZT: Define Metal. What in your opinion are the essential elements – instrumentally, emotionally and philosophically – that comprise the heart and essence of Metal?
LG: Heavy metal is a spirit that leads to a series of techniques. You know how the Impressionists in visual art wanted to make their art appear dreamlike, to reflect the increasing focus on human emotional experience? Thus their technique used wavy brushtrokes, vivid colors and surreal scenes. Metal is the same way. Its goal is to reveal the hidden reality under everyday life that we both fear and deny. We have a socially-agreed upon “truth”, but it basically serves to distance us from reality. Then there’s reality itself, which is rarely experienced. Heavy metal brings us closer to that reality. To do that, it needs to use loud noise that sounds demonic, like predation, war, death, disease and horror. Then, to show us the value of that experience, it needs to find beauty in that noise. Thus heavy metal is based upon guitar melodies played in power chords, which sound a lot like the techniques modernist composers like Anton Bruckner and Richard Wagner used. But really, the spirit is important. Any dingbat can string together some power chords. Metal tends toward the dark and sombre, which means certain intervals and harmonic ranges, use of cadence rather than syncopation for the main beat, and riffs that emphasize violence and aggression with an inner core of melodic beauty. Metal also inherits from progressive rock a classical-like song structure, which is where the riffs “talk” to one another as a melody develops over the course of a song. In metal, riffs are “glued” together so they tell a story, in such a way that each new riff expands the narrative context of the last. But it has to have that heavy metal spirit, so it’s not an objective line. What is heavy metal is interpreted very subjectively, and yet, is objectively visible. Like all good things in life, metal is mostly mystery.
ZT: Give me some influences for Goatcraft in general, and specifically for the new album if there is a difference. Literary, musically, philosophically.
LG: When I was a young child I found that all my subjects in school ran together. I would read a book for my history class, and see patterns from math or music, and when I did math, I would see poetry. The separation between different forms is not as great as we think. Thus for this album, I have many influences, most of which are non-musical. I have been exploring both theology and its opposite, extreme materialism. I have been reading the works of the occultists and the classics of literature and philosophy. Finally, I have been listening to music that pushes my mind further open, like the work of Joseph Haydn and W.A. Mozart. But the biggest experience is life itself. I launch myself into situations with belligerence and no expectations, then see what comes of them. I learn a lot this way, and it inspires the emotional narrative that runs through these songs.
ZT: What is it about the metal scene today that irritates you the most? How is Goatcraft going to change this?
LG: Goatcraft is a blatant representation of how art music and metal don’t differ as much as most people would like to think. No, on the contrary, the bridge between abstract music and its counterparts are not that far apart. Why am I the first to do this? You’d expect years ago that there was someone else involved in metal to do an almost entirely piano project that encompasses the spirit and mystery of metal. However, it hasn’t been done to its true form. Goatcraft is different because it lavishes itself on all mediums and furthers itself from what it learns. This is why it will be a lifelong project. It’s an extension of myself in art.
ZT: On the new album my favourite song is ‘The Great Red Dragon – II – The Woman Clothed In The Sun’. Do you have a personal favourite? Which is it, and why?
LG: I don’t have a favourite piano piece in the album. All are equal in their representations of what they’re meant to convey through the paintings. However, I do have a favorite painting. One must look at ‘Satan In His Original Glory’ and see what Blake wanted to communicate. Blake was against the restrictive nature of Christianity, so he presented nature on par with spiritual energies. In the painting, you will see that the angels of Satan are below him holding musical instruments to create art, as well as books to obtain knowledge. Blake ultimately wanted people to educate themselves so that they would be liberated from religious ignorance. There’s much more detailed in the liner notes of the album, which I hope will people will acknowledge. This album doesn’t just represent Goatcraft as a “dark piano” project, but an extension of the knowledge that I’ve amassed and strive to communicate through my art.
ZT: Do you have plans to tour? What are the next steps for Lonegoat on the tail of the dragon which is The Blasphemer?
Since Goatcraft is a lifelong project, I already have plans for the next album after The Blasphemer. However, it’s much too early to talk about that! I’ll be playing with Negura Bunget again in San Antonio, and I’m in talks with others about things that I can’t disclose… yet. There are many great things happening in my life at this point which I’m grateful for, and I hope to keep challenging myself through music to always best myself. It was nice talking. Cheers!
If this illuminating interview with Goatcraft’s Lonegoat has whetted your appetite for necroclassical instrumental orchestra then you could do a lot worse than checking out their site.
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