Interview with Sammy Duet of Goatwhore
The Fleece, Bristol
Interviewed by Paul Hutchings
Three shows from the end of a gruelling tour across Europe, Paul and Rich caught up with Goatwhore guitarist and founder Sammy Duet before the band scorched The Fleece in Bristol. We start off by checking in on how the European tour has been for Sammy, the band, and the entire crew.
“It has been fantastic, way better than I expected,” says Sammy.
Four weeks into the tour, that sounds like a good place to be. Did any countries stand out?
“The UK has been surprisingly insane. Manchester was insane. One kid came up on the stage and went to stage dive and I was like, we support that! Then I went on the mic, and I said, “Our stage is all stage and that’s when all hell just broke loose! Like three or four kids up there at the same time just diving on the stage, it was great. There was no venue security, like there won’t be like tonight. You’re right up close.”
I wondered if Sammy had noticed any change in their return to Europe, the first time since the pandemic.
Financially Sammy is clear. “That’s the only real thing, you know. Yeah. And I mean, the turnouts have been fantastic, but I think there would be even better if people wouldn’t be so scared to come out, would you understand? You know, some people are just afraid of getting sick and all that stuff, but, you know, even some of the promoters were saying, the show would probably be twice as large if people still weren’t so afraid of it.”
I think there may be more to this, with the financial challenges now but also, I wonder how many people have simply lost the drive and willpower to come out on a wet Wednesday or Thursday to watch a band. It’s an interesting debate.
I’d interviewed Sammy for another site just before the release of their latest album, “Angels Hung From The Arches of Heaven”. It’s a crushing album. How had the reaction been to the album afterwards?
“Yeah, we’d been sitting on it for so long, you know, that it was just kind of, we were extremely excited when it was finished, you know, but then the kind of honeymoon kind of ended by the time the album came out to the public. But I mean, I still love the record, you know? The reaction to the record has been fantastic. You know, everybody has been totally into it, which is awesome. You know, which I didn’t expect that reaction being that there’s not so much of a departure on this record, but we tried some new things. This is definitely the darkest record we put out so far as, like, a whole. There’s not so much of, like, the rock and roll vibe to this as our past records. This one is just pure darkness, you know.”
Goatwhore have been adding new songs into the setlist. How have they been received?
Sammy is enthusiastic. “Yeah, they’ve been going great. I mean, we played five new songs in the set so it’s basically doing a 45-minute set and splitting it in half. The reactions have been great, you know, we’ll play a new song. Then we’ll play other more familiar songs and people will get familiar with that and be excited. Then that’s when the chaos just starts.”
With a catalogue stretching back over three decades, how does a band like Goatwhore find the right mix for the setlist? How do you integrate new songs without disappointing the old guard?
“We try to pick out, for lack of a better term, the fan favourites from the oldest songs, you know. These are staples that must stay in the set. And then try to whittle that down so we could fit new stuff in there.”
This run is Goathwhore’s first since the album was released, although they had been out for a couple of US tours, including a run with Incantation last summer. How had Goatwhore coped with getting back together?
“It’s been fantastic. You know, we’ve been waiting to do this since the fucking pandemic. So, I mean it’s great. You know, everybody’s super stoked to be out here playing live again. Yeah, everybody in the band is, this is what we do.”
Like most of us, there must have been times in the darkest days when there were questions about the future of live music. Was this the same for Sammy?
“Yeah, nobody knew if we were ever gonna be able to play live again. Yeah, it was a scary time, you know.”
The tour is pretty stacked with Revocation but also Creeping Death and Alluvial. How are the bands going down with the fans?
“They’re cool. You know, this is my first-time meeting the guys from Creeping Death, and we all get along fine. And I’ve known a couple of guys from Alluvial from the past, we’re friends from just like years and years ago. And Revocation, of course, I believe we took them out in the United States on one of their first tours, so we’ve known them for forever as well, so it’s basically just a bunch of friends hanging out.”
Being on the road has never sounded glamorous to me, but this is life for many bands. It isn’t too challenging, Sammy explains.
“Sometimes when people need a rest, and the party is going on up here. I’ll be like, go downstairs. Take this shit down there! There’s only an old man up here!” Sammy tells us that having been on the road for 30 years means he’s adapted. “I try to sleep as much as possible, even if, like during the day, you get a half hour nap in here or there, that helps immensely. I usually just get something to eat and sleep the whole time. Basically, that’s my pattern unless there’s something really cool that I want to see or do. Yeah, I just get some food and just sleep the whole fucking day.”
Given that the last album was written a good while ago, is Sammy writing new music now?
He explains that they had so many extra songs written for the last album that they already have plenty of material. “We had so many extra songs for this last record that there’s still, like, five songs that are there that can be used. We can revamp them, and revisit them, and fix them a little bit. But then, I’m constantly writing when I’m at home, you know? So, I probably have the next album written. Really, if it came down to it and we needed to put out a new album right now, I could do it!”
As the tour is almost over (two more dates after the Bristol show), what’s next for Goatwhore after they get home?
“We’re going home for about a month,” Sammy explains. “And we go out with Eyehategod for, I believe, three weeks in the US. Then after that, there’s a festival in Maryland called Hell in The Harbour. And they brought back to Milwaukee Metal Fest. And we’re doing that as well. Those two fests are very close to each other so I’m sure we’re going to do another tour just around that you know.” Goatwhore are also talking about possibly coming back to Europe in October.
As a UK festival goer, how do the US festivals compare to European ones?
“Um, American festivals are usually very disorganised, you know, compared to, like, the European festivals. Like everything runs like clockwork. You know what I’m saying?”
Goatwhore last played Bloodstock in 2016 when they headlined the Sophie tent on the final day (after Slayer). Sammy agrees that being inside works better for them.
“Oh yeah, I remember being in there for that. It was one of those gigs you gotta be inside. I hate playing in daylight,” Sammy laughs.
A couple of hours later, Goatwhore stoked the fires with a set of such intensity that we’re still smoking from it. They really are a band who you need to experience at least once in your life.
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