The Gooding Experience: An Interview

Gooding 75We spent years and years playing for two barbacks and a cricket, so any full venue feels like a break.

Gooding 500

In April 2013 I had an amazing St. Louis music experience that was up close and very personal. I call that experience “Gooding” ( The energy and depth of this LA-based band has redefined my concept of live music. They bill themselves as “one of the hardest-working bands in America,” and for good reason. A Kansas bred trio that has been on the road non-stop for eight years—three childhood friends living their dream. They will be in and around St. Louis Sept. 19-21 ( One live show and you’re hooked—part of the Gooding family, on the road in their eco-friendly tour bus. It was great to catch up with them and spend a few minutes talking about their musical passion:

On your website, you describe your new album Buffalo as your “loudest and proudest release to date.” How do the songs on this album differ from earlier music you have released?

This record is quite a bit more raw and live sounding. It’s the first record that we used no keys, samples etc. Everything on tape is drums, bass, guitars, vocals and the three of us acting like fools in the studio. I have a tendency to over-produce, and I feel like each record we are stripping more and more away and getting to the heart of the matter. Hopefully the next producer will present themselves soon, and we will take the next one even farther. 

Emerging from the late “alt-rock” timeline, how do you see your music progressing in the near future?

I have been writing inside the eco-bus (“Little Red #1”) in the mornings, and that tends to give us more of an acoustic introspective vibe. Simply because of space you are limited to one guitar, a mic and some legal pads and pens. This is a nice environment, but we hope to have a few days off on this tour down in Austin and get everyone in a rehearsal room and turn everything up, so I don’t put ’em to sleep. When left alone, I definitely tend to write more ballads than we could ever use.

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Has your move from Wichita, Kan. to Los Angeles influenced your music?  If yes, in what ways?

Oddly enough it made us sound even more “Midwest.” We like to call the sound “Rock n’ Roll from the Plains.” Heart on your sleeve, rootsy and raw, three childhood friends still trying to find the sound, still trying to change the energy in a room together. One thing about LA is that if you don’t work hard there, you don’t get to stay. It’s faster and more expensive. As expected, there are people who chomp the cigar and promise things they have no intention of delivering, but when you have something to sell you gotta get to the store. Much of the music business is still centralized around LA, New York and Nashville, especially for labels and publishing. We have had some great breaks getting music into film and TV, and if I wasn’t on the bigger highways running my wares around town none of that would of happened. I miss Kansas, I miss Fort Collins, Colo. I told my sister once, “I just love coming off the road to Colorado. The neighbors have horses…She screams, ‘WELL HORSES DON’T GIVE RECORD DEALS!’ Leave it to my sis to break it down for me.  

What have been your luckiest breaks, professionally and personally?

We spent years and years playing for two barbacks and a cricket, so any full venue feels like a break. Personally, it’s having good health and a lot of energy, and having an amazing woman of seven years that is willing to somehow put up with me and the road, and my constant need to keep the gypsy-circus traveling. Professionally, it has been holding onto enough publishing over the years to build a catalog that I can now bring to film and TV and have those royalties help to keep the bus rolling down the highway. It’s been a million hours of touring and recording, but it is really starting to roll. Getting invited to the White House after donating 16 shows to the military bases was a high point.  

Aside from platinum albums and sell out concert venues, what are your hopes for the Fall 2013 Buffalo Tour? 

To get better as a band. To enjoy the moment more and to write the best, most honest songs we have ever written. 

You are known as one of the “hardest working bands in America.” When you grab a few minutes (or hours) for yourselves, what is your activity of choice for relaxation?

Our drummer Jesse hikes (he has scaled six 14’ers in Colorado already), Billy and I love film, and I really dig good episodic TV that’s done right and has great music in it. 

I LOVE to read. I also keep a journal and write in there a lot to clear my mind. Latest loves are Longmire, Django, Kings of Leon’s Talahini Sky, Cormac McCarthy, Tao of Pooh, anything Aaron Sorkin (Newsroom ROCKS). We all work out and eat pretty healthy (well maybe not Billy, but he is an alien and gets away with it). 

To those who have followed your career and seen you play, you are extremely fan focused and highly accessible. What has helped you connect so profoundly with those who enjoy your music?

That’s a wonderful thing to hear. I think it’s that we know intrinsically that the fans are the bosses. If they don’t appreciate you, better go find a day job. Also, the business now is so different than when bands got advances and could just act out like little children. With as many bands on the Internet all begging for attention, if you can’t really connect with people in a meaningful way, just forget it and stop wasting the space. 

Besides touring, in what other commercial activities has your band been involved?

Mostly just touring and licensing. We probably have more nonprofit work going on than for profit, but I think it will all work out in the end. I personally would do anything I can for the PCRM (, and we are very passionate about teaching students about financial literacy. Please check out to see our work with the schools. 

What music do you enjoy listening to that bears no resemblance to anything that you produce?

Most of it. I love Willie, Waylon, and Cash. Old Motown. Tons of movie soundtracks. 

What can I do to help you in your musical quest?

What a wonderful question. Purchasing merch helps a band pure and simple. Many people feel like bands should give everything away cause they are so lucky to play music. You can’t mistake a band being grateful for feeling that a band doesn’t need food and shelter. We still provide a service—though it may seem intangible. We give an escape for a couple hours or give a soundtrack to hopefully experience an event more fully. Support musicians that enrich your life—buy the shirt; go to iTunes and not LimeWire; go to a band’s online merch store; throw money in the tip jar; don’t complain about a $5 cover when you (not you Mark) will go and pay $300 to see The Stones. Enough complaining. You asked me a kind question, and I went on a rant. I better turn down this ninth cup of coffee.

P.S. Mark Grayson, you make the baddest cigar box guitars in the world. Can’t wait to get your creations on the next LP! | Mark Grayson

Gooding will perform at Pop’s on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. The show is free, minus a $2 minor surcharge.

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