SoundTown Series: The Goondas on wanting to 'single-handedly save rock and roll'

The Goondas performing at Best New Bands at First Avenue

The Goondas performing at Best New Bands at First Avenue

Continuing with our SoundTown Series, the Goondas gladly signed up for an in-person interview. Following the release of their self-titled debut album in 2010, the band has sprung up as one of the Twin Cities' best live bands, known as much for their gritty punk rock-meets-blues sound as their penchant for breaking everything from guitars to teeth on stage.

I sat down with Jackson Atkins and Andy Meuwissen, half of the delightfully irreverent foursome, to chat about the Goondas' sound, SoundTown, and their tattoos.


Do you like playing festivals? Are you looking forward to playing SoundTown? Jackson: Kind of the first real festival we're playing, really. I'm excited. Andy: I just hope it doesn't rain, and that it's not a hundred degrees.

Right. Are there any bands you're particularly looking forward to seeing? Jackson: I know my mom is really looking forward to seeing Flaming Lips. I'm always interested in Phantom Tails, they bring a good show. Andy: And Heiruspecs, for sure.

Those are sweet bands, for sure. I think I'm actually interviewing Wayne from Flaming Lips for SoundTown, too. Any thoughts on what I should ask him? Andy: What would I ask Wayne? Hmm, what would be a good question to ask Wayne? Do you still do a lot of acid? Is acid still a big part of your life? Have you ever read Timothy Leary's book? Have you ever seen God and what does He look like?

(At this point in the interview, I want to impress on the reader the tone of Jackson and Andy, because it literally made asking questions one of the most hilarious experiences ever, basically. Andy and Jackson have a dry, caustic sense of humor that makes everything they say sound like a vaguely concealed joke. Maybe they're actually being serious, and that's the joke. Maybe they just rip on each other all the time and they get away with saying ridiculous things.) I'll keep those in mind. So, you guys rock a pretty insane live show, right? Andy: Yeah, on a good day, energy is a big part of our performance and part of our music. I always thought rock and roll should make you want to go stomp your feet and maybe break some stuff, either on purpose or not. The most important thing is to have fun, because if you're not having fun the audience isn't going to have fun either. It's as simple as that.

The Goondas at the Replacements tribute last fall

The Goondas at the Replacements tribute last fall

Tell me about your tattoos. Andy: (Flexes) Well, here are the Beatles, and Black Sabbath... and I have a glass onion--we all have a ridiculous vegetable tattoo, actually. Really? What's that about? Jackson: Well, three of our four band members all went on a camping trip and got drunk... it was everyone but Andy. So we were all super drunk and got vegetable tattoos--I got an electric carrot--and we were all super pissed at Andy because he didn't come. (Laughs) He got one eventually.

That's awesome. What are your plans for now? What's going on in the world of the Goondas? Jackson: We're releasing a 7-inch vinyl... It's got 4 songs, which is a testament to how short on songs are, because it's 7 inches. Andy: it's a chance to give people something else to listen to from us and see how we sound Jackson: it's kind of a punk rock EP, with the exception of a tune or two. Andy: We could call it "plunk." Jackson: That's not very attractive. Andy: Right, well, we could call it shit blues... (Andy and Jackson banter back and forth like this throughout our interview. I should mention, maybe, that it's about noon and the boys have just woken up, true rock star fashion. They lazily make fun of each other and their music.) I don't know if "shit blues" would fly. Or maybe it would, actually. Andy: Well, you just gotta keep things fun. You know, give it a hundred and ten percent. Maybe eighty percent. Depends on how hot it is outside. When are you releasing the EP? Andy: Hopefully mid-September. Jackson: It'll be released before September if we have to play on a street corner. So how did you arrive at this sound? You seem like nice mild-mannered Midwestern boys. Jackson: We can be mild mannered. But also it's still early. Andy: The music helps. Jackson: It's a way to kind of cut loose and have some fun. And the stage stuff kind of comes naturally to people like [lead singer] Brendan who are naturally kind of nuts. You guys have gotten some really nice press from the local publications following the release of your album. What's that been like for you? Andy: It's been nice, and really surprising. It's cool that people are interested in our music. Jackson: We don't really understand it but we'll take it. We obviously think we're the best band ever, but we're still surprised when people actually write about it. It's been really nice especially having press when people pick up our album at the Fetus, because they read about it. That's awesome.

If you could have anything published or anything written about your band, what would it be? Jackson: The Goondas are single-handedly saving rock and roll.

(Jackson wasted no time in immediately coming to this answer. He was utterly serious, smirk-free.) Obviously. Is there anything else that you would you like to tell SoundTown attendees? Jackson: You should definitely mention that people should start drinking and doing their drugs early, because we play at noon and we want people to be in the right frame of mind. I want to cater to people who have that kind of energy. (Like I said, the Goondas are either always joking or never joking. It's hard to tell.)

Okay. Anything else? Andy: A fire will be started there and eventually it will spread across the United States. Jackson: (Laughs) God.


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