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As Bristol desert rock group Goan Dogs work on completing their debut album, we caught up with them to find out how the past year has gone and what their hopes are for 2012…

How did Goan Dogs begin?
Luke: Dan and I started doing our own little thing between us and after a couple of years we felt we should get more people involved so we brought in Theo, who I went to school with. We needed a bass player so a few months later Bill, traditionally a guitarist, came in. And Sam too. Sam will often have the keyboard in front of him and some maracas in one hand and we’re trying to use even more instruments.
Dan: We desperately needed that fifth member. But we didn’t play our first gig for ages because we didn’t want to be crap. Thankfully, we weren’t.
Bill: We didn’t know it was going to work, but it just does.
Theo: Now, we now spend most of our lives together!

Tell us about your first gig…
Dan: We got some great reviews from our first gig, and not just from our friends. We need feedback from people who aren’t just our friends as they just say ‘we loved it’, and we were lucky enough to get good feedback from the start. In that respect, we achieved what we wanted to achieve, and from there we started getting booked. Men like the music and the women like us…joke! (but it’s probably true).

And your music videos…
Theo: We filmed our video for Hold Me Back in Luke’s front room. I work for a media production company so I stole the kit from them and did it in a day. I do the editing, but it’s a group effort as the guys sit at the laptop with me. We have long debates about stuff like that.
Sam: We’ve had thousands of hits on Youtube and it’s mostly been by word of mouth so far.

Your minimalistic light show (cymbals and standard lightbulbs) during live performances is pretty enchanting, what’s the thinking behind that?
Theo: The show and lights are operated by foot, by Bill and Dan, rather than relying on a lighting rig. We want people to have a good experience and the visualistic aspect is very important for that.
Bill: We don’t just want people to listen to the songs, we want them to go away having experienced something spectacular.
Dan: There’s a lot going on on stage, we want to blow people away.

How do lyrics fit into your repertoire?
Dan: Luke writes most of the lyrics but Bill’s really good at it too.
Luke: I write about stuff which inspires me. Stuff I read or see online or things I hear people talking about which stays with me. We have got this song about a little boy who goes off with his mum and brother and fills up a gas can and they pour it round the house and set it alight and watch it burn. It’s a true story, I forget where I heard it. The stuff I write about is usually true. If it’s just completely made up, it’s not as interesting.
Theo: For me, lyrics are the last thing I listen to in songs and I think that the music speaks for itself, but if you read through the lyrics in the EP, they’re brilliant.

Who inspires you, musically?
Luke: Calexico are the big one; them and Tinariwen. The best gig I’ve ever been to was Calexico at Bristol Academy. They were so good, especially with the trumpets.
Dan: And RY Cooder, Radiohead and Fleet Foxes.
Bill: When I joined the band, all I knew was that ‘it was a bit like Tinariwen’. We are not really like Tinariwen but we do draw influences from them. There’s a certain 50s influence as well as that Ennio Morricone and Spaghetti Westerns.
Sam: We’ve been compared to all sorts – Beirut, Talking Heads, U2.

You’re heading back into the studio (Christchurch Studios) with The Insects, excited?
Luke: Definitely. The first time we worked with The Insects, we were still getting to know each other, the second time round they were much more confident than us and what we sound like. They have got a very distinctive sound. It’s like a Bristol sound. When I record us, we sound completely different – in the studio, we are combining a bit of them with us.
Sam: It’s a massive privilege to be working with them.

What are your plans for 2012?

Sam: We want to finish the album and play some festivals this year.
Dan: We know we can get gigs in Bristol now, but it’s about choosing the right venue and making sure we don’t play too often. We haven’t done a huge amount of work getting gigs out of Bristol but we will this year.
Bill: I think we’d all love to do a film score or soundtrack too, not blockbusters but more arty films.
Theo: We’d love to go full time with this, make being in a band our job as we could do it really well.
Luke: You’ve got to have confidence in yourselves, without coming across as arrogant. We’re thinking big. We want to support Portishead or Massive Attack. We want people to know who we are.

Goan Dogs support Kyla La Grange at Bristol Louisiana tomorrow night (January 11). Tickets £6adv. They also headline their own gig at Bristol Grain Barge on January 20. Entry £5. More information at www.goandogs.tumblr.com

Photo: Sarah Gray Photography