Sometimes it really does feel like things happen for a reason. Call it fate or destiny, chance or luck, sometimes things just click and fall solidly into place. That’s something My Goodness knows all about, because it’s exactly what happened when the pair – Joel Schneider on guitar/vocals, Andy Lum behind the drum kit – first started playing together in 2012. Both hailing from Seattle, they’d known about each other for years, but it took crossing paths in Texas for the two to finally connect.
“Andy and I have known of each other since high school,” explains Schneider, “We both played in small neighborhood bands back then, although we didn’t really reconnect until SXSW in 2012. We initially just started talking about the possibility of playing together. I ended up calling Andy a couple months later and we got the ball rolling. We had our first show at MFNW in Portland, Oregon about two weeks later. We were only able to squeeze in a few practices beforehand, but it ended up going really well.” It’s not quite as simple as that, however. That’s not the whole story. My Goodness actually got its start in 2010 when Schneider and a prior drummer started the band to play an employee showcase night at a local Seattle venue. The duo decided to keep it going after that initial show. Within the next year they had recorded and released a self-titled album through a small Seattle label. Soon after the album’s release the relationship between the band and label dissolved and the record was shelved within a matter of months. To further the blow, later that year after a series of harsh realities had come to light,
Schneider found himself in the position of making the difficult decision of parting ways with the band’s original drummer.
It all meant that My Goodness wasn’t really working. But when Schneider and Lum bumped into each other at that fateful SXSW, everything immediately started making much more sense. The pair got on well, and, more importantly, the timing was right. “I’d always liked the band,” adds Lum, who previously played in crazy experimental rock outfit Wild Orchid Children, “but it was never on my radar that I would actually be in it. When Joel called me, my band had already started to dissolve, so it was great timing. I said yes right away because loud rock is what I’m most comfortable with. It was kind of a no-brainer. The only unknown was how well practice was going to go and if we were going to get along. Neither of those things were a problem, so it never stopped!”
“It was definitely very refreshing when we started playing together,” says Schneider. “We had a renewed drive and purpose.” That drive and renewed purpose is all over Shiver + Shake. It’s an album that truly marks a rebirth of the band. It’s a reboot, a restart, a resurrection – the sound of two kindred spirits that finally found each other and those pieces starting to fall into place. Three of the songs from that debut made it on this album, but they’re in a radically different form. This is how they were meant to sound. This is who My Goodness were – and are – meant to be. “The first record,” explains Schneider, “was thrown together very, very quickly. We only had a few days to go in and do it. It was cool how we recorded it, but I didn’t feel it was an accurate representation of what the band was able to do and what the music really should sound like. This time around, we had the time to make it sound exactly how we wanted it to.”
The result is thirteen songs that are as powerful as they are vulnerable, delivering a full on blast of defiance while wrestling with demons and insecurities. Recorded live in the studio and produced by Rick Parashar (Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Blind Melon), there are elements of blues and garage rock coursing through the veins of this album – just listen to the soaring title track or the bombastic energy of ‘Pay No Mind’, the catchy rambunctiousness of ‘Sweet Tooth’ or the rollicking desperation of ‘Letter To The Sun’ – but there are also moments of quiet, tender contemplation. ‘Bottle’, for example, is a mellow, lilting tune full of trembling, heartbroken resignation, while ‘Lost In The Soul’ is a song of beautiful, melancholy grace. And then there’s epic album closer ‘Hot Sweat’ which ebbs and flows between the two extremes until, in a clattering crescendo of guitars, drums and Hammond organ, it brings the record to a devastating close. Loud or quiet, boisterous or soothing, one thing is clear – these are songs from the heart, songs that truly mean something. Because although the music was born from that natural spark and creative bond between Schneider and Lum, the subject matter is much less triumphant.
“At the time I wrote this record,” says Schneider, “I was in the middle of a pretty terrible breakup. And I was also dealing with the fallout from parting ways with our former label and a bandmate. So the majority of the first songs that I wrote were pretty heavy. They weren’t very happy songs, contentwise. I tried to brighten it up towards the end, but by then it was a moot point. It was too late.” He chuckles, before continuing. “But sometimes that’s what happens. That’s what gets me writing.”
It’s that very struggle that makes Shiver + Shake – and the story of My Goodness – so compelling. The album is the story of the band, and vice versa. It’s the sound of triumph over adversity, and of what happens when, finally, the pieces of the jigsaw all come together. And while there might only be two main pieces to this particular puzzle, Cody Votolato has recently been added to the equation as a touring bassist. Also a Seattle native, he was previously in bands such as Waxwing and Blood Brothers, and first joined My Goodness in March 2014 for their tour with Augustines. While he’s not an official member of the band, he’ll be touring with them as much as possible. It all adds to Schneider and Lum’s overwhelming and newfound enthusiasm about what the future might hold for them. “I’m excited,” smiles Schneider, “to get this record out and I’m excited for people to hear it. It’s been a long time coming!”