Goatwhore are one of the most respect death metal bands of the last two decades. Formed in New Orleans in 1997, the four-piece have released seven full-length albums, including 2017’s ‘Vengeful Ascension’. Having just wound up a European tour with Sepultura, what makes the run all the more successful is the fact that front man Louis Benjamin Falgoust performed for most of it with his leg in a cast, following an accident in Italy. We sat down with the growler in Dublin to talk about the accident, live performance, and plans for a new album. Decayed omen reborn; Eamon O’Neill.
How are you today?
Pretty good man, I’m pretty fucking good, actually, despite what’s going on. *Pointing to leg in a cast*
You are of course referring to the big sock that you’re wearing.
Yeah, the cast; the Italian cast. It was in Rome, during the beginning of the tour, and the trailer door, it’s metal and it’s pretty big, and it has like a hydraulic, and the hydraulic went out, and the whole door came down on me and trapped my leg and my foot. It hit my head and the shoulder, I got threw back, and then it trapped my leg and my left foot. It didn’t break my left leg, but my foot was really bruised and swollen for a week and a half or so. But it broke the right leg.
What an unfortunate start to the tour that was!
Well despite that, the next night in Milan we played and everything was good. Everything’s moved along nicely. Everybody’s been really helpful; all the bands and everything like that, so everything’s been moving along really great. The shows have been good. I kind of sit. They put like a head case for a guitar, and they stand it up sideways, and they put that on stage and I sit on that.
So Dave Grohl didn’t come through with his throne like he did for Axl Rose?!
No, no, I think Axl Rose still has it, and he’s keeping it just in case. But no, it’s been good. The shows have been good, and the crowds have been awesome, and like I said, everybody on the tour’s been helpful with this.
It’s obviously made touring a little more difficult for you.
Yeah, and I have to say, the first four days were really hard because my left foot hurt pretty bad. I thought my left foot was broken because it got clamped, and I guess it got bruised really bad. I have pictures of it, day to day, of the swelling, and then the purple going down into my toes and everything like that. But whatever, I just make the best of it. Luckily, I don’t play drums.
How has it affected your performance?
I move around a good bit on stage when we play, so I’ve been restricted in that point, but I think overall, it’s been really good. It’s just small little things. Sometimes you don’t really have a lot of space because of bands being set up behind us and that, and that’s all a little different. For me, it’s no big deal. I mean, I’d rather be on both legs, but at this point, I really don’t have the option to.
Goatwhore is one of those bands who have a really passionate fan base.
Yeah, the only thing I feel is that we haven’t done a lot of the legwork in the U.K., Ireland, and Europe mainland as much. Like, we tour North America a lot, and I mean, rightfully so, because we have our own van and trailer and financially it’s more convenient and things like that. When a band from the U.S. comes over here, there are fees involved with renting gear and being on a nightline, or being in a Sprinter van, and you know, you try to get all that money together because sometimes the shows just don’t bring in enough money to cover all that, so you try to kind of work all that out.
Something that would surprise a lot of people is that, given the name, you’re actually a relatively melodic band.
We have a lot of different elements in what we do. When we started, the basis was a bunch of dudes that were into things like Celtic Frost, and Venom, and Bathory; like, the more traditional black metal end. And I mean, we listen to other stuff too; we listen to the newer black metal styles and how they progress now as well. But we had a lot of roots too in death metal, thrash metal, and things like that, so I think all those pieces come out. I think as a band too, as you tour, and as you play, and as you go back and listen to things you grew up on, or listen to newer things, those kind of seep in, and they become a sort of influence, maybe a subconscious kind of influence.
That all came very much to fruition on last year’s ‘Vengeful Ascension’ album; how has the reaction been to that release?
It’s been really good, it’s awesome. On this tour, I’ve noticed a good bit of people, when we’re playing, they know the words. So, you start to see it, that people know what’s going on with it. I mean, you have your first timers and everything, and I think that’s great too; people that sit there, and they’re into it – they don’t know it, they’ve never seen it, they’ve never heard it. We definitely play in front of new people being out with Sepultura and Obscura and Fit For An Autopsy. There’s a lot of range of fans within extreme music there. It puts you in front of a lot of different people, but it’s cool to see there’s people who know the material.
Do you find that these package bills are a good way to attract new fans?
It is, it’s really good, man. I think a lot more tours are happening like that within extreme music, because unlike just doing a tour that’s all strictly death metal or all strictly black metal or all strictly metalcore; it gives a variation in there, and it lets people see that there’s even more of a variation within extreme music.
You’ve been on the road for the best part of a month with Sepultura; with the tour coming to an end, are you going to miss it?
Yeah, I mean, I’ll be glad to get this fuckin’ thing off my leg when I get home! I’ve like, probably two more weeks with it or so, but I’ll be glad to get this off and back on the two feet again. I mean, I love playing, so I think that’s the driving force that’s kept me in a mind set out here dealing with this. I enjoy playing, even whatever, thirty minutes of forty minutes on stage, and it still gives you that drive. You get up in the morning, and you’re like; “Ah fuck, I have this fuckin’ thing”, but it’s like; “Whatever - let’s do this!” Man, I swear, there’s so many venues in Europe that have so many stairs, and you don’t really take it into consideration until you’re in this kind of situation.
Have you a little downtime coming up?
Yeah, we have some downtime. The next thing we do is, at the end of July we come back to Europe to do festival stuff. We start off at Metal Days [in Slovenia], and then we’ve got shows in between with Dying Fetus and a few other bands. I don’t know all the specifics yet; I just know the starting point, and it goes from the end of July to the end of August.
So you’re actually pretty active in Europe right now?
Yeah, this year, definitely, for sure, and hopefully, maybe even at the end of the year, depending on what’s going on. I know we’re in talks with doing a tour back in the States in September into October, but that still leaves November and December to come back here with somebody, if it’s possible.
Would you say that the ultimate place to see a Goatwhore show at home in New Orleans?
It’s pretty crazy! The Saturday before we left to come out here to start this tour, we did a hometown show in the French Quarter in this little place called Santos Bar, and, it was fuckin’ crazy! It was fun as hell. But I mean, honestly, I have to say, I think as small venue is probably the best place to see Goatwhore. I think the smallest show we played was the first show we played in the U.K. when we came over, in Bristol, at this place called The Fleece, and it was crazy. I think sometimes that, when people are so much closer and everything is so much tighter, the impact of it is so much more.
Finally, are there any plans to get back into the studio for a follow up to ‘Vengeful Ascension’?
We’ve been throwing around ideas, and we’ve been putting together skeletons and things like that. Sammy [Duet, guitarist] never stops with riffs, and he’ll send out, and then we’ll feed back and throw ideas around; I’ll go over to his house and sit with him and we’ll say; “Oh, let’s move this around”, so we have skeletons for new stuff. So we have kind of already started. We do take advantage of downtime if possible, so that’s probably what we’ll do when we get home from Europe. Everybody will probably just go home for a bit, and then we’ll get back together and fiddle around with things. I mean, I don’t need my feet to listen to things! *Laughing*
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Goatwhore's 'Vengeful Ascension' is out now via Metal Blade Records.