Can I tell you about a really great band? Okay, great. Thank you.
Lost Goat was a band out of the SF bay area that put the power in power trio. They created these epic songs densely packed with great riffage and groove, a perfect hard rock act that could explore a spacey prog sound of the 70’s but reign it in with the hard and heavy seriousness you’d get from Black Sabbath.
The band was fronted by the powerful vocals of bassist Erica Stoltz and backed by the drum and guitar combo of Tina Gordon and Eric Peterson, the latter two providing a driving groove to an almost bluesy stoner rock vibe. They were part of a scene surrounded by a chaotic DIY punk and art mishmash in the mid-90’s Mission area of San Francisco, sharing that aggressive punk rock stage but standing out with their more typical rock presentation. They weren’t Metallica wannabes or nu-Metal radio hopefuls, nor were they repetitive riff strummers hoping to take over for Kyuss: they were just a great ROCK band.
I happened upon them when I bought this amazing “box set” from a small label, Poverty Records, run by employees of a pizza place, Escape From New York Pizza. My friend Ian worked at the restaurant over the summers and would end up running the label’s website. To be a supportive pal I bought Poverty’s box set, labeled “Viva La Mission.” It came in a pizza slice box, which itself deserves much praise for its presentation, packed with seven 7” singles/EPs and a CD from various bands, a button, a t-shirt, a sticker, and a Xeroxed zine-like retrospective about the bands and what the scene was like in those years this music was released.
(I had actually seen one of the 7”s by the band F***face at a radio station I had worked at in the summer of 1997, so it was cool to see the EP again. I still don’t know much about these bands but I am glad that they had some reach during their short time.)
Two of the 7”s featured music from Lost Goat. “Beware of Chupacabras” had no label affiliation, so I am guessing it was self-produced & released. The other is a split with a band Towel, released by Poverty Records, called “(Lost Goat and Towel) Get Married.” “Beware” looked foreboding with its washed out photocopied artwork, so I put it on my turntable. I am embarrassed to admit that I was unfamiliar with 7”s being at 45rpm instead of 33 1/3, so I was taken aback at how deep and evil these songs sounded. I don’t recall how many listens it would be before I realized that I was playing it at the wrong speed. Hopefully not many – I am glad I did because the songs sounded better and more coherent. Actually, “Pillar of Salt” and “Rising” sounded amazing! Maybe the recording sounded thin and was low budget (not a fair assessment on my part, sorry, but I wasn’t there), but the music sounded DEEP. Deeper than any punk or stoner rock thing I was listening to at the time. It was a regular on my stereo for the next few months.
I assumed that this was a retrospective of sorts for bands that had run their course, so I didn’t look more into Lost Goat afterward. I was also editing a rock magazine in the Chicago area around this time, and we were on the mailing list of several record labels. We would get many promo copies of this or that, sometimes from large labels, sometimes from local bands looking to get heard or reviewed. Somehow we ended up on the mailing list of Man’s Ruin Records, run by artist Frank Kozik. Kozik had used some of the money he had gotten from The Offspring for an album cover to print and distribute EPs and albums by some known bands like Queens Of The Stone Age (notably Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions albums), Entombed, The Hellacopters, High On Fire, and a bunch of other stoner, hard rock, and metal acts. Some known, some unknown, and a pretty admirable effort by someone who used a mainstream connection to get his favorite music out and about. I don’t recall if we ever sent MRuin our magazine in hopes to get on their review mailing list, so getting a Gaza Strippers album in the mail was a bit of surprise at the time. Also included? A CD, “Equator,” by the band…LOST GOAT!
I about freaked. I ran to the CD player and put it in and would soon hear the full and realized potential of the “dense and powerful” sound I started this post with. It’s “only” seven songs, with one song an MC5 cover (“Poison”) and ending on an instrumental (“Hell In Ruin”). But it’s an epic 35 minutes, with every song offering beefy guitar riffs, wild solos, amazing jams that come out of time changes Metallica would be envious of…just everything you want from a ‘regular’ rock band that offers a ton of surprises as the CD rolled on. This was immediately one of my favorite albums EVER. Every song was a wild ride with deceptive simple starts, you’d almost forget you were listening to the same song when the original riff rolled back in. This would be bad if it were a Ramones record, but perfect for fans of the first four Sabbath albums, and easily highlighted with the first two songs: “Doin’ Time” and “Bitter Pill.” “Downbound Train” gives you a few moments to rest up between its whirlwind guitar solos, and is followed by a longer version of “White Dog,” LGoat’s side from their split with Towel, with a headbanging groove that goes on for not long enough. It gets even better with the dark “The Dirty Ones,” where you realize that the solos aren’t of the noodle-y variety: often they sound like a new rhythm part, with Eric let loose and the rest of the band following along.
I managed to get ahold of someone to arrange an interview when the band was on tour, and interviewed them for the magazine. They were super cool, super rocked – just plain super! I don’t recall the exact circumstances, but the first time they came through with one of the members of Towel as their roadie. I think they opened for (Men Of) Porn, and half of that band quit the evening before, so Erica and the roadie filled in. The 2nd time I saw them, it was just the three of them, and Erica asked if I had a basement floor they could sleep on. I lived in a two flat at the time and had extra bedrooms and they were super grateful – it was the first time in weeks they would have BEDS, and THEIR OWN BEDS. You forget that touring is a tough endeavor for some of these bands, often taking turns sleeping in the van as another member drives, or hoping to snag a couch with a friend that you may or may not be able to reach because not everyone was online at the time. This includes showering, which was an additional luxury. They were good guests and I wished I had a zillion dollars to fund them forever. All I could do was buy whatever I could get my hands on, and there was a tiny bit of backtracking to do.
I’m unsure of where the “Beware” material came from or if it was part of other recording sessions to be used later. They either sold or gave me a split 12” with a band called Grinch, with the LGoat side including “Rising” and “The Dirty Ones” along with two other tracks, “Foolproof” and “The Offering.” There’s no release date on this, and the Xeroxed insert only has lyrics and info about the Grinch side. I think it was released in between their first full length and Equator, since “Rising” and “The Dirty Ones” are on those (respectively). (Discogs claims that this was released in 1999.)
“Trapped On Earth” was released by In Search Of / Life Is Abuse records. I don’t know the story behind the joint label release – I suspect that In Search Of is LGoat’s own “label.” (note: CONFIRMED by Erica, who took a look at this post before I made it public.) It starts off with the chaotic “Pillar Of Salt” which is from the “Beware” single, and then strolls into the highlight of the album, “Wailing Wall Blues.” WWBlues starts off with their typical guitar groove that quickly goes from simple and then is repeated into a more complex version of itself, with the latter half of the song dedicated to a slowed down power jam. The next few songs, especially “Freeway,” might highlight a harder version of the band, which might explain why they fit in with that wild punk batch I was introduced to on the Poverty Records collection. “Hand Of Man” slows things down again, as if the material between WWBlues and HOMan never existed. It’s “The Last One” where they ramp it up again, alternating between the hard fury and the groovin’ jams throughout, with the chorus coming out of nowhere like an alien presence to the rest of the song, all in less than five minutes. It ends with “Golem,” which on CD includes a hidden song, “Rising.” There’s some great stuff here but the recording isn’t as good as Equator – it’s just a little rough, even though this is the kind of band that embraces that roughness.
(As for Life Is Abuse, they still have a website that is a domain linked to a blogspot. It hasn’t been updated since 2012. There’s a media link and you can check out Golem there.)
I would later find, online, a demo of five songs, everything that’s on this record (including Rising) with another song called “Into Dusk” that I don’t think has made it on other releases, which is a shame – it’s just another brilliant entry of their slow build ups to heavy riffs and more deep jams, and the demo sounds better than the mix on Trapped On Earth. It was labeled “1996” so I’m guessing this is material that for the most part ended up on the self released single, and was re-recorded for Trapped, but I have nothing to verify this speculation. Another single, released by Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label, “October,” includes “Golem,” but it’s been a while since I’ve listened to it, and sadly wasn’t able to get my turntable back in order to write about it properly for this post.
Anyway, things started looking up for the band: Equator was released on vinyl through Tee Pee Records, another riff rock label probably best known for releasing Ed (Monster Magnet) Mundell’s The Atomic Bitchwax project. That was another label that my magazine was fortunate to be on the mailing list for, and we got a bunch of good releases to review from them, so I was excited to learn that LGoat’s next album would be released on Tee Pee.
“The Dirty Ones” was released in 2002 and opens with “Seattle Shakedown,” a homage to the uprising against globalization. It’s an okay song – I remember feeling underwhelmed my first listen in. I had listened to Equator so much and this opener didn’t have the same deep feel that, well, I hoped it would pick up from where Equator had left off. Most of the elements of their songwriting and performance are there. Maybe the subject matter demands an angrier and muddier mix, I don’t have a good reason to not be as impressed by this particular song. (I will mention that since typing this up, I’ve been able to easily hum the guitar lines and lyrics, so it’s not like it’s a BAD or unremarkable song. I think it’s because unlike most of their material, there’s virtually no buildup – it jumps right in to the vocals after the first few notes.) I do remember that this album took a few listens before it grew on me, and I’m glad I gave it another shot because the album got better the more I listened to it, and got better as it played.
“Rat Masters Of Icky Path” represents that sort of LGoat groove and outstanding riffage from its getgo, making up for what I considered to be a lackluster opener (again, see above disclaimer – I feel guilty knocking that song now). It moves on to “Twisted,” a less surprising and moody song that still has some great guitar riffs. The best comes in a one two punch that is the dark and moodier “Cracked & Burned,” one of those quiet buildups that turns into the powerful and heavy material that this band is so great at. It’s followed by “The Drifter,” an instrumental magnum opus that keeps building and building even though, unlike the material they’ve built their awesomeness on, it doesn’t experience any wild changes. This is where the album has won me over, and even though you’d think it’d be pointless to follow up the epicness, the band kills it again with “The Hanging Tree,” featuring its catchiest lyrics and guitar riffs the band had offered yet. This is where a video budget and appearances on Jimmy Kimmel would have come in handy, and is definitely one of the songs I’d recommend as an introduction and synopsis of their catalog and highlight in one. And though it benefits from the previous two tracks, it stands as a great jam on its own. Another great is “The Spark,” more of the exploratory jam that doesn’t come off as calculated as the previous songs, and then has one last original in the batch, “Goin’ Far Out,” another slow build up before it lets loose. All the elements that made Equator great are here, just in different and sometimes better ways. There’s also two covers (with a hidden instrumental at the end) and they’re pretty good. Aside from a track sequence that doesn’t give this album the same beginning to end epic feel that Equator has, it’s still an amazing album, a close runner up to Equator and obviously highly recommended.
The band would tour with Fireballs Of Freedom in 2002 and then broke up when Erica moved to New York. Tina and Eric would join a band Night After Night, but I’m already kinda bummed that I can’t find proper links to most of LGoat’s material. NANight released a 4 song demo which I was able to get a hold of, and had some of the same amazing guitar and drum power, but I don’t know much about the rest of the band and the lyrics seemed to be mostly about picking up chicks. I dug it, and read that they were going to record a full album. Which I’m told they did – it was never released. I’ve written to the studio engineer and also to Eric, both who told me that it was recorded but no one had a copy to share. A little bummed, so hopefully it materializes. There is a comp called “Invaders” that is on Spotify and Amazon and other streaming services that includes “Backseat Astronaut,” and it sounds like something if early 80’s Iron Maiden wrote a love song, and you should definitely check it out. I had given up looking for other material until I found this YouTube upload from the band’s singer, Shane Baker. I’m guessing this is from the unreleased album, and yup that’s me, leaving a comment asking where I can get the whole thing.
Tina is/was, as far as I can tell, in a few projects, most notably an all girl AC/DC cover band, “AC/DShe,” and had a roving sound stage: a truck filled with amps for an instant rock performance. Eric is a carpenter in the bay area. Erica has released the album “You Need Us” with Dirty Excuse, more of a standard rock sound with her usual killer vocals. It’s available on most streamable (Spotify link) and downloadable MP3 services. Her latest band Sanhedrin is a much heavier, more power-metalish act, and will see its second album come out at the end of February.
I’m glad these three amazing musicians are out and about and still doing stuff in some way or another. Lost Goat hopefully wasn’t a blip in their own radar. I think any hard rock or metal fan who goes and checks out what is available or what they can get their hands on will not be disappointed: Lost Goast is some of the most earth shaking rock that hasn’t been topped by most other bands since.
Lost Goat demo – Terminal Escape is a blog that has uploads of cassette demos from various bands over the years. I’m not one to suggest downloading free stuff but I’m unsure where else to find this gem, because this demo does sound REALLY good, and in some cases better than how they appear on later releases (unless I’m seriously mistaken, and the 7” and split EP are from this recording).
Beware The Chupacabras / Lost Goat & Towel Get Married 7” – The Poverty Records box set pops up on eBay once in a blue moon. I’ve heard that if you go to the Mission location of Escape From NY Pizza and ask, they might have a copy. Otherwise, well, same as above: someone has uploaded the whole thing. I can’t verify the quality of these uploads or that the site itself is 100% safe to start downloading. But hey, at least there are versions of LGoat’s songs available on other releases, rerecorded professionally. (I plan to discuss this collection, including the packaging, in a future post.)
Trapped On Earth – I lucked out in finding both CD and vinyl versions of this – the vinyl came with a giant poster that I still have. Online searches have yielded little, though there are resellers on Amazon selling the CD for…a decent price. Happy hunting. I do like this album though it’s a little rougher than later material – Wailing Wall Blues (someone’s upload on YouTube, with pic from the band’s old website) and The Last One are highly recommended standouts on this album and their overall output. Since Life Is Abuse doesn’t seem to be active, unless you contact them directly, I don’t know if the stewards of the label’s site will respond or even has copies left.
Lost Goat / Grinch 12” – There’s not any current info about Probe Records online beyond what’s listed on Discogs. It looks like they share a few other Poverty Records acts. Most notable bands are Voodoo Glow Skulls and Screeching Weasel. I don’t see an official site for this particular label (there’s a few Poverty Records and a couple Probe Records out there). A few independent stores that have an online presence have copies, and there’s a few copies that pop up on eBay here and there. Like Terminal Escape, there’s another blog out there trying to archive ‘missing link’ type releases from awesome but letter known bands. Unfortunately, the link for the split is dead, so…nevermind. Someone has uploaded the Grinch side of this split on the YouTubes but not the Lost Goat side. Half of LGoat’s material here was released on the first album anyway.
October 7” – Released on Alternative Tentacles, Jello Biafra’s label. Golem is the B-side, which is on Trapped On Earth (and streamable on Life Is Abuse’s site). AT’s catalog is impressive but…$8? I don’t see an MP3 version available. But, there you have it. For the hardcore LGoat collector (…me).
Equator – This being my favorite that I want you all to hear, sadly I don’t see this legally streamed anywhere (other than their MC5 cover, featured on a soundtrack for a movie, Mean Streak). Physical media from the label source doesn’t fare better: CD doesn’t seem to be in print because Man’s Ruin is out of business, and the vinyl isn’t listed anywhere on Tee Pee’s site. BUT don’t despair, copies are available from, say, Amazon at pretty good prices. There’s another “look at me I’m archiving music that doesn’t belong to me!” site out there but I don’t know if that link works or is safe to download from, so…beware!
The Dirty Ones – streamable on Spotify, purchasable on iTunes and Amazon etc. Like Equator, copies aren’t available on Tee Pee, which is a shame because it’s a great album and Tee Pee is a pretty awesome label so I don’t know why it doesn’t show up on their online catalog. Hey, at least you can (legally) check this one out before buying it. Then, buy it, because it’s pretty great.