One might not expect a band named for the second-largest state and known for their south and western-focused lyrics to craft an Alaska-focused single amid a pandemic that restricts travel, but 2020 has been a year of surprises.
Avi Vincour and Pat Wolf of the band Goodnight, Texas, sat down (virtually) with Capital City Weekly to chat about their new single, “Hypothermic,” the meandering geographies of their albums, recording music in a pandemic and the possibility of a future Alaska tour.
The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
How are things been going for the band lately? Two singles, looks like you’re having a pretty good year in spite of things.
AV: We’re staying busy. We can both record in our various houses across the country so we’ve been able to work. We live across the country so being separate is not unfamiliar. We were prepared. But it still sucks not be able to go play shows.
It hasn’t interrupted your guys process much?
AV: For recording, not really. For writing, yeah, it sucks to not be able to hit the songs together. “Don’t let em get you” is one we did before this. We had worked in a room and recorded together, drums and guitar live. “Hypothermic” we did after, and that sort of affected the process.
Do you think that affected the tone of it?
AV: I think so!
“Hypothermic” had a different edge to it. Do you think that came from the vibe of things?
AV: Yeah! It’s kind of a heavy, dark time for a multitude of reasons. It’s a very strange, unusual, lonesome time.
Can you tell me a little more about how it came to be?
AV: I’ve had recurring dreams about driving to Alaska. That’s a concept that’s always sort of intrigued me. It’s the last state I haven’t been to! I’ve been to the other 49, but I still have not been there. We were trying to plan a tour up there and it didn’t come together. But it’s always been intriguing to me. There’s something so remote and mysterious about it, at least to me, someone who’s never been there.
The sheer distance between us is impressive. You picture the Aurora Borealis and one moose and one person every 50 kilometers.
With your music, there’s a lot of geography references. Rhode Island, Alabama, now Alaska. Has that always been a thing in the writing?
PW: We’ve kind of had a geographic progression throughout our albums. It’s been going through time and across the map. We started kind Civil War-y, starting in Virginia. We started in Appalachia- his (Vincour) mom’s side is from West Virginia. The second album went a little north and little west. The third album was like, the Southwest.
We just want to tell tales as we go along that maybe have some truth to them.
AV: A lot of time we find out they’re nonfiction after we write them. Someone’ll be like, my grandfather did that. Someone sent us a tweet about their moonshine running grandfather or great-grandfather and a picture of him, and the story was, he burned a sawmill down, like straight out of our song “Moonshiners.”
You said that you’d had recurring dreams about it (Alaska). Was there something triggering that?
AV: No, I don’t know. I think I’ve always wanted to go there. It’s just so mysterious.
I remember reading about Dawson City, Yukon Territory in an article at some point- about the history of the hotel bar and all the prospectors that would end up there. That was a fascinating bit of history, this town you never would have heard of in the Lower 48, and how people ended up in Alaska spread out and looking for a second gold rush.
You’ve had two singles this year. What else is on the horizon?
PW: We’re putting together the finishing touches on an album- should we say that?
PW: That we started two years ago I guess. We got together two years ago in a house to lay down some drum tracks. We’ve been thinking about them and writing words and finally recording all the instruments. We’ve been in with our long time friend and mix engineer Scott McDowell for the past month or two fine tuning everything. It’s just about ready to get mastered.
We’re trying to figure out when is gonna be the best time to drop it because it’s a weird landscape for releasing music. Should we wait until maybe it’s the time for shows or do it right now, say, “we got a thing?” That’s where we’re at right now with that.
AV: You don’t know what the best move right now is with new material. We figured releasing two songs now that were sort of appropriate, sort of captured the frustration and complexities and heaviness of now. We figured we’d sort of lead off with them.
You guys are looking forward to being back on the road, I imagine?
AV: Certainly. Whenever it’s safe, we’re looking forward to getting back to playing shows for people. I mean, it’s been nice to be home. We’ve probably been more home-centric than we’ve ever been for the last nine years.
Where would you say the favorite place you’ve performed is?
PW: I feel like Denver always brings it for us.
AV: Denver, Seattle, New York, D.C.
PW: I always say Pinos Altos, New Mexico, because when we walked in, there was one old crusty guy at the bar, and by the end, people were swinging from the chandeliers, paying us cash to keep playing. It was a saloon, it was great.
AV: I love finding quirky little places to play. We played in a backyard in Goodnight, Texas, the town.
I read you’ve played there a few times?
AV: Yeah, we’ve played there a few times. Three, four times?
What’s the population?
AV: Twenty-seven. It may have fluctuated. I think the one kid went off to college. There was one kid in town.
Would you consider an Alaska tour when things calm down?
AV: Absolutely! Maybe to start Pat and I can fly up and do a show.
Anything else to mention about Goodnight, Texas?
PW: We’ve got the two music videos coming out soon.
AV: Yeah, the video for “Hypothermic” is gonna be out at some point. I just got the second-to-last draft. “Don’t Let Them Get You,” we put out a couple days before the election. Maybe we’ll put out “Hypothermic” before the election.
Fancy a listen?
“Hypothermic” and Goodnight, Texas’ other music are available on streaming services everywhere.