Goon Can Finally Breathe

Goon has gone through its share of hiatuses and bedroom recordings. But with a new healthy attitude and new record label, the West Coast punk band has got big plans.

Frontman Kenny Becker started Goon in L.A. in 2013 as a solo project trying to sound like a full band. The two EPs Dusk of Punk and Happy Omen were both self-produced and released.

In 2015, however, Becker finally solidified the four-man lineup that now makes up Goon. Partisan Records recently signed the band, who then re-released the two EPs as a double vinyl: side A as Dusk of Punk and side B as Happy Omen—which Becker says is an EP made up of “misfit tracks” from their upcoming LP.

“We were already starting to work on this LP that we’ve now been working on for basically two years,” Becker tells BTRtoday over the phone. “Basically, we took the songs from that [tracks that didn’t make the LP cut] and made Happy Omen from it.”

Their debut LP is intended to come out next year in the spring. Becker says many of the songs were inspired from health issues he went through and eventually overcame.

“A whole, big long saga of respiratory related problems … it’s always been pretty shitty,” he says. “[Then] a little over a year ago I had a surgery that fixed everything—I feel like I’ve been in this new chapter in health and feeling really good. It’s inspiring, something as simple as like, ‘fuck I can breathe, I wanna write a song about it.’”

Becker describes the two EPs as experimental singer-songwriter material, but that this new LP feels heartier and heavier, especially now that he’s able to record with a full band. “I would say it’s a pretty new feeling to me,” he says.

Dusk of Punk definitely has a back-to-the-basics feel, with songs like “Gay Rage” and “Merchant Hall” unafraid to use distortion to its fullest potential with guttural screams raging behind breathy vocals. Happy Omen hits Goon’s more emotional side, with tracks like “A Window Outside” and “Push Me” having slow and elegant melodies that experiment more with electronic effects.

Becker says it wasn’t so much the struggle for health that inspired him, but rather the moment he was able to feel “normal” again. “I like to think about artists like Van Gogh, Kurt Cobain or Elliott Smith, where there are these very romanticized stories about them and how they’re these quintessentially tortured artists,” he says. “[But] the more I learned about these kinds of artists it seemed more like they wouldn’t make art because of their suffering, but rather in spite of it. I’m not saying I’m anywhere near as great as any of those people, but I definitely feel that.”

Other than working on their upcoming debut LP, Goon also plans to tour the U.K. and Europe early next year after hitting the West Coast this fall with the U.K. punk band Shame. In the meantime, they have a few shows set up with fellow West Coasters, Slugs. Listen to both EPs on this week’s The Music Meetup, as well as the full interview with Kenny Becker of Goon.