See Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle Talk Satan and Boomboxes With Mac McCaughan
Old pals talk 2002 LP 'All Hail West Texas' in honor of Merge reissue
”I just yelled ‘Hail Satan!’ and it felt so transgressive,” Mountain Goats mastermind John Darnielle tells Mac McCaughan in the clip above. While it’d be a perverse thrill to witness the bespectacled 46-year-old shouting at passersby outside of Durham, North Carolina’s Bull City Records, the man is simply speaking to the Merge Records boss about the closing lyrics of his 2002 song “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton.”
The occasion of this rare retrospective hang is Merge’s reissue of the Goats’ 11-year-old opus All Hail West Texas, the last LP that Darnielle recorded at home on his old boombox (and not a four-track, as many people believe). The new set arrived July 23 and included remastered versions of 14 original songs, plus seven unreleased bonus tracks, and an 1,800-word essay about the endeavor by Darnielle himself.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Durham-based songwriter’s influences, it might surprise you to learn that he’s big into metal, like Norway’s influential Darkthrone. He raves about their 2013 track “Leave No Cross Unturned,” which also happens to be the title of this clip, and says it’s those dirge-wielding dudes’ kind of “we want to sound like ourselves” vibe that informed his approach to recording alone on cassette in the first place.
Darnielle also discusses his love of Black Sabbath (“very weird shit”) and outlaw country legend Waylon Jennings (“they’re playing full of drugs, like really high”). It’s highly worth the six and a half minutes to watch these two music-lovers riff on the bands they admire, as well as the album, whose cover promises “fourteen songs about seven people, two houses, a motorcycle, and a locked treatment facility for adolescent boys.”
Meanwhile, Darnielle hasn’t yet announced a follow-up to the Mountain Goats excellent 2012 set Transcendental Youth, but he did recently debut a new wrestling-themed song called “Animal Masks.” McCaughan has also been busy, what with running a beloved indie-rock institution, and his band Superchunk streaming their latest LP, I Hate Music, ahead of its August 20 release.