In 2014, My Goodness released its first full-length, Shiver + Shake. A boisterous, bluesy, hard-rocking record born out of the trials and tribulations that the Seattle duo – guitarist/vocalist Joel Schneider and then-drummer Andy Lum – went through leading up to it, not least of which was rewriting their intended debut. All of which means that for them, this so-called difficult second record has been a breeze. But that's not to say that My Goodness have been resting on the laurels. In fact, they've shaken things up more than ever with Scavengers. For a start, Lum switched from drums to keys and guitar, and the band has expanded both its live line-up – adding Duke Evers, Josh Strakel (bass) and Kyle Veazey (drums) to the equation – and its sound.
“When we were touring Shiver + Shake," says Lum, "Joel and I were meeting a lot of new people and seeing a lot of music. Playing Sasquatch festival in 2015 and sticking around and watching what other bands were doing was a nice kick in the head for me and put us on a slightly different path. We were listening to a lot of hip-hop and electronic music in the van in between shows, so I think we got nudged in a direction there.”
That's not to say My Goodness is an entirely different band with an entirely different sound, however. This is neither a hip-hop nor an electronic record. Rather, the roots of these songs remain the same, but incorporate a variety of different elements. There’s a soulful shimmer, for example, to the insistent chug of “Silver Lining” and an upbeat, breezy, synth-pop sheen to “Swim”, while the dreamy “White Witches” glowers with a sultry electronic edge and “Ghost Town” is a multi-faceted song whose catchy splendor is wrapped up in layers of electronics, but which remains thoroughly human. Elsewhere, “Lazy Love” is a tender, wistful lament, while album closer “Cut Teeth” is a full-throttle, guitar-based rock song that harks directly back to, but also moves forward from, that first album. It all combines to make Scavengers an album that truly represents who and what My Goodness is.
“These songs came from us in a way that felt different,” says Schneider. “It’s true to who we are more than anything else we’ve done before. Before, we were limiting ourselves to being guitar-based rock, so I’m incredibly proud of not doing that and of fully writing the record that we wanted to.”
Much of that is down to how My Goodness approached making the album. Not only did they decide to self-produce it, but they changed the way they worked together. Written entirely by the two of them and recorded in Portland, Scavengers came out of an incredibly fluid process that saw its songs take shape and grow, almost in real time, along with the band itself.
“We did things a little differently on this record in terms of how we wrote the songs,” explains Schneider. “Andy was way more involved and we didn’t really do much inside the practice space. Instead, we were really using technology to write songs in a way that opened up more opportunities for us to adjust structures and rework songs using Logic so we could really produce our own songs. It was a really cool, new experience.”
“There was a lot of trial and error,” adds Lum, “so we started having more conversations about ‘What if we add this, this and this here?’ It was a new exercise for Joel and I as a band, and when we were going through it we started to wonder if we were becoming less of a rock band, but when it’s translated onstage, it’s clear we definitely still are. Joel and I had a show here in Seattle in August last year and I remember just being like, ‘Well, here goes….’ We were pumped to play new songs for people, but understand that Shiver + Shake had established us as a loud blues-rock band. But we got a great response, even though we only played two of our old songs.”
That’s precisely because My Goodness is the same band it ever was. The band didn’t reinvent itself, just reinterpreted what it was, adding to the foundations that were already there. And while the pair says they were on unfamiliar ground doing so, learning as they went along, Scavengers is an incredibly accomplished record. It harks back to the visceral power of that first album, but marches confidently forward, brimming with new ideas and sounds. It’s the record the pair always wanted to make, but weren’t entirely sure how until now. To that end, it’s a perfect compromise between what was and what will be, the sound of a band searching for – and finding – who it really is.
“We definitely made the conscious decision to not hold back with this record,” says Schneider. “We were careful not to limit ourselves at all, and I think that mentality was important in getting the best songs out of us. We wanted these songs to be us.”
That’s not to say the quest is over, however. On the contrary, My Goodness is just getting started.
“I would never want to lose the punk rock spirit that the band was born within,” says Lum, “but Joel and I aren’t opposed to this really evolving as a project. I’ve always been attracted to bands who put their middle finger up and realize they don’t have to sound like their last record. I really admire that in artists.”