Profile: LA’s Instrumental Doom Quartet Goliathan

Goliathan
Goliathan

Goliathan are a four piece instrumental doom / post-metal band from Los Angeles, CA that to date have one EP, Awakens, available but over the course of the three songs contained the band cover a ton of territory. “In the Path of the Giant, Technology is Laid to Waste” is an expansive and emotional epic of sprawling post-metal atmosphere while “March of the Mountains” lays down a heavy dose of thought provoking doom metal. How this band isn’t signed yet is a mystery to me. We recently had a chance to ask them our set of Profile questions and they were gracious and extremely generous with their answers so keep reading to see what they had to say and by all means, support them via Bandcamp and if you’re able, get out and support them on the concert circuit.

Goliathan - Awakens

How did you first get into playing music and have you achieved the level of success that you always hoped to achieve?

Shawn Doster (guitar): My uncle handed me down a guitar when I was about 16. He taught me a power chord and I went off on my own from there. I quickly started writing my own music even though I was pretty limited in musical literacy. After being into rock and grunge for a while, a friend got me into punk. I was very drawn to the political aspects of punk and dove deeper and deeper into the hardcore / crust scene in Philadelphia. The greatest “success” to come from that was cross country touring that was one of the best times of my life, even though it was just living in mobile poverty. Being in a crust punk band for over ten years, still all I really know how to play is power chords.

Kevin Cogill (guitar): My dad taught me how to play guitar when I was 14. He had a honky tonk band going in the 70s called the Whiskey River Band, though I never saw him drink a drop. I grew up knowing only his versions of a lot of classic songs by Neil Young, The Grateful Dead, Little Feat, and all those cats. My first band was with Shawn, though. I sat across from him in an English class in high school, and the way I remember it is one of us asked the other if they wanted to start a band, having had no prior discussions about whether or not we actually knew how to play any instruments. But we covered everything from early Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana to Blink-182 songs. It was all over the place and totally embarrassing to look back on, but Shawn’s vision eventually evolved into an awesome crust punk band that I returned to and toured with on bass. That was with Shawn’s wife April and her brother; we all grew up together and consider each other family.

We’ve always been goonies. The idea of “success” is kind of a joke to us. We’re way too weird to be “successful” in any objectively visible way. Instrumental doom is probably always going to be a limited niche. All I want is for enough people to know us and dig us that we can play when and where we want to. We’re not quite there yet. But we’ll keep at it and hopefully word will get around.

By the way, Shawn actually does play other types of chords, he just has no idea what they’re called. Neal (Gardner, bass) and Phillip (Bailey, drums) are both very experienced, trained musicians, that speak a foreign language at band practice and can apply some theory here and there to class up our feral demos. I’d like to think there’s a good balance between experimentation and training.

What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised? If you don’t have a story please tell us any embarrassing story.

SD: It was all Skwerl’s fault. Other than that… No compromises.

KC: We’ve got way too much pride and barely enough brains to do anything too embarrassing. But yeah, If we ever came close, it was definitely my fault. I tend to push real hard to take any opportunity that comes along on the off chance it surprises us, and I’ve definitely been talked out of a few potentially stupid moves by wiser bandmates. We’ve played more than a couple empty rooms because we thought “headlining” a local show meant something way cooler than basically masturbating onstage for the sound guy and bartender after all of the other bands leave with their friends. That’s not how it worked in the punk scene, but lesson learned.

What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?

Goliathan: We can only really talk about the scene here in LA, which we love and hate. There are no shortage of places to play, and it’s a large enough pool that you can find a little crowd for whatever weird sub-genre of metal you need to get out of your system. There’s just a lot of opportunism and short-cutting, too, on all sides. Pay to play is a horrendous scourge, but it’s completely natural when you have so many rich kids around here whose parents are more than happy to buy 50 tickets in advance just to see them onstage at the fucking Whisky, two months after buying them a brand new Les Paul. You almost can’t blame the venues for taking that money, knowing what their rent is, and how thin their profit margins are. But thank god for the handful of local promoters and dive bar owners that go out of their way to cultivate a scene, and give chances to independent bands so that they have a shot at getting off the ground. We’d be nowhere without people like Andrew Bansal at Metal Assault, Daniel Dismal at Church of the 8th Day, and Eddie Lopez at the Redwood Bar.

It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music? (This question is especially appropriate for you since your music is quite an outlet for your physical and emotional pains).

SD: There’s environmental destruction, every day. Mass genocide of animals and resources. Social issues are important, but all of it takes place on a finite ball flying through space that is slowly being destroyed by its inhabitants, with corrupt politicians for referees. We’re all doomed.

KC: The essential message in Goliathan’s music comes down to accepting that fact, that we’re probably fucked. As a civilization, as a species. We just take and take and take, from each other, from all of the other animals, from the planet. We’re like an infection with no antibiotic. Globally, nationally, and locally. We commit violence not just on strangers on the other side of imaginary lines, but on our own friends and family as well. We lie to others to secure control, we lie to ourselves to justify our gluttony, and we’re all lied to, because we either can’t think critically, or we just too afraid to. For me, personally, the cause I care most about is better education, for this generation and the next one. Not only improving actual schools, but also providing better experiences socially as well. After school programs, arts programs, programs focused on therapy and spirituality even. Anything that helps kids think, learn, study, interact with others, or examine their own thoughts and behaviors, while their minds are still open. It all starts with an awareness of who we are, who we could be if given the right opportunities, and what we could become if we give up. I’d hope this would lead to less shitty behavior towards women, people that are a different color, people with different sexual preferences, foreigners, freaks, the planet, and every creature we share it with.

What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?

SD: Being in the crust scene. Crust punks are basically metalheads who can’t play scales or triplets; thrashing on power chords to a D-beat and screaming their heads off. That scene is not too far removed from metal and a lot of the fan base is interchangeable. My mom doesn’t understand it but she’s always supported whatever artistic avenues I was stupid enough to travel down.

KC: My parents let the teenagers in the neighborhood “babysit” me a lot. I remember being brought along on Budweiser runs in beat up Camaros just fucking blasting Ozzy, Dio, Mercyful Fate, Maiden, KISS, Scorpions, Anthrax, Metallica, all kinds of evil shit. Then grunge, a bit, as the the 90s rolled around. Honestly, it didn’t influence me creatively too much at that time; I was still too young to do anything more than just listen to it and bang my head, which my parents were totally fine with. I couldn’t figure out how to piss them off until I got into Public Enemy and Paris and super militant Hip Hop. Grunge got me playing guitar, though, which led to punk. That led to crust, through Shawn mostly, which eventually led me back towards metal as our songwriting evolved into a post-rock thing. All I was ever after was the most powerful energy I could find. At some point I discovered emotion can be more powerful than volume.

What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?

Goliathan: Don’t underestimate the power and validity of your unique tastes and voice. Don’t ever be afraid to rave about a band that literally no one else likes but you. If you cover what everyone else already covers, you’re sort of helping the people that don’t need it and ignoring those who do.

Cover shows. Book shows. Promote shows. Support other outlets and blogs that might be covering bands that you’re not. Share what you see, echo it down the line, to help us all find our audiences. Get out into the scene as much as you can, and share your thoughts, and photos, even if they’re half-assed or shitty. Even if you don’t have anything super flattering to say. Just mention us, show others you came and saw us and had an okay night. It really helps.

What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.

Goliathan: This is an art project to us, not a business or a brand. We’ll ultimately judge its success by what we’re able to make people think and feel. And we’re all fortunate to have careers that leave at least enough time for the band, which means we don’t really have to sweat “making it” or not as artists. The goal is to write and record songs we’ll always want to listen to, and play shows that people remember. We’d like to maybe someday inspire other bands to be weird and live by their own rules.

All of the continents have already been invaded, too many times over, and it’s hard to believe any humans could “save” one by any means besides leaving it. If there’s still a chance for us to turn this thing around, then there wouldn’t be any need for doom metal at all. We’d all just pet animals and listen to the Jackson Five all day. That’s our cult. That’s our spiritual grading system for humanity: On a scale of the Jackson Five to Goliathan, how fucked are things?

SD: I’d like to take Goliathan everywhere. One of the coolest things about instrumental music is that it transcends language. It can convey emotions without saying a word. Others can share the burden of agony we all live in, without needing to spelling it out for everyone.

When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)

KC: In our genre, as of December 2017 anyway, I’ve been listening to INTRCPTR’s album “I” a lot, and the latest from Mustard Gas & Roses. Both from here. I just got the new Glassjaw though, and that’s sort of taken over my week. I love Mono, from Japan, and they’ve been a big influence on Shawn and I. But my tastes are all over the place. You’ll find garbage-ass pop music next to sludge metal, crust punk next to singer/songwriters, whatever. My favorite band of all time is Refused. Their energy is supernatural. There are some newer bands like The Bronx and Plague Vendor that are keeping that burner hot. But Sweden can not be fucked with.

SD: Yeah, I still love the Swedish crust and D-beat like Skitsystem, Martyrdöd and the like. You put distorted guitars over a D-beat and I can get down with it. I also listen to a lot of post rock instrumental stuff Like Mono, Russian Circles, Long Distance Calling, and anything like that.

Goliathan: Some other albums we have spinning: Monolord, Rust. Here Lies Man’s self-titled album. Elder’s Reflections of a Floating World. Poseiden’s Prologue. Vokonis’ The Sunken Djinn.

Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)

SD: Crushing.

KC: Collapse.

Many thanks to Goliathan for their time!


Awakens is available now on Bandcamp. For more information on Goliathan visit their Facebook page.

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