Profile: Paul Goings of Baton Rouge’s Shadow People

Noise rock, when done properly, elicits images of washed out lethargy from the underbelly of nastiness yet comfortable like a familiar bed. Confused? If so, you haven’t experienced the right noise rock yet. This is a genre that is unlike any other in the sense that the artists feelings, experiences, or general life outlook directly reflects in the music and thus, us as listeners can relate in one way or another. Who hasn’t faced adversity? Depression? Gutter thoughts? Face it, we all have but to varying degrees. Noise artists get to express these feelings through their music and we get to experience it from a safe distance but through the lens of our own tribulations making this a unique line of music. Baton Rouge’s Shadow People are a prime example of a band that knows how to do it, and do it right, even though they ride a thin line between this, sludge and hardcore. Their fourth effort Washing In Soap Opera is short but its barbs last long after the final note plays. As you’ll read below, bassist Paul Goings is as unabashedly no-bullshit in his answers as the music is truthful about the darker side of life most of us will only ever experience through song. The answers contained within and this EP is well worth your time so read up and hit those links to snag a copy for yourself. Trust me on this.

How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?

I guess the momentum began with growing up in a place of violence, in a city, state, household of constant fear and putrid desperation. You see, desperation carves a narrow plan for escape, that’s why people do drastic, violent and repugnant things when their backs are against a wall. At some point in time you stop thinking and start grasping for the most destructive thing you can get your hands on and wielding it. An instinctual need to not die in a PIT our ancestors dug. A guitar was the most destructive thing I could ever get my hands on. And just like any weapon I realized it worked better alongside other people with their own agenda for killing what “could’ve been” and creating what “needs to be.” You can call it what you want, I call it altering the course of my demise. More specifically deciding how I want to die. The circumstances, the level of regret, the level of pleasure and what memories I want piled on top of me in that six foot deep dumping ground where we put people to forget they ever lived. And no, I haven’t achieved the level of success I hoped for.

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

Not to be rude, condescending or humorous but just, in an effort to answer your question truthfully, doing these interviews (which we choose to do and want to do and appreciate because it widens the opportunity for playing well attended shows) is the most I’ve ever debased myself for music.

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?                          

I’m truly ignorant to the existence of a “metal scene.” I’m truly ignorant as to whether or not there is such a thing as a“metal scene.” We are cut off down here, we have our own “scene” that tries not to limit itself to “bygone” industry terms. We see no reason to restrict pleasure or proactivity or to define someone’s passions by a type of vocal style or effects pedal. I don’t see any benefit in doing so. In my humble opinion the invention of genres and subgenres were solely for the benefit of people with a lack of personality. To make them feel like “ they’re a part of things too!” To cause them to spend money by making them feel connected to a thing they obviously don’t understand. To make them feel better about themselves and “in their sense” like spouting some sort of senseless lingo means they “get it.”  You can take metal and cram it with groovy and grunge and dig it and extreme and core a new wave and go bury it some place. Cool daddy-o?

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 is a loaded question and I won’t answer it. I’ll only say that we don’t purposely insert anything into the music, it happens organically.

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

I don’t think any person or thing “got me into metal.” It’s ridiculous to assume that I listen to the type of music I make and very disingenuous and suspicious for an individual to make music based on imitating what they listen to. I’m not a music fan in general, but as I stated in my previous answer (for me) music was a means for survival and the type of music that got made was a pure honest conduit from brain to speaker. If that falls under a title and you want to call it a genre and if that genre is something you want to call “metal” then you’ll have to figure out why you call it that to understand why I play it. I play life music, I play death music, I play don’t fucking die till you die music. And to the second part of your question, my family took it the same way they took every other piece of information I’ve given them with alternating denial and disdain.

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?          

The advice for critics is the same for musicians, If you’re not giving your life to it, if you’re not putting your whole self in and saving nothing for the “swim back” then get out the way, you’re not gonna push for a change if you’re not gonna hold the integrity of that change high and if you’re not gonna continue to sharpen your definition of what integrity is, then get out the fucking way. If you have some doubts as to the difference between imitation and inspiration, if you have some clouded definition of what honesty is an inability to know what it sounds like, or if you have some argument for why those things are indecipherable, then GET OUT of the FUCKING WAY.

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

Yes I have a day job, I break my back and burn my hands to keep the lights on. I grip my sheets at night and pull them up to my chin and plead for unconsciousness. I worry, I spend my life worrying about whether I’ll be able to afford to eat, about whether I’ll be well enough to walk, speak and make music and for how long. I worry the gunshots outside will break inside. I worry about what I’ll have to do if that happens. I worry about being capable of knowing so much and limited to doing so little and what it’s doing to my mental health. I worry about a life lived in vain, about the choices I’ve made. I torture myself with memories of people who are gone, memories are a curse in a lot of ways. All my friends are still alive in my memories but when I open my eyes and walk around this world they’re not here, it’s like every time I think about them it means there will come a moment I have to accept their death all over again. I worry about never being able to stop while I’m still alive. I want to know what it feels like to walk around the world and just see it for what it is. I want to appreciate the things that are here now. I want to sleep in peace.

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)

Auto fidelitys stereo-disc sound effects demonstration.  

What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?

Keep breathing, stay alive. If you’re eating yourself from the inside out, stop. If you’re allowing people to eat you up from the outside in, stop. If you feel like you’re about to tear out of your skin, you’re not. If you feel like your life is (metaphorically) “kill or be killed” then (metaphorically) fire first shot. The end of days are inside you, entropy is a lie, music is the soundtrack to your life’s apocalypse. And we hope that when you’re considering soundtracks for your quick and wild little primate death you’ll think of Shadow People.

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

exactly one word (based on the above, allowed)

Many thanks to Paul for his time!


Washing In Soap Opera is available now on the band’s Bandcamp page. For more information on Shadow People, visit their Facebook page.

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