My introduction to Raygun Girls was here on the site as a review. I like what I heard and the name absolutely fascinated me. During the course of my research for the review I learned a few interesting facts about the band and decided I wanted to know a bit more. Luckily I was able to steal Geoff for a Q&A session.
MB: I read on your Reverbnation page that 50% of all sales go to the charity Oxfam America. What is that and how did you get involved?
RG: Oxfam’s mission is to create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and social injustice. About 3 years ago, I started really paying attention to what was going on in the US, how Hispanics are being treated, how racism and sexism run rampant in our government, and how economic inequality was just growing and growing. All of that is what drove the recording of the self-titled album. Reverbnation gives you the option to sell your music, and if you want to sell it through them, then they also give you the option to send some money to a charity. Oxfam is trying to deal with issues that I consider very important.
You utilize a lot of guest female vocalists. Is there one or two ladies out there that you would really like to record with? Why them?
Johnette Napolitano from Concrete Blonde. The first vocalist that we worked with, Janine, had a voice like Johnette- deep, bluesy, powerful, dark. I like that. Johnette has great lyrics and an amazing voice. She knows when to keep it sultry and when to belt it out.
MB: How old were you when you first started really listening to music? How long after that did you start playing?
RG: I was lucky enough to live in a house with a lot of family coming in and out. My uncles were in their teens and my mother was in her early 20’s. She loved music and would play the Beatles, but mostly classical music. My uncles would play Ramones, David Bowie, and I would steal their records and play them on my little record player. So, when did I really start listening to music? Probably as soon as I was born. I’ve always been drawn to music.
I started to seriously play when I was about 16, but I started taking guitar lessons when I was about 12.
MB: I feel like I’ve gone through a music evolution over the last 20 years especially. I started listening to pop and slowly it’s morphed its way all the way over to metal. What bands were the highlight of your musical evolution?
RG: The Ramones are definitely a highlight way at the beginning. I would play their album Leave Home over and over, when I was 10. Metallica’s And Justice For All really brought me into the Heavy Metal world. After that album, I jumped in deep with Suicidal Tendencies’ How Will I Laugh Tomorrow (practically wore out that tape, I listened to it so much). Ministry’s A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste and NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine and Killing Joke’s Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions were the next huge step (they came out at about the same time). Those blew my mind. I really wanted to mix electronics and heavy guitars after that.
There are so many, I could take up ten pages going through them all. Life of Agony, White Zombie, Type O Negative, all huge influences. Recently, I would have to say that Gojira has made the biggest impact on my songwriting.
MB: What is on your playlist/phone/itunes list right now that you can’t live without?
RG: Type O Negative is always on my playlist. Fear Factory. And Gojira’s “L’Enfant Sauvage”. Prong’s new album is also on a loop. I really like where In This Moment have been going with their music, so I’ve been listening to their latest album a lot lately as well.
MB: I love how listening to every song seems to show another side of the band. Listening to your music I hear influences that range from Godsmack to Zombie. Who would say your biggest influence is past or present.
RG: Killing Joke is a constant influence. The older the guys in Killing Joke get, the angrier their music gets. They’ve been around since the mid 70’s and still making amazing Industrial and Metal music. They easily go from Goth, to Punk to Industrial to Metal.
White Zombie was an influence in a different way. They were originally from NY. It was like an explosion of music from NY at that time, with Helmet, Prong, Quicksand, Zombie, Life of Agony, Biohazard. Only listening back to those bands can I now see that there was a NY sound. And I’ve noticed that my music has that same grittiness, dirt. You can almost hear the sound of the subways, the traffic.
The Ramones are also a huge influence. I didn’t seek out NY bands to influence me, it just seems to have happened that way.
I also have to say that Pink Floyd is a really big influence. Especially their album Animals. Dave Gilmour’s guitar playing is perfect – bluesy solos in the right spots. He knows when to hold back.
MB: I would feel remiss if I didn’t ask; but the band name Raygun Girls, where did that come from?
RG: When I started the band back in 2003 with my friend Jamie, we were both listening to this group from Albany, NY – The Clay People. They were doing some great stuff mixing Hard Rock with electronic beats. A little heavier than Industrial, but a little too Industrial for Heavy Metal (it was referred to as Cold Wave in the 90’s, along with bands like Drown and Hate Dept.). We were throwing around names, and one of my favorite songs on their self-titled album was Raygun Girls. So, it stuck.
MB: I Don’t Mind happens to be one of my favorite Raygun Girls songs. That guitar line is absolutely sick. How did that song come about? I mean did you start with the lyrics or the guitar line?
RG: Most of the songs start with music and then I slap lyrics on top of them. Every year since 2011, I’ve participated in FAWM – February Album Writing Month, where a whole bunch of people around the world try to write, record and produce 12 songs or 30 minutes during the shortest month of the year. It’s during that frenzy of writing that most of my songs have been written since 2011. the music for I Don’t Mind was written during 2014’s FAWM. Kindel, the vocalist on that song, wrote the lyrics after I gave her the music, and said, “You got anything that can work with this?”
I usually start with a drum beat. I put that on a loop and then see what comes out on the guitar. Then I edit it all together. Then I play the guitar line a million times refining it.
MB: So what is next up for Raygun Girls?
RG: We try to take over the world, Pinky…. Well, February is coming up, which probably means a whole slew of new music. I don’t even need February anymore to do that though. I pretty much can write about one song a month. I use FAWM to hook up with other musicians. That’s how I found palliDust, who sings on quite a few new songs; as well as Abomnium, who does some guitar solos for me every once in a while; and how I found Jacinda Espinosa, who did vocals for me a few years back, and continually provides me with great lyrics.
Write now I’ve been pushing the new single, “Time Keeps”, and I’ve got some other songs already finished that are waiting to be released under the album name Ghost 15, and others that need some polishing. Basically, I’m gonna keep making music and hope that people keep listening and enjoying!