This week we chatted with Avi Vinocur and Patrick Dyer Wolf of Goodnight, Texas, a folksy band with an old-fashioned sound rooted in both San Francisco and North Carolina. In the latest installment of our interview series, Avi and Patrick discuss their Civil War era aesthetic, their sources of inspiration, and working from both coasts.
Twenty Two: Let’s start with the basics. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Goodnight, Texas: No. Well, okay. We live very far away from one another, and we are in a band together, which presents some logistical problems from time to time. Avi owns a lot of cool guitars and can shred. Patrick likes to cook, mostly stir-fry, and look at Google Maps.
Twenty Two: Have you always been interested in music and performing?
Goodnight, Texas: Avi once dreamed of being a major league shortstop, but had to stop short of achieving that dream. But seriously, we’ve been into playing music for a long time, both of us. Maybe not from age 0, but, like, age 7.
Twenty Two: How would you describe your sound?
Goodnight, Texas: Old-timey, lyrical, dark. Garage-Appalachian. The Black Keys making friends with Simon and Garfunkel 130 years ago.
Twenty Two: Why did you choose to embrace an old-timey sound and aesthetic? The photos on your website remind me of My Daguerrotype Boyfriend.
Goodnight, Texas: First of all, My Daguerrotype Boyfriend is amazing. Thank you for this. Albert Ball is a dreamboat. Died while chasing the Red Baron? Song-worthy. Anyway. I think the mystery of reaching back into that time period fascinates us. Thinking about people sitting around and writing and talking without any electronics around. People just existing without any internet footprint. Just living their lives, and we only have distant memories and faded pictures of them.
Twenty Two: What’s the process you go through when you’re working on new music?
Goodnight, Texas: This could change as we go, who knows, but in general, we’ve each been writing full songs and them presenting them to each other, ironically, via modern technology, and then when we meet in person every couple months, we work out new parts and flesh the songs out with the full band. We have been starting to write new songs together, but that’s more challenging than it looks.
Twenty Two: What can our readers expect to hear on your upcoming album, “A Long Life of Living”?
Goodnight, Texas: Sounds made with steel and wood, covered in dust.
Twenty Two: Where do you find inspiration?
Goodnight, Texas: Hard to tell until it comes! I think in the genesis of Goodnight, Texas we have been inspired by simplicity and weight; songs that could have gone in busier or more modern directions just seemed more powerful when we stripped them down to the natural wood.
A lot of the songs on the record are stories about long ago or things that have no specific time setting. Some come from our own lives. The thought of tying a thread of reality from the present back to the mid-nineteenth century inspires us.
Twenty Two: Whose musical career would you like to emulate?
Goodnight, Texas: We really admire a band from Charleston, SC called Shovels and Rope. It’s just Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent banging on drums and playing guitars and it’s filthy. Their career is still young but I think we could do much worse than follow in some of their footsteps.
Twenty Two: How has living in San Francisco and North Carolina, respectively, influenced your work?
Goodnight, Texas: I think both places have very interesting synergy of musical styles. The Triangle area in North Carolina has a lot of indie meets bluegrass meets folk meets whatever, with bands like The Love Language and the Squirrel Nut Zippers and Lost in the Trees. San Francisco has a long and fertile history of being a music hotbed, and we’ve gotten to witness really great development in the folk scene just in the past several years. So it’s been great to be around all of that. But also, the pace of life between the two places is different. It’s a definite contrast, and I think contrast plays a big role in our music, in dynamics, complexity, emotion, and style.
Twenty Two: When you’re not working on music, how do you spend your time?
Goodnight, Texas: Avi works for a noted American rock band, drinks whiskey neat, and wears an SF Giants hat. His lady just came back from a year of traveling around the world with her job. Patrick works for a landscaper (read: shovels dirt), goes for runs, and hangs out with his dog, Boondoggle. He will be wed in the spring.
Twenty Two: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
Goodnight, Texas: We hope to perfect the art of playing the greatest dive bars of America and beyond. We hope to learn to ride horses. We want to take up smoking cigars. We want to keep playing the sounds that inspire us to play music, and we want to get that music to as many people as we can.
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