Golden Void is a band that I stumbled across thanks to the fine fuckers over at Thrill Jockey who pimped them as an outfit inspired by “Sabbath, Hawkwind and rounded out by Robert Fripp, Jimi Hendrix, and even some Can in there as well.” Those of you familiar with the instrumental, psychedelic, Fat Albert-ness (yeah, yeah, dumb reference, but go listen to them and see if you can figure out what I mean) of the band Earthless might recognise that guitarist Isaiah Mitchell is a featured member in both bands. For those of you who don’t recognise Mitchell’s name (he also plays in Howlin’ Rain alongside former Saviours bassist, Cyrus Comiskey) or have absolutely no clue as to what I’m talking about, check out this interview with Mitchell, their new video and, should you be moved to, their forthcoming self-titled album.
First off, what’s the quick and easy story behind the history of Golden Void?
I moved up to the San Francisco Bay Area a few years ago. I reconnected with a couple high school buddies I used to play music with and we started making some noise again. We wanted a keyboard player and my wife plays keys, so she hopped on board. That’s the long and short of it.
Is Earthless still an ongoing prospect and still existing as a band alongside GV?
Earthless is a fully functional group that has been taking some time off. We’re about to go tour Australia in a few months.
You often hear people who play in more than one band claim all the bands they play in are priorities. Despite the best laid intentions, this is impossible. Where does Golden Void fall along the continuum of focus for you in terms of the time you’re able to dedicate to the band?
I agree it’s impossible. Something has to be put on the shelf. I have my priorities and what have you, but when things are mellow, and there has been a good amount of mellow, Golden Void picks up. Also, with the motivation of outside sources who really like the band, we’re able to now block out time for Golden Void to be productive with recording an album or playing shows. So, Golden Void, with all that has been happening building up to the album’s release, has a valid identity as a band amongst Earthless or Howlin’ Rain or whatever. I’d like the band to do something with itself.
How would you characterise Golden Void in comparison to not only Earthless, but also other bands that are similar in sound and aesthetic?
Golden Void is a rock band with the same influences as hundreds of other bands. Pretty straight up rock/pop song formula. I’d say the songs lean towards heavier rock and have some hook-y ear worms in there. Its heavy pop, I guess.
What would you say Golden Void gives you that other bands you’ve played in or with haven’t?
Outside of being the lead singer, which is kind of a first for me, Golden Void lets me explore more melodic expressions using the common “verse/chorus/verse/chorus/solo/chorus or verse/end of song” formula which I really have been enjoying. I’ve spent most of my years playing and recording with Earthless and have really enjoyed that. I love The Band, Neil Young, King Crimson, Black Flag, Black Sabbath, etc. They more or less use that formula I mentioned for a strong portion of their songs. Its great to put a few riffs together, find their voice, and have a song come alive. I really like shorter songs with vocal harmonies and good melody.
Tell us about the writing and recording of the new album. Was it markedly different than how you’ve created other albums you’ve played on? How different is the creative process in GV vs. Earthless?
We wrote the songs over a couple of years. Life has been very busy for each of the band members individually, so we haven’t always rehearsed. Sometimes we’d spend months without rehearsals. We found a time that everyone was able to commit to record. Rehearsed as much as possible and we recorded and mixed the album in four days. When I record for other people it’s usually just me playing guitar and I don’t have to worry about the mix ultimately. Just need to have a good take. Recording the Golden Void album was a lot different than other projects because each song is its own entity with its own set of tones and decorations where as Earthless is pretty straightforward for me, tonally speaking. More or less the switch is always “ON” for Earthless. The creative process is similar for me in regards to Golden Void and Earthless. Find the best sound for the job at hand and have fun while the red light is on. The goal is to capture an inspired take. Sometimes you end up living with the results if time is of the essence. It was a lot more work mixing the Golden Void album than an Earthless album for me because there are a lot more dynamics in Golden Void and you want vocal harmonies to sit in a nice spot complimenting the main vocals and you want the keys to be in the right spot whether they’re matching the guitar with a B3 or complimenting the vocals with a Rhodes.
If you were somehow stuck on the International Space Station and for some ridiculous reason could only bring two Golden Void songs with you, which one would you bring as a way of; 1) best exemplifying your band to your Russian cosmonauts and 2) annoying the fuck out of them the hardest? Why?
To best express what Golden Void sounds like to the Russian cosmonauts I’d share with them “The Curve” because to me that’s the track that explains the band the best with its hard hitting verses and mellow breakdown with a guitar solo. To annoy the cosmonauts I’d show the “Badlands” because it has a minor 4-1-5-1 chord progression popular in Russian traditional music. I could see this annoying the cosmonauts, especially if they were really busy or having a bad day. Also might make them feel more at home….
What are Golden Void’s plans for the near and not-so-near future?
Record release show near future. Write new material, play shows, tour, record another album down the road.