My Goodness’s Joel Schneider got serious, eventually
Seattle’s Joel Schneider wasn’t exactly serious about My Goodness the first time the band played live. Looking for an outlet that was different from his job as bassist for Emerald City garage-pop unit Absolute Monarchs, the singer-guitarist started messing around in the practice space with local drummer Ethan Jacobson. The duo’s songs were an unvarnished mix of garage-smeared blues and grungy rock, the vibe completely chill—until, that is, people got a taste of what he was up to.
“I’d borrowed a guitar and started working on a bunch of songs on acoustic guitar that I wasn’t really planning on playing anywhere else,” Schneider says on the line from his hometown. “Then I started running them through an amp that I borrowed from the guitar player in my other band and thought ‘These sound pretty good, so maybe we can give this a shot and play a show.’ The venue we worked at had an employee band night, so we played it, and it was pretty crazy.
“Both of us felt like the reaction to the set was more than we’d ever experienced before in the other bands that we were in,” he continues. “So we were like, ‘Let’s do this,’ with My Goodness being the working title. It was like, ‘This is our goodness, something that we’re going to keep to ourselves, other than this one-off show.’ ”
Flash forward two years, and plenty has changed since then. For a start, Jacobson is no longer part of the two-piece, something that Schneider suggests is best not dwelled upon.
“Um, I don’t really talk about that much,” he says with a nervous laugh.
The guitarist is now teamed up with timekeeper Andy Lum, the two having worked hard to expand the sound of My Goodness. The group’s output—a series of singles, including the just-released “Check Your Bones”—suggests that the early love of amped-up blues and grunge has grown to incorporate everything from post-indie rock to string-laden soul.
Watch for a further evolution of My Goodness’s sound when a full-length hits record stores later this year.
“The first songs that I wrote were really bluesy,” Schneider says. “I was a little younger then, and I was listening to stuff like Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside. I was also really into the records that Fat Possum was putting out. Then I sort of moved on to a lot of Light in the Attic reissues. That got me opening up my songs a little bit and using different ideas and chord changes. At the same time, I was also listening to a lot of old hardcore stuff that I loved in high school.”
That all of these ended up colouring My Goodness today is doubly interesting because of where the frontman comes from. Because Schneider was raised in a Christian household where secular music got little airplay, it’s been a long road to get to where he is today in more ways than one. If his parents didn’t like fuck-authority hardcore, they certainly weren’t thrilled with his embracing a genre whose most famous practitioner once made a deal with the devil at the crossroads. At least at first, that is.
“They’ve come around—especially in the last couple of years,” Schneider happily reports. “The first show that they ever came to was in late 2012, and they’ve been coming ever since. There was a lot of tension in that area of my life for a long time, but they’ve definitely accepted that I want to play music.”
My Goodness plays Venue on Wednesday (February 5).