For a band that tours fairly often, it's amazing how much the members of the Mountain Goats are able to pop up in so many other areas of pop culture. From writing books to appearing on podcasts, frontman John Darnielle, bassist Peter Hughes, and drummer Jon Wurster keep busy in their spare time constantly working on whatever project grabs their interest. Ahead of the band's visit to Dan's Silverleaf in Denton on Friday, here are a few of the best pop culture works they've done.
Hughes has a peculiar sports obsession. His personal website is FiveTools, a reference to the skills baseball scouts look for in a prospect (bat, power, speed, arm and glove), he's put out two football-themed EPs, and he's blogged extensively about baseball games he's attended. The blogging led to the publishing of two books chronicling all the baseball games he attended in 2000, and again in 2001. The Baseball Diaries are an interesting look into the thoughts of an artist who loves the game and who took the time to learn as much about it as possible.
In 2006 Wurster teamed with his comedy partner Tom Scharpling and Bob Odernik to write a few episodes of the Adult Swim show Tom Goes To The Mayor (the precursor to Tim & Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job!). The episodes were glorious bits of anti-comedy and wonderfully weird, though none were odder than the wrestling episode, which featured a deranged, yelling, steroid-pushing Gary Busey.
The 33 1/3 series exists to give writers an opportunity to write about their favorite albums from different perspectives, whether it be academic breakdowns, short stories or poems. Darnielle's entry is a short story about a teenager in a metal health facility using the songs from Black Sabbath's Master of Reality album to connect with the world around him. It's a hell of a read and a great avenue to explore the work of a writer who's known as one of the best lyricists working today in a longer form.
Listen, a lot of musicians have fairly decent Twitters, but most of those are used to talk about upcoming shows, have weird interactions with fans and, well, pick up groupies. This is why Wurster's twitter is so great. It's hilarious, candid and an all-around must follow. He touches on everything from sports to pop culture and what he's reading at the time. He even has really deep conversations about Sex and the City. And if you need proof of the hilarity, well take a look at this.
In 2003 John Darnielle, and some helpful internet folks, complied 100 reasons why R. Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)" is one of the greatest songs of all time. Reasons range from:
"3. How is this song in particular a good 'weekend' song? For starters, there's the delay in mentioning the weekend. Note a shitty 'weekend' song, Loverboy's 'Working for the Weekend,' for purposes of comparison, which shoots its entire wad in the chorus's first line & then has nothing compelling to say."
"35. But what we're going to have to come back to is what Nabisco brings up & it's where any hyperbole in which we've been engaging will really find its feet and start doing the Charleston. 'WTF, why is R. Kelly turning into Sam Cooke?' because R. Kelly is Sam Cooke."
It's an epic breakdown, and really a must-read if you ever find yourself bored at work. If the crowd in Denton is lucky he'll play his cover on Friday.
Both Wurster, and Darnielle have appeared on John Hodgeman's court themed podcast as expert witnesses for fictional trials. Darnielle's popped up three times, and even performed as a musical guest for one of the live recordings of the show.
Of all the wonderfully weird characters Jon Wurster created for his call-in segments on Tom Scharpling's The Best Show on WFMU, none were as bizarre or weird as the Gorch, a character who claimed to be the inspiration for Happy Days' Fonzie. The Gorch, real name Roland Gorchnik, even wrote a book titled The Real Life Fonzie's Guide to Real Life. The Gorch was way more violent than the Fonz was and is still supposedly busting heads well into his 60s.
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Every band breaks out a cover from time to time, but few breakout a lesson in musical history while performing it. John Darnielle details every mistake made by Ace of Base when they negotiated their record deal while performing their No. 1 hit "The Sign." It's hilarious and one of the most well-known bits in his repertoire.
Darnielle's forthcoming debut novel is a time travel story based around tabletop gaming. Yeah, for real. Also the cover design is pretty rad. It's already seeing it's fair share of critical praise and is due out in September.
THE MOUNTAIN GOATS play with Loamloads tomorrow, June 20, 9 p.m. at Dan's Silverleaf, 103 Industrial St., Denton. Sold Out.