A Conversation with Mitch Goudy
Mike Ragogna: Mitch, you've got a new album, #Rowdie, and this is your second album, right?
Mitch Goudy: Yes, this is.
MR: Why "#Rowdie"? Why a hashtag?
MG: This album is called #Rowdie, which makes it kind of hip, you know. It's all very exciting! I got the honor to write all of the songs on this album and also I got to be a producer on the album, which definitely changes it. I created my own sound. I know that country radio and some of the fans started calling it "hybrid country." I thought that was a pretty cool thing, to have its own sub-genre because it sounds so unique. I'm very, very excited about it. It just released probably two weeks ago and things have really started to take off ever since.
MR: Congratulations, Mitch! So what is it about the project that makes it a hybrid? Is it in the production? The songwriting?
MG: It's a little bit of everything. The way I like to explain it is I grew up listening to all types of music. People have this stereotype sometimes that when you listen to country music and you're wearing your cowboy boots around that you listen to only George Jones and Johnny Cash and that's it. Well, I was lucky enough to grow up listening to all types of music, because I had influences at school, I had influences with my parents, and everyone around me was listening to all different types of music. So I grew to love anything from James Taylor to screamo. I would say my writing is primarily country, but it has influences from other genres, and that's both in the production and the songwriting. Each song is its own page, I would say. They're all different and they all have different flavors. You will hear influences from nineties country to occasionally hip hop and then old country and obviously the new country sound, too. It's just all over the board, but all put together to make for a fun, rowdy album.
MR: And I guess that's the rowdy element, huh?
MG: Yes, it is the rowdy element, but where you're going to find me the most rowdy is at my shows. Something about loud music and the energy that happens when you get a bunch of guys together in a crowd singing along, there's just something that turns me loose and I start doing some pretty crazy things. It's definitely worth coming out to see.
MR: Rumor has it that your nickname was "Rowdie" Goudy.
MG: Yes, ever since I was little. Apparently, I was always a little bit rambunctious, so the name stuck. Actually I didn't really think about it until I started going out on these radio visits. They would get to know me and I would play and by the end of the interview they were calling me "Rowdie" Goudy. So I said, "What do I do about this?" If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! It's been a nickname since I was little and now people aren't even calling me Mitch anymore, they just refer to me as "Rowdie" and I'm perfectly okay with that.
MR: Not so old school country acts are known for blending genres, like Garth Brooks seems to be one of the first to open up that door with hits like his take on Billy Joel's "Shameless" and his rocked-up live performances.
MG: Yes, that's one thing that I've started to notice. I'm pretty young, I just turned 20 a week ago, which was pretty exciting, but in just the little time I've been doing music and creating it and writing it I have found myself not necessarily fitting the status quo of Nashville country. I had a hard time at first with that, but I found that when I wrote the best songs was when I wasn't thinking about it at all. I was just writing what came from the heart. I know Garth Brooks started doing that type of stuff with incorporating different genres, and one thing that really struck me was I don't know who said it, but somebody told me one time, "You know, there's cowboys who know every word to Eminem songs." Because of the internet, all music is accessible now. It's not just what the radio's playing. That completely changed my mindset, because I went, "Then everyone wants to hear something new, and it's okay to incorporate different genres within the music," and by the response of the fans, people are starting to really dig the sound and I'm going to keep on working at it to create my own flow, I would say. There's no better feeling than getting a band together in a room and just making what comes from the heart and what you feel, because I feel like that is the most responsive.
MR: Is that how you approached the songwriting on this?
MG: I did it a lot of different ways. A lot of the time songwriting comes as inspiration for me, but I actually spent a lot of the time conceptualizing the album before I made it. I don't know if that's right or wrong, I really don't have a rulebook. I just let it happen the way it's going to happen. So I conceptualized it and as I was writing I was out on tour this summer with my band and I would sit down with the drummer and say, "What's your take on this? What would you do naturally to this?" Then I took that idea and put it into my producer brain and then I went over to the bassist and we would hang out and I would say, "If Eric's doing this and I'm doing this, where do you fit in?" That's kind of how the songs came alive. A lot of it was done by myself, but I had input from other musicians and their musical influences. My drummer listens to completely different music than I do and it's so cool to have it all blend together and create The Mitch Goudy Band sound, which is really cool.
MR: You've had some interesting co-write offers, what is all this Nashville-ness about?
MG: Well I am in southeast Iowa right now, but I call the road my home. I went to Nashville for the first time when I was fifteen and it was a huge eye-opener. Everyone is so creative down there and it's country music central. It was a little bit overwhelming, but I've been going back and I have an awesome team down there who help me out and help me stay on track. I have had some offers for co-writes, we'll see what the future brings with all those. It's really an insane thing. I feel pretty new to the industry and one of the coolest things, I've got to say, is meeting some of these people and having them interested in what you do. I just happened to end up in a hotel room with Scotty McCreery. I'm having to get used to meeting these guys who you hear on the radio. It's a super cool thing, I'm excited and hopefully some collaborations will happen soon.
MR: What are some of the experiences and advice that have helped you evolve? Is there any time you've had to say, "Yeah, that's good advice, but it's not for me?"
MG: That's a tough thing. It's an honor to have people want to be involved. I'm very, very excited every time it happens. I've had awesome mentors throughout this entire time. You were at one of my first shows, I was just playing at a local coffee shop, and now things have just really taken off. People have helped me along all the time with great advice. Obviously, it's very cliché to say, "You've just got to do you," but I'm actually finding out that the more I learn, the more I learn I don't really know that much. I think it just takes you listening to people that you trust and taking bits of information from everyone. It's awesome that people are so willing to give you advice and feedback. Say you wrote a song and you want feedback on it, people are awesome in the fact that they will help you out with that. I just take the best things from everyone and try to digest it, and then I think about it myself and just do what feels right to me and from what I know. That's just kind of the way I went about it.
MR: And what advice do you have for new artists?
MG: I always want to be careful with this. Somebody gave me this advice along the way: In music, you have to have a thick skin, a short memory and an insane work ethic. Those words right there have really helped me out along the way because everyone's got an opinion of your music, everyone's got ideas of where to go, if they like you, if they don't like you, all this stuff. I had to learn very quickly that thick skin, short memory and an insane work ethic is what you need. I don't let bad critiques get me down, and I also don't let amazing critiques bring me up. I just kind of do what I feel the music calls me to do. I try and play for the fans, I play for everyone and I'm really just putting my heart out on the line and it seems to be getting a good response. That's my advice. You've got to do what you've got to do and put yourself out there. Another thing I would say is never be afraid of what other people are thinking around you. I came from a small town in Iowa. In high school I hid the fact for a while that I played guitar and sang. I hit it. The only time I did that was in my basement. Nobody else knew except for my best friend. During that time, I wrote a song called "My Girl's Hand." It ended up in a notebook and I left it there for a year and a half, I refused to show anyone, and then somebody came along and wanted to hear if I ever wrote a song and I said, "Well yeah, here's 'My Girl's Hand,'" and they said, "Well why don't you keep writing songs? That one's amazing, let's put it up on YouTube." I was so afraid of that, but I've got to say, thank goodness for that person pushing me along and just letting all the scariness of putting yourself out there go because the response on YouTube was what really started me thinking, "Wow, maybe I could do this for a living," and I got the drive to then play coffee shops and all that stuff. You've got to put yourself out there and don't really worry about what other people think. If it's truly your dream, go after it. I obviously wish I would've started two years earlier. Everyone says I started young, but I don't think you could ever start too young if it's what you want to do.
MR: How does this short memory concept work? A lot of people feel it's the reverse, you learn your lessons and hang onto that stuff for the rest of your life.
MG: Yeah, I would say keep the diamonds, but you're always growing as an artist. I know when I was first writing my first songs, when I would get a bad critique on a song that wasn't necessarily released or something, that would beat me up for two weeks. That's what I mean by short memory. I don't necessarily mean, "Don't listen to anyone, don't take from any lessons you've learned." I mean don't let it get you down. You're always growing as an artist. #Rowdie is considered brand new, people are just now getting their hands on it, which is so cool, but at the same time I'm already thinking, "Since that was successful, here's where I'm going," and I don't let little things get me down along the way. That was something I really had to learn. I guess when I was so young and I'd hear a bad critique I wouldn't write for a week because I was just so devastated by it. That's when somebody said, "You've just got to have a short memory, thick skin and an insane work ethic. Take the advice, but keep going. Don't let it just bog you down." That's what I mean.
MR: What does an ideal future for you look like?
MG: Okay, if I had it my way, an ideal future... Well, like I said, it's amazing what's happening right now because there are so many avenues I could go down. Really, I'm just going to follow my gut to where I truly want to go, but if I had it my way right now as a twenty year old who's just now starting to catch some traction and everything, I obviously want to be a songwriter, producer, performer my entire life. If I could make that my job... I honestly hate sleeping, which sounds weird, but right now I hate sleeping because my dreams happen when I'm awake. That's very poetic and songwriter-y, but it's so true. If I could make this work and if people are really digging the music, I would love to start a revolution in country music. That's big dreams, but I've always got big dreams. I think that if I could create a show that when you come to the show you're going to hear all types of music, all types of flow, I'm going to keep you on your feet the whole time, keep you on the tips of your toes and not everything sounds the same, you can have a different groove on every song and truly have feel with my music and maybe create this hybrid revolution, that would be incredible. That would be what I want to do and I would absolutely be the happiest guy in the world. I think with anything I do, I would be the happiest guy in the world. If I end up doing whatever, I'm a very passionate person, but right now where my dreams are set is where I would want to go.
MR: Where do you think your creativity comes from?
MG: My dad actually said a comment to me, we don't get to see each other as much anymore because I'm on the road all the time, but he said, "I don't know why you were born with a fire in your belly." I thought, "Well what do you mean?" I guess I started my first business when I was twelve, it was a DJ business, I just had this drive to do it. I don't a hundred percent know where the inspiration comes from; I think it's just my personality. Obviously, I have a lot of faith in God and that helps me along the way, but as far as my desire to change, I guess I've just seen things throughout my life and I've always read books about noblemen and awesome leaders and I thought, "You know what? If I could make this world a better place with some of the talents that God has given me, there's no better life than that. If that means that I have to work a little harder or I don't get to experience necessarily everything that everyone else gets to experience that's okay with me, because if I leave my footprint, that's what I want to do. I guess I've always just had that mindset. So as far as where the inspiration comes from, I just have this thing where I want to make the world a better place. Man, it's cheesy, it's so cheesy, but I'm telling you, when I wake up in the morning, I truly feel like that. I put on headphones and close my eyes and I can escape from where I am like that. If I'm mad I can put myself into this amazing place because of an artist putting themselves on the line. If I can do that for somebody else there's nothing better. That's kind of where my drive comes from, I want to make the world a better place and help people's dreams come true and also create amazing music, leave a footprint. Big goals, but I'm driven, I'm going to do it.
MR: Nice. You sound like a motivational speaker, Mitch.
MG: Oh geez. I love motivating people. One of the coolest experiences that happened to me as far as the reason I got that drive so much was I was out on the road and one of my band members looked at me and said, "You know what? This is weird, but thank you." I said, "What do you mean?" By no means are we playing the biggest stages in the world, but his dream was to get out on the road and play. Because of the sacrifice and the amount of work the whole team has put in--not just me, the whole team--we've gotten to go to New Mexico and all of these places which is so incredible. That moment right there, I went, "You know what? This isn't just me, this is bigger than me." If I can have fans that have an amazing experience and go places with me, that's amazing. As far as a motivational speaker, I don't know about that. I hope to motivate people with my music and by my character and when you meet me hopefully you feel like I'm pulling for your dreams, too.
MR: In a #Rowdie way.
MG: In a #Rowdie way, exactly! [laughs] That's where "#Rowdie" comes from. A lot of people think I'm wrecking hotel rooms. Well, I very well might, but it's more getting rowdy about your dreams. Getting rowdy about doing things. Getting rowdy about doing something different and helping people out. Whatever you're rowdy about. If your thing is to be a veterinarian, get rowdy about it, man, and do something. That's where it comes from. That's the passion that's in a show for us. When you come to see me you will see me putting everything on the line right there so you can feel that passion, too, and you leave feeling more inspired or like a better person, or just loving and digging the music. That's what I want.
Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne
ANDRE COSTELLO AND THE COOL MINORS PRESENT "SHE TOOK MY HAND"
According to Andre Costello...
"It's a love song and it's a soul song. It's also a fool's song. It's the idea of someone being trapped in a place of unrequited love--a place of using and abusing, deceit and treachery. The tale lives most commonly in myth--a woman casting a spell on a man and pulling him off track to the point that he becomes a shadow of himself, some sort of loyal pawn, willing to serve his captor at all costs. The spell can be broken, but not without a great deal of destruction. The styling of the song--major key, sleigh bells, and tambourine all put a glazing on the topic, but the heartbreak is right there below the surface."