I’m quickly realizing how big of an underground scene there is for instrumental bands here in Savannah, and I’m not even sure if anyone besides the bands themselves realize it. I went to a show at Ampersand recently (read Garrett’s writeup here), the entire lineup of which consisted of awesome instrumental groups. One in particular that really grabbed my attention was Blackrune, consisting of Paul Goerner (guitar), Matt McCullough (percussion), and Chris Goggans (bass). Their style is one that not even they can agree on, but the word I would use is captivating. And watching how they take over a room is half of the experience.
I met with them the day after the show to really get into what brought the band about.
Enen: Where did you get your name?
Goerner: I had a project called Magic Places around here, in Savannah, for awhile, just like a solo electronic thing that I did. I was working it out with Ryan McCardle, the guy who runs the DIY label Furious Hooves that’s released all of our stuff so far. And he plays in mumbledust, another good music duo around here, and he’s just been a really good support. And the idea was, if you’ll let me be conceptual here for a second in a stupid way, I wanted to stop being a general idea, and be more of a specific one. Blackrune is like a surname to me. Like the name of a person, or a place. That was the idea, to kind of settle down to a more specific personality. Otherwise, honestly, it’s just cliché, like a mystical place, or a mystical name.
Enen: How would you describe your music?
McCullough: I usually go with post-rock. Or lately I’ve been saying ‘Horror Movie Soundtracks.’
Goggans: It’s hard for us to even agree on it. I always picture robed monks walking through the desert.
Goerner: I don’t think we should [agree on a description]. We’re more leaning towards the idea of soundtracks, recently. Almost like program music. It’s meant to be attached to a bigger context, almost. Or maybe meant to invoke a sort of imaginary thing.
Enen: You said you’re going to be taking a break from playing shows because you’re going to be recording soon?
Goerner: Yeah, we’re finally going to Dollhouse. We’ve been talking to them about it forever and ever, and we kept telling them ‘we’re coming soon.’ Finally doing it.
Enen: What are your goals for that album?
Goerner: Really, just what you see right here. Us, and everything we’ve done in the past. We’ve done three tapes; two shorter ones, and this full length one that just came out (Palustrine Hegemon). All of those [previous works] were kind of like long-term projects; little things, or sketches I worked on for a long time. And we just took some time, and developed them over the course of even a year or more at some points. And this [new album] will be the thing, where, it’s all of us together for the first time, bringing songs we have made all together, bringing things to record all at once – instead of just going back and collecting all of the things we’ve done over the past couple years.
Goggans: I think it will be the most representative of our live show.
Goerner: Yeah, definitely. It will actually be representative of what you get when you come and see us. I almost feel like this is actually going to be the first release, really.
Enen: How did you guys meet?
Goerner: Oh, you know: Class, school.
McCullough: Yeah, Paul and I met in a lit theory class. And we played our first show at the Stopover, 2013, and [Chris Goggans] was there–
Goggans: I didn’t know them at all. I saw them playing, and I really dug it, and I had seen [Paul] around campus. And I walked up and I was like ‘do you guys need a bass player?’
Later on, Matt ended up explaining in more detail his background in music, and what brought him to where he was with Blackrune:
McCullough: I walked into 8th grade, and I could do band or chorus. And I was like ‘Well, I can’t sing for shit, so I’m gonna do band.’ And it turned out that the band I signed up for was jazz band, and they asked me what instrument I wanted to play. And I thought drums had always been cool. And the bass player for that school thing and I met and started making pop punk bands. One of them ended up getting signed, and going on tour. And then I was in another band, and went on tour again, put out a few records, and it was all drama, and nightmares, and crazy stuff. And I kinda gave up, and came [to Savannah]. And then I met Paul, and told him “I had said I was never playing music again, but you just seem so nice,” so I started doing music with him.
Enen: What got you (Goerner) into playing music?
Goerner: Oh, I was just the typical suburban white kid that liked starting garage bands. Basically just like, pop-punk. I came to being thirteen, fourteen, and I discovered punk rock. Got into things like NOFX , and Pennywise. First cover songs were Blink 182, and MxPx, and Jimmy Eat World. I think our generation was lucky enough to sort of pick through a lot of different eras of development of art and find something that inspires us. I feel like I come from a time where it was very common to be like, “Well I’ve heard a lot of music where it’s pretty obvious that you don’t need a lot of talent, or a lot of development, and I think I can actually do that.”
Though the band doesn’t feel that their style should necessarily be finitely agreed upon, the interview ended on a harmony with the direction of the band.
Goerner: We just keep it easy. It’s not a really demanding thing that we’re trying to do.
Goggans: It’s very loose.
Goerner: [We want to] get out what we’re doing in however much time or effort it takes to make something that we like, and that’s basically just what we’re doing. I like bands that tour, but their tours are just ten shows. And that’s always the kind of band we’ll be. Keeping it simple. We don’t want to die of it; we never want to take the chance of hating it as a professional thing.
Go to their Facebook if you want to keep updated with Blackrune. Their most recent album, Palustrine Hegemon (which Goerner told me is a “sort of mangling, or nonsense Latin phrase that means ‘Swamp Empire.'”) is on Bandcamp, but you can listen to it right here: