They Might be Giants: Northcote of many colours

Matt Goud didn’t have trouble aligning himself with musical mates in junior high. In fact, the Carlyle, Sask., native could practically spot his kind from a distance. “My junior high school had about 150 people,” Goud, 27, said with a laugh. “There were about three or four kids into punk rock, if that. And I was one of them.”

Goud, a Victoria musician who performs under the moniker Northcote, actively pursued music growing up. When his parents bought his brother a drum set, Goud happily took it for himself. He soon began rehearsing in a barn on his family’s property, later adding guitar to his repertoire.

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At first, he was limited to playing Nirvana and Foo Fighters covers at school assemblies. In a small school, in a small town, Goud stuck out. He still does, in a lot of ways. “I still get kind of embarrassed talking to old friends, who are now either engineers or work in the oil industry,” he said. “They’re like, ‘You’re still doing music?’ ”

The roots of his first musical project, Means, took shape when Goud was attending a Christian boarding school in Dauphin, Man. He linked up with bassist Blair Roberts, who would become his best friend, and the band was born.

Means eventually relocated to Regina, further exploring members’ metal and hardcore interests.

Along the way, Goud said, the songwriting began to focus less on the Christian beliefs of members, many of whom were questioning their faith.

“I dropped out of theology school, Bible school, at 21,” Goud said. “I was a pretty devout Christian until then. A couple of friends and I expanded our reading and talked through it, and I came to the conviction that Christian religion isn’t literally true.”

It was hard to escape the Christian moniker, however. In the U.S., Means was signed to a Christian record label and played Christian festivals.

“In Canada, we were playing with everyone. But in the U.S., we were never pitched to play with the bands we wanted to. We only got paired with other Christian bands. I got really sour towards that.”

Means finally got the opportunity to become a “normal” band, Goud said, but folded shortly after.

It was precisely the right time, Goud said. “I’m really proud of that band, but I wanted to try something other than heavy music.”

Goud began writing in more of a folk-related realm. He released See This Through, his solo debut under the Emerson Letters banner, in 2008, before switching to Northcote. Borrowed Chords and Tired Eyes, his Northcote debut, arrived in 2009, a year before he moved to Victoria.

Northcote’s full-length debut, 2011’s Gather No Dust, was released while Goud lived in Victoria, though it had little correlation with the city. Northcote’s new self-titled release, a recording he considers much happier than its predecessor, has more than a few shoutouts to Greater Victoria, including references to his former job as the overnight maintenance janitor at View Royal’s Great Canadian Casino.

“It’s more confident, this material,” he said. “The last record was a lot more timid. That’s where I was in my life. I was brand new in Victoria and a bit more shy. This time, I’m just trying to go out with a bit more confidence.”

His 23-date tour across Canada starts Thursday in Victoria at Lucky Bar. For the tour, Goud will be playing with a full band, a dynamic he sorely misses during his solo gigs.

“With this record, I wanted it to be less about the mind and the brain, less heady music and more red-blooded. The pressure of a singer-songwriter is to be very thoughtful. I wanted to express the music a bit more physically. That goes back to my hardcore days. I’m the kind of singer-songwriter who plays a café and expects a mosh pit.”

 

Where were you born and raised?

My hometown is Regina, but I was raised in a small town two hours south of there, called Carlyle.

 

At which point did you know the city was not for you in the long term?

I got into a relationship and followed my partner, Britt — who is now my wife — to both Yellowknife and Vancouver. That’s how I ended up here, because I wanted to live with her.

 

When did you arrive in Victoria?

I arrived in the fall of 2010.

 

What is your favourite thing about Victoria?

The environment, the green. Walking in the rain. I already had a fondness for the West Coast because I lived in Vancouver for a while. But I really enjoy it here.

 

What is your greatest accomplishment as a person or professional?

The support I receive from my family and my partner has allowed me to stick with it. There’s a lot of times where you just want to quit, because you’re relying on others to help you. But I’m proud that I’ve kept going.

 

First album you purchased?

Sheryl Crow, Sheryl Crow. Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill is another one.

 

Favourite album?

I’m a huge fan of The Constantines. Kensington Heights is probably my favourite, off the top of my head.

 

First concert you attended?

I remember seeing the Foo Fighters at Edgefest in Saskatoon. I also saw Good Riddance, Misfits and MxPx in junior high.

 

Favourite concert you attended?

I got to see Neil Young a few years ago, before we moved out here.

 

If you had one motto, or rule to abide by, what would it be?

I believe in perseverance. Keep going. A lot of people stop when they’re 90 per cent of the way there.

 

Northcote plays Lucky Bar on Saturday with opening act Himalayan Bear. Doors are at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 at Lyle’s Place, Ditch Records, and ticketweb.ca

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