The Mountain Goats Bring a Stripped-Down Act to Phoenix

Categories: Interview

DL Anderson
Mountain Goats

Between The Mountain Goats that created early solo boom box recordings and the collaborative band that toured its 2012 album, Transcendental Youth, with a horn section were the duo years. And it's as a duo that The Mountain Goats will perform at Crescent Ballroom on Wednesday, June 18.

Peter Hughes first joined John Darnielle's burgeoning project to record 2002's Tallahassee, marking a shift from lo-fi singer-songwriter material to a folk-rock approach. With Darnielle on guitar and vocals and Hughes on bass, The Mountain Goats toured as a duo for the next several years, steadily growing an audience enamored with the lyrics of Darnielle, a natural-born storyteller often touching on dark but relatable themes.

"That was basically what The Mountain Goats consisted of from 2002 to 2007; it was just the two of us," Hughes says.

The Mountain Goats toured the intervening years as a trio, with Superchunk's Jon Wurster on drums and often bringing along guest musicians. Darnielle and Hughes regrouped for a duo tour of the East Coast last summer and decided to stomp out West this year.

"It's a bit different. We play some new songs and some old songs. We're revisiting things. It's not exactly the way we used to play. My approach to the songs is very different," Hughes says. "But The Mountain Goats is John. It doesn't matter how many people are along for the ride."

Touring as a duo -- and especially now, in between albums -- gives The Mountain Goats the opportunity to play old obscure songs and fan favorites that have been pushed aside over the years.

"When we're touring on an album, when there's something new out, you go out with all guns blazing. We'll bring out extra musicians and make it a pretty intense show," Hughes says. "With these duo tours it's a little more informal, a little more casual, so there's room to be spontaneous if we feel like it."

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