Goldfinger : Darrin Pfeiffer, Brian Arthur
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After ten years of hard graft, LA punkers Goldfinger are no strangers to the business. Combining elements of ska, punk and reggae the band have won a huge following in their career. counterculture caught up with drummer Darrin Pfeiffer and guitarist Brian Arthur at an exclusive one-off show in Stoke-on-Trent to mark the end of their European tour. The guys are only too happy to answer questions and it would be safe to say that Goldfinger's upbeat music is a perfect spin-off of their individual personalities . . .
Darrin Pfeiffer: I hear you got some questions. We have the answers.
Brian Arthur: Yeah, we also have a song called Answers; it goes something like this: Der der der der . . .
DP: And I go crash crash crash, kick, kick and snare!
BA: Then John goes, "La la la la lalala!"
DP: And the crowd are going, "Aaaaarrrggghh!" and we're going, "Yeah!"
counterculture: How have the dates with Reel Big Fish gone so far?
DP: The dates with Reel Big Fish were great; they put out! They put out and we couldn't be happier - we all got laid! They were great, the dates sold out and they were just amazing. We did great, they did great. The Matches were on it too; they're a really cool band from Oakland, California. Zebrahead from LA played too. Everybody was really cool and I wish it was longer than two weeks because everyone had a blast!
cc: Were there any particular shows that stood out?
DP: Probably Brixton Academy, and Manchester was pretty rad too. The show I wish to forget about was Leeds. It was the first show and we hadn't jammed in a long time, about four months! It took us two shows to get up and running.
BA: We were fine, don't listen to him - we're professionals! I fucked up but everyone else did great.
cc: How does it weigh up playing great shows but also being away from friends and family?
BA: I don't have any friends, so it's all good!
DP: And I don't have any family.
BA: I don't miss anyone!
cc: The artwork for Open Your Eyes and some of the songs refer to us being fed through the media and we should be aware of it. What compelled you to write about it?
DP: I think John [Feldmann, vocals/guitar] wrote it partially in mind with animal rights. To me the song relays the message as the artwork does too: Don't let advertising conduct your life. If you see an advert that says 'smoke'; don't smoke. Or one that says 'you'll be thinner if you drink Bud Lite'; drink whatever you want. But don't let it control your life, dictate what you buy, what you read or watch or do in your life. With John it's obvious that there are overtones of animal rights in there, and vegetarian and vegan issues. I think it's a bit of both.
BA: I agree!
DP: Way to concur Brian!
cc: While we're on the issue of media, the UK has seen a spate of reality TV shows recently. The latest was I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, in which Johnny Rotten was a contestant. What was it like playing with The Sex Pistols in Vancouver in '96?
DP: Those guys were dicks! Steve Jones, the guitar player, was cool, but everyone else was a dick. I almost got in a fight with Johnny Lydon, and if his 250lb security guard hadn't have stepped in I would have destroyed him. To his credit he did want to fight me and we were ready to go. We were going to go outside to fight, but the security guard got in the way and it never happened. He was game, and to me that's amazing, that he would of done it! I probably would have won, but it would have been a really good fight!
cc: One review of that gig I read mentioned Darrin doing his 'look. I'm a girl' trick, which you refer to as, "Doing a Mariah Carey." Can you elaborate on this?
DP: It's something we used to do every show, but we haven't done it in a while. I basically stick my dick between my legs so it looks like I have a pussy! Mangina, I think the medical term is. It's just something funny I do . . . I don't know, I think its cool.
cc: How is John's work going as a producer?
BA: It's something he really likes. He splits the difference, half Goldfinger and half producing. He's really good at it. The Story Of The Year album is awesome, so is The Used and Mest. You just see John getting better at it. He did the Goldfinger record too.
DP: I'm actually producing too in Canada; in Toronto I do some producing. I'm not on the level of John, but I'm just doing it for fun. I like a few bands so I go in the studio with them and help them make a good record.
cc: When listening to Goldfinger records, you don't stand out as the kind of aggressive and rebellious type of band, even with the recent Open Your Eyes. Would you say you were more of band focused on having a good time rather than aiming political messages at people?
DP: As we've gotten older we've changed. We're going to change our name to Oldfinger by the way. I think we're going to have some in the next record. John has fallen head first into animal rights and activism. He's really doing that hardcore, putting all his energy into it. The new record definitely has the same old messages about wives, girlfriends, friends and school. I don't think we're waving a particular type of flag, but I guess animal activism is one. John and Brian are vegan, and I'm sort of vegetarian, but Kelly eats anything that moves! We're not a vegan band like AFI, but I don't think we're that rebellious either, like punk rock and mohawks and leather jackets. We just like playing music.
cc: What made you start the band, who are your influences?
DP: A lot of bands. We're four guys from four different backgrounds. I like hardcore and a lot of metal, I like a lot of punk, I actually like everything! My favourite band of all time is The Smiths. Elvis Costello, The Police - those are bands we can all agree on.
cc: Recently the Recording Industry Association Of America has been trying it's best to clamp down on downloading music. Do you mind fans downloading Goldfinger songs?
DP: On one hand I do, but on the other I don't . . . I'm right in the middle. The pro side of the argument is if, say, a kid downloads a Goldfinger record and listens to it on his iPod or whatever, and becomes a fan. Goldfinger comes to his town, but he can't download the show, he has to come see it for himself. On one hand it's taking money out of our pocket. but on the other it's putting it in. The other side of it is we aren't selling as many records as we used to and that's the obvious con. It's deteriorating the music business and record labels. I think as far as the RIAA going after people; I'm for it as long as it's the people who have downloaded thousands of songs, who are perpetrating it hard. Those people definitely need to be prosecuted. People like me who have maybe got 50 songs; I don't think we should be prosecuted. Go after those who've done it a lot.
cc: So if someone downloads Goldfinger songs but buys the album it's not a problem?
DP: No! I've talked to people on this tour who have said, "I downloaded your record Open Your Eyes, and loved it so much I bought the record." So I'm like, "Well, that's cool." I thought these were the minority but the more I talked to kids I realised they weren't. So there's that side of the argument too. There are people who are looking at records online and thinking . . .
cc: How is work on the new album and DVD going?
DP: The DVD is done, and it's out. That took a long fucking time.
BA: Which DVD is that?
DP: The one we've been working on!
BA: Thought we were doing another one right now though.
DP: Are we?
BA: I don't know!
DP: The DVD Is out, the one that was recorded at the House Of Blues, one of the The Show Must Go Off DVDs. That came out amazing, it's getting great reviews so I hope the people like it. The album is finished as well, its recorded. John has a really nice studio at his house so we write the songs wherever and then go and record them. We work at our own pace and no one tells us what to do. No one is ever like 'time is running out! Quit fucking around!' We can fuck around as much as we want. We'll record one song then go on a Starbucks run. Its cool, we took our time and made a cool record, a very relaxed record.
cc: What can the fans expect from it?
DP: It will still have the Goldfinger edge but the song writing is a little more mature. There are also some dark songs on this record. What's that dark song called Brian?
BA: Damaged. It's basically like Goldfinger but more mature, but it still rocks. Plus there are two really great reggae songs! Lot of ska - we brought the horns back. It's a fucking awesome record I think, from the view of a Goldfinger fan.
DP: I think it's our best album, definitely.
cc: As Brian was just saying, there is a lot of variety on Goldfinger records. Did you still want to keep it punk rock based on the new record?
DP: No. There is very little punk stuff - dashes of it here and there but it isn't very prominent. There is no going home on this next record, there isn't one song that's punk rock all the way through. That's just fine, but I'm sure we're gonna annoy some people who'll say, "Why aren't you guys punk rock anymore?" We can't put out the same records every year. If you want punk records every year listen to Pennywise. But even NOFX are getting more mature in their song writing.
cc: When your song Superman was featured on the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater game, did that attract a lot of attention?
DP: That was unbelievable! We didn't think the Tony Hawk video game would do as well as it did. We thought it would do well, but it went through the roof! Kids were coming up to us at the shows and saying, "I never heard of you guys until I got the Tony Hawk game, now I'm a fan and I have all your records." Tony did a lot for our band, and we've never met him! I heard he's a really big fan. When you complete the game with Tony, the video at the end shows him skating to Superman, so I thought that was pretty cool.
BA: And that was back in the day, before people figured out that you could make money from putting your songs on video games. Nowadays it's like whoever the newest and hottest band are, they automatically get their song on a video game. Tony Hawk's was one of the first games that actually tied music in with video games.
cc: Are there any future plans for more songs on movies or video games?
BA: We're on the Mary-Kate And Ashley movie!
DP: Probably the reason we aren't signed to Mojo anymore, but that's a different story! I don't think we have plans to do any more games; they call you if they want your song on there. Think we're on Gran Turismo 4 as well.
cc: Superman is one of your most renowned numbers, as is 99 Red Balloons, originally by Nena. Why did you choose to cover that?
DP: We were recording Stomping Ground at John's house, and we thought about how good it would be to be big in Germany. We go to Germany and play and the shows are good, but we wanted to be really big. One day we were jamming and Kelly started playing it, and then we all knew the notes so we thought let's record it.
cc: How have the various lineups affected Goldfinger?
DP: Well Brian is a fucking guitar virtuoso; he's like Joe Satriani!
BA: I'm pretty much as good as Yngwie Malmsteen. I actually challenged him to a duel one time; he was putting on a demo in my hometown. I went up to the guitar shop with my guitar and little amp and said, "I challenge you motherfucker!"
BA: He actually died. I was the guy who killed him.
DP: And Kelly came into the band when Simon left a long time ago and came into the rehearsal room and started doing some bass fills and said, "I'm not leaving this room till I'm in the band!" So he did more fills and said, "If you don't let me join I will be outside your house all night doing bass leads." So we said that we would get back to him. I'm in my bed that night and Kelly puts his amp right against the door of my house and starts playing and shouting, "I told you I'd be here!" So I called the cops and he took off! Then he does the same thing at John's house, through his window! We let him in the band just to shut him up!
cc: So you didn't want to press harassment charges?
DP: No, he's a really nice guy.
BA: I told them that if I didn't get in the band I would do a guitar solo on Stevie Ray Vaughan's grave with a Goldfinger shirt on!
cc: Just to finish off on, what's the craziest thing that's happened to Goldfinger on the road?
DP: Oh God, let me look through the ten year history of the band!
BA: What about the 17 hookers we had last night?
DP: I thought it was 20.
BA: No, there was a girl who was really a guy!
DP: Then there was a midget and a dead girl, so technically 20! No, there has been a lot of crazy stuff and some of it is on the DVD. I threw a very large firework at our sound guy; it was like a professional bomb! We were playing with Big Blue Monkey before they were Story Of The Year, and I threw it and everyone scattered, but Mark was still there and he didn't know it was coming. It blew right up in his face! He's a mild mannered guy but he was angry, with good cause.
BA: What about when you body-slammed Conan O'Brien on TV?
DP: Oh yeah!
BA: Darrin puts him in between his legs, lifts him up in the air and body slams him dude! He tried kissing him after, asking if he was OK! That's on the DVD as well. First time I saw it I watched it 90 times in a row.
DP: I can't watch it anymore, it's a part of my life I'm trying to forget! We have a lot of nudity stories too, but that's for another time . . .
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