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Billy Goat and the Mongrels

Written by Thomas Mitchell on January 21, 2009

It’s 3 am when I meet Morgan in a bar that belongs on the set of Deadwood. I half expect John Wayne to mosey on in and challenge me to a duel Animal heads hang on the walls and I sit on a chair made of cow hide. Before I have a chance to talk Morgan jumps in.

“We basically just started out playing around in the living room, me and Davey. Slowly more people got involved, wanted to be a part of it. We started playing a few gigs here and there, then it grew again. Cat on the bass, Bridget on the clarinet and Brook was always singing with us from the beginning, and now it’s been four years since we started at that stage, and it’s a full live sound.”

He takes a breath.

“You were going to ask how we formed right?”
I defensively answer No, then scribble out the question, ‘how did you guys meet?’ off my pad. There’s some sort of brawl behind us but we both ignore it. Either the soft hue of the neon light is bathing Morgan in red, or he appears to be badly sun burnt.

‘Storm The Ridge, it was hot, I got burnt’ is the answer, he gives. The band took part in a competition at Peats Ridge, but failed to win. I stay silent hoping he expands on his answer.

‘It was for up and coming bands. We won our heat but lost the final to Maxine Kauter. It was a rather amusing evening, we had quite a crowd there and they were being pretty rowdy, perhaps upset with the decision, but it was all fun.’

Did the band enjoy the camping fiesta that is Peats Ridge?

“It was good, but it was too bloody hot. We played at two thirty in the afternoon and it was like 35 degrees. So there were all these hippies lying on the ground, wasn’t the vibe we were looking for. In hindsight I should’ve played some Hank Williams, some laid back country so they could have a cup of tea and smoke a joint. But we wanted to play hard hitting country.”

A bottle hits Morgan’s head but he seems unfazed, preferring to discuss the band’s upcoming gigs, whispering to me, as if they are a secret.

“We’re playing the Vanguard on 1st February. We’ve organized the support so it’ll be a good night. Cat organized them actually so she’s given them all big wraps, she tends to set that stuff up, I’m given the privilege of being able to drink myself silly and write some songs.”

At this point Morgan starts laughing hysterically and I begin to wonder if the bottle did some damage.
“Then on 31st January we’re at the Gaelic Theatre with Killed Two Birds. That should be good, Gaelic Theatre is always fun and Killed Two Birds are a good band so that should be sweet.”

Morgan is bleeding quite seriously now and his face is coated in a thick layer of blood. Neither of us mention it, and instead I quiz him about the wonderful music his bands makes.

“It’s got a bit of that country feel to it but it’s not what you’d expect from country. It’s hard to explain our music. Maybe very alternative country? The crowd get into it they embrace the hillbilly, get their knees up in the air, some foot stomping, knee slapping.”

I know the band has a debut album coming out in February but I’m reluctant to ask, he’s losing a lot of blood and swaying. However Morgan jumps at the opportunity to discuss the forthcoming album.

“We had out debut scheduled for the 1st February, but I’m not sure if it will get there or not. Everything with this album seems to take longer then it should. It’s a slow process. The recording itself didn’t take too long. Fairly fluid, once you’re in there playing that’s the fun bit, it’s all the stuff afterwards that’s boring. Mastering, editing, choosing songs.”

Morgan is telling me of the bands plans to do some rural gigs later in the year, as well as a trip down to Melbourne, when he slumps forward in his chair. This is my cue to leave and I slowly back out, tipping my ten-gallon hat as I leave.

Check out Billygoat and the Mongrels at The Gaelic Theatre with Killed Two Birds on 31st of January and at The Vanguard on 1st February!

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