Listen to charismatic front man and Goudie namesake Johnny Goudie on the band’s tantalizing opener, “Baby Hello,” and you can almost envision him slithering over their trademark blast of scorching guitars. Two more songs into Goudie’s astonishing debut effort, ‘Peep Show’, and you realize another curtain just may be lifting on rock’s ever-changing landscape. But being compared to past and present icons like The New York Dolls and Radiohead doesn’t phase the Texas group. The wiry foursome would like it to be known, however, that even though the Austin Chronicle has already crowned them “the band to watch in the year 2000,” they are much more interested in the kind of spontaneous glimpses they offer up on ‘Peep Show’.
“The recording process was very organic,” says Johnny. “This album was a strong group effort. It came together by the four of us working in a very loose and spontaneous fashion.” An example of this unfettered style is how Goudie drummer Bill Lefler came up with the original verses for the band’s aforementioned anthem “Baby Hello,” at home, and brought it to the rest of the band for their perusal. “We jammed and came up with the chorus. And then I went home and wrote the lyrics and we recorded it,” beams Johnny. Goudie also co-wrote a handful of songs with friends such as Kevin Hunter (Wire Train) and ex-Go Go Jane Wiedlin. Peep Show also includes a guest vocal by one of the band’s idols, Aimee Mann on the album’s dreamy closer “When Will You Be Mine?.”
From the eerie, pleading “Julia” to the freewheeling “Buy Me,” there is something surreptitiously soulful about Goudie. “Maybe it’s our diverse influences,” says bassist Einar. “I was a huge Kiss fan, a huge Pretenders and Police fan.” Johnny has a whole other set of influences. “My mother was a big hippie,” says Johnny. “So, I was raised on Dylan, The Beatles and stuff like that. I never studied music, because I wanted to develop my own musical identity. I chose style over technique.” On the other hand, drummer Bill Lefler attended the Berklee College of Music where he learned to balance his natural affinity for drumming with skills that would allow him to grow into an accomplished songwriter. Guitarist Jimmy Messer grew up on a steady diet of Zeppelin and Sabbath. However, he credits contemporary film composers such as Danny Elfman with helping shape his cinematic style, which is his special gift to Goudie’s overall sound.
“We started around September of 1997,” recalls Johnny. “We got together and did some demos, and began playing shows around Texas.” But the band’s real break came in the spring of 1998 when The Music Company’s Dan McCarroll caught a bootleg showcase of sorts during the South By Southwest Music Conference (the band was never sanctioned by the music convention). He like their show so much, that he had the group set up another showcase in Los Angeles for The Music Company’s founder, Lars Ulrich.
With all parties liking what they saw and heard, the group was signed to The Music Company in August of 1998, and soon after began recording the basic tracks in Austin with Dan McCarroll (drummer-Sheryl Crow, The Grays, Aimee Mann) and Mike McCarthy (Sixteen Deluxe) co-producing with the group. After the core sessions were completed in Texas, the band mixed the disc in L.A. with Jack Joseph Puig (No Doubt, Goo Goo Dolls, Jellyfish and Hole.)
“I think one of our biggest strengths is our live show,” says Johnny. “I’ll never forget when I was 13, I went to a Cheap Trick show and there was this great girl there who could not take her eyes off Robin Zander. I knew right then that i wanted to be on stage. I remember saying to myself; ‘Okay, so I’ll learn to play guitar.'” Einar agrees that it’s the Goudie stage show that gives the band its undeniable identity. “I think what we are really about is being a really good live rock band. It’s that simple. When we recorded the album we tried to capture that feeling. We would do a song a day. Look, we are audience members ourselves. We perform and record in the spirit that we’d like to see if we were the fans. Our biggest asset is we love what we’re doing.” With ‘Peep Show’, Goudie makes that crystal clear.