Arts

SXSW 2017: GGOOLLDD dedicates itself to music both on the stage and off

Milwaukee band GGOOLLDD will perform at the Majestic Theatre this fall.

Image By: Morgan Winston

If you go on Google and search “gold music band,” you’ll find bands called GOLD, Gold, Band of Gold and several others if you scroll through the first couple pages. That’s why the Milwaukee-based band GGOOLLDD doubled every letter and made it all-caps. It’s their way to distinguish themselves from the get-go, but this band is much more than an attempt to stand out from the crowd so they can get big.

With most bands, the group records a couple songs, they get a bit of a following, then they’ll perform at parties to spread the word about their music.

For GGOOLLDD, it started with the party. The band would never have been formed if it weren’t for their desire to throw a ridiculously wild party with their friends.

“This wasn’t supposed to go past the one-time thing,” lead vocalist Margaret Butler said. “I had never played music in my life. I wouldn’t even play karaoke because I was scared to death.”

After their first performance, friends kept asking them to perform again and again. So they did. With a little bit of fine-tuning to the roster, Butler and Nicholas Ziemann (vocals and bass) cut some people and recruited Mark Stewart on the drums and Nicholas Schubert on synths. The two years following the life-changing party were filled with juggling music and day-jobs.

After those two years, GGOOLLDD made a full-time commitment to the music.

“We’re musicians now. We’re not just throwing f---ing parties,” Butler said. “We quit our jobs. We just live in a van together and write music. It’s amazing.”

Their philosophy for making music is simple: anything goes, as long as it feels right. When they’re in the studio, they treat it like a live performance. They have the same energy. They have the same spark. They have the same vibe. When it feels right, they go for it without hesitation.

“We all allow each other to get in any world we want to get in,” Butler said. “That’s what creates the best music — giving each other the freedom to do whatever we want.”

And now, they’re using their new-found dedication to work on new music for an album.

“We don’t give a f--- about writing a concept album,” Ziemann said. “We’re hitting a stride now, artistically, where I think the next batch will be…”

“The next batch is gonna be the best idea of what GGOOLLDD sounds like since we started,” Butler followed.

Currently working on four songs, the group tries to find time to continue creating whenever they aren’t performing or recuperating from the wild party-performances they throw. Those performances are a perfect example of how GGOOLLDD approaches music as something to feel rather than approach systematically.

“We have our roles in the live setting, but when we’re in the studio and writing and stuff, everybody kind of plays pretty much anything. We kind of bounce ideas constantly,” Stewart said. “The whole idea is just capturing the spark that’s getting us to get moving.”

There’s genuine chemistry within the group. When Butler said that they are all best friends, it shows, and that is crucial to their process while performing and working in the studio.

“These guys are musicians. I am in no way ever on par with what these guys can do,” Butler said. “There’s no way I will ever be.”

“And vice versa with the performing,” Ziemann replied.

“It’s a team effort. I’m the performer, these guys are the musicians,” Butler said.

GGOOLLDD formed out of unusual circumstances, but those circumstances have led to the development of a band that makes music that feels better than a lot of what’s out right now. It’s exciting, unique and sometimes haunting but, most importantly, it’s fun.

“I walked into this and was like ‘Let’s have a party!’” Butler said. “I’m gonna wear a lot of glitter, and a lot of gold and some body suits, and we’re gonna throw a f---ing show.” The band has transformed since its first show, but each performance is still a party unlike anything else.

Now that they have fully dedicated themselves to their music, their potential is limitless.

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