There are endless crazy things that happen out there,” Charles Moothart muses while attempting to recall a tour tale suitable for sharing with the general public. “I think the better story is how all these events build up to those rare, like, almost psychedelic moments you have where you’re like, ‘How did we end up here after all this ridiculousness?’”
A multi-instrumentalist from Los Angeles, Moothart has spent the last decade crisscrossing the globe with his impossibly prolific pal Ty Segall, supporting a slew of projects ranging from lo-fi garage rock to glam to psych pop and hardcore punk. He’s played guitar with the Ty Segall band and also with the acid-rock trio Fuzz (featuring Segall on drums). More recently, he’s assumed the drum throne in Segall’s current backing group, the Freedom Band, as well as with Ty Segall and White Fence, and also with GØGGS—a take-no-prisoners punk- rock supergroup comprised of Moothart on drums, Segall on guitar, Michael Anderson on bass, and Ex-Cult’s Chris Shaw on vocals.
“Ty and Chris had this idea to make a band that sounded like a Killed by Death comp,” Moothart says, referencing the cult series of underground bootleg compilations of rare ’70s and ’80s punk songs. “Crazy punk bands, twisted-ass rock ’n’ roll songs—that’s the blueprint for GØGGS.” Anchored by Moothart’s propulsive drumming and Anderson’s gnarly, fuzzy bass, GØGGS’ sophomore LP, Pre Strike Sweep, is an uncompromising aural assault. Segall’s creative guitar work, perhaps more full-frontal than ever before, does its best to bend the listener’s brain, while Shaw’s intense, reverb-soaked howl takes the overall vibe of menace and paranoia to the next level.
“The first time I met Chris, I was intimidated,” Moothart admits. “We were on tour in New Orleans, walking down the street in the French Quarter, and here’s this bad-ass guy, obviously a total rocker, sitting outside drinking a beer. Ty knew him from playing with his band (then called Sex Cult), and I’d heard they were super sick. From then on, every time we’d roll through Memphis (Shaw’s hometown), or Ex-Cult would play in California, we all seemed to instinctively push the envelope—both with playing and partying. Some of those moments might be more suitable for this kind of story because that was definitely a crazy time period!
“Flash forward to December 2017 and both GØGGS and the Freedom Band are playing this amazing psych-rock festival in Mexico City,”says Moothart. “The whole experience was surreal. As we were driving in, a kid handed Ty a Mexican flag with an eyeball painted on it. The shows were just magical. Later on, Chris and I were hanging out at the Pyramid of the Sun, drinking margaritas and eating tortillas filled with grasshoppers and guacamole, and I just had one of those crystalizing moments, like ‘How the hell is this happening right now?’
“I was surrounded by my oldest friends— Ty, Michael, Mikal Cronin—people I went to high school with—people I learned how to play music with,” Moothart continues. “I’d only known Chris for a couple years, but we’d become so tight. And I’m taking a picture of him looking all tough on top of the Pyramid of the Sun, and I’m having these flashes of everything we’ve gone through collectively. Not only the fun times, but also all the fights, all the van breakdowns, all the disastrous moments that can break people. That’s the life of a touring musician. Every day is a new adventure, and it never gets easier—in a good way. I wouldn’t change it for anything. Music and traveling are all I’ve ever wanted to pursue in life, so being able to combine those two things is a dream come true. That moment in Mexico City—it kind of sums up why we do what we do.”
While drums aren’t his primary instrument, Moothart says it’s become his favorite when working with others. (He’s currently working on a self-contained solo record to get his guitar and songwriting fix.) He’s also come to respect the increased demands of drumming. “I’ve had to re- evaluate my daily schedule. I need to drink more water. I need to watch alcohol intake before playing. The GØGGS set is forty-five minutes of non-stop mayhem; I don’t want to be the weak link because I cramped up two songs ago.”
This high level of physicality—coupled with the fact that everyone involved in GØGGS has other projects to tend to— makes touring rare, though the group plans to hit select East Coast and European cities in Spring 2019. “We consciously avoid the confines of tour cycles,” says Moothart. “We play shows when and where it feels right. That way it feels fresh every time we do it. We always want GØGGS’ shows to feel like a special experience—both for us and for the audience.”
Even amidst the chaos of GØGGS’ pile-driver din, Moothart injects a subtle swing into his style— paying homage to idols like Mitch Mitchell, Keith Moon, John Bonham, and Bill Ward. Thus, it stands to reason that his gear of choice is similarly vintage. “I have an early ’50s Ludwig kit with an off-white, pearl wrap,” he says. “It’s a 26″ kick with 13″ and 16″ toms, and I play a newer 5×14 Ludwig Supraphonic snare.” And for cymbals? “I’ve had some amazing vintage cymbals in the past,” Mootheart laments. “Such beautiful instruments, but I made the mistake of taking them on tour, and I broke them all. Now it’s new Zildjian As all around, always with the Guitar Center warranty. I’ve got a 23″ Sweet ride, 14″ New Beat hi-hats, and 20″ A crash.”