It’s a mild March night at the Capitol Theater, in Port Chester, New York—virtually home turf for Goose, the strapping Southern Connecticut quintet that has become the fastest rising faction on the jam band scene. From note one of the opener, “Time to Flee,” the crowd is all in, their eyes and ears gravitating to the dual lead guitar line and dual vocal by frontmen Rick Mitarotonda and Peter Anspach (primarily the band’s keyboardist). What their lower half is swaying to, however, is the easy boogie groove being laid down stage left by bassist Trevor Weekz. Just past 30, Weekz is known as the quiet one in Goose. But it’s a classic case of speak softly and carry a big lick. The pocket he creates along with his rhythm mates, drummer Ben Atkind and percussionist Jeff Arevalo, is undoubtedly a large part of the group’s success.
To this point that acclaim includes five studio sides, almost a dozen live records, sold-out shows at venues like Red Rocks and Radio City Music Hall, onstage collaborations with Trey Anastasio, Bob Weir, and Father John Misty, and being invited as special guests of Dead & Company at their Playing in the Sand festival in Mexico. The band’s blend of top-notch musicianship and the broad range of influences brought in by each member serves them well in their extended improvisations, live. Additionally, their commitment in the studio to producing quality-song-generated albums is what ultimately separates Goose from the plucking pack. Something Weekz can appreciate.
Born in 1989, in the suburbs of Wilton, Connecticut, Trevor was surrounded by music early on. “My mom’s routine to get us up for school every day was to crank the stereo downstairs, and she always had songs playing in the car,” He recalls. “Waking up to a Bee Gees CD daily, for a year, might be my earliest musical memory.” The music continued at grade school, where he played trumpet before switching to baritone horn in the third grade. Upon transferring to a different school he stopped playing until he got his first bass guitar as a high school freshman—a used Japanese-made Fender Jazz Bass with EMG pickups. Of the attraction, he explains, “One of my best friend’s dad, Rusty Ford, was the bassist in Lothar and the Hand People [a cult ’60s pyschedelic rock band that featured a theramin and early use of synthesizers]. My friend took after his dad and played the bass, as well. I was always fascinated, watching him cover Primus songs on the original iMac computer, when we were in middle school. A couple of years later I got the Fender and that was the beginning of it all, for me. I started with some lessons but I hadn’t dived in head first yet. Around my third year of high school I had somewhat of an epiphany and I decided to take it more seriously. I would spend hours after school every day practicing and jamming with friends.” He adds, “I was fortunate to grow up in an area that was saturated with talented musicians, young and old. John Scofield was a graduate of my high school, and the Brubecks lived nearby. I quickly learned that playing with more advanced and diverse musicians was one of the best ways to improve.”
Weekz initial passion was metal. He learned some of the galloping bass lines of Iron Maiden bass ace Steve Harris and got into Deth Metal through the Finnish band Children of Bodom. “That was my first live concert, seeing them at Toad’s Place in New Haven Connecticut, in the fall of 2003.” He also became a fan of Trance music and artists like Asterix, Captain Hook, and the Goa trance scene out of India. “Some of it is quite intense, with rolling 16th-notes in the bass, at tempos in the 140 BPM range. It’s definitely an acquired taste, and I often find it to be a state of mind, as well.” Later on in high school, friends turned Weekz onto the jam band scene and he spent a lot of time playing along with records by the Grateful Dead and Phish—learning the bass lines of Phil Lesh and Mike Gordon. Upon graduating, his parents gifted him a Modulus Quantum 5-string and he headed to the University of Vermont as a psychology major and music minor. With music courses and bass instructor John Rivers in place, Trevor began studying jazz, digging into the styles of Paul Chambers and Ron Carter, followed by a dive into the R&B brilliance of James Jamerson. Outside of school he joined a bar and college party band called Fred, in Burlington, spending over a year playing rock covers with a handful of orginals. By then, the seeds of Goose had already been planted.
How did Goose come together?
For me it started when Peter Castaldi—a longtime friend of the band—connected me with Rick [Mitarotonda] to play at his friend’s holiday party in Vermont, in 2007, the year I graduated high school. Throughout college we’d play together in the summers. and we seemed to jell. He went to Berklee and I would go down there to jam with him. In 2012, Rick and [vocalist-keyboardist] Matt Campbell—who writes songs with Rick for Goose—put together a band called Vasudo, with Ben [Atkind] on drums, and they asked me if I wanted in. We went full throttle for a year and a half; I even missed my college graduation ceremony to go on tour. We still play some Vasudo songs in Goose. Anyway, in September of 2014, about a year after we halted Vasudo, Rick, Ben, and I formed Goose, with Peter Castaldi on guitar. In March of 2015 we recorded our first album [Moon Cabin]. Peter [Anspach] joined in late 2017, and Jeff [Arevalo] came onboard in 2020.
Could you pinpoint a breakout moment or period for the band?
I’d say 2019 was the inflection point. We did a few festivals that summer, including DomeFest in May and the Peach Music Festival in July. There was a lot of buzz about the band and we started to sell out some shows. A few days after PeachFest we posted high-quality audio and video clips on YouTube and they took off, seeming to spread far and wide, more than any of our previous releases. That helped sell out a lot of our fall tour dates that year.
You refer to yourselves as in indie groove band.
Yes. Our shows consist of pretty long segments of improvisation and we grew up somewhat in jam band realm. But together and individually we draw from a wide range of musical influences, as well. Plus we like the tag indie groove.
How would you describe your role in Goose?
We have a lot of moving parts, so for me it’s all about finding balance. Balance between what’s going on rhythmically and harmonically, and bridging the gap—as the bass does. I may choose to lock with the kick and play a simple figure or I might play something more melodic, dancing around a bit. Having Jeff on percussion is a key for me because gaining that extra amount of foundation gives me the freedom to open up at times. Mostly, though, I’m just trying to compliment the band; trying to come up with lines that are going to benefit the music and benefit the lyrics. In the improvisation sections, if someone hits upon a good idea, I’m thinking, What’s going to sound good with that? Or if we’re all kind of cruising along, I may step out a bit and introduce a new idea and see if it catches on.
How do you come up with your bass parts?
Peter and Rick are the main songwriters in Goose, and about half the time they’ll have a demo sent to us, which has rough ideas. Then when we all get together we’ll figure out our parts and nail down the feel. Sometimes they’ll bring an idea to practice before making a demo and we’ll just start playing on it, trial and error-style, to see what works. If it’s a demo bass part I’ll find ways to make it my own. If I’m coming up with the part, I’ll listen to the groove and I’ll take nuances of the melody to create the bass line.
How married to your recorded parts are you when you play live?
It varies per song, some of them I’ll play pretty close to the record, but for most of the songs I’ll play slight variations each time. That keeps it interesting and makes it feel in-the-moment—it has it’s own life each night. For the long improvisations the whole band is very reactive to the soloist and to each other. I want to hold it down but also be reactive. You don’t want to overplay if you’re complimenting and supporting someone, but you don’t want it to sound like a backing track either—you want to match the energy. That said, there are stretches where I’ll play a simple groove in a repetitve, almost meditative motion, so it’s trance-like. An EDM or trance mindset can drive the energy as much as or moreso than busy playing. Utilizing different approaches brings variety to the shows because we’re playing for three-plus hours. The key to it all is determining when to use which.
How regular are your bass solos?
Maybe every few shows. It’s something that I enjoy doing and I’m working to develop further. There are a couple of songs where it’s pretty much built in, like “Empress of Organos,” and more recently, “Hot Tea”; and then other times we’ll be grooving on something and the guys will look over to me to take it.
What’s your approach tone-wise?
I try to not step on the toes of the bass drum too much. I look to find a zone between the kick frequencies and everything else that’s going on, onstage. Recently I’ve been adding a fair amount of midrange. I like to have a lot of punch but also some growl. My Elrick 5-string has a growly, maple-neck tone that I dig; lately I’ve been backing off about 25% on the neck pickup. Plus, we use in-ear monitors, so I’m always trying to get a sense of what I’m hearing onstage versus what’s being projected to the audience.
Let’s talk technique.
I pluck the standard way, with my index and middle finger alternating. I used to play with a pick but not as much anymore. And I like to incorporate left-hand muting for ghosted notes a lot, it helps me stay in the pocket. We recently started doing “Thatch” again, and that’s basically slapping the whole time. Back when I started playing, I had a book called Slap It: Funk Studies for the Electric Bass, by Tony Oppenheim. That got me going. More recently I’ve been trying the double-thumbing technique [playing downstrokes and upstrokes with the thumb].
What are your favorite Goose songs to play?
I like “Jive II,” “Empress of Organos” is a good time, “Silver Rising,” “Yeti,” which starts with drums and bass only. I like them all, and after adding three new songs recently I believe we have about 75 originals, in all.
You guys do a wide range of covers.
I know, the list includes “Take on Me,” “Linus and Lucy,” “My Generation,” “Nights In White Satin,” “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” “Love Is a Battlefield,” “Lovely Day,” “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” and songs by Radiohead, The National, and Kenny Loggins, among many others. We try to make them our own while paying respect to the originals.
You’re often credited as “bass, poetry.”
[Laughs] That originated during the COVID lockdown. We couldn’t tour so we went into a barn in Connecticut and did a series of livestreams that became our Bingo Tour live album . We had bingo balls with the names of our songs and some covers, and that was how we determined what to play next. On some of the balls we had goofy activities, like, Do 20 pushups in the middle of a song, or, Run around the outside of the barn. Well, one was, Trevor reads a poem to a drone. I’ve since done it at a few shows.
Who are among your favorite bass players?
Lately I’ve been digging Donny Benét, an Australian disco bassist I discovered on YouTube, and Noah Hill, the bassist from the Australian band, Parcels, that worked with Daft Punk. I also like the Australian band Miami Horror—maybe there’s a theme here?! Benjamin Plant plays most of their bass lines in the studio. Among the veteran players you can never go wrong with are Jamerson, Jaco, and Victor Wooten. And a shout out to Willie Weeks playing, if not for the name alone!
What lies ahead?
We’ve got a packed touring schedule from June through November. We’re also looking forward to getting back in the studio this summer. We’re hoping to have new material coming out soon. I’d also like to make my own record, but that would be a ways off. I’m always coming up with grooves and ideas, and compiling them all. Being out playing every night goes a long way when it comes to inspiration and creativity.
Basses: Elrick Gold Series bolt-on 5-string, “It sounds great, has low action, and is super-light, whch has saved me wear and tear on my hands and body.”; Modulus Quantum 5-string; Godin A5 fretless 5-string; ’70s Fender Jazz Bass (Seafoam Green); Elrick Master Series 35”-scale, single cutaway 5-string; Fender Tony Franklin Fretless Precision Bass
Strings: D’Addario NYXL [.45-.65-.80-.100-.130]
Amps: Alembic F1X preamp into Bag End powered cabinets: PS10N-N (four), PS15-N (one), IPS18E-N (four); direct signal to house via REDDI direct box. “For our last studio album [Dripfield] I recorded direct and through a miked B-15, and I played the studio’s vintage Fender Precision on some tracks.”
Effects: “I use effects about 20% of the time. Everything runs through my Boss ES-8 Switching System”: Panda Audio Future Impact v3 Synth Pedal; Aguilar Filter Twin; Electro Harminix Freeze Sound Retainer (for droning); Strymon El Capistan V2 Tape Delay; DOD Meatbox Subsynth Pedal; Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi
Other: Picks: Dunlop Green Tortex .88mm; JH Audio Roxanne In-Ears
For more visit: www.goosetheband.com