GOOSE formed two decades ago, but they still sound as fresh as ever. A group whose incredible achievements place them at the forefront of the crossover between electronic music and rock, the Belgian four-piece have found renewal by returning home and focussing on the bonds that keep them in place. New album ‘Endless’ is a punchy, dynamic project, packed with energy and emotion, one that finds GOOSE utilising everything they’ve learned in order to fully realise everything they’ve yet to obtain.
Four musicians operating on the same wavelength, ‘Endless’ has its roots in the raw independence that drives GOOSE. Having released hugely successful material on iconic labels such as Skint Records and the deeply influential !k7 they’ve opted to embrace their freedom and take the independent route via their own Safari Records imprint. The label shares the same name as the band’s Safari studios in their hometown Kortrijk, a hub for free-wheeling experimentation, and a place for GOOSE to do what they do best. “Essentially we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band,” says Dave Martijn. “We started off playing in a rehearsal room for years… and that’s the core.”
“It’s always been an advantage that we are a group,” says Tom Coghe. “Because there are four different people with four different personalities. We listen to lots of the same music, but we also have lots of different interests, and I think the combination works great. We love pure, raw music but we also love songs with lots of emotion.”
‘Endless’ is the first new album from GOOSE in five years, but the intervening period has been one of hectic evolution. Building their own studio from scratch was coupled with the ‘NONSTOP’ live album, recorded during a sensational Pukkelpop performance, followed by the electronic-heavy, club-adjacent drop ‘Something New’. Relishing each new project, GOOSE attacked ‘Endless’ with a palpable sense of passion.
“We came together fresh,” says Bert Libeert. “If everybody is feeling really good and comfortable in the band, then there’s magic. I think that’s important. Coming back together, finding your personality, finding each other. When we’re on the same line with the tracks, then the album is ready. We only have to make it! There’s a connection between us.”
‘Endless’ began as an avalanche of ideas in Safari Studios, before GOOSE opted to bring in French producer Victor le Masne who sat down with the band at their HQ, before inviting them to Motorbass Studios in Paris – one of the most renowned recording hubs in Europe. “Recording at Motorbass was a dream we had for a very long time,” says Bert Libeert. “We’ve worked with producers before who were all good, but now we’ve worked with somebody from our generation, that lives in the same world as us.”
The decision to include an outside perspective could be what makes ‘Endless’ such a powerful record. Each note is sharpened, each effect magnified, with Victor le Masne tasked with pushing GOOSE to the next level. “We needed someone to break us out of our comfort zone,” explains Mickael Karkousse. “It’s so great to be challenged. With somebody else in the room, you move past all these unwritten rules you’ve developed over time. We could just try stuff, and see if it worked.”
Breaking themselves open, GOOSE have responded with a record that taps back into their roots. Opening with the title track, ‘Endless’ begins on the front foot – crunching rock guitars, clinical electronics, and a touch of club flair amid the emotive songwriting. “It’s a key track on the album,” comments Dave Martijn. “The guitars are returning. There’s a lot of emotion. A sexiness in it. A little bit of French Touch. It’s a good summary of the rest of the album.”
It’s a record that feels confident and defined, but drew on weeks of experimentation. Take ‘We Are Vibe’: one of the most potent moments on ‘Endless’ actually began as the outro for a demo song, before Victor le Masne helped the band illuminate its potential. “It was pretty bold,” Mickael Karkousse recalls. “But also pretty fun. It brings back that feeling like you’re doing what you love best: making music”.
‘Run Away’ seems to charge head-long towards the horizon, a song that revels in freedom, while ‘Change’ has a tender sense of poignancy underneath its electro charms. ‘Fear Of Letting Go’ references the street Motorbass Studio is situated on in Paris; an old demo that the producer re-configured. “We took it from the garbage can,” jokes Tom Coghe. “It only took an hour for Victor to take our messy brains, and clean them up!”
The sessions in Paris allowed GOOSE to step outside themselves. Exploring a different environment, the band wound up – as Bert Libeert puts it – having “an adventure in a city where everything was different!”
He continues: “We said from the start that you have to let life get in the album so it’s not always about work – it’s also about having those moments together and taking those moments back into the studio. That makes it a real thing.”
‘Endless’ is a record fuelled by experience, that strives toward innocence. GOOSE are a band propelled by their instincts, by what Mickael Karkousse terms “some kind of quiet confidence. Don’t talk about it too much – just do it! Have confidence in the process, and in each other… And then it’ll be good.”
“There was a lot of freedom there,” adds Bert Libeert. “There wasn’t a framework. It wasn’t like it had to sound like a certain thing – it was just what we wanted. That freedom brought something very natural.”
With an international tour planned, GOOSE are already preparing for life beyond COVID. Using their studio as a base to escape the travails of the world, they’ve leaned in on what they truly need from one another. “We worked really hard to be free again,” Dave Martijn says. “We are in our home – Safari Studios – we do whatever we want, and we’re going to do whatever pleases us. Nobody has expectations, and you just do what comes naturally.”
Working to their own timeline, responsive to nothing but their creative desires, GOOSE have come full circle; more than 15 years on from their debut album ‘Bring It On’ they’re a band renewed. Looking ahead to their next plans, Mickael Karkousse simply laughs: “We’re just getting started!”