Calling up his buddies Pat Lillard (who used to play bass in the RBG) and drummer Rich Cali, the trio christened themselves Broken Gold and decide to put out a record so impressive The Replacements might be tempted to get back together (ok, the last part will likely never come to fruition, but I can dream).
Drawing not only on old Westerberg songs for inspiration, but also looking to everyone from The Clash to The Smiths, Broken Gold’s Recovery Journal is the rarest of animals, a side project that is just as impressive as MacDougall’s day job.
Though he stresses this is not a sign that he’s leaving the RBG, MacDougall sees more records from Broken Gold moving forward.
He spoke recently about the impetuous for starting the group and what’s next.
Innocent Words: So how long have you wanted to put out your own record?
Ian MacDogall: Almost as soon as the idea of putting together a new band/project came around, I had just come off a pretty long tumultuous tour in ’07, Pat had decided he wanted to get off the road for awhile but didn’t necessarily want to quit playing music, and I had all these songs written that had their own vibe. We had some down time so we started playing around in our friend Rich’s (Cali, drums) living room and that was that, the beginning of the whole thing. I started writing as much as I could and next thing you know we had a little 7-inch out on a buddy’s label called Good Friends Records, which was exciting. We just kept writing and playing out, and after awhile, I thought we had some really good things going on musically. The nice people at Volcom Entertainment had stumbled on to one of nine or so shows we played last SXSW and said they were interested in doing something with us, which definitely lit a bit of a fire under our ass to really get our shit together with the songs we were working on. It was all really organic and natural how the whole thing went as far as how it started and now, over time, having this full length record out. It’s all very exciting.
IW: Was it tough to convince these guys to start Broken Gold?
MacDogall: I had already been playing with Pat for years before we started Broken Gold, so it was pretty easy to see if he wanted to start something new with me. I’d been demoing all these songs that I didn’t think fit with what Riverboat Gamblers were doing, and he had always been egging me on to start something new so it was kind of just like “fuck it, you wanna start a band? ” It had been a really long time since either of us had done anything that wasn’t Gamblers related musically, so it was pretty interesting to see what this new thing would end up as, or if it would even make it out of the living room where we started practicing. There was a pretty long lull a few years ago where we all ended up having to get jobs, which is the case most of the time when were home anyways. I started washing dishes at this locally owned pizza place called The Parlor here in Austin, Texas, which is a totally awesome place. One of the first people I was scheduled to work with when I started there was this guy, Rich. We instantly hit it off and had a blast working together, talked about music all the time and basically the same taste in everything. I found out he had played drums with some bands from back east where he’s from and brought up the idea of starting this new thing with Pat and I. He was totally interested, and we had our first practice in Rich’s living room and in the next couple weeks, and I think we played our first show on Jan. 31, and a few weeks after that, a second show in Pat’s living room. That was a good one. No pressure at all, just having fun playing and getting together whenever and where ever we could –living rooms, friend’s tool sheds, sneaking into practice spaces. We recently added a buddy of ours named Ben Lance on second guitar, who also plays around in a couple great bands in town. He’s been a lot of help in getting that sound we got on record translated into a live setting, making it easier for me to concentrate on singing.
IW: Did the guys in Riverboat Gamblers give you any flak, assuming you’d be leaving the band?
MacDogall: No not at all, The Gamblers are my family. Broken Gold wasn’t something started to take place of that or anything, just something else to do. I like to keep busy as much as possible and so do Rich, Pat and Ben. It’s not like I’m spreading anything too thin either. Both bands have a pretty different sound and dynamic, so it’s not like one is taking away from the other in anyway. Mike’s got a bunch of other bands as well, so it’s not like it’s weird that I’m doing something else as well.
IW: How long have you been working on the songs off this record?
MacDogall: I’d say over the past three to four years or so. I go through phases where I just write and record for days, weeks, etc. and end up with this plethora of ideas to sift through. Most of them are just little 20 second two guitar part ideas, and then I’ll go back through all this stuff and go like ‘oh that’s cool, I totally forgot about that’ or some weird drum machine demo I did drunk in the middle of the night that I won’t go back and listen to till six months later. Those ideas get brought to practice, and we end up playing them in a million different ways till we get something that seems exciting, demo that … listen to anything that can change, eventually hate it and change it again, and so on and so forth. Repeat that twice and keep going.It’s cool to finally hear it done after all this time.
IW: A lot of these songs seem very personal. When you were recording them to you get a feeling that you might be sharing too much?
MacDogall: No, not really. The songs I’ve written that deal with things that are really personal seem to be the ones that flow out the easiest and are the quickest for me to write. I’m no good at being poetic and making shit up. All the songs on this record are based directly off real things that have happened to me in past couple years. Some of the things I wish hadn’t happened, but I guess it’s a little cathartic to yell and shout over loud guitars and drums about it all.
IW: Do you anticipate more records with Broken Gold?
MacDogall: I sure do.
IW: So, I assume you’ll try and to tour behind this record.
MacDogall: As much as we can between my time with The Gamblers and everyone else’s commitments here at home.
IW: So what’s next for the Riverboat Gamblers?
MacDogall: A bunch on the horizon, stayed tuned for cool shit.