“I’m so sorry, my friend is stuck in a snowbank!” begins my conversation with Matt Goud, a.k.a. Northcote. This well-spoken, honest man has an incredible voice that will move mountains and hopefully a few cars.
Coming of the heels of a month long tour in Europe, this travelling troubadour finds time to chat between relocating across Canada and his extensive upcoming North American tour.
Growing up in the sleepy little town of Carlyle, SK, Goud’s kind character began at a small country church. Known to be a somewhat religious part of the province, he was raised going to church, Bible camp and eventually to a Christian boarding school through his teens. “It’s undeniable how those perceived spiritual experiences, have shaped [my] character. Some in a good way, some in a way I’m trying to unlearn.”
The “unlearning” refers to the sexism Goud observed in his community. Without pointing any fingers, he explains that although being raised a Christian boy was all well and good, it would have been much more difficult for a girl.
Truly a man of the modern age, Northcote recognizes the value of good Christian teachings while questioning and sometimes dismissing practices and philosophies that are negative in his experiences.
Saskatchewan has more roads per capita then any jurisdiction in the world and Northcote eventually found one that took him to Victoria, BC, where he developed the incredible talent that he has today.
Having grown up on a healthy blend of AM radio and punk rock, Northcote’s sound encompasses all the song-writing mastery of old-time country and the heartfelt, informative truths of bands like Propagandhi and The Weakerthans.
Lyrically, Northcote navigates politics of the heart more than the politics of Parliament. Thank God for that, because right now I don’t think our governing body deserves such foot-stomping, feel-good vibes.
To put his most recent vibes to tape, Northcote caught up with producer Collin Stewart (Yukon Blonde, Dan Mangan) for his latest release. On meeting Stewart, Northcote explains, “We chatted a couple times and he wanted, you know, to talk about outer space and stuff like that. So, we talked about outer space and what stuff you’d get from Ikea or whatever.” This somewhat strange vetting process turned into a friendship and the two soon collaborated on a record.
The latest self-titled record features the freight train voice of Matt Goud over simple yet driven instrumentals. There’s no overplaying here, so Steve Vai fans run to the hills because well-crafted blue-collar songs are comin’ for you! Every note is purposefully placed just where it needs to be. There is a diversity that moves from foot-stompin’ bangers, like “How Can We Turn Around” or “When You Cry,” and grows into chilled-out grooves, such as “Walking Home in the Rain” and “Knocking On My Door.” Northcote does more than kick ass and take names; it gives a hug and an umbrella for the rain.
The muck and mire of daily life deserves the relief and feel-good vibes of Northcote strumming his acoustic guitar and politely assaulting your heart with lyrics of love and loss. His voice can be as a big as a thunderstorm and as soft as the midnight rain.
Age has brought purpose and that purpose is to tour until the earth stops turning. I’d say Northcote is a public servant, saving our bad days with the gift of his voice. Last time I checked there wasn’t such a good pension plan for people in his line of work, so do this man a solid and buy an album when you see him for free at the Ship & Anchor.
Catch Northcote at the Ship & Anchor on February 21.
By Sean Hamilton