Elin Berta met up with Argyle Goolsby, one of the frontmen of Blitzkid, to talk about why the band is splitting up, the essence of punk rock and how they got hooked on horror in the first place.
The small pub Sanctuary in Basingstoke is getting quiet. The few people left at the venue get asked for the fifth time to leave, and the barmen are throwing away the last empty beer cans. At the edge of the small stage sits Argyle Goolsby, one of the singers and bass player of Blitzkid; horrorpunk-icons that played their last UK show ever tonight.
“To be honest, for me personally, it hasn’t set in yet,Goolsby says kind of hiding in his black hoodie. It is cold inside the venue, freezing actually, and the atmosphere is mellow as drummer Andrew ‘Stripes’ Winter is packing up his drum set behind us. In February the band announced that they would split up by the end of 2012. “It was a hard decision to make. We’ve been toying around with the idea for a while. It wasn’t anything internally in the band that was pulling us apart from doing the band, it was just external factors – like location – we don’t live close to each other at all. And our guitar player is married and needs time with his family. I myself am engaged. So that’s really why we decided to do what we are doing. It goes back to a responsibility to the fans. I don’t want to give half of myself to anything. “
It was in the winter of 1997, in the small-town Bluefield in the state of West Virginia that it all started. Argyle Goolsby met TB Monstrosity through their mutual friend when TB wanted help with the artwork for an album to his band at the time. And one thing led to another, the two paired up with their mutual friend, Del Shannon, who became the first drummer in their new band; Blitzkid. “We were just a punk band,” Goolsby says. “We are from a small town and we just wanted to have something to do.” The fact that they got into horror just happened by accident he continues with a smile, showing his customised vampire fangs. Being heavily influenced by all kinds of bands they never set out to become a horrorpunk band. But with the Misfits being one of their big influences, they just wrote more and more lyrics on the same theme, finding the horror fun and entertaining. “To be quite honest with you we just wanted to offend a lot of people, you know?” he continues. “And that’s one of the reasons why the whole horror aspect became involved with our music. We would paint our faces up, like we do now, but back then we didn’t have any skills so we got diaper rashes all around our faces. We just had lipstick to draw circles around our eyes. But it worked, you know what I mean?”
When Goolsby laughs at the memory of their first attempt to look scary on stage, you can catch a glimpse of his custom-made vampire fangs. Fangs that he has had “long enough to scare a few people” he says, still laughing. This is a man properly living the horror. What had started as a way to offend people and a way to have fun, began to grow into something else as they started to see the metaphors behind the horror.
“If you really stop to think about it, a lot of the monsters aren’t really the monsters, it is man that’s the monster. So a lot of horror movies are social commentaries in a way, which is what punk rock is. So a really nice blend of metaphor and humanity for the most part and that’s what I like the most about it. I like the duality of man, you can be a monster and you can be human. It’s just all wrapped together.”
Before Blitzkid, Goolsby had never picked up a bass. He had never sung, not even in the shower. And what about their ambitions? They never had the intention of playing outside their state, and definitely no international plans.
“It kind of baffles me to this day that we go to the places that we go and people know who we are. Because there was a time when we couldn’t even get one person in to a show in our hometown, you know? Now we can go across the fucking world to another country and have like five people at the very least singing along.”
Blitzkid have made it very clear that they hold their fans very dear. They announced their split in February to make sure they would be able to go on a proper farewell tour. And just as they have some diehard fans that show true dedication and follow them around on their final shows, Blitzkid return the affection. “We are always going to play – even if there’s only two people there. Which we actually did yesterday. We went from playing for 500 people to two, and that’s how it is you know? You can’t do what we are doing and gauge success on numbers. As long as it’s still two people in the audience and one of them is singing all your songs, that is success. Especially if that person doesn’t speak your native language to begin with.”
But how does it feel? Having played their last show in the United Kingdom and knowing that their last time on stage together is just days away? “I’m just gonna miss my friends and all the bands that we’ve played with. Because a lot of the people that I call my friends are people I have met through Blitzkid. A lot of the friends I have started out as fans, you know? And it’s the aspect of not having that network to my friends anymore. Facebook is not the same as getting to see someone and actually being a friend. And that’s the hardest thing for me. Not only do we get to get payed to go on vacation by being in a band but we get to see everyone that we know. When am I gonna be able to go and be in Basingstoke again?”
And although Argyle Goolsby is content with the decision, and looks forward to what the future will bring there is some sadness about him. And strange would it be if it was in any other way, having dedicated the last 16 years to the band.
“Blitzkid isn’t just 45 minutes of my time everyday. I’m not who I am on stage, that persona I can switch off, but not my involvement in the band. It’s just my life. If I’m not the guy in the makeup being a vampire for 45 minutes then I’m the guy without that doing all the work. So I can’t really…It hasn’t set in yet – and I don’t think it will for a very long time, that this is the end.” Argyle shakes his head a bit, as if it was the first time he said the words out loud.
And as the words sink in, the time has come for us to get told to leave. All the paying guests have left, and the stage is empty. But just before we say goodbye, there is one more question in need of an answer. What will Blitzkid leave behind, as they return to the living?
“I don’t have these unreal expectations that we have to have been this ground-breaking blueprint band, I’m not looking for that, I’m just looking for someone to play our CD like ten years from now. When they have a good day. Or a bad day. I just want to be able to be associated with a mood in someone’s life still, even when we are not there actively promoting it. “
Blitzkid played their final gig on their Return To The Living Tour, and their last show together on the 10 of November 2012, in Dusseldorf, Germany.