Now the sun is starting to rear its head, and summer is on the horizon; The Goa Express arrive as the perfect addition to your playlist with their ferocious amalgam of garage punk that hits you right in the gut and leaves you craving more. While the band may only have two songs currently available on streaming services, with a combined running time of fewer than five minutes, you’ll be hard-pressed to spend a more exhilarating few moments than in the company of ‘The Day’ and ‘Be My Friend’.
The Goa Express are the latest band to emerge from the futile breeding ground of the Calder Valley around Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, hot on the heels of the explosion that arrived after Working Men’s Club’s impressive debut album last year. Along with The Lounge Society, The Goa Express are proving that they have what it takes to etch their names into local folklore and, even though all three bands come from the same area, it has to be stated that they all have their unique distinct sound.
Discussing how their background has influenced them as a band, even if it is more ingrained in their ethos than their music, bassist Naayam Muzaffar told Far Out: “I think every experience and situation we’ve grown up with has influenced our sound, but growing up, we’ve had many spontaneous days and nights around there – especially Todmorden (The Golden Lion). We used to go to a lot of gigs there, and we used to camp underneath the cliffs in Hebden Bridge, all these experiences we grew up with have an effect on our sound as it’s a collective thing, musical or not.”
Vocalist, James Douglas Clarke, added: “I guess we’ve all shared similar experiences and have seen and taken part in similar things over the years. All of this together has helped to shape our attitudes, behaviour and sound.”
Before the pandemic struck, The Goa Express penned a management deal with Rough Trade and planned to bring their energetic sound to as many people as physically possible, but with live-shows being halted, they have slowed things down. Still, The Goa Express have always been ones to work at their own pace, with their first single, ‘The Day’, landing in August 2019. Determined not to rush, they sat on the material for eleven months before following it up with the bubbling ‘Be My Friend’.
“The live shows being pulled away was disappointing as we had so much to look forward to, but then again, everyone else was in the same boat,” Muzzafar says. “All the time that would have been spent on playing shows was channelled into working on new material; which helped us keep productive and make the most of the spare time we now had. It was a blessing in disguise.”
Clarke also sees the positive side of the devastating last twelve months, adding: “We’ve carried on doing our own thing; our practice/ rehearsal place has allowed us to forget about everything going on. There will be plenty on the cards soon…no need to rush.”
“It’s fair to say we do miss playing a lot,” Muzaffar comments. “For us, it breaks us out of that tedious life-style. I assume it does the same for people when they go see us or any other artist – it’s a whole experience, not just the playing part, even the simplicity of seeing familiar faces and travelling around – at this point, we’d happily be stuck in a venue for soundcheck…listening to the snare being hit repeatedly by our drummer.”
While Clarke insists: “The creativity hasn’t dropped because none of our energy levels have dropped. It’s just been a period, ups and downs, ups and downs.”
Just because it appears from the outside that The Goa Express have taken their foot out of the gas since last July, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, they have been quietly taking their time in the shadows to make sure they come back with a bang. “We enjoy taking our time at doing things at our own pace,” Clarke explains. “At this moment in time, there’s not really anyone to tell us to hurry up. And we like that.” The singer then provided Far Out with a snippet of what to expect from The Goa Express, Clarke teased: “Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots. In the near future, two new singles.”
The relaxed confidence that oozes out of The Goa Express makes me believe that the sky is the limit for the four-piece, a group that have the songs and the swagger to back it up. From the sounds of it, over the last year, they have been taking their time to make sure that they are rearing to go when we next hear from them. Now the return to the live stage is in sight, and there are few emerging bands around who have an arsenal of tunes as handcrafted for sweaty venues than The Goa Express.