Do you believe in magic?
Musicians are like magicians, in a sense, as both utilize their skills/talents to entertain an audience. Much like a magic show, musical performances can be spellbinding and memorable. However, the key difference with great musicians - as opposed to magicians - is that there is no deception at play here. While magicians try to deceive our eyes through slight-of-hand tricks or illusions, you can’t fake a great
Music is a universal language that comes from the soul and if it isn’t authentic or true, people can tell. In a way, great music is like real-life magic in how powerful it can be - resonating and affecting people in profound ways. When we start to associate music with memories, listening to a song years later has the potential to bring us back at completely random moments throughout our lives.
When thinking about shows, the most memorable ones are the shows where musicians take chances artistically - as well as musically – to push their sound further (in new directions) and find new ways to engage with the audience.
Take, for example, Peter Anspach (vocals, keys and guitar), who constantly leaves a lasting impression on fans for his honest, energetic and joyful nature on-stage. Peter’s earned the nickname “Handini” because of how he effortlessly switches between the guitar, keys and singing duties with ease (almost like magic). Off-stage, he regularly engages with fans on the band’s social media page and works on a variety of other projects surrounding the band (as well as his other projects like Great Blue).
During Winter Break, The el Goose Times had the opportunity to chat with Peter about his family life, history with Goose, secret to
navigating jams and more:
For our readers who might not be familiar, you come from a family of musicians and your Mom’s side of the family has passed down the importance of music for generations. Was that a big part of why you pursued music professionally? Would you consider them some of your biggest influences?
My mom Rita, sister Lindsay and aunt Andrea are all music teachers. They are without a doubt my strongest musical influences and always have been! My grandmother, Linda Caruso, (mother to my mom and aunt) frequently sang to me in Italian when I was very little. Those songs still carry with me today, as well as so many others my Mom sang to me every day while growing up. My sister was involved in musical theater in high school and I would love to see her perform. I used to sit in the orchestra pit with the musicians. I loved hearing the grandness of the full orchestra - it was infectious! I’m sure this is why music became my passion as I grew up, though there were definitely a few years I dreamt of playing shortstop for the New York Yankees! Thanks to my Dad and Mom for always pushing me to be well rounded.
In my colleague Lisa’s amazing interview with your mom Rita in Volume 5, she said that you are “enthusiasm and joy personified” and that you “wear your heart your sleeve.” Anyone who watches a show in-person or on a stream would agree with this - its infectious watching you on-stage!
Would you say that music is cathartic for you in a lot of ways? Do you feed off of the audiences’ energy?
That sounds like my mom! She has always believed in me and, through years of relentless love, is responsible for my confidence and freedom of expression on stage.
Music has become increasingly cathartic as life continues. With every emotion, bad or good, comes musical ideas. I’ve been working on channeling those ideas into songs ever since I was about 16 years old. Writing helps me process, and then playing back those songs allows me to reflect on those ideas over the span of years. Even a song like "Yeti," which admittedly has pretty whimsical lyrics, brings me back to a time where Great Blue was playing bar gigs around New England. It was an exciting time for us, we were making music and having a blast. I feel that energy in that song every time we play it.
When on stage, I love feeding off the energy of the audience. It takes me to a higher level, inspires me to play better, and gives me the stamina to play night after night. We are all so grateful to share our songs with so many people and have them share so much energy back with us.
Walk us through your history with Goose, as you recently celebrated your five-year anniversary with the band. Congratulations!
That’s pretty wild to think about! When I joined, we were about to open for Spafford on a small tour in the Northeast. I had never played to an audience over 100 people and our first show with them was in Detroit to a crowd of 600. That - on top of the fact that I had never played the role of keyboardist in a band - was pretty nerve racking. I am so grateful for the opportunity to play in this band. Learning how to play an instrument while running around the country playing shows is exhilarating. There’s no better way to do it. I was a huge fan of Goose before I joined, and I still am. The way Rick, Ben, and Trevor play together was always infectious to me. I am so honored to still be on stage with them and to have the opportunity to play with Jeff as well. Playing with Jeff has already taught me so much about music, he has a such a strong feel no matter which instrument he’s on. This has been one hell of a journey!
What was it like joining the band and taking on a variety of roles? Outside of keys and supporting guitar, you also were heavily involved with mixing soundboards, as well as having a hand in the overall marketing and social presence of the band. How were you able to balance those roles so effectively? You did an amazing job.
It was something I had been doing in Great Blue since the inception of that band. In the early days, you have to learn to do everything yourself because you can’t really afford otherwise. And you soon learn that it’s very hard to find people that would put in the kind of effort that you yourself would. So when I joined Goose, I was happy to help in any way I could. Matt Kolinski, our manager and booking agent of the time, was a great help as well. He would help strategize on video releases as well as a multitude other things. In the case of the Peach Fest 2019 video, which has led to a lot of folks discover Goose, our audio recording stopped before the final two songs. I reached out to Matt and within a day he had somehow sourced a backup recording from someone at the festival so we could put out the full set video within two days of the festival being over.
These days, now with such a strong team, I walk off stage and the video of the show is done (thanks to our video team Danny, Marta, and Coach), and a recording is essentially mixed and ready to roll (thanks to our audio team: Eric, Sam, Padge, and Naveed). Our managers, Ben Baruch and Dave DiCianni, are also massively supportive and creative with all of the moves we make. Their expertise is a big reason why this band has continued to grow. It’s amazing to have such a supportive team around us.
Goose has seen significant success since you joined in late 2017: two albums and two EPs (as well as the Ted Tapes and various live releases); late-night TV appearances; shows at landmark venues and festivals, with sit-ins from legends like Bob Weir and Trey Anastasio. What are some of your favorite shows and/or memories so far?
There have been so many incredible experiences. One of the best parts has just been getting to experience it all with such a close knit group of friends. Our band and crew are very tight and when you spend lots of hours together in the way we have, you become family.
One very fond memory for me is the Fall 2021 tour. As a unit, we were starting to get very tight. Jeff had been in the band for over a year, our video team was dialed in, there were a lot of exciting things on the horizon (A new album, a sold out west coast tour, Radio City, Red Rocks, just to name a few!). We were down South for our first time in Atlanta, NoLa, Texas, etc. It was still a time where COVID protocol was in place, so we were just allowed to hang out within our band/crew group. This led to some serious bonding, and in my opinion some very foundational shows that paved the way for what I consider to be one of the best years of Goose and my life, 2022.
Are there any musicians you would be most excited to collaborate with in the future? Do you have any “bucket list” venues that you haven’t had the opportunity to play yet?
I’m still very much hoping to meet Page McConnell, and would love to talk keyboards with him. In addition, it would be great to collab more with Father John Misty, he was a riot when we hung out at Radio City, and he’s so musical too! I would also love to collaborate with Anaïs Mitchell, she’s one of my absolute favorite singers. In terms of venues, SPAC is going to be pretty special for me this summer. And of course The Gorge, Hampton, and….MSG!
2022 was a huge year in terms of new originals…it’s like there’s a creative renaissance going on within the band and I love to see that growth. Has the songwriting process evolved for you as you’ve grown with the band and what inspires you? Are songs built off of melodies or lyrics typically for you?
My process has been in a few places over my time in the band. At one point, I was very into making demos on my computer ("Time to Flee," "White Lights"), then during 2020 I was all about just writing with an acoustic guitar or Wurlitzer keyboard ("Moonrise," "The Whales," "Honeybee," "Red Bird").
I’ve actually been writing a lot during this January/February break and doing a mix of demos and acoustic guitar writing. I feel more inspired than ever and it really is thanks to this time off that I’m able to write so effectively. Without the space from touring, it’s almost impossible to get into the songwriting mindset. So thanks for everyone’s patience while we write songs.
How have your guitar and keyboard rigs evolved over time? Can you walk us through what your rig was when you started with Goose over five years ago versus what it is today?
My guitar rig is very close to how it was when I joined the band, I’ve just switched to a Strat style guitar and back to a Fender amp (Leo got it right the first time!).
The keyboards on the other hand have grown quite a bit. I started with just two keyboards, a piano/organ board and a synth. Now I’ve got dedicated keyboards for piano, electric piano, organ, clavinet, and two synths. It is really amazing to be able to tour with the actual instruments my original keyboard was just trying to replicate.
Shout out to Coach, my keyboard tech, for always helping me set up my keys, and to our amazing sound squad, Sam Bardani, Eric Loomis, Padge McQuillan, and Marta Goedde for tech-ing the sounds so well.
[Editors Note: As an aside, please check out our colleague Ryan Storm's guitar and keyboard rig walkthroughs on YouTube through Storm Sound from March 2023:
What’s your secret to navigating through some of the more complex jams and sudden changes in written setlists during any given show? For example, in a jam, what makes you want to choose the keys over guitar, or vice versa? Is it a combination of listening intently against what the others are playing, in addition to watching for specific signs/body language?
When the improvisation is fluid, we don’t really think about it at all - we are just reacting and listening. The same goes for what I’m doing. I won’t have the conscious thought to go to a certain keyboard, I’ll just go there. It really is amazing when it’s working like that, those are the best moments.
A show full of those moments would be 3/12/22 (Philadelphia, PA) or 12/16/22 (Broomfield, CO). Amazing flow-state was achieved. Besides that, sometimes Rick will give cues if we are off on a tangent and we want to return to the original theme. It’s all a matter of eye contact. First he’ll look to Trevor to signal, and once we both see that Trevor has acknowledged the queue, Rick will look at me (hopefully Ben, Jeff, and I will be watching this entire exchange), and we pivot.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far while touring with Goose and your other projects like Great Blue?
Positivity and a good attitude are crucial for the touring lifestyle.It’s very easy to get discouraged and stuck. You have to keep going. You have to be naive in a sense in order to see the bright side of the unattended gigs, long drives, and little-to-no sleep. In the end, if you are getting closer to the people around you and making music that gives you goosebumps, then you’ve succeeded.
Tell us more about your PA-RC collaboration with your girlfriend Becky and how that began. Where did the mantras “Phone Down, Eyes Up, Heart Open” and “Everything You Need Is Within You” originate from? Do these both reflect your overall philosophy on life?
PA-RC was originally inspired by a Jay Blakesberg photograph in which many people are freely dancing at a Dead concert in the 70s. The photo is amazing because there are no phones, and everyone is fully uninhibited. Now a days, it’s hard to find a photo of a crowd without a phone in it (especially in the non-jam scenes, the vibe is pretty phone-down at our shows). Spurred on by this idea, I asked Becky if she would be interested in designing a bumper sticker for my keyboards that said “Phone Down, Eyes Up, Heart Open”.
She came back to me with what would be the final design as well as a mock up of a t-shirt. I was immediately like, “We have to print these shirts too!” And she was like, “Wait what, but how?”. We got the help from a local Connecticut artist and printer, David Condon (@AndHowGraphics), and he helped us make the dream happen —overnighting a few shirts to our Denver show in July 2021 so Becky and I could model them and post them online. We sold out soon later and the entire thing took on a life of it’s own. The name PA-RC comes from our initials, Peter Anspach - Rebecca Chinman.
“Everything You Need Is Within You” is a mantra based around the fact that we have all that we need already by looking inward. There is a lot to be explored inside and we encourage anyone to find that for themselves. Becky and I love creating together (something that bonds us) and have plans to launch a new PA-RC design soon with the idea of donating all the profits to charity.
What are some of your favorite pastimes and favorite hobbies, outside of music?
I have many! Getting outdoors in some capacity has always brought me clarity. I’ve done some long thru hikes, camping, baseball, surfing, snowboarding, rock climbing; it all brings me so much joy and I feel so great afterwards. I also love reading, cooking, and recently have gotten into ceramics through Becky (she’s excellent!).
Do you have any parting words or thoughts for our community?
Sure! Thank you all so much for supporting this wonderful newspaper. I love to see when our community comes together to work creatively, help others, or just to meet new people. Human interaction has never been more important. I encourage everyone to strike up conversation before our show and during set break with the folks around you. We are stronger together. Explore your boundaries.
Well said. Thank you so much for your time Peter - it's truly been a pleasure!
Goose is on tour now and throughout the Summer.
For a full list of tour dates, tickets, official band merch
and more, please visit: www.goosetheband.com
Note: We are not affiliated, associated with or in any way officially connected to Goose.
We just love the band and community that much.