Pictured above: Peter Anspach and Jon Lombardi with some of The el Goose Times crew on Friday, June 11th;
(Photo Credit - Jon Caruso)
Volume Two Interview
by Marc Komito
Coach: an all-encompassing term minimally defined as one who trains, Merriam-Webster fell woefully shy of the high-water mark set by Luigi “Jon” Lombardi. Mentor, teacher, and role model; brother, friend, and number one fan; Coach is a literal founding father of Goose, having performed every job possible for this band at least once. Quick to deflect credit and send praise elsewhere, he’s risen to every challenge and moved on with grace and dignity when the opportunity arose to bring in fresh eyes and grow the family. “I've worn many hats throughout (my time with the band) and stoked to have changed hats because you know, that means there's more people on board in the team.” By title, he is Goose’s stage manager. In practice, he’s Coach.
The el Goose Times is a community rag – ya know, a for-the-gaggle by-the-gaggle type of deal. So while we’d love to pull back the curtain on inside jokes and tell you precisely when to expect the next “Factory Fiction”, the purpose of this column has always been singular: to support the band and community at large while shining the spotlight on brilliance. So it was only a matter of time before we spoke to Coach, a man whose love and passion for music, community, and his best friends were the catalyst that created Goose. “[After Vasudo], my work schedule settled down and my priorities changed and I realized what was important to me … what I wanted to do was spend a lot of time with Trevor. … [At the same time], he was bringing over Investment Banker For Dummies books and being like, “I gotta figure my shit out,’ and I was like, ‘You’re a bass player.’ Then I told Rick what was gonna happen. I was like, ‘I'm not blowing smoke up your ass but I'm willing to derail my ten year plan – my life plan – and just, like, put everything into this. I’m so proud of my best friends whose particular love and passion [for music] is why I did this.”
Pictured above: Jon Lombardi tuning Rick's guitar and testing equipment prior to the Friday, June 11th tour opener in Swanzey, New Hampshire; (Photo Credit - Jon Caruso)
From the earliest days when he’d book the show, set up the stage, and then hightail it over to the merch booth where he’d make sure to shake every hand and meet every eye, Coach has instilled that same sense of love and passion into all things Goose. “We’ve always been trying to build community. From the ground up, we really take pride in our merch because I feel like that's customer relations … we just want to be as personal as possible and really just keep connected. I'm just blessed as fuck to be making people happy.”
“Without love in the dream, it will never come true.”
To his friends on stage, sometimes he’s more of a father figure. Imagine the set break shenanigans: “It's like you take one of your kids and their five buddies to the ballpark and they're like six years old and you have to be like, ‘Who's here? Who's there?’ I know Rick's got to take at least two pees. Peter, there's something we gotta work out. Ben's getting a back rub from Sam. Jeff's fine. Trevor's ready to go. And I got the venue at my back like, ‘they need to be on now.’ Then all of a sudden, at the super last minute when we're already supposed to be on the rigs, Rick’s like, ‘what do you think about that setlist?” I'm like, I already wrote it before the first set, so I like it. Now go play!”
In the beginning, the obligations of life sometimes kept Coach from keeping it all together in person. “Back in the day when I wasn’t able to be on the road at every single show because I would be working, I gave Trev a Luigi doll and I said take this on the road so I’m always with you on stage, even when I’m not there. After a few years Trev, for some reason, wasn’t feeling the Lu vibes on his cab and I was pretty shocked, mildly offended even, but then Peter was like, ‘Dude I’d love to have Luigi live in my world.’ And just like that Luigi got the best seat in the house sitting on top of Handini world. I immediately turned to Tweekz and was like, “Yo, your mistake bro, Luigi is a star.”
But it hasn’t always been easy, and the fact that this crew of best friends, which includes every person on stage and in the trenches, has transcended the ups and downs and rode the roller coaster of life and loss comes through in the music just as it plays out in the community.
“We deal with anxiety. We deal with regular life. If you told me at twenty-two that at thirty-four the best thing going for me would be this jam band I started with my two buddies, I’d have laughed my ass off, wouldn't have believed you at all, and said, ‘I'll buy you a beer at the Panic show.’ But that’s what's going on and I’m gonna take it and roll with it because it could be worse and I'm happy to be alive. We've lost so many friends … that’s kind of what was big about Alive and Well. We lost a lot of people, and we also grew up with people that just weren't well. We want everyone to be well and to show them that we're here, we're alive, and we're doing the best we can. But at least we have these moments and we can wake up breathe and be like, hey, ‘You say it looks like rain today, but we say, oh, what a day to be livin.’”
So while Luigi Jon Lombardi, second generation Italian-American from Wilton, CT, may not be The Godfather, at the very least, he’s The Architect. “First and foremost, besides being for my best friends and my brothers which are the band and the crew, Goose is for every person who comes to the show, who streams or just watches on YouTube, and even for those who are pissed they can't get through on tickets and I've been there with bands, too, but just the fact that that they take the time to love us and connect with a song and make lasting memories at our shows is why I do this and why I will never stop doing this. So, thank you.”
Everything about this band, this community in fact, is a testament to Coach and his love. We see you. We appreciate you.
And we love you, too.
Note: We are not affiliated, associated with or in any way officially connected to Goose.
We just love the band and community that much.