Peter Anspach

Header taken by Christian Koerwer

Peter Anspach is the guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist of the CT-based band Goose. Formerly of Great Blue, Peter joined Goose at the start of 2018, and Behind The Gear spoke to him shortly after to check in with how he was doing in his new position and get a look at his rig. Now 2 years later, Goose has been on an exponential rise in the jam scene, in large part due to Anspach’s overhaul of the band’s online presence & content output. Now helping to create and promote things like crew photographer Bryan Murphy’s “Day of Show” mini-docs, mixing and releasing soundboard recordings for Soundboard Sunday, and putting together multi-cam videos at most shows, he’s seemingly settled into his role in the band and done it all with that signature stache + smile on his face. This past week, I checked back in with Peter after these last couple of years to talk about rig updates and the band’s wild success as of late.

The Gear

Guitar // 2011 Paul Reed Smith Hollowbody II

Pedalboard // Signal Chain: TC Electronics Polytune 2 > Dunlop GCB-95 Wah > Ibanez TS-9 (Silver modded by Analogman) > Analogman King of Tone > ElectroHarmonix Small Stone Phaser > Digitech Whammy 5 > TC Electronics Flashback X4 Delay > Chase Bliss Audio Dark World Reverb > Strymon Flint Tremolo/Reverb (w/ Strymon switch for tap tempo)

Amp // Fender Custom Deluxe Reverb ’64 Reissue (Handwired)

Keyboards // Nord Lead A1 Synthesizer (Top)

Nord Stage 3 Compact 73-key (Bottom)

Keyboard Foot Controls // “Rotor Pedal” controls the speed of the Leslie sim for organ on the Stage 3, “Bot Sustain” is a sustain pedal for the Stage 3, “Bot Control” is for the CV of the wah on the Stage 3 Clav sound and volume for the organ sound, “Top Control” is for the volume of the Lead A1

Behind the Gear

Photo by Kendall McCargo Photography

Jared Lindquist: Your board is fairly similar to how it was last time we spoke 2 years ago, but you’ve replaced your DD-20 with a Flashback and the SpaceFactor with that Chase Bliss Dark World. Why did you make those changes and what have those pedals added to your sound? 

Peter Anspach: The main reason for changing to the Flashback was because instead of the DD-20, which cycles through the delays, the Flashback allows you to have a button for each delay right there ready to go. So I have less presets, but I have quicker access to the ones I need. It’s a better application for the live setting. With the DD-20, let’s say you’re on the second preset but you need the first preset, you need to scroll all the way through to get back to that first preset. I thought like I was wasting time, I was not completely in the jams as much as I am now with the Flashback. It’s so much easier just to be like ok, go that one. I really liked the digital display of the DD-20 though, that’s something I’m missing. I wish I had that, and I’m still on the lookout for a pedal that has both of those things. Something where I can have 3 or 4 buttons for different presets all ready to go, but also have some kind of digital screen so I can see what the settings are when I go to that delay. 

The reverb, I found out about Chase Bliss, and it was like eye opening. THe pedals are so unique and he’s got a really cool way of designing pedals and making some really interesting sounds in a compact stompbox that’s a little bit bigger maybe than like a TS-9. It’s awesome to get so many really cool effects in a smaller package, which is something I was trying to do. Also again, I had that Eventide and you have to cycle through for the presets, so I just wanted to simplify my reverb sound, and my delay sound. That was mainly the reason for both moves.

JL: To talk about the Flashback a little more, a lot of people wanted to know exactly what the dotted eighth settings were. Also, what led to using that more and making it your own thing?

PA: So back in maybe like, 2013, I saw Dopapod play at a very small bar in New York; I think it was actually Olive’s in Nyack. I was front row, and they snuck me in cause I was under 21.  Rob used a dotted eighth note delay, it might’ve been the first time I had ever heard it used, but he wasn’t using it heavily, like for riffs, he was just kind of using it for backgroundish, almost like dub stuff. A little line here and there, wasn’t heavily using it, and I just thought it was awesome. I got the DD-20 because that’s what he was using, and once I had the DD-20 I was able to actually like get the dotted eighth note delay, cause there’s like a setting for it, you can do all the intervals. 

That was eye opening, I was able to experiment with it, and it led me to use it in Great Blue. In that band, I was using so much delay and reverb, like all the time. At one point I had like two delay pedals running at the same time into each other for certain. A lot of the time we were just a three piece, so I was crafting a lot of soundscapes by myself. Then I got into just cranking up the E Level (Effect Level) so that way every note sounded almost as if it was another pluck. That was a big moment right there, when I realized this could be used in a really interesting rhythmic way to do lines or do like a lead, and then Yeti happened. Now I’ve found more ways to integrate in Goose cause I just think it’s really fun to play. The settings I use, I really have no idea. It’s just a dotted 8th, and I’m pretty sure the E Level is pretty high and the Feedback is maybe average? Cause if you turn the feedback up too high the effectiveness won’t… if you want to stop doing it or if you end the line, it will just go forever. I feel like it’s only really effective if the E Level is pretty high and the feedback is average to below average. 

JL:  Are there any other, in your mind, any noteworthy, specific pedal combinations that you find yourself going to frequently? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants when you’re playing a show?

PA: (laughs) That’s a good question. I find myself… I don’t know if there’s any specific combinations. I don’t have any MIDI setups where I can click on one thing and it turns on multiple effects. I’m mostly just flying by the seat of my pants (chuckles). I guess I do for like rhythm stuff in jams, I like turning on the Chase Bliss “Shimmer” setting, there’s like a really good shimmer reverb in there, and then I turn on the first stage of overdrive on the King of Tone. Which is just a slight, slight drive, kind of like a clean boost. I use that for a lot of rhythm stuff in jams, like Tumble jams, stuff like that. 

JL: You’ve completely changed your keys set up since I talked to you last. You now have a Nord Stage 3 and a Nord Lead A1, and you used to use a Moog for your synth stuff. How have the upgrades affected your playing and how does the A1 compare to the Moog in terms of sounds you’re able to get out of it?

PA: The benefits are very vast. First and foremost, I really wanted a poly synth, something I could play chords on and do pads, so that was the main reason why I switched out of the Moog. I also didn’t use it very often, I don’t find myself as a predominant synth player yet, I’m still getting the hang of it I feel like. I wanted to keep the rig simple, with two keyboards, not too crazy, still playing a lot opening gigs, keeping the rig small. I’ll probably add more keyboards eventually, but I wanted to keep it simple. I actually got a Dave Smith Instruments Rev 2 for a second, and did not like it all, I thought it was so confusing. I just felt like not connected to it, like I was to my Nord. I really liked my Electro [5D] for so long, and I understand the controls, I love the layout, I love all the knobs, it’s just so simple and easy to use. So I was like, I’m definitely gonna get a Nord synth cause I’ll understand how to use it from day 1. So far, it’s been amazing, I’ve gotten really cool sounds out of it. A couple that have defined certain segments, like the arpeggio thing in Slow Ready which is a patch I built on there. I just find it, like a really inspiring synth, cause I understand how to use it. 

I got the Nord Stage, mostly because I wanted the expanded effects section. I wanted crossfading between patches, so that way if I switch to organ during a jam, there’s not like an abrupt stop in the signal, it just switches seamlessly from piano to organ which is awesome. Makes everything a lot smoother. And I have more keys, like an extra octave. I think 73 keys is the perfect number for me, I don’t feel limited like I did with the 61. 

JL: You mentioned the Slow Ready arpeggio, are there any other specific key tones you have that are iconic in your mind?

PA: Yeah, that one’s kind of got a vibe. I really like my Clav sound. I don’t know many other people that are getting the sound that I’m getting. I don’t know why. I know a lot of people complain about the Nord Clav, like “it doesn’t sound real,” but whatever, I really like the way I have mine sounding right now so much, so I could care less. I just think it sounds cool. Rather than trying to achieve what was achieved 40 years ago, I’m trying to achieve something that I like now, and I think that’s maybe more of my philosophy. Instead of looking back, I feel like I’m looking forward. 

JL: Obviously since you’ve joined the band, your keys playing has vastly improved, not to disparage you, but I remember that first Spafford run, like Red was giving you lessons before the show. How do you feel like you’ve improved and do you think you have room for improvement?

PA: Definitely have room for improvement, I feel like I learn stuff every time I sit down and play. Which is a great feeling, a really inspiring feeling. I’m fortunate to be around other musicians that are incredible at their craft, and that’s inspiring and makes me want to get better. I feel like I was so nervous back when I started, now I have confidence, which is everything. My playing has gotten a lot better just because I feel confident I know how to play the parts, how to take a solo… I don’t feel afraid anymore. So much so, that I’ve like sat in with bands on keys and I feel like I never would’ve done that back when I first started, like that would be terrifying to me. 

JL: Do you have a specific regimen, like do you pick a skill you want to work on and work on that, or as you play with other musicians and keep learning, you find the areas that you want to improve on? 

PA: Yeah, I’d say I learn like as I hear. If I hear something cool, if it inspires me, I’ll figure it out. That’s been an effective method for me learning things over my entire musical career. Just cause if I don’t feel inspired to learn it, I won’t use it live, it won’t stick. I have to feel inspired to learn something, and then when I do, I’ll research about it, I’ll practice it, I’ll be stoked on it, which keeps it fun for me. It’s easier to learn when you’re inspired.

JL: Top 5 artists that have influenced your tone?

PA: One of my biggest influences for tone on guitar, and synth I guess now, was and has been Tame Impala, Kevin Parker’s stuff. Back when I was in Great Blue, the whole band were massive fans of Tame Impala, like I said I was soaking things in reverb, using lots of effects; his tones are very unique. For a while I was striving to do almost synth sounds with my guitar, which I’ve gotten a little away from these days, cause I don’t know if it necessarily fits super well with Goose sound. But it fit really well with the Great Blue sound, so that was the vibe I was doing back then. He continues to push the ball forward tonally: I love anybody that’s evolving and creating new stuff all the time, that’s what I want to be influenced by. 

At least for keyboard sounds in a modern way, I really enjoy Vulfpeck and the sounds that they get from their keyboards. They’re kind of doing what I want to do in a sense, bringing like vintage style into a modern approach, which I think is dope and something that I strive to do as well. Basically I think that they’re making older music, which I think is really cool, more accessible and relatable. 

I’ve been listening to a lot of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. It’s odd, they’re like a totally different genre than we are, much more hard rock. But I have a lot of hard rock in me, like I grew up listening to classic rock all the time, and they invoke those feelings. Even some metal stuff, it’s really cool. They get some really interesting guitar sounds that like blow my mind.I don’t know how to explain it other than that. 

JL: No I get what you’re saying, all the microtonal stuff is crazy. I feel like defining them as hard rock is even kind of limiting, because they’ve done like full jazz albums.

PA: Yeah they’re unbelievable. 

I should probably mention Page from Phish for keyboard sounds, he’s super innovative and he’s so good at knowing when to go to which keyboard, and just creates amazing sounds every time he goes to each one. He’s not necessarily an incredible synth player, but I feel like his knowledge of all the boards is super beneficial to the band, he’s the man. 

I should go with Herbie Hancock.

JL: Are you more of a fan of jazz Herbie or jazz fusion synth Herbie? 

PA: Jazz fusion synth Herbie. That’s had a huge influence on me. The stuff he created is unreal. 

Honorable Mention: Santana, tone is ridiculous. (Upon being asked he is in fact a fan of Smooth by Santana ft. Rob Thomas)

JL: The last time we talked to you, you had just joined the band, and the whole two years since hasn’t been wild exponential success, but you guys have been blowing up lately. How are you handling the success and what’s your view on it?

PA: It’s kind of crazy. I feel like we’re still in a bit of shock about it all. Like the selling out of shows is probably the most shocking, none of us could have predicted that so many shows would sell out last fall. Then to sell out two shows in NYC and experience those and how it all went, it was just unbelievable. It’s so cool to look out and not know everybody in the crowd. It’s so humbling to think so many people care about your music, and at least during this quarantine, there’s been so many people reaching out since we’re not playing shows. Taking lessons or just sending messages… with all the people reaching out it’s all sinking in that this is bigger than us at this point. 

JL: With all the weirdness going on right now, you guys have been pretty heavily showcased on the Live From Out There digital festival that just wrapped up. What’s your hope for the music scene for the next 6 months to a year? Are you hoping to get back out on the road soon or are you settled in, ready to keep doing online stuff?

PA: For now, until there’s an end in sight, we’re continuing to attack on the livestream front. We’re working on ways to push that ball forward and make it even better. Pretty focused on that right now. Hopefully if all goes well, we can hopefully be back on the road in the fall, but no idea if that will happen or not. 

JL: It’s a big blow, this happening to someone on the trajectory that you guys were on.

PA: It’s honestly more of a saving grace than a big blow. We’ve been constantly touring since last fall, and I think this big break will be way more beneficial than all of those shows would have been. We’re able to write new material with some actual time off, and relax, and be ready to go when all of this is over. Just as a band that’s growing, you kind of need to consistently play shows, but if nobody’s able to play shows, we’re not missing anything. I feel like we’re only gaining, no one’s making significant moves on the live front. It’s really all about making the most of the time that you have. 

JL: There’s been a very big shift since you joined the band, pretty much right out of the gate, when you overhauled the entire online image of the band. It’s pretty clear that that’s been helpful in gaining new fans, because all the content you guys put out is easily accessible. Is it satisfying to see all of that pay off after a couple of years and do you have any plans to increase the amount of content you put out, for example soundboards? Or are you trying to keep it at the same steady pace?

PA: Definitely feels good to see the benefits of basically being consistent and putting out content. It all started because of the fact that we became tight as a band. With all the moves that have been made over the past two years, among all that, as a band we got tighter and practiced a lot harder and took it more seriously. The other ten percent, that being like 90 percent of what has shown success, the other ten percent is just taking that and showing that to people. If what I’ve done has helped show that to people, I’m happy about that. 

In terms of what we want to do going forward with content, if we release, say all these soundboards from the last tour, days after the show, that could be cool, but now for the next 3 months we’d have nothing to put out. I think it almost worked in our favor, cause now we have all this content to share with people. It’s fresh cause it just happened a few months ago, and I think it’s some of our best playing yet. Maybe in the future when we have a crew to do all the work for us we can put out soundboards faster, but if it’s just me, and it is just me mixing the soundboards and putting them out, so having the time to do that while also touring, and everything else in my life is just a lot.

JL: I remember originally, you didn’t necessarily want to put everything out, because if you didn’t play a good show what’s the point in releasing the soundboard? It’s better for you to be able to pick and choose which quality shows you want to put out and not just throw everything at the wall.

PA: Yeah, I mean we were doing that for a while, and it’s smart that we did, because two years ago we weren’t playing at the level we are now. That alone just makes me realize that we were smart to not put everything out, like us playing empty rooms. Now we’re playing to crowds and people want to relive their experience and I think that’s valid, I think people should be able to do that. I feel strongly about the vibe. If a show has a good vibe, but the playing wasn’t all perfect, I think that’s fine to put that out, cause a strong vibe will come across through the soundboard. 

JL: If you could vibe check the current state of Goose, how are the vibes? What rating would you give it? 

PA: I don’t know… it’s come a long way (chuckles). It’s great right now. I don’t know if I can give it a grade or a number but it’s really great. 

JL: Great is a perfect measurement. If you think you guys have great vibes right now, then you guys are vibrating greatly. 

Someone wanted to know, what effect do you use on the chorus of Doc Brown to get that floaty sound?

PA: I don’t know, I think I’m just putting on a bunch of reverb. Oh, it’s probably that Chase Bliss “Shimmer” effect. 

JL: What do you guys use to record your soundboards? 

PA: Behringer X32. 

JL: Thanks for doing this again Peter!

PA: Thanks for taking the time! Behind the Gear is back. 

-End Interview-

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