The Mountain Goats are an indie rock band hailing from Claremont, California, U.S who formed in 1991. Led by singer, songwriter and the man regarded as the best lyricist in American rock John Darnielle, they have released 15 studio albums since their debut effort in 1994.
John Darnielle was born on March 16th, 1967 in Bloomington, Indiana. At the age of two he lost his birth father, leading him and his mother to relocate to Central California where he grew up with a physically and emotionally abusive step-father. To cope with it he retreated into music and writing in a big way, but found that once high school was over, he couldn’t bring himself to stay in his hometown any longer. He found a job as a psychiatric nurse at the Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, California and began writing songs on the guitar when he wasn’t working. He started performing live around 1990, and made a valuable friend in the form of Dennis Callaci. Callaci was the owner of Shrimper Records, and after Darnielle gave him a boombox recorded demo tape of some of his early songs, Callaci released it as Darnielle’s first album “Taboo IV: The Homecoming”. Unwilling to perform under his own name, Darnielle took the moniker The Mountain Goats from the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins song “Yellow Coat” and began to tour with only himself on guitar and his friend Rachel Ware on the bass guitar. In 1991, Darnielle started attending the Pitzeer College in Claremont to study for an English degree, and it was during this time that he started properly focusing on songwriting, becoming renowned for his massively prolific output of songs. Between 1991 and 1995 he released a large number of cassette’s and seven inch vinyl’s and built up a devoted following because of it. However, once he left college he decided to take his band more seriously and make a go of starting an actual career in music. His debut album proper, “Zopilote Machine”, had been released in 1994, and he spent the rest of the 1990’s building his following into a proper, nationwide fan-base. While the group have never been commercially successful, they remain one of the most critically acclaimed and respected acts in American indie rock. Darnielle remains as prolific as ever, and has grown into a truly captivating live act to boot. The Mountain Goats are a band to see as soon as possible, and they come highly recommended.