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GOOD FOR YOU
Good For You represents the road to Garageland. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was clearly mapping out my way home. From song to song, I was evaluating and reevaluating all of the different roads I had been down and I was juxtaposing them with my values, and it was plain to see that I had spent too many years chasing after the wrong things. I was completely lost and my reflection stung. I had been so foolish, and I had caused myself and the ones I loved so much suffering, so much pain, and it was literally killing me. These songs were my reckoning; these songs were good for me.
When Greg Ginn reached out to me in the beginning of 2012 to ask me if I was interested in working on some music with him, I could not have imagined that we would end up writing and working on over 40 songs together between April and December of 2012. When I received the initial working tracks, I was overwhelmed with how much material I had to sort through and try to make sense of. I would wake up at 5AM every morning, before the rest of my family was awake, and I’d go into the garage with my notebook and my headphones and I would listen to the music and let it speak to me. The music and the methodical approach to the work suddenly opened up a long suppressed, yet still smoldering, flame inside of me, and the words came. Once they started, I couldn’t stop them. These songs were years of journals, diaries, workbooks and poems that I’d never written but had been simmering in my soul. When they finally met the music, when they were finally fed oxygen, a fire I had long forgotten began to burn inside of me again. This fire would be the first light on my road home.
Working with Greg in the studio was the freest I’ve ever felt doing vocals. Ideas just came to me and I had all the room and time that I could ask for to explore the different directions that the songs wanted to go. Before we got started I was nervous about trying to nail down so much material but when I got in there and started working I realized that I knew these songs inside and out, that they were a part of me and that I was completely in my element putting these vocals down.
Our first release, Life Is Too Short to Not Hold a Grudge (SST385 / Vinyl and Digital Release) came out in February of 2013. Somehow I had narrowed the material down to 11 Songs. I felt that these 11 songs best represented the narrative coursing through all of the material. From the opening track, I’d Rather Die, to No Plan B, to Free, to Blaze of Glory: These were songs about a refusal to compromise. But then in contrast, there were the songs about great compromise: Hanging Around, Stupid Me and Good Sport. The Yin and Yang were then fleshed out by the plaintive Knife in The Face, the no bullshit It’s Just Business, the optimistic Dreams and the very depressing and dark True Companion.
I think people were expecting Good For You to be the new Black Flag and instead they got these autobiographical songs, ripped from the pages of my soul. It was clearly not what anyone anticipated or hoped for and so the general initial response was that this was pretty insipid stuff, at least on the surface.
By design, the lyrics were simple and repetitive. Some people really got hung up on that, but the feedback from people who ended up spending real time with these songs was that they found deeper layers to the songs with every listen. And as the song writer, that is a true statement for me as well. I purposely set out to not litter the songs with too many words and to just get to the essence of things. Most of the songs are intentional mantras.
We toured this material in April of 2013. It was good to get out on the road, ahead of the Black Flag reformation, and see how these songs faired on their own. The response from live audiences was very enthusiastic and inspiring. We played the record in its entirety every night, from cover to cover, in sequence, only adding the song Fucked Up as either an opener or closer. I wanted to do this because I felt that the record had a certain narrative, that I had sequenced the record the way I did for a reason, and that that narrative and sequence would translate to the best live show and presentation of the songs. I was right. We also found that we were generally playing for people who loved music, supported live music and who were open to experiencing our music in the moment. It was one of the best, most rewarding music tours I’ve ever done. I felt that Greg and I had created something new and something truly meaningful. Yes, it would take us time to build an audience but it would be a fun ride.
Then Black Flag reformed and Good For You was scheduled to open all of their shows in 2013, with the exception of a few festival dates. Although I was glad to be on the road playing these songs still, the climb was made incredibly harder by being the band opening for Black Flag. We met a lot of resistance out there. People were really angry at the music, at me. The word “Emo” got thrown around a lot, but isn’t music supposed to be emotional? Whatever the case, the music and I got slandered pretty hard from the entrenched punk scene, and I felt like a lot of people weren’t really giving the music a chance, they just decided to hate it before they even heard one note.
By the end of the 2013, Black Flag had disbanded and that also seemed to spell the end for Good For You, at least in the sense of being a touring, active band. But there was still the music, and a lot of it. At the end of 2013, we released the Fucked Up 7-inch (SST 388 7-inch Vinyl Only Release) w/ the B-Side Steamroller. Then came, Too! (SST389 Double LP Vinyl Only Release) featuring 22 Songs that rounded out what I considered the best material from our studio work. Too! continued the narrative of Life Is Too Short... but also broadened the scope with songs about American Greed like Coal Town Blues, Man of Steal and Where It Goes and songs about the American Condition like Exacting Revenge and White Rap. And there were other more optimistic songs too like No Ghetto and Where I Come From. It's a lot of music but it really proved to be a clear snapshot of where I was in my life, what I saw, where I wanted to go and what I truly valued. Then came Full Serving (SST390 CD and Digital Release). This was three discs, 40 Songs in total, collecting all of the material that we had released, re-sequenced to fully communicate the narratives of the records in one whole story. We also added six “Bonus Tracks” that I had grown fond of after sequencing Life Is Too Short… and Too!.
And there is still more music. There are a few fully-realized tracks left over from our 2012 sessions that may still surface someday, as well as nearly 40 other “new” songs that we had worked on in different stages throughout 2013, 2014 and early 2015. It’s hard to tell at this point what will become of this other material but for now, there are 40 songs that were and are good for me, and I believe, if you give them a chance, they could be good for you too!
— Mike V
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