ACCORDING TO GETEN, the member of the mysterious psych-rock collective Goat who responded to my emailed interview questions, there are "around 30" people from various places and backgrounds "in and around" the band. He adds there are "a couple of hundred" in the remote Swedish commune from which the band emerged two years ago with the release of its stunning debut album, World Music.
On the Coachella-bookended West Coast tour that brings Goat to Portland, Geten says he thinks there will be seven, maybe eight members performing.
With so many people involved, any sort of musical consensus seems elusive. Indeed, when asked if there are artists that most or all members of Goat enjoy, Geten comes up with two: "Probably some like ABBA or the Beatles." (When asked if the band is excited to see anyone at Coachella, Geten replies, "Motörhead should be cool, plus tons of other bands I have never heard of probably.")
It is worth noting here that just about everything around Goat feels slightly vague and difficult to grasp, except its sturdy, stirring, Afrobeat-influenced music. The band's origin story—that it comes from Korpilombolo, a tiny Swedish village with a long history of voodoo worship, and that the current band members are just the latest in a lineage that goes back decades—has been repeatedly questioned, although no rock 'n' roll gumshoe has exposed the story as fake, or presented a more plausible alternative.
Even music critics in the internet age, perhaps, know when to leave a good thing alone. Whether Goat's shadowy, global stomp comes from the traditions of a remote Scandinavian village or just a gang of seasoned players with fertile imaginations and a healthy mask budget doesn't matter much. What matters is the music, a heady amalgam of vintage psych, fuzzy funk-rock, tribal chants, proto-metal swagger, and the immersive rhythms of Afrobeat.
The anonymity of Goat's members is a central principle in the band.
"We have no interest in personal achievements... or personality in the conventional sense," Geten says. "I am only concerned about contributing to the greater good. Being of benefit. What we do has been done before by thousands of people and continues to be done. The lineage continues and the 'lineup' is constantly changing. Everyone has an equal opportunity to channel the self-vibrations of the universe. To see the unseen."
Geten calls Korpilombolo an "empowered community of respect, gratitude, and love," and says Goat has been "overwhelmed" by the widespread raves for World Music—so much so that he regrets connecting the band to the village's history of voodoo and declines to talk in more detail about the commune, its origins, and its values.
"We never intended to step on anyone's toes," Geten says. "But at the same time, I could never have guessed we would get the amount of attention that we have. After all, it is what it is. As it is."
All that said, Goat—who are working on a new album for Sub Pop that Geten expects to be released later this year—continues to embrace its own mythology, for reasons bigger than music.
"In a way, the [story] might inspire someone to seek out and get to know their own primordial truth," Geten says. "The one essence."