BioJohn Darnielle was born in Bloomington, Indiana, during one of the state's periodic locust infestations. His family drove out to California in a blue Chrysler convertible with John, as yet unable to walk or speak, riding in the back. He spent most of the next twenty-odd years in and around California, buying Gun Club albums and weird Hawaiian guitars from a couple of blind brothers who ran a music store in a strip mall in Norwalk. This sounds like it must be a lie, but, surprisingly, it isn't.
California's position as Last State Before You Fall Off The Edge Of The World looms large in Darnielle's songs, which he presently writes in Iowa, entirely landlocked for the first time since his infancy. Releasing music as the Mountain Goats in various permutations -- first as a quintet, then as a duo, often by himself and presently with bassist and multi-instrumentalist Peter Hughes (Nothing Painted Blue, Diskothi-Q) -- since 1992, Darnielle's songs generally dwell on one or a combination of five subjects: conflicts within relationships that lead to irreducible contradictions, food, water, the mythology of pre-Columbian Mexico, and animals that can talk. This list changes every time you ask him about it but the talking animals are usually in there. His early tapes on the Shrimper label were aggressively low-tech presentations, recorded on a Panasonic FT-500, a dual-cassette with built-in condenser microphone. Lots of people insisted on calling the stuff made using the Panasonic "4-track recordings," and trying to convince people otherwise has proven utterly pointless.