This story appears in the Fall 2017 issue of EMMIE Magazine.
On the final night of their 18-date tour, Margaret Butler and Nick Ziemann sat in the musty Paradise Lounge enjoying a fried fish sandwich and french fries — a far cry from their tour diet of sunflower seeds and carrots. Nearly everything they own sat either in the basement of the Frequency or in the trailer that they took on tour for the past month with fellow GGOOLLDD members Mark Stewart and Nick Schubert. The rest of their belongings rested in a ten-by-ten storage unit in Appleton, Wisconsin.
After quitting their jobs less than a year ago and selling anything that wasn’t essential, the four made a full-time commitment to their band. The name GGOOLLDD comes from Butler’s gold-adorned costume she wore the night of the band’s inaugural performance — a show that occurred only as an excuse to throw a party for herself and all her friends.
Despite Butler’s love for sequins and glitter, it’s not all glitz and glamour working as a full-time artist. “She’s just sitting there smelling herself. We don’t know if it’s us or not!” Ziemann exclaimed. “I have no idea if it’s me that smells,” Butler replied. “I can count on one hand the amount of times that I’ve had access to a shower in the past month.” Covering 7,500 miles in the span of three weeks and showering only a handful of times, GGOOLLDD went through grueling physical stress and had their fair share of road trip difficulties.
On the back half of their tour, GGOOLLDD successfully made it across the Canadian border on their way to Vancouver for their next show. As they drove down the road, an undercover police officer pulled them over, claiming that it was illegal to have a trailer without a license plate (they later found out from local police and border patrol that it was legal). “The fucking Vancouver police stole our trailer,” Ziemann said with disgust. Before the officer took the trailer, they were able to unload all of their gear for that night’s show. But now, they had nowhere to carry it. Ziemann took the van to the nearest U-Haul while the others guarded their expensive equipment in the middle of a Canadian park for hours. “Luckily they fulfilled their alcohol rider in the show at Vancouver that night,” Ziemann said. “We got sloppy drunk. We were so angry … We don’t get angry. But we figured it out. It was a tough couple of hours.”
Hiccups like these pushed the group to their limits. If not for their adoring fans, they said they would have had been completely exhausted during the tour. Originating in Milwaukee, GGOOLLDD has developed an incredible following throughout the Midwest. Boisterous crowds traveling countless miles surprised the band at shows they had expected to be relatively quiet. Fans came out in droves. “The amount of excitement is probably why we were able to quit our jobs. We’re just getting started, but the overall excitement once you’ve seen our show seems to retain, if not grow ’til the next time you see people,” Ziemann said. “That part helps us a lot. Fanaticism in anything is affirming if nothing else.”
Now signed to Roll Call Records, GGOOLLDD has a larger team behind them to help with the tricky logistics of being full-time musicians. Regardless, they still choose to take care of most things themselves. “We started so DIY that now it’s hard for us to give tasks away if we know that we can control it — ones that we know we can handle,” Ziemann said. They design all of their album art. Butler creates ideas for t-shirts and apparel. Ziemann does work on the band’s website design. Only now, they have help from a label that feels more like a new group of friends than a group of people micromanaging them. “I’m not gonna fucking work for anybody that makes me feel like I owe them a favor. It’s important that they all feel like friends to us so we know that works,” Butler explained.
While they’re signed to a label now, they still have to work. Born on a whim, GGOOLLDD has always been more about a feeling rather than a specific, scientific approach to the music, merch or shows. After quitting their jobs, it didn’t take long to realize that despite the financial necessity of it, they couldn’t force themselves to write. It wouldn’t feel authentic. A lot has changed since the band’s inception, but one thing remains constant — as long as they can spend time making dinner, drinking and hanging out together, the music will come.