Wisconsin songwriter at work on new album contemplating life's fleeting nature, with an assist from Wilco's Pat Sansone
Andy Goitia’s father is from Argentina, and his mother is from England, but when the Falklands War broke out between those two countries in the 1980s, the couple relocated to the U.S. to get married, eventually making their way to Wisconsin.
Then, when Goitia was 6, the family lived in Argentina for about four years. As a boy, he soaked up the culture and learned to speak Spanish. All along the way, at the urging of his mother, he sang. “They put me in choir and would make me sing in front of family members. I kind of liked it, but I'd also be embarrassed,” Goitia said recently by phone.
In high school, Goitia began writing his own songs on guitar, but despite the international influences in his upbringing, he found himself drawn to American folk music. “I was a big Dylan fan, big Neil Young fan,” he said. “When I started writing songs, they just had this twangy-ness to them, which doesn't make any sense. I mean, even Wisconsin isn't necessarily an Americana type of place.”
Goitia, who was born in Milwaukee, started college in Madison, Wisconsin, and stuck around there for a while, immersing himself in the music scene and playing in bands. About a year and a half ago, while touring with a band in Europe, his lease in Madison had expired, and his sister invited him to stay with her in London indefinitely. “It was kind of a co-op loft, with eight to 10 people sharing space. So I was just one extra person on the couch,” he said.Alive is considering starting a band that only writes songs about being grumpy and tired and calling it Sleepy Groucho. Sign up for our daily newsletter
It just so happened that Gizzard Recording, an analog studio, was a mere five minutes from the London loft, so Goitia booked time there to finish some songs he’d started in Madison, and those sessions became the basis for his new project, Sleepy Gaucho. The band is currently on a tour that began with just Goitia, then gained lap steel player Will Hansen a couple of days ago to form a duo for tonight’s gig at Dirty Dungarees with Slow Violence and Megan Taylor (more musicians will join on future dates).
In 2018, Goitia released the results of those London recording sessions — Another Time, a stripped-down take on Sleepy Gaucho’s laid-back Americana. “It's pretty honest and raw,” Goitia said.
Now, Goitia is at work on a new Sleepy Gaucho record, with some help from Wilco’s Pat Sansone, who plays multiple instruments on recently released single “Lucy” and helped to fill out Sleepy Gaucho’s sound with more textured layers and a psychedelic vibe that fits Goitia’s breezy vocals. The song wistfully recalls a brief encounter with a woman. “We were talking, and I really regret not linking up. I have no way to find where she is or who she was,” he said. “All I had to do was say something.”
In fact, much of the new record, which Goitia hopes to release in late spring or early summer on Milwaukee label Hear Here, deals with the ephemeral nature of the world. A second single, “Mr. Wick,” approaches the idea from a geographical perspective as Goitia reflects on the London neighborhood he called home for a time. “It was one of the few places you could still survive as an artist. And while I was there, everyone was talking about how it's not the same and there's all these apartments going up,” he said. “I'm sure if I went back to the neighborhood now, it's totally different.”
Goitia is drawn to these places, people and moments with an inherent fleeting beauty. “Humans, we always want what we don’t have,” he said. ”And we're really tough at appreciating stuff while we do have it.”