Having originally formed in 1994, Florida indie-rock quartet Pohgoh have just released their new album ”du und ich” on Spartan Records. It is their second full length release since getting back together in 2016 following on from 2018’s ”Secret Club” and is full of catchy riffs and big dynamics ridden deftly by vocalist Susie’s inimitable voice and evocative lyrics. Among the many highlights are opener ”Now I Know”, ”Over/Under” and “Heavy.”
We caught up with drummer Keith to talk about the new record and how its feels to be emo royalty.
Hi Guys! How’s everything going right now?
Pretty darn good. We just played a super fun set at The Fest (Gainesville, FL) and are still pumped! We’re super stoked on the album officially being out in the world this Friday.
What classic album cover is your current mood?
Joni Mitchell Blue… the state of the world we live in doesn’t bring much joy these days.
Your new album “du und ich” is out on next week on Nov 4th. Is there a German connection within the band that led to the title?
No, not really. We wanted to the title of the album to reflect the last couple years (ie. the unknown, the pandemic, not seeing much of friends/family, etc). With that in mind, we felt our spouses and families were all we had supporting each other in the moment…..us, you and me, you and I, just us. The German TV show “Dark” on Netflix was something we binged (twice!) during the pandemic. While a sci-fi time travel show, the main theme they kept coming back to and mentioning throughout the show was none of the situations they were in really in mattered, it was just about the 2 main characters, so we felt that was a neat connection.
I’ve loved getting to know the record – “Over-Under’, ‘Planet Houston’ and ‘Hammer’ are probably my favorites right now, When did you write and record the album?
Thank you for the kind words. We’re very proud of it. We started writing as soon as we were done recording 2018’s Secret Club. Things definitely slowed and eventually stopped for a good bit when covid hit. When we started feeling comfortable practicing again (full time in 2021) that’s when the songwriting really started to flow and come together. We recorded the new album in September of 2021 in Baltimore, MD with J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines).
You originally broke up back in 1998 and then reformed “properly’ in 2016. What caused the initial break-up and what was the catalyst to getting back together?
Actually we broke up in 1997. I was going through some personal issues and decided to leave the band abruptly. Things didn’t feel right moving forward without him, so the band dissolved. We finished recording our now posthumous debut full length In Memory Of Bab a few months later and played one final album release show here in Tampa. As the years went on, we collectively never stopped playing in bands, and often together in other projects, but nothing too serious. Occasionally, over the years, we would play a one off reunion show to celebrate an anniversary date of the band and/or the label we run New Granada Records. In 2016, we did a reunion show that just clicked for all of us. It just felt right and we decided to get in the practice room and see what writing would feel like. Matt brought in a guitar riff that became the song “Try Harder” and within an hour it was fully fleshed out and arranged. That just got us so excited and we started meeting once a week and writing what would eventually become Secret Club, our first album in over 20 years at the time.
If you could only listen to one record, what would it be?
I can’t speak for the rest of the gang, but my all-time favorite desert island album is Supertramp “Breakfast In America “ (1979). I know…. not a very exciting answer. I don’t know what it is, it’s just perfection front to back and I could listen to it at any given moment at any time.
Susie was diagnosed with MS in 2001 which must make playing and gigging really difficult. How do you overcome the challenges and what can venues do to make them more accessible for everyone?
Susie can not walk and gets around in a scooter. We’ve got her guitar set-up down to a science with a marked floor mat for her chair and pedals. Our bassist Brian handles a few of her auxiliary effects like delay and whatnot on certain songs since her feet can be uncooperative at times. We bring a folding chair everywhere we play for her to sit and in most cases we have to take turns carrying her onto the stage. It’s definitely difficult but we’ve made it work and adapt quickly. When playing out of town or touring we’re always sure to be in touch with venues, promoters, stage managers, as best as possible, to let them know our situation and what to expect. Everyone is always so kind and helpful, but that doesn’t mean all venues are 100% accessible. People will go out of their way to make things comfortable but limitations are limitations, there’s only so much someone can do if a room is, shall we say….. “unique”.
As far as venues being more accessible, that’s a much needed and MUCH longer conversation. People tend to look at the front end of things (front door access and viewing sections for disabled patrons) but they don’t really look beyond into the back end (Is the merch area or green room/backstage accessible? Is there a handicapped accessible restroom? Can a full size wheelchair or scooter fit into it? Is there accessible parking for a ramp van? Are there curb cuts so wheelchairs don’t need to be lifted onto a sidewalk? etc etc etc).
Your debut came out in 1997 and is regularly brought up when people talk about the history of emo. How does it feel to be “emo royalty”?
As polarizing as the term has become over the years, the ’emo’ tag has been very kind to us and we embrace it. We always considered ourselves an indie rock band that came from a punk/DIY background and aesthetic, booking our own tours, playing house shows, basements, DIY spaces as well as club and venue shows. We were and are very chameleon-like in that way. We’re very proud to represent 90s DIY, “2nd wave emo”, punk, indie and everything in-between. It’s definitely flattering to be mentioned in such great company, in particular, we’re proud to have originally been around when there were VERY few bands with female and female identifying members. It was a small club to belong to along with Rainer Maria, Jejune and Dahlia Seed to name a few.
You own Microgroove, an independent record store in Tampa, which would be my dream day job. How is business these days with the revival of vinyl? Any interest in my old A-Ha and Howard Jones albums from the 80s?
My very first job was working in a mall record store. It was 1988, I was 16 and worked there for 6 years. After going through the whole office job routine, I decided to follow my dream of opening my own shop in 2011. It’s been a lot of fun and a lot of work. It’s not always glamorous, there’s plenty of slow days and dead sales months. As far as the revival of vinyl, I tell people often when the conversation comes up… it never really went away. They never stopped making vinyl. It certainly has picked up and new bands/artists are now releasing on vinyl. But, as a primarily secondhand store, this doesn’t really change much for me. Indie record shops selling used records and CDs have been here plugging away this whole time. We’re grateful for the occasional boost in interest or newcomer to the record buying world, but that life changing windfall of riches still eludes us, hahaha! It’s 100% a labor of love. And yes, the 80s are hot right now! Send your A-ha and Howard Jones my way!!!!
What would go on your signature pizza and what would it be called?
Ham and pep all the way….. it’ll be called the “Tenderoni”!
What do you have planned for 2023?
To promote the heck out of “du und ich”. We’re so proud of this album and want everyone to hear it. We are currently planning some East Coast touring with some festival appearances and open to whatever else comes our way.
Formed in 1994, Pohgoh cut their teeth in the 90’s DIY/indie underground with a small league of female-fronted bands of the era like Rainer Maria and Jejune, only to hang it up three years later, leaving behind a sole, posthumous full-length, In Memory of Bab. That album traveled far and wide, however, along with a spate of singles and comp appearances, creating pockets of rabid fans worldwide and engendering a small handful of one-off gigs for Susie Ulrey (vocals/guitar), Matt Slate (guitar), Keith Ulrey (drums) and new bassist Brian Roberts (of Hankshaw) before the foursome settled back in for the long haul in 2016.
Photo credits: Dave Decker