The lauded label has helped put out records from the likes of The Reatards, Ty Segall, Eddy Current Suppression Ring and more.
The independent record label Goner was established in 1993 by Eric Friedl of Oblivians, focusing on punk, garage and post-punk releases. Later, Zac Ives of The Solutions jumped on board as co-owner and in 2004 the two opened the Goner record store, quickly growing into a Memphis, Tennessee staple.
Since its start, the label has released music from The Reatards, Bad Times, Nots, Ty Segall, NoBunny, Ex-Cult and Australia’s Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Ausmuteants, Hierophants and Cosmic Psychos.
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To help promote a new release on the label from King Khan & BBQ Show in 2005, Friedl planned a record release show, but so many bands asked to play the gig and so many planned to attend that he ended making it a four-day event – dubbing it Gonerfest. This soon became a yearly occurrence each September across numerous venues in Memphis featuring local bands; those with releases on the label and others of a similar vein.
The first Australian bands to go over to play the festival were Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Ooga Boogas and Digger & The Pussycats in 2007 for Gonerfest Four. Most years since have featured Australian acts such as Super Wild Horses, Total Control, UV Race, Royal Headache, Straight Arrows, Kitchen’s Floor, Deaf Wish, Native Cats, The Gooch Palms, The Stevens, The Pink Tiles and more.
Playing Gonerfest gives many Australian bands the opportunity to play surrounding states and aids in the American scene getting a taste of what we’ve got on offer over here.
Recounts of the Gonerfest shows can be heard on a few compilation LPs and 7” records released post event. Gonerfest 2 from 2006 includes a DVD with live footage of the event and the Gonerfest 5 compilation released in 2008 includes 17 live tracks mastered by Jay Reatard, well worth the listen.
Other footage and audio of previous Gonerfests have been released by Rocket Science Audio including Ty Segall’s full Ty Rex set from Gonerfest 10 and Ausmuteants’ set from Gonerfest 11.
As somewhat of a thanks in 2016, when Ives visited Melbourne, Aarght and Bedroom Suck Records put together an ode to Goner called Electric Goner Boogie, held at The Tote and featuring Australian bands who had releases on the label, had played Gonerfest before or others which fit the Goner style.
Gonerfest 20 will be Sept 28-Oct 1, 2023 in Memphis, TN.
Keen on another fun read? Check out our piece exploring the legacy of Jay Reatard through three iconic albums.