Looking back to 1995 when The Goodies moved from Atlanta to Asheville, frontman Holiday Childress recalls a time of cheap rent, three restaurants and just as many bands. The first local entertainers to explore vaudeville and cabaret rock, the group made its mark on a slowly rejuvenating town. In the process, the band’s lead guitarist and vocalist became a trailblazer in another way. “The only other guy in town who had a handlebar mustache was an old man who worked at the post office who really didn’t like me,” Childress says. “I would wink at him and nod my head, like, ‘Hey, we’re in the same mustache club,’ but he wasn’t really feeling that. Now I’m getting to be the old guy.”
Though facial hair is now trendy, The Goodies have remained in style. They continue their tradition of biennial reunion shows with a Saturday, Dec. 27, performance at Asheville Music Hall.
The band’s roots date to the middle school days of Childress and drummer Mike Allen. In the early ’90s, the two were part of a moody, Goth-sounding group in the style of The Cure and Jane’s Addiction. (That band’s guitarist, Robin Finck, would go on to be in Nine Inch Nails and Guns N’ Roses.) As the singer, Childress missed playing guitar. He and Allen started rehearsing with bassist/vocalist Patrick Kelly on the side — with a theatricality inspired by Tom Waits, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Bob Fosse’s Cabaret, The Goodies were born.
Following the relocation to Asheville, The Goodies recorded The Greatest Hits in ’97 and toured heavily, including a run with keyboardist Chuck Lichtenberger and Vic Stafford taking over drums for Allen, who’d moved back to Atlanta. In ’99, The Goodies called it quits, only to reunite in 2000 for a one-off gig. But the trio enjoyed being back together so much that they recorded postcard e.p. in 2001 and played another show, which Childress points to as key to the band’s continued partnership. “I remember just really loving that time,” Childress says. “We’d had enough time apart where we could see what we’d done in the past, but we were looking toward the future, too.”
When he’s not playing in The Goodies, Allen works for Comcast in a social media position and composes horror music on the side for the Atlanta haunted house extravaganza, Netherworld. Also back in Georgia, Kelly is in a few different bands, including one led by James Hall, an original member of Marry My Hope, whose work influenced The Goodies.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign (his $10,000 goal was exceeded by $6,000), Childress is making his debut album, Mind the Gap. Many of its tracks are ones that he performs with The Goodies at reunion shows. “It’s not going to sound like a radical departure from what people are used to,” Childress says. “It’ll be an enhancement, if anything.”
As part of that growth, Childress plans to use the extra funding on music videos with local filmmaker Shane Meador, who directed the Kickstarter video. That session was Childress’ first time being filmed outside of a live performance, and it proved a challenging yet eye-opening experience. “I realized that it’s a whole new way of performing,” Childress says. “Live, if someone shoots you, you’re kind of at a distance. You’re able to get closer to the camera and more intimate as a performer in the video.”
Childress says there’s “a real childlike excitement and gratitude” that comes from playing with Allen and Kelly, and that each show feels like their first concert together. For the reunion, the band will play the bulk of its catalog. The trio will also bring a few of Childress’ latest songs into the mix, which he says gives the old numbers a new feeling. “We’ve all gotten stronger individually, so when we come back and play, it’s not like a band that’s rusty and blowing off cobwebs and getting up there and embarrassing ourselves,” Childress says. “We bring all that individual stuff and breathe it back into the live show, and it sounds and feels as fresh as it ever did — even playing songs that are 20 years old.”
WHO: The Goodies
WHERE: Asheville Music Hall, ashevillemusichall.com
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 27, at 10 p.m. $12 advance/$15 day of show