Goron are a doom metal band from Rochester, NY featuring the subject of our next interview, Skyler Smith (bass and vocals). Goron piqued my interest a few months back when I was searching for new bands to add to Wretched Sound’s “Guide to the New York Underground” series. They have this heavy, bombastic, hypnotic, but also hyper-aggressive sound I think is very unique to WNY.

Fortunately, Skyler was more than happy to do this interview and I also had the privilege of catching Goron’s set at Montage Music Hall on Sunday February 19th (opening for Visions of Atlantis). Goron’s recordings sound great, but I highly suggest seeing them live if you have the means. They are a wall of sound to be reckoned with.

Here’s Skyler…

1. Who or what was it that first inspired you to play bass? Talk about the very first music you remember inspiring you.

The first time I saw a bass player and thought to myself “I need to do that” was when I watched my dad’s copy of “Cliff ‘Em All” – a VHS tape of early Metallica live performances and interviews that was released right after Cliff Burton died. That was probably 2001 or so. I saw the Rickenbacker Cliff was playing during the live performance of Anethstesia (Pulling Teeth) and 9 year old me was enamored with all of it. The sounds, the look, the attitude, it was all so cool to me at that age. And they had only really been super famous for like 10-15 years at that point, so there wasn’t much else out there like that. My uncle also played bass, too. So it was super accessible for me. He would let me mess around on his bass when I was over there. My cousin played guitar, so we wrote some songs and thought we were going to be the next Metallica or whatever. I had an acoustic guitar at that time, but I saved up all my money and bought a bass in 2003.

2. When it comes to Goron, what made you guys settle on doom? Where did the desire to play the style come from?

Doom has been one of my favorite genres of music since I was in high school. When I met Sam Nells and found out he was also into the “low and slow”, it just fell into place after that. We just kinda started playing some Sabbath at a jam session and the rest is history. That’s actually how a couple of bands I’ve been in started off. Everything comes back to Sabbath. The reason I love doom is because it was unlike anything I had ever heard, I guess. Like the first time I heard it, that is. The riffs were similar to the faster forms of metal I knew and had grown up with, but the rhythms were so different. The focus wasn’t on ripping solos and crazy vocals, a lot of times it was super focused on drums and bass with guitar doing more droney stuff. I thought that was so cool. I remember being a teenager and popping in Bongzilla’s ‘Gateway’ for the first time in math class. I was forever changed.

3. Following that up, how did you guys meet and what were the first few practices like?

Ironically enough, I met Sam Nells thru another guy named Sam that played guitar, I’ll call him Thrasher Sam. Thrasher Sam was from New Jersey and went to U of R, so he didn’t really know anyone from around here. He was looking for metalheads in the area. He found me, and then found Sam Nells. The 3 of us got together with the intention to just play some metal and hang out. Thrasher Sam was naturally more of a thrash guy, but Sam Nells and I really clicked; with both of us sharing a love for bands like Sleep and Electric Wizard. After Thrasher Sam decided to pursue thrash elsewhere, Sam Nells and I spoke with Dan Nordquist and Chris Uhlein about playing guitar. They agreed, and it was on. The first few practices were super abstract and jammy. We wrote one and a half songs (one of which being what would later become “A Hero Awakens”), and learned some Pentagram and Sword songs. It was a lot of fun, but nothing too serious. After our first show, we really hunkered down and put together a few more songs. Then we went through some lineup changes, and we landed where we are now with Rick Sterling (who’s been with the band since about 2015ish) on guitar, and Jim Watkins having joined recently on guitar and (soon to be also on) keys. It’s always been fun, and if we can help it… it always will be!

4. Who are your favorite bassists and vocalists, currently? I’m talking active bands, but you can talk about some musicians who are no longer in the game if you like.

I definitely draw plenty of influence from vocalists from all over the genre spectrum. Nick DiSalvo, Chino Moreno, Mikael Åkerfeldt, and more recently Arnór Dan Arnarson; to name a few. I also came up listening to a lot of Grunge and 80’s metal… so I would nod to Chris Cornell and Chuck Billy as well. For bass? I don’t really take a lot of influence from metal bassists these days. Coming up I was super into guys like Cliff Burton, Greg Christian, Tom Commerford, Justin Chancellor… bassists from prominent metal bands of the time. But nowadays, I take a lot more influence from jazz and fusion bassists like Charles Berthoud, Adam Neely, and Mark League of the mighty Snarky Puppy.

5. What was the reception for Farther like when it was first released?

Definitely more than we expected. It’s great to see our music reaching so many people all over the world. We definitely thought it was a good song, but we didn’t expect the reception it received. Super excited to get the follow-up out soon.

6. Talk about the most memorable shows you’ve ever played and what made them so special. You can talk about Goron shows or any other performance you’ve done. I’m curious about local shows and road shows alike.

The most memorable performance for me was our return show in 2020. We hadn’t really been doing much for a few months, close to a year really, and we didn’t know how things were going to go. We promoted the shit out of that thing, and it definitely paid off. It was amazing to see everyone again, and it’s even more amazing to still be doing this after 10 years of being a band. We haven’t been on the road too much, so hopefully next time I can have some better road stories.

7. Talk about the gear you swear by. When it comes to basses, amps, mics, etc., how has your setup evolved over the years and what do you recommend for like-minded musicians who are just starting out?

Peavey, Peavey, Peavy. All my amps are Peavy, almost always have been. Warwick Basses, Ernie Ball Power Slinky’s. My pedalboard is based off of YouTuber 60CycleHum’s Affordaboard series, and all the pedals are super cheap clones of higher quality pedals. But they still rip! I like to start out with less expensive stuff and upgrade later, because I’m never sure if I’ll 100% dive into something until I try. And that’s how it’s always been and should be- I started out with a like $40 Crate amp and a $75 Ibanez Soundgear Gio. Aspiring musicians should just go get something to practice on. The number one thing you gotta be okay with in the world of art and music is sucking at first, and a lot of people don’t get past that stage. Get something cheap and easy to mess around with, and have fun. I know everyone says that, but it’s true!

8. Give us a rundown on your “scene history” if you will. Tell us about any musical projects you’ve been associated with in chronological order.

I was in a band in high school with a couple of longtime friends called SkinTrap. We played mostly covers and like 3 originals in our 2-3 years as a band. We mostly played the west side, I don’t think we ever even played downtown once. We were all kids at that time, though. Like 15-17 y/o. We’re on the floor at the California Brew Haus, actually. Then I was in a grunge punk band called Intrinsic. That band was super fun to play in, we actually played Bug Jar one year at midnight on New Years. After I left that band I formed Goron with Sam! Since then, I’ve also joined Infinium and started a Deftones tribute with a couple of the guys from Infinium and our buddy Eric who used to play in Highest Leviathan. We call ourselves The Goon Squad. Schedules can get tricky, but I always try to stay playing and performing. I got bit by the bug real young and now I can’t stop!

9. Give us your top 5-10 albums of all time without thinking too much about it.

This is honestly the hardest question of the interview. There’s so many! Let’s see, in no particular order: Black Sabbath ‘Vol 4’, Deftones ‘Around the Fur’, Agent Fresco ‘Destrier’, Opeth ‘Blackwater Park’, Anderson .Paak ‘Malibu’, Snarky Puppy ‘We Like it Here’, Pink Floyd ‘Animals’, Rush ‘Moving Pictures’, Grateful Dead ‘Live From the Mars Hotel’, aaaand Bongzilla’s ‘Gateway’. Honorable mentions: Grant Green ‘Idle Moments’, Tame Impala ‘Innerspeaker’ and Days of the New ‘Yellow’.

10. Name some of your favorite bands out of Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, NY right now.

I don’t know a whole lot of bands out of Buffalo that have been releasing music and playing shows recently, but I did recently hear a Drone/Noise/Doom act called Daggermind that had me thoroughly impressed. Big Sunn O))) and Earth vibes. We played with this Grind band from Buffalo called Anthropic at Rick Horton’s birthday bash back in December. Those guys are fire. As far as Rochester goes, gotta give big love to my dudes in Haishen and Praun out there killin’ it. As for ‘cuse, it’s Void Emperor all day. Those guys are awesome. We play with them all the time, and always have fun. One of the guys in Praun also recently told me about these other guys out of Syracuse called Quantifier that are pretty cool.

Thanks so much for having me! It’s been a pleasure filling out this interview, and I look forward to seeing it in the publication! Take care.



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