Go For Gold is an up-and-coming band based in Central Arkansas. Back in 2019, the pop punk quintet released their debut album, Daydreamer, to critical acclaim, with its final track and lead single, “In the End,” accumulating over 760,000 streams on Spotify alone. This year, the band continues with a steady output of singles, most recently releasing “Step Out,” and their latest, “At Home Pt. 2,” which will carry their upcoming album.
I caught up with the band’s vocalist Spencer Vinson to discuss his musical upbringing, the band’s success with Daydreamer, their upcoming album, as well as what they have gleaned from their time together.
When you were younger, what was your musical environment like?
Okay, so this is going to sound weird, but when I was growing up, I was in a Church of Christ Family, where it was like, “If you play music, you’re going straight to hell.”
Oh, man, it was that bad, huh?
Yeah, pretty bad (laughs). I outgrew the church fairly quickly. It’s not that I’m nonreligious or anything, but it just wasn’t my kind of environment. Otherwise, my mom’s side of the family is very musical. Her grandfather played piano for Elvis, and her father was into the Louisiana Hayride, and all that stuff. As the years went on, I got really into Green Day, and two of the guys that play guitar in Green Day are actually in my family. We were going to their shows and just being completely blown away by what they were doing, it was a real kick in that direction – like, “Wow, I wanna do that, too,” you know?
It’s cool how you branched out of that initial environment, and have members in your family who are well-connected with the pop punk scene. I remember several years ago when the pop punk revival came about, at first, you’d see funny nostalgia memes like Pop Punk Pizza Party, but over time, the sincerity of the revival became much more apparent.
Yeah, man, and I’m loving it, too. In Central Arkansas, we don’t really have much of a music scene since all of our venues had shut down. In this one place we’d been able to play, the only thing going on that was centralized was hardcore. Everyone had been in hardcore groups before, so when we decided we were going to do our own thing and do pop punk, we took a really nice hold to it. Then, four years ago, which was around the time we formed the band, that’s when we started noticing these bands and references to pop punk popping up all over the internet – like the Pop Punk Pizza Party thing that you were talking about, and even going into MGK doing pop punk. But in general, the alternative rock scene has just been super cool these days, just seeing everyone get into this kind of music. In my opinion, the scene can feel kind of oversaturated, just because it seems like a lot of people are getting into it, but as long as they’re having fun, it’s really nice.
Getting into Go For Gold, what did you guys set out to do when you first formed the band?
When we started, it was me and Jared. My buddy Dalton, who’s the drummer for us now, plays in a metalcore act, and before that, we ended up switching everybody out; it’s been a full circle. Everyone was switched out and then brought back in the band, except for Jager. He plays bass with us, and Aaron plays guitar as well. At the time, we didn’t really know what to do, but we recognized our music was too good not to perform live. We used to just integrate people who could play shows for us, but up until a year and a half ago, when Covid happened, we’ve solidified a lineup that we’ve been super happy about. Not that we weren’t happy with the other members, but the permanence of this lineup has been super sick for us. Everybody’s bringing energy to the table, and we’re feeding off each other.
That’s interesting how, even with Covid happening at that point, it was the time you knew that your lineup was the most stable.
Yeah! We were actually on the road when Covid happened, and got a message that was like, “Yeah, man, uhh, we can’t have you playing here next month because of Covid restrictions,” and we thought, “Oh, this will pass in like six months,” but here we are almost two years later (laughs). We’re still sitting at home and only go out when it’s necessary.
When you put out the Daydreamer album, you signed with the InVogue label to do so. Do you think you would have done as well by putting it out on your own, or is a label still necessary for that push?
For us, when it comes to labels, anyone will tell you that you don’t need one to be successful anymore. I have a friend who made a song in audacity and now has 750,000 Tik Tok followers.
Yeah, man! His song that he made now has something like three million listens on it, and he’s just chillin’ (laughs). Now he’s got this following that can listen to anything he puts out. As far as labels go, the only time you’d probably ever need one would be if things were looking bad, and you needed funding to get to the avenues you couldn’t reach with self-promotion only.
With your first album, I think you really nailed the approach, and even in your new stuff, it’s improved a lot.
Oh, thanks man! So, with our first album, that was recorded in Jared’s garage. We did that with our buddy Dalton back in 2017, had a budget of about $700, and used every penny we could to scrape by and make this album. It definitely turned some heads for us, and it’s super cool because with the money we made now, we’re putting it into production, and also our stage setup.
Are you excited that there are shows again?
Oh man, I went to a show recently, which was my first in almost two years, and everybody was excited; you didn’t see a mopey person in sight (laughs). It was high energy, people were jumping up and down, and this was actually just a little R&B show – not hardcore or alternative or anything like that, and it was just another local band playing their first gig! I went to see them, and it got me so excited to go out and play again, especially in front of our hometown audience.
I noticed you have another EP called Covid Couch Tour: Live at Colossal Studios. What was the idea behind that?
That album was recorded in a studio less than two miles from my home, in Dalton’s side room. But we were just like, “Man, what if we do a live show from home?” That way, we could show people we’re still relevant, for lack of a better word (laughs)! We just wanted to put something out, but I think Jared had the idea of turning it into a live set. We did two takes of everything, and then would just pick the best ones and piece them together, but most of it was done live, and it was pretty sick, man; I enjoyed it. As far as that counting as a live show, it doesn’t really compare.
In a way, though, it still suffices, because there will always be people listening to it.
Yeah, and you get to read the reactions of people you haven’t seen in a long time. Something funny happened, and I got torn up over this. I remember shopping at a thrift store, and I found this shirt that said “BAN ANIME” on it (laughs). Anyone who knows me knows that I love anime.
Yeah, man, I love anime, too!
Yeah, ah man, it was the funniest shirt I’ve ever seen in a long time, so I wore it that one day. 75% of the comments were “What are you talking about?”
Oh man, way to rile people up (laughs).
Yeah (laughs), it did boost our engagement though.
Speaking of engagement, I see that the song “In the End” from Daydreamer has over half a million streams. Other than Facebook and Spotify, what other methods have you used to get it to that level?
We don’t usually use other platforms; our reach is mostly organic.
I see. It resonated that deeply, right?
Yeah, have you heard the song?
Of course! It’s acoustic and very melodic.
Ah, okay, cool! Yeah, I actually think that’s why it resonated especially. It’s a contrast from all the other tracks, which are higher pitched, heavier, and faster. It’s a lighter tone.
Since it turned out that way, it reminds me of what happened with Sugar Ray. They started out nu metal and had a bunch of heavy songs, and then the softer song, “Fly”, ended up being the surprise hit.
Exactly! Dude, that song’s a banger! I still love it.
Same here! When it comes to producing your music, is it still exclusively up to Dalton, or have you also worked with others?
When we started out, everything Dalton said was the law, but for our recent stuff, we went with one of my favorite producers of all time, Nathan Close of Close Audio. Ever since, he taught me how to do all this stuff in the studio by just being crazy. We’d set aside a day for studio time, then take everything we’d recorded and add extra vocals, extra harmonies, and just sounds we wouldn’t think would be there. Everything we’ve learned up to this point was because of Nathan, and we love him for that, to be honest.
Taking what you’ve learned from Nathan, how has that factored into your new stuff?
I’ll just say that when we compare Daydreamer to the new LP, the difference is night and day. You would not believe the amount of stuff we did! InVogue had us at Capital House Recording Studio with Nick Ingram. He’s one of the funniest guys I’ve ever worked with and have done music with. When we were in the studio, I’ve never seen someone so nitpicky when it comes to vocals. I shit you not – we did this one vocal take like 75 times (laughs)!
Yeah, it was maybe six seconds of the take, and we sat there for an hour trying to do this one take. I wish I’d gotten on video how it started and how it ended.
At that point, did you want to punch a hole through the whole world?
I was definitely bothered as time went on, and It was difficult with him being so critical. Jared would play a guitar part, Nick would cut it halfway through and say, “Dude, what are you doing?” and he’d be like, “I’m playing the song,” then Nick would say, “Well, it sounds like shit; stop doing that.” We were just blown away by the times we were having in there (laughs). The first two days were all guitars, the next three days were drums, and the next three were vocals, and then the next day or two was harmonies, padding, and making sure production was all there. Our spirits were broken by the end of it, but we were very emotional once we listened back to how well the final product turned out. At the end of the day, I understood his approach. It was such a relief to be able to complete the album. It’s something I’m thankful for and that we’re very proud of.
That’s awesome! Since you have free rein to choose the singles for the album, what was your idea for putting out its most recent singles?
We kind of went back and forth on which songs we wanted to release, but we’re excited about the songs we’ve rolled out. “Step Out” is a good one. It’s something we felt is super catchy, super pop punk, and a song that goes back to our roots. We thought, “This song embodies all that we’re about, so let’s release it to let our fans know how this record is going to sound.” But the more we release, the more you’ll realize that none of the songs on the record will sound the same (laughs).
Once you had branched off from “In the End,” it’s fair to say that your songwriting approach has grown alongside the production, right?
Yeah, and we plan to put an acoustic song on every record. We’re actually planning to put one out soon. I will say it’s maybe not as catchy, but it’s definitely a heartstring puller. Everything on this new record I’m just super excited about!
We’ve talked about the sound of your music, and as I understand, your lyrics center on mental health struggles. Are those based on your personal experiences, or are they more so based on the people around you?
Wow, that’s a good question! The lyrics come from me and Jared, and every time I bounce something off of him, he’ll have something for me in a week, sometimes 24 hours later. But dude, most of the time, he’ll just pump stuff out that’s the saddest shit I’ve ever heard (laughs)!
But it’s not all sad and discombobulated, it still resonates, right?
Oh yeah, it definitely resonates. There’s stuff he’s written that could have come straight from me, too, you know? It sucks to know that one of my best friends is just as sad as I am, but it’s cool to know that we’re right beside each other. And it’s also cool how we’re receiving this much support, knowing that there are other people going through the same stuff as us.
Since starting this band, do you feel that your relationship with Jared, as well as with the rest of the band, has improved a lot?
Absolutely, man. At first, we were treating Go For Gold almost like a job, but once we put out our first EP, me and Jared were like, “Alright, let’s keep this going.” We’ve gone through a lot in our personal lives, whether it’s experiencing tragedy or deaths in the family, and we don’t have many people to immediately turn to, except the guys in the band. There’s been stuff in all of our lives that we’ve been able to air to each other, and we’re very understanding with one another, like, “Okay, let’s talk this out; let’s make sure you’re fine for this next little bit.”
Were you surprised by how long you’ve been able to stick it out together?
Yes and no, because I think the relationship we’ve built is something we can be honest about. If something doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t work out, and if you have to leave, then we’re totally understanding of that. We are surprised, though, because of our emphasis on being kind and supportive during the times when we’re not goofing around. It does kind of put you in a weird spot when one of your friends needs to leave something you built together. It’s like being at a job – you want to make sure the work environment is a safe and cool place for everyone, so that they’ll want to show up the next day. But we learn that, “Hey, we have lives, too, and music isn’t always our main priority.”
Overall, what do you take away from your growth as musicians and as friends?
This is going to sound kind of shitty, but I take it with a grain of salt, because not everyone who starts a band will share the same experiences that we’ve had. We’d gotten a lot of love from the beginning, even though we were one of the only bands doing stuff like this in our area. During our first show, 150 people showed up, and were singing the lyrics to our songs, some of those we hadn’t even released yet, which I don’t understand (laughs), but if you’re going to go out and do something, give it your all. As far as what I’ve learned, I’ve learned that you can form super solid relationships with people who you wouldn’t expect to be your best friends. They’ve had my back since day one, and I have their back, too, so it’s really cool.
Lastly, anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Follow us on social media: @GoForGoldAR. That’s “AR” for Arkansas; not Arizona (laughs). Love one another, don’t be assholes. That’s all I’ve got to say!
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