Mister Goblin has a reputation for living his work. The 252-year-old method goblin, musician, and part-time recluse lives in a remote atelier — when he’s not engaged in national tours — and grants interviews only when the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars.
Here’s what I know about him: He lives in a bog; internet people think this is cool. Bogcations and bog retreats have been selling like peat moss fires on Airbnb’s ethical travel rival, TheMindfulVagrant, since he released his first EP, Final Boy. The Goblin is known for his earnest crooning and winky guitar riffs as much as he for his crystal-studded lifestyle advice, which he spouts between the songs of his live sets. I know this because my mother is a rabid fan and quotes him to me endlessly.
OK, yes, I admit it: I’m a cynic. A journalist looking to have a couple laughs at a pop sensation so deep in his own bullshit he’d need a team of archaeologists to dig him out. I wanted to take pot-shots at the “guru” whose lyrics I am forced to confront every time I take a shit in a bar bathroom. There is nowhere I’d less like to be guru’d at than there.
But when I finally meet the Goblin, on the bank of his tidy bog, it isn’t quite the gleeful take-down I had in mind.
“It’s actually a coniferous swamp,” he tells me during a mournful monologue about a “hardcore Kondo-ing” he gave the place a few years back. He offers me a pressed algae shot and enters his zone: “Ridding yourself of clutter isn’t the cure for malaise.” I’m dying to hear the Goblin philosophize and he doesn’t disappoint: “Clutter is the throbbing ventricle of life,” he tells me, his impassioned mouth stained algae green in the corners. “I’ve been trying to regrow her wildness ever since I Kondo’d the bog, but it’s a slow progress. The sulfurous gasses have just begun to roil again, and the slug young are still mistrustful of the manicured cattail. I sing a mating song for their mucosal joining during the gloaming hour.” I ask if I can watch, but he insists they’re too shy.
His figure disappoints somewhat. He is of average height, schlubby at the hips, and distinctly coniferous. I mean this in a literal sense. He has small pinecones budding in cyst-like growths from his neck and the creases of his elbows. Goblins, I learn during our session, come to resemble the trees in their vicinity — an evolutionary reliquary dating back to the days of the “Hogmish Bloodgroods” (whatever those are). And while most goblins choose deciduous trees, with their flashy color changes, Mister G says that after two centuries of experimentation as a Japanese maple, a flowering dogwood, and a brief stint as an Oklahoma redbud, he felt more at home with the constancy of loblolly and pitch pine. He twiddles a pine sprout that peaks above his mandarin collar and we begin.
Maggie Nye: Tell me about your formative years. Music is an unusual choice for one of your species. How did you arrive where you are now?
Mister Goblin: Well, Maggie, as a young goblin, I was always mismatched with my species. Most of my relatives were concerned primarily with causing trouble to mankind, drinking ale, and gargling nectar. Me? My heart was preoccupied with making space — first for its surrounding organs (beginning with the esophagus and spine) — and then for my whole being, space I would then use to manufacture more space to be occupied by others, space that they could use to similarly build their own esophageal and spinal space. You get the idea.
My family did not agree with my theory that eventually the space we construct would swallow all existing space, resulting in total inversion phenomenon I referred to as Total Regurgitation. After several frightful vomiting episodes brought on by trying to prematurely spur the TR, they cast me out. Dejected though I was, I sang to myself all the way to a nearby road, which I trod, propelled by a force beyond my knowing. Eventually I came upon a strange little hovel spurting the most incredible jazz. I walked in and was affably welcomed by jazzy wood nymphs. It was there that I learned my craft, though I eventually deviated from jazz because it’s really hard and doesn’t totally make sense to me.
Maggie: Your latest album, Is Path Warm?, has really struck a chord with listeners, a growing number of whom self-identify as “Goblings.” They believe your album is more than a chart-topping record; it’s a way of life. How do you handle all that responsibility?
Mr. G: This isn’t something I would usually disclose, but I am, in fact, five years nectar-sober. Whenever I receive a letter from a Gobling expressing how my album functioned essentially as a step-by-step guide to get them out of the cycle of “Chasing the Ichor,” I feel a renewed sense of purpose and conviction in my role. I realize now that this was my destiny all along, that among all goblins I was chosen. I was, in a word, Mister. So yes, the responsibility can feel like a lot to bear, but I feel that I was appointed Gobling leader by something much larger than myself, and there’s really not much I can do to argue with a god so large.
Maggie: Your single, “SFYL,” has spurred controversy among your fans. Some consider your treatment of grief on that track to be irreverent and flip — qualities you’re not known for.
Mr. G: SFYL is an acronym some on the internet use to express sympathy for a loss. It stands for “sorry for your loss,” in case that was unclear. I felt it was necessary to shed light on how insipid and stupid this sort of thing is. Imagine, collapsing the vast expanse of grief into a measly four letters! I felt it necessary to provide my own roadmap for consoling someone in the throes of loss. As the song carefully enumerates, the steps involve: 1) laying nude by the edge of a deciduous forest for a minimum four hours, continuously circling one’s navel with a large woodchip; 2) hocking a loogie directly into the navel hole (which should at this point be embossed by scrape marks from the woodchip). This must be done accurately, as failure to swish the loogie directly into the hoop of the navel will result in having to start again; 3) I . . . I can’t quite recall but I’ll certainly follow up. Mind you, it’s the first two steps that are really important. Just listen to the song, it’s all there. The lyrics are on Bandcamp.
Maggie: Thanks for that elucidating explanation. Rumor has it you’re working on a new project. Your fan networks are all abuzz with expectation. What can you tell us about that?
Mr. G: Oh, yes. I have almost enough for another album, and if my beloved Goblings thought this last one was a revolution, they are truly in for a treat. There are literally no words I could use to describe it, so I’ll just say it’ll be a 24-song-long epic called Total Regurgitation, and I’ve rigged a spell such that every stream streamed will remotely stimulate an acupressure point in someone experiencing back or neck pain. Once all back and neck pain in the world is successfully resolved, the healing power of my streams will be funneled directly into Grishnar, the Rusted Knight, so he can finally chill the fuck out.
Maggie: Alright, Mister G, I have to tell you that my mom is actually a low-key Gobling, and I promised her I’d ask a question about Is Path Warm?. She wants to know if the rumors about your method of album sequencing are true.
Mr. G: Well, first of all, tell your mother I said “gobblegobble.” I’m not sure what rumors she is referencing, but if those rumors purport that I wandered out into a field blindfolded and let the spirit guide me to eight separate trees, letting the album spill from me one track per tree, then yes. I channeled the whole thing on an unusually squeaky autumn night. Clean plates, rubber ducks, mice, chairs, they were all out that night. The path I walked from tree to tree described the shape I now have tattooed on my chest, and the shape many of my Goblings also have tattooed on various parts of their persons. I like to think that I’ve pre-warmed the path, and that others may now follow its winding and rudderless course. While I’m on the subject, you can actually order a temporary tattoo of the design from my Bandcamp for only $4.99!
No, I’m not a convert, and I still think he’s a clueless, navel-gazing — or loogeying — quasi-congoblin, even if 5% of his proceeds go to guided forest bathing clinics for at-risk goblins and other anomalous creatures. But I did leave his swamp with an earworm, a handful of complementary temp tats, and a signed pinecone for my mom.
Is Path Warm? is available for purchase via Exploding In Sound Records.