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Mountain Goats' Darnielle talks 'Transcendental Youth'

From left, Peter Hughes John Darnielle and Jon

From left, Peter Hughes John Darnielle and Jon Wurster. Credit: From left, Peter Hughes John Darnielle and Jon Wurster of The Mountain Goats.

While working on his newest album, "Transcendental Youth," The Mountain Goats lead singer John Darnielle often described it as his "Satan record."

If that conjures up images of loud guitars and screaming vocals about the devil, think again. Like most Mountain Goats albums, this one is filled with folk-rock melodies and character studies. It also includes Darnielle's first use of a horn section.

amNewYork spoke with Darnielle about the album.

Now that it's finished, do you still think of your album as a "Satan record"? It's a huge theme on the record, this idea of looking for some way of calling evil things good and good things evil, which is the classic definition of Satanism. Everyone on the record has evil stuff in their lives they're trying to own. It'd be funnier to do an outright paean to Satan, but it's not that.

What do you hope people take away from the album? I always hope in the stuff I do that the three minutes you listen to the song are a nicer three minutes than you might have had otherwise. I'm not giving hope to the hopeless. All I can expect is to make something that's a diversion.

How do you manage to be so happy onstage when playing such sad songs? I'm always happy when I'm playing music. Creating anything is an affirmative thing to do. That's the paradox of any cathartic art. You transform something dark into the most cool, enjoyable thing in the world. It's alchemy.

You're a new dad, yet you've said you don't want to write about that. Why not? I don't write that much of my life in my songs. The main reason is because I didn't used to believe you should write what you know. I do now. That's true of parenthood, but not true when you've been a parent for a year.


If you go: The Mountain Goats are at Music Hall of Williamsburg at 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, 66 N. Sixth St., Williamsburg, 718-486-5400, sold out.

The band is at Bowery Ballroom at 9 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, 6 Delancey St., 212-533-2111, sold out.

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