Interview: Pohgoh

In the mid-90s, emo music was largely a boys club. One notable exception was Pohgoh. Hailing from Tampa, FL, the band released their seminal debut album, In Memory Of Bab and broke up shortly after. The band played several one-off reunion shows in the Tampa area over the years but they finally reunited on a permanent basis last year and released their sophomore album, Secret Club. Surviving the Golden Age had a chance to talk to drummer, Keith Ulrey about the new album, touring with Mineral, and their upcoming dates opening for Jawbreaker.

I imagine your inclusion on Emo Diaries, Chapter 1 was a huge boost to your career. Did you realize that compilation would become such a hit in the scene?

We definitely saw a reaction to it, but it wasn’t until years later, as we broke up just before the first Emo Diaries comp came out. To be honest, we had no idea what to expect, at the time. We were just excited to be on a comp with some awesome bands like Jimmy Eat World, Samiam, Jejune, etc. When social media started up with MySpace and whatnot, we created a posthumous Pohgoh page and I believe that’s when we really started to receive messages from all over, not just the U.S., about our music and in particular our song “Friend X” (from the comp).

Late last year, you released your first album of new material in 21 years, Secret Club. Why did you decide to not just reunite but also record new material?

We were getting together every 5 or so years for our label’s anniversary party. Those shows were just getting together and playing the old material. When we played the 20th anniversary in December 2014, that one really sparked the conversation of occasionally getting together. I think the general consensus was, if we’re going to get together, let’s write new stuff and not just be a nostalgia band. We all independently continued to be creative in other bands over the years, so it also came second nature to just start making new music.

How has your songwriting process changed since the 90s?

Well, the process is pretty much exactly the same. Susie will come in with a completed song or Matt (guitar) will come in with some parts and we’ll jam out additional parts until we’re all pleased. I think with experience and age comes being a little more selective and not just accepting something because it was written or presented. We tend to really analyze everything to make sure we’re all really happy with the outcome.

Your first shows of 2019 were supporting Mineral. What were those shows like for you?

First of all…. so much fun! Ha! We did our first tour in 22 years back in September behind the new album and that felt so old school, playing smaller rooms, DIY venues, etc and we had a blast. So, when Mineral offered the Southeast dates on their tour, we immediately accepted. Definitely a step up from the small rooms. We knew of each other back in the day but didn’t become friends with Chris (of Mineral) until about 5 years ago. We had a great time. First, seeing Mineral 4 nights in a row and second, being able to hang with those guys and share common stories from 2 decades ago.

You recently announced you will be supporting Jawbreaker on their East coast tour. Do you have any history with them from the 90s?

No, other than all four of us being huge fans and being cut from the same musical cloth of the punk/DIY/indie scene. Each one of us had the pleasure of seeing Jawbreaker back in the day. For some reason, they made it to Florida a good number of times on those original tours. We were completely shocked when they contacted us about doing this upcoming tour. Such an honor and we’re still processing it!

What Jawbreaker song do you look forward to hearing live each night?

Well, I’m sure if you asked each one of us, you’d get 4 different answers. For me, personally…. that’s a tough one. In my dream world, I’d get to see “Equalized”, but that’s infamously known as a song they cut out even in the early days. I really love “The Boat Dreams From A Hill.” I know they play it every night on these recent shows, but I think I’ll still get the goosebumps on that one.

Are there any other emo bands from the 90s you’d like to see reunite and then tour with?

I’m not sure. I mean, we saw Rainer Maria a couple years ago down here when they played Pre-Fest behind their incredible new/latest album. I really liked Jejune. There’s a band we’ve literally heard nothing from or about in decades. Maybe that’s something we can put out in the universe.

Finally, can we expect more new music Pohgoh?

Totally. We’re always writing and already have 2-3 new songs down. We’re having a blast with all of this and we will continue to do it as time, family, health and energy allow us.

TOUR DATES

MARCH 22 – Boston, MA – House of Blues

MARCH 23 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Steel

MARCH 24 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Steel

MARCH 27 – Philadelphia, PA – Franklin Music Hall

MARCH 28 – Washington, DC – Anthem

MARCH 29 – Norfolk, VA – Norva

MARCH 30 – Sayreville, NJ – Starland Ballroom

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