Peter Anspach, the multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and friendly forward face of Goose, brings intention to every level of his craft. Whether he’s playing guitar or keys, singing lead, writing new music, or speaking directly to the fanbase on the band’s behalf, Anspach approaches each role with an air of thoughtfulness that underlies his approachable demeanor.

As he prepares for a brief Great Blue outing during the break between Goose tours, Peter Anspach caught up with Live For Live Music contributor Marc Komito (aka Scarf Guy) to talk crowd interaction, spontaneous segues, setlist selection, and more. [Note: Transcript has been edited for clarity].

Live For Live Music: You have several nicknames: The WizKid and Handini. Will you speak about their origin?

Peter Anspach: The WizKid was either Rick or [Jon] Coach [Lombardi]. On tour, I would do the soundboard mixing and the videos and I guess I wear a lot of different hats so it kind of comes from that.

Handini is kind of, well, it’s a really long story that I honestly cannot divulge [laughs], but I tell people it’s because I have so much going on up on stage, I’m all over the place with my hands and it looks magical. The nicknames are so endearing and it’s fun having them.

Live For Live Music: Your whole persona is kind of like Trevor’s mullet–ya know, business up front, party in the back–where in addition to your behind-the-scenes savvy, you also have this burgeoning on stage presence. Your engagement with fans is so endearing and your stage antics seem to be reaching new heights as you’ve grown more comfortable. It’s almost as if the band has taken on your personality. Do you feel similarly?

Peter Anspach: It’s just easier for me to go out and do the crowd interaction while moving around than it is for Rick and Trevor and that’s okay because I think we have a nice balance on stage. Trevor is just super focused on the bass and kind of in his zone. Everyone in the band has got their own personality and unique quirks about them. With the wireless guitar, I like going around to the different guys and seeing how they interact with me when I do that. It’s always a treat and super fun for me and I get to see them step out of their shells a little bit and I love that. So it’s a really fun aspect of the live show now.

It’s something I’ve always been comfortable with but interacting with the crowd has definitely become more comfortable recently. The response is always great. I love when I see live shows and the band is smiling and dancing and grooving with the audience. Eye contact is so incredible as a fan so I try to do the same thing up on stage.

Whenever we go on stage and I look out and see people down on the rail dancing like you are or just having those moments of joy, it makes it so much easier for us to relax and get deep into the music.

[Photo: Adam Berta]

Live For Live Music: Maybe this would be a good time to discuss The Scarf. Luigi looked pretty comfortable wearing it. Or maybe it finds a home replacing the blanket on your C3? The colors sure would pop there.

Peter Anspach: Yeah, the scarf. I mean, what an honor, thanks man! I thought I had to give it back. My mom wants to start making Luigi different outfits and she actually wants to make him a small scarf. As for stage accessories, it’s interesting. Some things like that, you know they just find their way up there. And then they’re there.

Live For Live Music: That sure “found its way” up there. Back to being present and moments of joy, you have a project called PA-RC with your girlfriend Rebecca Chinman. Would you like a chance to promote this initiative in any way?

Peter Anspach: Of course, I mean, it’s been really fun to have another outlet and make sure to be doing something positive for people with my time.

Becky and I have been dating for almost a year now and it’s just been really rewarding to work on a creative project with a partner. We love graphic design, we love clothing, and we love promoting being in the moment, being present.

“Phone down, eyes up, heart open,” was inspired by Jay Blakesberg, predominantly known for his images of free dancing which is what always drew me to his work. I wanted to bring back the freedom seen in his photography. There’s just nothing as special as the moment itself and even though you may have captured it on video, it’s just never going to be able to recreate what it felt like to be in that environment, that space with that person in real life. So that was the original objective for PA-RC and we’ve continued to make different designs based on that. Our other mantras are “Explore Your Boundaries” and “Explore Within.”

Live For Live Music: 2022 has been a busy year so far for Goose. Since January 26th, Goose has already played 25 shows, including your first-ever arena show. Any favorite moments to discuss as we look back? Were there any moments or a particular run of shows worthy of the next “Turkish Hills”?

Peter Anspach: [Laughs] You know the story of that song? Cool! [Goose’s first-ever two-night run was June 1st and 2nd, 2018 in Covington, KY and the second night was a free show. It’s also the aforementioned Mustache Night. Peter would later write “Turkish Hills”–played only twice ever–as an homage to that run.]

The tour closer in Philly was awesome and so was Louisville. I loved the Nashville shows a lot; they had really amazing energy plus it was cool to bowl after the show and it was just a very chill fam kind of hang. I also really love San Francisco, those shows are really awesome.

Live For Live Music: I actually wrote an article the day after the first SF show titled, “Goose Just Played Their Best Show Ever, Prove Me Wrong” but the title was divisive so it never left my hard drive. We see eye to eye on that, though. What about special moments?

Peter Anspach: One of my favorite moments was in Charlotte when we went from “Slow Ready” into “Hot Tea”. That was kind of a big risk on my part because I was slowing down the arpeggiator BPM and I changed keys and I was just like, “I hope they know what I’m trying to do here.” “Hot Tea” was next on the setlist but there wasn’t supposed to be a segue. It ended up being so cool but the whole time I was like, “Fuck fuck, I hope they follow,” but then I went back to it for the “Hot Tea” jam because it was so cool I was like, “I’m doing it again.” The riskier moments that pay off end up being the most joyful and the best.

Goose – “Slow Ready” > “Hot Tea” – Charlotte, NC – 3/3/22

Also, Philly night two we just went to outer space for a second and there were some crazy noises, especially after “This Old Sea”. I was just dying of laughter. Rick and I had the funniest loops and drums and bass were doing this BBBOOOOM BBBOOOOM, I don’t know, it was hysterical. It was just so great because at that point in the show we had won the crowd over and we knew that we were about to play “Factory Fiction” so we could pretty much do anything at that point. So we were like, “okay, let’s get weird for a second” and it was just so great to explore that space that was super weird and out there.

I also remember that “Wysteria” jam from San Francisco being really epic and people have continued to talk about that one. Sometimes the jams just hit and we develop a theme very quickly and then they get really interesting and fast and keep soaring. Those jams are the really special ones. You know, sometimes it takes longer to find the really special part of the improv, the really deep stuff but there’s some jams it just happens right away. That’s definitely one of those jams.

Goose – “Wysteria Lane” – San Francisco, CA – 1/30/22

Live For Live Music: Can we look forward a little, too? Two Goose shows in late April followed by a couple really cool festivals. The jam world is always pining for collaborations. Do you think about that stuff and are there any musicians you’re perhaps hoping to play with and/or any that Goose would welcome?

Peter Anspach: A big part of festivals for me is going to see other bands and checking out other music. We’ve been so busy I didn’t realize really that I hadn’t seen too much music in the past couple of years. I just saw three concerts in a row this past week and I was like, “damn, it feels good to be out at a show.”

I’m very excited to meet Trey [Anastasio] this summer which is cool. We’re playing festivals with him and his band at SweetWater 420 and at Peach. The Billy Strings sit in, it’s probably going to happen at some point. Sorry everybody for the prank in Cleveland, but that was one of my favorite things [laughs].

Live For Live Music: On that topic, can we discuss the sleight of hand with Billy in Cleveland?

Peter Anspach: [Laughs] I mean, we knew the whole time that he had to go to Cincinnati. It was just so funny to see people theorize about like, ‘oh my God, that’s his road case’ or something. I mean, that road case has been on the road with us for several months, always in that same location, and I don’t know what you’re talking about! It was too funny.

Live For Live Music: After the early festivals, you carved out time in mid-May for a five-show run with Great Blue which, for the uninitiated, is a band you started with your high school buddies that predates Goose. Can you talk about what it means to hit the road with these guys with the support system you now have in place?

Peter Anspach: I thank God for everybody who’s so supportive of me because it gives these guys an opportunity to play in front of people. Back in the day, Great Blue shows were not very well attended; we struggled, and it was difficult. Many bands are struggling right now and it’s just really hard to get people out. I feel very fortunate with Goose and very fortunate that people want to come support. Philly’s already sold out, I just can’t even believe it.

Live For Live Music: I hear Jeff Engborg is handsome. That’s not a question. But it brings me to the topic of songwriting as “Jeff Engborg” is the name of a song that recently migrated from Great Blue’s catalog to Goose’s. GB is also responsible for fan-favorite “Yeti”, the rarely played “Lily’s Tiger”, “Doc Brown”, and “Pancakes”. Can we expect any more songs to shift from one catalog to the next?

Peter Anspach: I’ve already written a song or two which I’m really excited about specifically for the Great Blue tour and I hope that those also make it into the Goose realm. But they were written with the GB guys recently and it’s gonna be really fun to get out on tour with new songs. But I’d also encourage folks to go out and check out the GB catalog in its entirety because there’s a lot of gold from those days when I was in college. There was so much youthful energy in the music at that time. Just awesome, hilarious stuff and that always comes back when I play with those guys so they’re always really, really fun shows.

Live For Live Music: There’s obvious anticipation for booked dates at Radio City Music Hall and Red Rocks, but is there anything else you’re really looking forward to?

Peter Anspach: Yeah, for sure. Legend Valley just brings out the ultimate Goose-iness [laughs]. I don’t know what that is exactly but it’s the best way I can describe it. It feels like a very large playground and the vibe there feels like summer camp. It’s just a big open field that’s removed from the road. There’s a pool backstage and big dinosaurs. It’s just got a serious vibe to it and I feel like every time we played there in the past, there’s always some special and crazy kind of energy that happens so I would look out for that one.

Live For Live Music: You know, you just got me in trouble because now I’m going to go downstairs and ask/tell my wife that Legend Valley just got added to the calendar.

Peter Anspach: Do it, I don’t know if those shows can happen without your energy.

Live For Live Music: Ha, thanks. Any secrets you want to divulge while you’re all softened up?

Peter Anspach: Yeah, no.

Live For Live Music: That’s the right answer. How about shedding some light on the setlist process? Many of your fans travel and pine to see every show. Are you cognizant of variety and keeping it fresh? Do you know which songs haven’t been played in a long time and do you reserve certain songs–(*cough* “Elmeg”)–for special occasions?

Peter Anspach: Yes, yes, and I think, yes. Yeah, so the process is usually between Rick, Coach, and myself. We have a shared iPhone note and basically, it begins with plotting out about a week’s worth of songs. First of all, I want every show to be the most amazing show possible so that’s priority number one. Also, I want to make sure that we’re not playing what we played last time in that city and then also not what we played last night. You also don’t want to have every song have the same amount of gap between each show. Some songs get a two-show gap, some get a four, others get a three and in that you end up having a variety of setlists night after night and you just never know which songs are going to be the ones to be repeated sooner or maybe longer.

Live For Live Music: I love that there’s that level of intention. Personally, I’ve been chasing a cover of “Atlas” which has been crossed off as the *first* song on the setlist on more than one show that I’ve attended. Can you explain how the first song on a setlist gets crossed off the setlist between the dressing room and the stage?

Peter Anspach: Ha, yeah, I remember that. We were joking around for a while and putting “Atlas” as the opening song of every show’s setlist. As you can see with the Cleveland thing, we like to play little pranks on the fans. One of my favorite ones…I just happened to be on Twitter which I don’t do very often. But I saw that kid Ryan Storm tweet, ”Best decision Goose ever made was not playing ‘American Woman’ last night.” And I was like, we’ll show you, so we played it the next night and dedicated it to him. I thought that was so great. I was just like, “oh my god, this kid is just gonna die when he sees this.”

Live For Live Music: So now I know that if I want you to play something, I’ll just put it in an article in a snarky or sarcastic way and then, voila, it just might show up in the setlist. (Thought bubble: I bet Goose isn’t good enough to cover Pearl Jam. Can you imagine them trying to do an indie groove cover of “Black”? Or what about Orebolo covering “Hard Sun”? They’d fall flat on their face…ha!)

Peter Anspach: Ha, it might. Now you kind of understand our sense of humor! Jokes are great but there are a lot of times when I see a comment on a post or we get a message with a request. If I see it (with enough warning), chances are we’ll do it. For example, if someone said “Can you please play ‘Turned Clouds’ in Charleston, it’s a really special song to me, etc, etc.?”, then why would I not put that for Charleston? I would never see that and be like, ‘yeah, right.’ If we have the opportunity to do something like that, I would always do it. Even if I get a message months in advance, I’ll write it down, because it’s a really special moment for people. And I never see them or know who they are or never even get to confirm that they were there or anything, but we’ll still play it and that’ll be it.

Live For Live Music: That’s the stuff that just makes Goose so special and that level of approachability and connectedness is no doubt connected to this incredible run you’re on. Goose unlocks a lot of hearts and it’s been a pleasure to take this ride with you. The sky’s the limit, my friend! See you out there soon.

Peter Anspach: Thanks, Marc, see ya soon.

For more information on PA-RC, click here. Find information about Great Blue’s upcoming tour dates here and Goose tour here.