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Normally decked in dark clothing, with short, hectic curls of brown hair and a complexion pale enough to rival any Londoner's, Simone definitely stands out on-stage. While the rest of the Goods treat their instruments as mosh partners, Simone appears aloof, locked for the most part in a private conversation with his guitar. "Music for me is as natural a part of life as death," he says. "Music for me is God."
With the new lineup in place, the next stop was the recording studio. This past spring the band recorded a third CD, this one self-titled. It's slated as the first release on Utsick's new label. Utsick himself spared no expense in recording, mixing, and mastering the disc, and the result is a fourteen-song pop tour de force. Full of catchy choruses and surging melodies, this is the most focused and polished Goods record yet. The cuts that nod toward power pop do so with a guitar-heavy exuberance, while the ballads are wistful without sounding labored. "More focused, more accessible" is how John describes the new record, pausing between words. "Less enigmatic, less eclectic. More responsible and less selfishly artistic."
The disc should hit retail stores sometime in January. Until then, the Goods are doing whatever it takes to make the public aware of it. Exhibit A? Last month's surreal Burdines gig.
As long-time fans surely recall, the band has always had a knack for theatrics and experimentation. How else to explain shows in which band members acted out a song about an ice cream man who sells LSD to children, or shows with set lists consisting exclusively of Kiss covers, or shows ending with their instruments in pieces?
But the Burdines affair is decidedly more subdued, though not devoid of the band's trademark irreverence. Jim Camacho approaches the microphone and addresses the 30 or so shoppers gathered in a semicircle around the small platform stage. With his twin sheets of Viking-blond hair and blue eyes, he looks every bit the frontman. He's even the dressed the part, wearing a natty lime sherbet-color windbreaker generously supplied by Burdines. "Raise your hand if you've ever been to a concert at Burdines before," he requests. He looks around at the mannequins and racks of clothing. No one raises a hand. "Weird, isn't it?"
Indeed. The shoppers/fans range in age from toddlers to seniors, so the Camacho brothers change the chorus of their anthem "Hypocrite" from "Aw, shit!" to "That's it!" John accidentally yells "That's shit!" three times. Oops.
The set is an extension of Burdines' back-to-school TV ad campaign, featuring various Florida rock acts. You might have seen the Goods' spot. It features a trio of models so curvaceous they appear to have been inflated direct from the box. The models smile a lot, hold their arms out, mime the words to the new Goods song "Good Things Are Coming," and generally do things that models are prone to while the band pretends to perform.
The store also sponsored the band's weeklong statewide tour of other outlets. The Goods played malls in Fort Myers, Tampa, Tallahassee, Gainesville, and Orlando. "It was great," John says. "I got to relive my adolescence. I used to go to the mall when I had no money and just hang out and look at girls."
Does that mean playing Burdines Unplugged has been a lifelong ambition?
"We love to be able to play anywhere," Jim notes. "We should just be able to get on a rooftop, in a mall, at an airport, anywhere. And be able to pull it off and just have people enjoy the music." As if to reinforce the point, Jim stops the occasional shopper leaving or entering the store and asks what they thought of the band. Most shoppers seem to be in too much of a hurry to answer. They simply flash a perplexed look and keep walking.
"All we're in control of is the music. But we're not in control of whether people are going to like it, or if they're going to like us. All we can do is our thing," John says.
"I feel satisfied right now with where we are," Jim says. "Being with my friends, making great music; that's success. But there comes a point where you want to have monetary success and be able to make a living with the music so if, God forbid, something were to happen to someone in our family, we could help them out. And if we wanted to give someone a Cadillac just for the fun of it, we could do that, too."
The Goods play at 11:00 p.m. Saturday, October 4, at Rose's Bar & Music Lounge, 754 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, 532-0228. Cover charge is $5.