Two summers ago, at the Newport Folk Festival, John Darnielle debuted a new, wrestling-themed Mountain Goats song. Titled “Animal Masks,” the song, he said, was about the multi-competitor type of pro wrestling match called a battle royale. “It’s also about the labor and delivery room,” he continued.
Today, Darnielle has announced that the Mountain Goats’ new album, Beat the Champ, will be about pro wrestling. Though that in itself should please the many wrestling fans out there, the unfamiliar don’t have to worry: In an extensive Tumblr post, Darnielle writes that “several” of the wrestling songs are, not unlike the one he premiered at Newport, “really more about death and difficult-to-navigate interior spaces than wrestling.” Is there a wrestling term for “win-win”?
Beat the Champ will be available on April 7 in the United States via Merge. The full tracklist has yet to be announced. You can hear “The Legend of Chavo Guerrero,” a strummy tall tale that Darnielle describes as “a song about my childhood hero,” the wrestling Chavo Guerrero Sr., below. A deluxe edition of the album on colored vinyl includes the bonus 12-inch “Blood Capsules” b/w “Dub Capsules.”
The Mountain Goats haven’t released a new album since 2012′s Transcendental Youth. In the meantime, Darnielle published a novel, Wolf in White Van. He also, as he puts it, has been “raising first son, assisting in debut of second son.”
Also be sure to check out a playlist Darnielle made for our sister site eMusic a couple of years ago, The Spiritual Roots of the Mountain Goats.
Beat the Champ is about professional wrestling, which was an avenue of escape for me when I was a kid. Wrestling was low-budget working class entertainment back then, strictly UHF material. It was cheap theater. You had to bring your imagination to the proceedings and you got paid back double. I wrote these songs to re-immerse myself in the blood and fire of the visions that spoke to me as a child, and to see what more there might be in them now that I’m grown.
1-24-25 San Francisco, CA – Sketchfest
4-2 Nashville, TN – Mercy Lounge
4-3 Asheville, NC – The Grey Eagle
4-4 Savannah, GA – The Jinx
4-7 Chapel Hill, NC – The Cat’s Cradle
4-8 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
4-9 New York, NY – Webster Hall
4-11-12 New York, NY – City Winery
4-13 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
4-14 Boston, MA – House of Blues
4-16 Cincinnati, OH – Bogart’s
4-17 Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre
4-18 Chicago, IL – Vic Theatre
4-19 Minneapolis, MN – Cedar Cultural Theatre
4-21 Louisville, KY – Headliners
4-22 Columbus, OH – Wexner Center
4-23 Chicago, IL – Mr. Small’s Theatre
5-8-10 Atlanta, GA – Shaky Knees Festival
5-26 Denver, CO – Gothic Theatre
5-27 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
5-29 Seattle, WA – The Showbox
5-30 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
6-1 San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
6-3 Los Angeles, CA – Mayan Theater