These days, you can catch Ron Goudie rocking the music festivals in Amsterdam as the frontman of Grandpa Death Experience, but the Canadian-born producer began his decades-long career in the music industry on America’s west coast. From performing on stage to bringing the full potential of a band’s sound to fruition, he has built a rich history of accomplishments as a producer, mixer, sound engineer, and performer.
Goudie started his music career by playing in garage bands and experimenting as a wedding and lounge singer. None of these pursuits took off, mainly because performing at weddings didn’t suit his temperament. His entrepreneurial spirit did not allow these roadblocks to dissuade him; instead, his passion for music continued to thrive. Unlike the conservative college students of his generation who chose practical majors in accounting or business administration to ensure their financial stability, Goudie revealed his rebellious attitude by enrolling as a music major during the punk revolution of the mid-1970s. In 1978, Ron graduated from California’s Golden West College with a degree in Composition and Arrangement. While his contemporaries may have ridiculed his decision to pursue the arts, he was playing in punk bands and producing Gold albums before the age of 30.
At the dawn of the Reagan administration, Goudie joined the hardcore punk band Modern Warfare as their lead guitarist. Although the band was only active from 1980-1983, Modern Warfare released two 7” EPs on the band’s label, Bemisbrain Records – named after Modern Warfare’s lead singer and songwriter Jim Bemis. The label’s first album Hell Comes to Your House was a compilation album produced by Goudie and Modern Warfare bassist Steve Sinclair. In addition to featuring two songs by Modern Warfare, the album released the first studio recordings by Social Distortion, and included songs by deathrock icons Christian Death and 45 Grave.
Bemisbrain Records became part of Enigma Records, which eventually merged with Restless Records in 1991. Working as part of Enigma and Restless Records, Goudie’s producing career catapulted. Although most of his earliest projects were with small, local bands, it wasn’t long before he began bringing niche bands to notoriety. One of his most notable projects in the early 1980s was with the Christian metal band Stryper. In 1984, Goudie produced Stryper’s first EP, The Yellow and Black Attack, which had six songs and a distribution of less than 20,000 copies. When Stryper’s first full-length album, Soldiers Under Command went Gold in 1986 The Yellow and Black Attack was re-released with the addition of two new songs: “My Love I’ll Always Show” and “Reason for the Season” and sold 150,000 copies in the first three weeks.
Following his success with Stryper, Goudie began working with notable punk, metal, and psychobilly bands. He produced Channel 3’s 12” EP Airborne in 1984 and their LP Last Time I Drank… the following year. In 1986, he started to work with Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper and produced four albums for the duo: Get Out of My Way!, Frenzy, Elvis is Everywhere, and Bo-Day-Shus!!!. Two years later, he remixed the EP When You Least Expect It… for Agent Orange. Goudie produced Vengeance Risings’ album Once Dead in 1990, which was ranked #45 in HM Magazine’s Top 100 Christian Metal Albums of All-Time. The same year, he produced Grammy-nominated heavy metal band GWAR’s best-selling album Scumdogs of the Universe. In 1995, he produced the album Have Another Beer With Fear for the American hardcore punk band FEAR. He worked with GWAR again in 1997 on their album Carnival of Chaos.
His drug-fueled rockstar lifestyle of the 80s and 90s began to catch up with him and he realized he would need to make a drastic change to avoid burning out, and fading out with the rest of the music industry. After nearly two decades as a producer, engineer, and mixer, he left Restless Records for Europe. While a move to the Netherlands might not be recommended for someone searching for a straight-and-narrow path towards inner awakening, sometimes a person needs to hit rock bottom before he can see the light – and Amsterdam provided that perfect opportunity for Ron to explore his hardships, find a constructive, creative outlet to express his woes, and connect with the right people to take on his next project. (As proof that old habits die hard, Goudie went back to producing again in 2017, working with Emerald on Voice for the Silent and Jackal on God of War.)
Through parties, travels, and mutual friends, Ron was introduced to the personalities (Carlos Manso on drums, Yrjänä Rankka on guitar and bass, and Roemer Verheggen as the lead guitarist) that would become members of Grandpa Death Experience (GDX). GDX draws musical inspiration from across the decades and includes elements of acid rock, groove, punk, and grunge with a strong focus on the lyrical elements of songwriting, which makes their sound hard to categorize. Although the group originally considered the name Krackheads 4 Christ, the group eventually decided on GDX, in part due to Goudie’s raspy singing voice. Goudie’s “Grandpa Death” voice adds a unique character to the rest of the bands musicianship and larger-than-life sound that Goudie himself describes as “something like Social D meets Tom Waits at Leonard Cohen’s grave.”
Since forming in 2008, GDX has released an EP and a full length album, with a second album currently in the works. The groups first EP Dirty Nasty & Free, released in 2015, was followed two years later by their debut album The Unforgiving Shoe of the Future, which features 47 minutes of sonic madness masterfully crafted by some of the best producers in the industry: Robert Feist, Rick Novak, Randy Burns, Dusty Wakeman, and Dennis Moody. Currently, Grandpa Death Experience is working on a new album with Saustex Records, but you can still catch them performing at venues around Amsterdam, including the Sound Garden, Patronat, Melo-Melo, Checkpoint Charlie, and Paard in Den Haage.