Los Angeles-based punk/ska band Goldfinger developed a strong following after its formation in 1994 among fans who enjoyed the group's energetic, rabble-rousing live shows, which were played with a healthy sense of humor. The band proved itself to be equally strong in the studio, achieving wide success with its 1996 hit single "Here in Your Bedroom." The band now has numerous albums and singles to its credit, in addition to many contributions on compilation albums. The band has also had songs featured on the soundtracks of major Hollywood movies like American Pie, Waterboy, and Not Another Teen Movie. Although entertainment is the band's first priority, the group's music also espouses the animal-friendly philosophy of lead singer John Feldman, a vegetarian. The songs "Free Me," "For Your Greed," and "What Gives You the Right" all promote animal rights.
Goldfinger started out in 1994 when Feldmann met the band's original bassist, Simon Williams, in a shoe store where they both worked. The two made a demo recording and used it to recruit drummer Darrin Pfeiffer. Having recently moved from his hometown of Buffalo, New York, to pursue a career in music, Pfeiffer worked at a Los Angeles area coffee shop at the time, and played in another band. But after listening to the demo, he quit the band he was in to join the new group. Feldmann then brought in guitarist Charlie Paulson to round out the lineup. "The band was just something we thought we could have fun at, do a few shows," Feldmann later told Paul Freeman in the Orlando Sentinel. "I never expected it to go this far."
Feldmann continued working at the shoe store while playing gigs with his new band. He told the Bergen County, New Jersey, Record, "We were together for about two years and we played hundreds and hundreds of shows in front of about 30 people." The band got its lucky break when Feldmann included a demo tape with a pair of shoes he sold to a Mojo Records executive. The executive played the tape for his bosses, who promptly called Feldmann in for a meeting. Mojo Records signed the band, and Feld-mann was able to quit his job at the shoe store within two months.
In spite of its punk and ska labels, the members of the band consider themselves to be "more of a pop band than anything else," as Feldmann explained to Alan Sculley in the Peoria, Illinois, Journal Star. But he added, "We have a ska sound. And we have a punk sound, and we have a pop sound, a reggae sound, and we have a metal sound. We have a lot of different sounds that kind of happen through our music."
In 1995, the year after the band's formation, Goldfinger released its first album, a demo EP titled Richter. The album got a lot of play on college radio stations and other independent channels, receiving strong reviews. Following this initial success, Goldfinger released a self-titled album in 1996. A cut off the Richter album, "Here In Your Bedroom," was well-received and brought the band to a new level of popularity. It became a hit after receiving extensive airplay on Los Angeles area rock station KROQ-FM. Following its debut, the song landed on the Billboard Top 10 Modern Rock Chart. The band also appeared on the popular Late Night with Conan O'Brian television show.
Following their successful studio releases, Goldfinger hit the road on tour, opening for such bands as the Sex Pistols, No Doubt, and Reel Big Fish. They played on the road for 19 months in a row, and in 1996 the group played 382 shows. Following this, the band released its second album, Hang Ups, which went on to sell more than 88,000 copies. The band also released the single "This Lonely Place" along with an accompanying video, and a single and video called "More Today than Yesterday." This song, a cover of a song by Spiral Staircase, was later featured on the soundtrack of the Hollywood film Waterboy. "This Lonely Place" played in regular rotation on MTV.
Founding band member Simon Williams left the band in 1998 and was replaced by bassist Kelly Lemieux. Lemieux and Feldmann had become friends in the early 1990s when they both played in the band Electric Love Hogs. In 2000 the band released an LP called Stomping Grounds, which included singles "Counting the Days," which received airplay in the United States, and "99 Red Balloons," which was aired in Europe.
After the release of Stomping Grounds, Goldfinger kicked off a European tour with several other bands, including Eve 6, Showoff, Bloodhound Gang, and Mest. Out of this tour came the live album Foot in Mouth, which was recorded in England in 2000.fingerbox
In 2001 guitarist Charlie Paulson left the band and was replaced by San Diego native Brian Arthur. Arthur came on board in time to record the group's next album, Open Your Eyes, which was released on the Jive/Zoomba label in 2002.
Goldfinger's lead singer, John Feldmann, stopped eating meat when he was 29 years old, after he saw the movie Babe, which features a pig as its star. After watching the movie, Feldmann cut pork from his diet. Other types of meat soon followed. After four years of being a vegetarian, Feldmann also cut all animal products, such as milk and eggs, from his diet, becoming a vegan. Not content to keep this lifestyle choice to himself, he began to use his music as a platform for educating other people about the benefits of going vegan. His main goal, he told Brenda Lau on the vegetarianteen.com website, is to inform his fans about animal rights and to stop the killing of animals.
As a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Feldmann has also organized Gold-finger benefit concerts for that organization. Feldmann described to Lau how at several different restaurants he purchased lobsters that were intended for food, and then set them free in the ocean. "I saw a tank of lobsters and I said, 'I could do something about this right now.'" In spite of his strongly held beliefs, though, Feldmann considers himself first and foremost an entertainer, not an activist. While he feels it important to make his views known, he is careful not to alienate fans who do not share his views.
Several of Goldfinger's songs reflect an anti-meat stance. Feldmann has also publically criticized personalities such as rock star Ted Nugent, who enjoys hunting, and movie star Jennifer Lopez, who has a line of clothing that includes furs. The music video for one of the group's songs, "Free Me," features footage provided by animal rights organizations PETA and Friends of Animals. Other Goldfinger songs promoting animal rights include "For Your Greed," about the needless killing of animals, "You Think It's a Joke," which questions the idea that people are more important than animals, and "What Gives You the Right," about the evils of medical experimentation on animals.
For the Record . . .
Members include Brian Arthur (born on July 29, 1978, in San Diego, CA), guitar; John Feld-mann (born on June 29, 1967, in San Diego, CA),
vocals, guitars; Kelly Lemieux (born on April 7, 1967, in Salem, OR), bass; Darrin Pfeiffer (born in Buffalo, NY), drums.
Group formed in Los Angeles, CA, 1994; released debut album, Richter, 1995; topped the Billboard Modern Rock chart with a single from Richter; released self-titled second album, 1996; contributed to motion picture soundtracks of Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills and King Pin, 1996; released Hang Ups, 1997; contributed to the soundtracks of the motion pictures Basketball, Dead Man on Campus, and Waterboy, 1998; contributed to motion picture soundtrack of American Pie, 1999; released Darrin's Coconut A**, 1999; released Stomping Ground, 2000; released Foot in Mouth, 2001; contributed to motion picture soundtrack of Not Another Teen Movie, 2001; released Open Your Eyes, 2002.
Addresses: Office— 2337 Roscomare Rd. Ste. 2-227, Los Angeles, CA 90077. Website— Goldfinger Official Website: http://www.goldfingermusic.com.
In addition to his work with Goldfinger and PETA, Feldmann produces the music of other bands, including Showff, Mest, and The Used. Asked by FamousVeggie.com for "words of wisdom," Feldmann replied, "Make your loved ones watch Meet Your Meat [a PETA-produced video]. There is no excuse for killing anything once you know the truth about factory farms, de-beaking, tail docking, etc. Animals have just as much right to live free as we do."
Richter, Mojo/Universal, 1995.
"Here in Your Bedroom" (single), Mojo/Universal, 1995.
Goldfinger, Mojo/Universal, 1996.
(Contributor) King Pin (soundtrack), Universal, 1996.
(Contributor) Violent World: A Tribute to the Misfits, Caroline, 1997.
Hang Ups, Mojo/Universal, 1997.
(Contributor) The Duran Duran Tribute Album, Universal, 1997.
"My Head" (single), Mojo/Universal, 1997.
(Contributor) Basketball (soundtrack), Universal, 1998.
(Contributor) Dead Man on Campus (soundtrack), Universal/Dreamworks, 1998.
(Contributor) Waterboy (soundtrack), PGD/Hollywood, 1998.
(Contributor) American Pie (soundtrack), Universal, 1999.
Darrin's Coconut A**, Mojo/Universal, 1999.
Stomping Ground, Mojo/Universal, 2000.
Stomping Ground (Japanese version), Universal, 2000.
Foot in Mouth, Goldfinger, 2001.
(Contributor) Not Another Teen Movie (soundtrack), WEA/Warner Bros., 2001.
Open Your Eyes, Jive, 2002.
Albuquerque Journal, November 18, 2001, p. F6.
Grand Rapids Press, May 4, 1998, p.C8.
Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, PA), October 17, 1997, p.2.
Journal Star (Peoria, IL), December 11, 1997, p.C3.
Orlando Sentinel, January 31, 1997, p.8.
Record (Bergen County, NJ), June 28, 1996, p.5.
Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA), January 16, 1998, p.5.
"FamousVeggie.com's Celebrity Interview with John Feld-mann," FamousVeggie.com, http://www.famousveggie.com/feldmann.cfm (December 10, 2003).
Goldfinger Official Website, http://www.goldfingermusic.com (November 12, 2003).
"John Feldmannn on Animal Rights," Vegetarianteen.com, http://www.vegetarianteen.com/interviews/feldmann1.shtml (November 12, 2003).