Gough was born in London but grew up in Nenagh, County Tipperary. He moved to Galway to attend college, and there formed Toasted Heretic. The band released a number of well-received albums and had a top ten hit with the single "Galway and Los Angeles".
Gough also has a career as a novelist; his first novel, Juno and Juliet, was published in 2001. A majority of the book takes place on the campus of the National University of Ireland, Galway. The opening chapter of his most recent novel, Jude: Level 1, titled "The Orphan and the Mob," won The BBC National Short Story Award Levels 2 and 3 of Jude are being published in installments online.
In May 2008 Gough was involved in a much-publicised pig-napping incident. A home-made video appeared on YouTube displaying Gough stealing the prize pig awarded to author Will Self for the 2008 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction.
Julian Gough currently lives in Berlin with his pig.