The Bowery Presents:
w/ Quaildogs, Music Band
Friday August 26
Doors 8:00/Show 8:30
$15 ADV. Tickets: bit.ly/WhigsTW
The Whigs – http://www.thewhigs.com
For their fifth album, the Athens-bred/Nashville-based power trio the Whigs wanted to find the exact midpoint between raw and rehearsed. After more than a decade together-during which they’ve released four critically lauded studio albums and toured constantly as either headliners or openers for the likes of the Drive-By Truckers, Kings of Leon, and MGMT-the three members all agreed that they wanted to flex their muscles a bit: write some good songs, get them down as tight as possible, hit , and tear shit up.
Says Parker Gispert (guitar/vocals): “We wanted to record quickly, and we wanted to record live. That meant we weren’t going to write a bunch of songs that relied on a horn line or any outside instrumentation. That guided the composition of the songs and informed how we approached recording them.”
For months the trio hammered these songs into shape at their Nashville practice space, united in a shared mission: to perform these songs with as much energy and excitement as possible, to expertly navigate every tricky tempo change, taut groove, spacy tangent, and ebullient hook. Their infamously raucous live show was never far from their minds. “Our practice space actually has about a foot-high stage,” says Julian Dorio (drums), “and we set up like we’re playing a show. We know we’re going to spend a lot of time on the road touring, so it’s always more fun to write something that’s going to sound exciting live.”
In the fall of 2013, the trio headed west to record with Jim Scott at his PLYRZ Studio in Valencia, California, about thirty miles northwest of Los Angeles. Scott has helmed albums by Tom Petty, Wilco, and Matthew Sweet, among many others, and his experience proved invaluable: “Guys like Jim have made hundreds of records and they’ve seen bands do the same stuff,” says Gispert. “He’s seen bands make mistakes and he’s seen bands capture some really great material. I felt very comfortable in his hands.”
Driven by Dorio’s pummeling drums and Gispert’s desperate vocals, the punchy “Asking Strangers for Directions” in particular benefitted from Scott’s input. Recalls Dorio: “We played it for him and he scratched his head and said, ‘Why don’t you take the second part and put it after the third part?’ It sent us for a loop. It felt backwards and upside-down, but we trusted Jim. We kept working on it, and now I can’t imagine it any other way.”
With Scott in their corner, the Whigs worked hard to make sure these songs didn’t sound worked over. Rather than track each instrument individually, the band captured most of the
songs in first or second takes, playing together live in the studio. Or, as the case may be, just outside the studio. Bypassing the studio proper, they set up shop in the hangout area at PLYRZ: a cavernous room where most artists spend their time eating, listening to records, goofing off, and just chilling out. For the Whigs, however, it became their creative headquarters.
“It has a real clubhouse vibe,” says Tim Deaux (bass). “Jim’s quite the collector of artwork and memorabilia. He’s got neon signs and weird posters and tied-dyed tapestries hanging on the walls. There’s a motorcycle in one corner, and there’s a Dolly Parton pinball machine.” In addition to amps, keyboards, and guitars galore, there is also an elaborate stereo system next to Scott’s sprawling vinyl collection-a veritable rock history at the Whigs’ fingertips.
And then there’s Scott himself, who acted the part of both producer and professor. He regaled the trio with industry war stories, and they soaked up everything. Recalls Gispert: “It’s an invaluable reference to work with someone who’s recorded artists that have influenced us. If we want to know how they got a particular sound, we can simply ask.”
PLYRZ proved inspirational for the Whigs, who channeled Scott’s experience as well as his catchall decorative scheme into wildly diverse rock songs that veer abruptly in unexpected directions and channel a dizzying range of influences-often in the same song. “She Is Everywhere” begins as an improbably spry pop-rock song, with a bouncy guitar jangle that evokes L.A.’s Paisley Underground. When the chorus comes around, the tempo slows precipitously and the song settles into a sludge-riff that recalls a time when “Iron Man” still walked the earth. Likewise, “Friday Night” mixes Motörhead momentum with one of the band’s catchiest pop hooks, while the martial stomp of “The Particular”-one of the album’s headiest and most hyperactive tracks-is punctuated by the band’s excitable shouts of “HEY!”
“I feel like we’re pulling from a big pool of influences,” says Gispert. “We’re drawing from different eras and different styles that we haven’t really explored on previous albums, and we’re trying to incorporate them into a sound that is still the Whigs.” Modern Creation is packed with playful allusions to rock’s past, yet the band isn’t playing to their record collection. Rather, these new songs digest a range of influences and spit them back out as something new, exciting, and idiosyncratic.
In other words, they’re working hard to show their range as a power trio, both in the studio and (when they hit the road this spring) on stage. That may be the secret to the Whigs’ longevity: Being a power trio means every member has to pull his own weight. “Nobody can lurk or hang back,” says Dorio.
“Everybody has to be contributing or else it’s going to fall completely flat. You can’t have a weak link. This is the rawest rock record we’ve made so far. It’s the truest representation of the band.”
Quaildogs – http://www.thequaildogs.com
Quaildogs breathe life into a distinctive brand of alt-country that recalls the genre’s heyday as a potent ’90s niche, while at the same time reveling in classic, freewheeling rock & roll. Having managed to keep together a steady and unfaltering six-piece lineup since their 2011 inception, the band has developed a unique camaraderie and sound that has earned them opening slots for a diverse set of acts including The Handsome Family, Futurebirds, Moon Taxi, Roadkill Ghost Choir and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band—and all this before having released a proper debut full-length.
Which brings us to The Getting Old Factory. The intermittent, drawn-out recording sessions for the Atlanta band’s first LP—which took place during the summer of 2014—mirror one of the album’s primary narratives: “The idea that if you’re a well-intentioned, hard-working person, you can make good in this world doesn’t necessarily exist anymore,” says guitarist Michael Barnhart. On the title track, singer/guitarist Rob Josephs juxtaposes the readily available blue-collar work of his father’s generation with the bleak employment situation of recent years, which he and Barnhart experienced firsthand as they both lost their day jobs and struggled to find work. “I didn’t take it well,” Josephs says. “It was hard times.”
But The Getting Old Factory (out Sept. 15) is an encouraging, uplifting record that transcends these grim realities. The group cut the album at Atlanta’s famed Glow in the Dark Studios, with Alex Lowe (Aretha Franklin, Cee-Lo, R.E.M.) mastering the final mixes at Red Tuxedo Studios. The sound that materialized exemplifies a work ethic hellbent on overcoming hurdles rather than succumbing to them. Its bedrock of battling hardships gives significance and purpose to Quaildogs’ lively tunes.
On “The World Still Looks the Same,” Josephs wearily croons, “Nothing to lose and even less to gain, weather the storm but he prefers to feel the rain” before an elated wave of violin swells into a rocking, triumphant outro. “Why Bother” is similarly embittered and cynical, but eventually develops into a rollicking motivator for change. “A lot of our songs, if you read the words, they’re sad,” Barnhart says. “Sad ideas, sad events. But the music makes them sound happy. Sometimes you need a little sugar to make the medicine go down.”
The group’s crowd-pleasing capabilities date back to Barnhart and bassist Lee Berg’s teenage years, during which they played covers at middle-school dances and their high school’s homecoming. While studying the music industry at Loyola University in New Orleans, the pair first met Josephs—but they didn’t form Quaildogs officially until several years later, as Josephs ventured to New York after graduating. Once there, he circled the open-mic circuit for a short while, but by 2010 he’d had enough and appeared unannounced on Barnhart’s Atlanta doorstep, guitar in hand. From there, a collaboration more than a decade in the making began to take shape. Berg, Banhart and Josephs easily sourced the rest of their crew from local musician pals—first Paul Brandon, who now handles mandolin, guitar and lap steel, then violinist Graham Terban and finally drummer Marvin Moate. They played their inaugural show in July of 2011, subsequently releasing a trio of lo-fi EPs.
In some ways, The Getting Old Factory happened organically. The original goal was to record a fourth EP, but the band soon realized the project had grown into a full-length. This led them to filter out the bluegrass-style numbers that had comprised their earlier work, fine-tuning the more straight-ahead country-tinged rockers as they refined their sound to create a wholly cohesive work. They’ve found sure footing in the culmination of that effort, and now—with a steady stream of club shows and festival appearances on the horizon—Quaildogs can lay claim to a fresh signature sound and a sharply focused sense of purpose.
Music Band – http://www.musicband.bandcamp.com
I’ll tell you what Music Band isn’t. Music Band is not a group of sour-faced millenial cry-babies wearing fedoras and Beatle boots, trudging through their live performances, looking like they can’t wait to get off stage and hit their vape pens. Music Band is not a bunch of dirtnapping hee-hee boys who try so hard to act like they don’t care about the holes in their clothes and their uninspired power chords that they become caricatures of ideas of a musical genre filtered through five decades of misunderstanding. Music Band is not some group of human Xeroxes squirted out by some corporate bigwig sucking on a fat stogie up in an ivory tower somewhere. Music Band is a group of three best friends, Harry Kagan (guitar), Lee Putney (drums) and Duncan Shea (bass), making honest-to-goodness rock and roll music in Nashville, TN. After pairing with local indie label Infinity Cat Recordings (JEFF the Brotherhood, Diarrhea Planet, etc.) to release their debut cassette “Can I Live” (2014), and 7″ single, “I Was Like” (2014), they are now on the cusp of unleashing their first full-length LP, “Wake Up Laughing”. Recorded at Bomb Shelter Studio with Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Natural Child), “Wake Up Laughing” is the latest chapter in the Music Band annals, showcasing their knack for writing catchy, surprising, high-energy songs that make their influences as vast as they are difficult to pin down. Their songwriting echoes their constant quest for discovery and reinvention, while always remaining true to themselves. It is Music Band’s profound respect for each other and for those who came before them as they toe the line between light and dark, which keeps them hurtling forward into the great delights of the unknown.
Music Band is currently the subject of a new book by acclaimed music historian, Tish Manuel, called “Music Band: True Music Band”. Excerpt from the introduction below:
“Distant trumpet sounds pierce the quiet majesty of an autumnal morn in the hamlet of Nashville. A snare drum rolls and flares over a deep and thunderous boom of a bass drum. For it is Lee, son of Edwaird, dark sage of yon tammy skins. All the while, thine mountains tremble with a booming rejoicy, as a golden-headed passenger glazes over flora and fauna heartily, bearing winsome tones of the lowlands. Hark still, O dear villagers, it be Duncan, son of Timothe and keeper of delight. A beautiful and radiant banner of hope tears up a flagstaff as two screeching red hawks vie for the pole’s stoic perch overhead. Nay, thine ears do deceive, for it is Harry, son of Howairde, whom picketh lute with the noble intent of elder bards thousands of years before him. A jubilee of creatures, characters, and animals alike rejoice. Hey, Nonny Nonny. The kingdom is good. For Music Band is nigh, if it please.”
“Hand-played indie rock has hardly disappeared from SXSW… Music Band, from Nashville, roared through garage-rock songs that had wryly self-mocking lyrics.” – New York Times
“If you’re going to be unfindable [on the Internet], you’d better be damn good. Which they are.” – Noisey
“Music Band nails the nifty trick of sounding loose as hell while playing extremely tight.” – Nashville Scene