Hailing from Athens, Georgia, the garage rock trio known as The Whigs has been plying their craft for over a decade. In that time, they have released four amazing records including last years' Enjoy the Company.
Speaking from a tour stop in Los Angeles and in anticipation of Friday's show at the Prophet Bar, lead singer/guitarist Parker Gisbert talked with DC9 at Night about the differences among late night talk shows and what makes the Athens' music scene so vital.
You've basically appeared on every late night talk show. Is there a difference in playing on any of them?
They are all pretty different. We've been fortunate to be on all of them and the vibes are completely different. The New York shows are more intense. The ones shot in L.A. are a little more laid back. The audiences are very different. It's cool to play on those shows. We grew up watching Letterman on television, so it was cool to play on his show. We got fired up for that.
Yes, the last appearance there was when you did "Waiting" off the new album and it seemed like you guys were on fire.
That's how we do it. That's all we have.
Have you ever messed up while playing one of these shows?
Yes, we've made mistakes and it's live, so you aren't going to start over. We have messed up, but it was probably one of those errors that nobody notices except yourself. It was nothing catastrophic. Nobody fell over or anything. Nobody played a wrong chord.
The band has been around a decade. Does that surprise you that it has already been ten years?
No because we have always been about growing the band sonically. We always wanted to create something that has aged well, that has held up over time well. That is the purposeful thing. It doesn't surprise me in that sense. It feels like it has gone really fast. Technically, we did start ten years ago, but we were in college for the first four years of that. 2006 is when we really got going. We were out of school. Our first album on a label came out in 2008. It doesn't really seem that long.
You are from Athens, Georgia. What is it about that city that has produced so many great bands in many different genres?
I don't know. It's weird, honestly. I think that there are a lot of great places to play. That's the first thing, a lot of great bars. It's a great source of entertainment for the locals. The audiences fuel a lot of it. It is a strong musical community where bands help out other bands. Bands realize what's important and what's not. It's not a scene where everyone is focused on the big record deal, becoming a big star. People are concerned about who plays really well together and who has fun. The audience is the priority for the musicians. Those are all just guesses, because I don't know what it really is.
You've toured with a lot of bands including the Kings of Leon. I was there when the band almost imploded on stage. Were there any strange moments touring with them?
We always came to find that those guys were always super great to us on and off the stage. They work really hard. They've been going at it a long time. You know, I don't know. They have always been good to us and we look up to those guys. I know nothing but positives.The opening cut on the new album is "Staying Alive." In terms of length, is that song your "Stairway to Heaven"?
That is the longest song we have recorded. It is on the more epic side for us. Maybe in that sense, it is our "Stairway to Heaven". It is a really fun song to play live.
The band also played on a USO tour. How did that come about and where did you go?
We kind of grew up on Air Force bases all over the world. Our first concerts were USO shows where bands would play the bases. It was always something we looked forward to as a kid. We got to talking about it and the opportunity came up. It is something we always wanted to do. We got a chance to perform for the troops. It was an interesting experience. We got to play in Germany and in the UK. We got to tour the barracks and stay in the barracks.
How was your music received?
It went over OK. I mean, we are not Toby Keith or Shania Twain. We are not the typical band on a USO tour. They were smaller shows, but we were received well. Some people might like a big arena show, but that it not us. We were for the people who wanted to step into a bar a see a show. That is more our style and it can be an equally rewarding concert experience. We like performing for people. We've played in bars for nobody. We do the same show for ten that we do for a large audience.
I love the album cover with the hot dog. Do you prefer mustard and ketchup on your dog?
I prefer both on my dog, actually. I've gotten grief for just having ketchup on there and not having any mustard. Some people really get hot about putting ketchup on a dog. But I like both.
Can you tell me the four Presidents who belonged to the Whig Party?
No, I can't. Can you?
I actually looked that up. It's William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore.
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I keep meaning to learn a ton about the Whig Party. Someone is always looking that up and asking me about it. I've never really gotten around to looking into it.