DFW Music News

Denton's The Infamists May be Thrifty, but Their Sound Is Right on the Money

The Infamists met on Craigslist, and their "casual encounter" turned into a great bromance.
The Infamists met on Craigslist, and their "casual encounter" turned into a great bromance. Andrew Sherman
What started as a “casual encounter” on Craigslist turned into a lasting friendship for Denton band The Infamists. The Dallas Observer Music Award-nominated three-piece formed in 2012 while attending University of North Texas. Now, they are one of North Texas’ quickly rising rock bands.

Guitarist/vocalist Riley Rogers and bass guitarist/vocalist Spencer Wharton first got together after both parties posted ads to Craigslist seeking talent for a band.

“I don't remember exactly what mine said, and I don't remember exactly what his said, but we basically just tell everybody we met on the Casual Encounters section,” Rogers says, jokingly.

“We answered each other's Craigslist ads,” Wharton says, “And then Riley and I were like, ‘Oh, we love each other. We're best friends. We're soulmates.’ We were real good buddies from the start. We got a drummer and we played for a little while and then [our] drummer left and lo and behold, here comes [drummer] Ryan [Weiss] on a chariot and saves the day, also from Craigslist.”

The trio came together in Spencer’s dorm room at Mozart Hall at UNT. Some of their earliest gigs took place in Denton’s Fry Street bar district and the square in downtown Denton. While they were able to perform, none of the band members were of legal drinking age, which made it hard for them to invite their friends to their shows.

Being typically broke college students, The Infamists say, they couldn't afford to produce quality and well-engineered recordings early in their career. They point to their self-titled debut EP and their first full-length album, Thrill of the Hunt, as evidence.

“You can definitely tell they’re DIY,” Weiss says. “And once you hear Through Hell and High Whiskey, the first album we did in the studio, I mean, it's just night and day difference. I remember when we first started, we had really shitty gear. We didn't have good amps and we had shitty cymbals.”

When The Infamists figured out the type of sound they wanted, a sound they describe as “rock 'n' roll tunes that fermented in a bottle from Robert Johnson's liquor cabinet,” they began to practice every week.

In 2019, they released an eight-track album called Champagne in the Killing Field, which noticeably sounds more fine-tuned than their previous projects. The album contains the track “Withered on Your Vine,” which is accompanied by a rather provocative music video with scantily clad women dancing, Weiss playing drums with a ball gag in his mouth and Rogers singing into a large dildo in lieu of a microphone. According to the trio, the dildo was provided by director Andrew Sherman.

“I think that dildo was his,” Weiss says.

“Oh, it was,” Rogers says. “Yeah, he had a dildo. That was a big part of why we hired him.”

Last summer, The Infamists released a two-part track called “The Torment of Heroes,” inspired by medieval lore, containing Mastodon influences.

“It definitely brings out our inner DND fandom,” Rogers says, referring to the game Dungeons & Dragons.

“We answered each other's Craigslist ads ... And then Riley and I were like, ‘Oh, we love each other. We're best friends. We're soulmates.’" – Spencer Wharton

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Last October, the band earned a DOMA nomination for Best Rock/Hard Rock Act. They closed 2020 with the release of a new single and music video called “So Damn Sweet.” True to their thrifty ways, the song only cost them $150 to record.

“I had a guy who knew a guy, who knew a man, who had a horse,” Wharton says, jokingly.

The song itself clocks in at only one minute and 47 seconds, which the band says they did purposefully, as a means to pay tribute to some of their idols.

“When I met Riley,” Wharton says, “and we started bonding over our love ZZ Top and The Stones and blues in general, I was like, ‘We gotta write a Chuck Berry song. Like, this is something that's like on my bucket list.'"

"I think Chuck Berry's songs were like, around two minutes," Wharton continues, "so I was like, let's just keep it in the vein of that.”

Although the band has taken some time off from practicing and performing, they will reunite this Friday, Feb. 12, at The Woodshed in Fort Worth for an outdoor show. They also plan to release a four-track EP this year and begin recording another full-length album.

The pandemic has been hard on musicians and bands everywhere, but The Infamists are looking forward to getting back to work.

“Two more brains are better than one,” Rogers says, “Once you bring the initial idea to the plate, I think the fun part is seeing the direction it goes.”
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Alex Gonzalez has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2018. He is a Dallas native whose work has appeared in Local Profile, MTV News and the Austin American-Statesman. He has eclectic taste in music and enjoys writing about art, food and culture.
Contact: Alex Gonzalez