A few hours before Free Times spoke with Julian Dorio, drummer for Athens, Ga., trio The Whigs, the group announced a new record and debuted its lead single. Emerging via the increasingly revered Spin.com, the song — called “Hit Me” — is exactly what you’d expect from a raucous rock band nine years into its career. A throbbing bass line is met by danceable drums and jangly strums, as the song blossoms with effervescent ease. But it’s got some bite, too, mainly coming from beefy and distorted licks, a hint of how feisty this song is likely to get if you see The Whigs on the road. It is, Dorio agrees, the sound of musicians who know exactly who they are.
“We’re a three-piece rock band,” he offers. “We play together on tour all the time, and when we’re home we’re rehearsing all the time. The thing, whatever you want to call it, that happens when the three of us play, for better or for worse, is a thing. And I think it can be lost when you’re piecing together the performances, and you’re removing those people from just being in the room together.”
But The Whigs — Dorio, singer and guitarist Parker Gispert, and bassist Timothy Deaux — lost themselves a bit on 2012’s Enjoy the Company. It’s not a terrible record, by any means, but it forgoes the group’s typically relentless verve in favor of loose Southern rock with a marginally distorted edge, one blunted by the album’s overly polished production. The opening “Staying Alive” lingers for eight minutes, getting by on predictable guitars and an amiable twang. The horns help, and the chorus is admittedly pretty cathartic, but it’s also an expression of the song’s essential problem: “Staying alive way too long.” The rest of the songs are mercifully much shorter, but they pull from the same unexciting playbook.
Modern Creation, due in April, promises a corrective. While Enjoy the Company found The Whigs questioning and retooling their songs as much as they ever had, the recent sessions aimed to capture the energy of the group’s live performances. Tracking with Jim Scott, who has worked with Wilco, Weezer and Tom Petty, among many others, the trio played their takes together in one room. If something felt off, the part wasn’t re-done separately. They kept playing it together until they got it right.
“I think naturally for a band, the pendulum swings,” Dorio says. “If you’ve done a record this way, then you want to try doing it another way. And I don’t mean to say just for the sake of messing around. We take it seriously, and we want to do what works. But I think we learn so much every time we work with these producers, and we get older and hopefully more experienced making albums. We’re always looking for the best way to make the best Whigs record yet.”
It remains to be seen whether Modern Creation lives up to its promising single, but this method of recording should suit The Whigs just fine. Their most striking records, such as 2010’s dogged In the Dark, are made up of surging rock songs that maintain a gritty vibe without impeding consistently infectious hooks. The group missed the mark with their last outing, but that doesn’t mean they’ve lost their way; if the rest of The Whigs share Dorio’s philosophy, it’s likely that the band never will.
“Let’s say [a take’s] technically perfect but lacks spirit or energy or some raw element,” he postulates. “Maybe that’s the best take, but what’s the best take? It’s just a lot of different ways to do this. What does perfect really mean? To different bands, it means different things. We’re kind of this raw and loud three piece, so you want some sweat and some grit and some dirt in there.”
The Whigs play New Brookland Tavern on Thursday, Feb. 6. Dear Blanca and Keath Mead open. New Brookland Tavern is at 122 State St. Music begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. Visit newbrooklandtavern.com for more information.
Back to School Tattoo Specials
Magnum Ink is offering 1/2 off all tattoos for students over 18 as well as 2 for $60 on letters or numbers for state employees. 1405 Rushmore Road, Suite B, right off of Broad River.
Delicious Downtown Breakfast
Tony’s is open for breakfast every day from 7:30-10:30! Conveniently located on Washington St. right off Main. Stop in for something filling and delicious before work! Follow us for updates on specials.
Music Break at Music Farm Columbia
Join COR for an evening of networking for music and business leaders on September 3rd, featuring performances by Josh Roberts and the Hinges, Death of Paris, Fat Rat Da Czar, and Lazy A and the Green Thang. Free admission for musicians and members! Register here.
Make Your Own Beer and Wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop: 736 St. Andrews Road.
Happy Hour and Sushi Specials All Week
Red Bowl in Lexington now has great early bird and late night sushi specials 7 days a week, as well as 99-cent kids meals on Saturdays! Click here for special information and hours.
A two-day outdoor art and crafts show celebrating its 38th year. Being held on September 5 & 6, 2014, Click for details
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Pool Cleaning-Full and part time available. Must have a clean driving record, be organized and have a professional appearance. Starting Pay is $10.00 per hr, please call for an interview, please bring a copy of your Driving record and a list of all past employers with duration of employment listed as well as telephone numbers for references. Cal 803-865-1200
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Company seeking carpenters, plumbers, masons work is year around with a 40 year old company. Starting pay is $10.00 but experienced individuals will be compensated accordingly. Must have a clean driving record and must bring a copy of your driving record to the interview. Please call 803-865-1200.