By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
Since the release of its second album, 2008's Mission Control, the Whigs has slowly fallen out of favor with some of the more influential Internet tastemakers who helped the band get started. Maybe it's because the Athens, Georgia, act spent a lot of time on the road in recent years with Kings of Leon, currently the coolest band to hate.
Either way, the anti-hype hasn't seemed to slow down the Whigs. The constant touring has helped it build a fan base the old-fashioned way, leading to increased anticipation for its third studio album, In the Dark. It's a record that's already received plenty of unfair criticism, especially because the collection makes sense as a progression for the band. The eleven tracks don't glisten with the sort of studio sheen found on Control but instead crunch, reverberate and explode, giving the listener the feeling of standing in the wings of a small theater watching the band command a crowd's attention.
B-Sides caught up with Whigs bassist Tim Deaux to discuss his band's past year.
B-Sides: So, In the Dark is your recorded debut with the band, right?
Tim Deaux: Yes. That's true. I was asked to join the band just after Mission Control was complete.
You guys seem to tour nonstop. When did you have time to make this record?
Touring is what we love to do, but we had to sit down with the people behind the scenes and explain that we needed to take some time off to write songs. Writing on the road is usually not very conducive.
So you all went in together and wrote new songs collaboratively?
We actually developed this odd system. Julian [Dorio, drummer] and I would go off on our own and just jam. We started developing tunes out of these drum and bass jams and then hand them off to Parker [Gispert, vocalist]. He would then work on vocal melodies and actually do the guitar as the last bit, which I guess kind of seems backwards in a way.
How did you end up choosing to work with producer Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Gnarls Barkley)?
A lot of people don't realize that Ben is a long-time friend of ours. He was there for some of the first Whigs shows, and it's one of those things where sometimes the things that are the most obvious are the ones you overlook. So we had a suggestion from our label that we should maybe work with this guy Ben Allen, and we were like, "Yeah, that's not a bad idea." [Laughs]
There have been some accusations made in reviews of In the Dark that you guys are sort of shamelessly shooting for arena-rock status with this record. How would you respond to that assertion?
Mission Control was a very in-your-face rock record that was sort of in sixth gear from beginning to end. It was also done in LA on a bigger budget in a state-of-the-art studio. So I think we were actually hoping to get back to a little more of a D.I.Y. feel for In the Dark. We did it back home on a fraction of the budget with a producer that we knew and were friends with. We kind of wanted it to be a little dirtier and darker.
Do you put any pressure on yourselves to go to another level of popularity?
Basically what it comes down to is that we want to play in front of more people. That's really the impulse for almost everything we do. But we didn't go into the studio and decide to make an arena-rock song or anything like that. [Laughs] We just write the songs that we think are cool, and then we record them and pick the best ones for the album. It's pretty simple.
What makes you strive to play in front of more and more people?
Well, don't get me wrong, we do also get a kick out of playing small rock clubs where we started out, and there are certain charms to playing in that environment. But when you walk into a bigger venue and you get to play to a bigger crowd and have a nice sound system and a bigger stage, that's a real treat for us as a band that is on the road all the time. In a lot of ways, it just comes down to the fact that it makes it easier for us to do our job.