By: Thomas D. Mooney
If the mood of an interview is a sign of how a show will ultimately be, I’d consider the upcoming Whiskey Shivers show to be a ridiculous blend of music and good times. When you go to The Prairie Fire Theatre tonight, be prepared. Toe-tapping is the minimum.
The Austin-based Whiskey Shivers is a five piece of punk rock energy mixed with the best of bluegrass instruments. You can feel the energy oozing out of the speakers within seconds of hearing either of their full-lengh albums, “Monster Hawg” and last year’s “Batholith.” It screams for you to get up and join the band. And your imagination just begins to envision what a live performance entails.
We caught up with Whiskey Shivers earlier to talk about bluegrass, moving to Austin, and what makes thrashgrass so damn addictive. Watch their video to “Gimme All Your Lovin” below.
New Slang: None of you guys are originally from Austin, What made you guys decide Austin over other major music cities?
Bobby: Yeah, we had to go somewhere and this one had the most music happening and it turned out to be a real welcoming scene. Everyone is really supportive and enthusiastic. It’s played out well.
Horti: I moved down here because it’s warm and sunny.
Andrew: Yeah, I really think it was a combination of music and weather. It is awful damn warm down here [laughs].
NS: Austin is typically called “The Live Music Capitol of the World.” It’s obviously a great music scene, but it seems like it’d be hard as hell to break into it.
Andrew: I think it can be. Anyone can play on stage here. There’s been so weird shows where we had to get a certain amount of people in the door and to get a better night, you had to play on Thursday instead of Saturday. But yeah, just keep plugging away at it and meeting people.
Joe: Yeah, there is definitely is a plethora of bands.
NS: About half of you guys are from Oregon. I guess the simple question would be why not Portland or Seattle…other than the weather thing [laughs]?
Andrew: I actually moved from Portland. Both me and Evan moved from there. I had been there for six years trying to play music and it never really happened.
Bobby: There’s a certain type of energy–for lack of a better word–in Austin. People are really excited about new stuff and about getting into new things. If they like it, they really like it. People who came out to our first shows, we still see them.
Joe: Another thing is that there’s camaraderie among bands. Everyone likes each other. I mean, there are little subsections of it that are a little bit cut-throatery. But, for the most part, we have a solid number of bands, that not only do we play together, but we hang out together and promote each other’s shows and releases. In that way, I haven’t seen a lot of scenes that I’ve been around, that are that supportive of each other. You know, trying to top each other, or get a better gig or slot.
NS: Thrashgrass. That’s what you’ve described Whiskey Shivers as. A traditional bluegrass with a punk energy. Do you guys think you’re combining the two or is this just kind of what bluegrass has evolved into maybe?
Horti: I don’t know, man. All of us come from these kind of hard rock backgrounds. We all come from these hardcore backgrounds and used to play punk music and shit. But this feels more real. There’s nothing between you and the audience.
Bobby: Yeah, it ends up being the most punk rock. It’s really raw. Really super exposed. you can hear every single lick of everything. It’s not like there’s some big drums killing stuff. You can hear everything everyone is playing and its high energy. And people are wanting to move–you don’t sit down at a Whiskey Shivers show and clap. You tend to knock around into people and close to the stage. That’s what I like about it.
Horti: Yeah, every show is half us playing music and half the audience giving us feedback…half the show is the people there wanting to hear the music, wanting to have fun. And making us want to have fun. And, just a lot fun [laughs].
NS: Bluegrass, old Appalachian tunes, alternative country-folk, etc. They’re all really becoming popular these days with the like of Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show, Trampled by Turtles, Punch Brothers. Why do you think that is?
Andrew: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of room for folk music to grow. And for one reason or another, just latched on to it. It’s really accessible. It hasn’t really changed in 100 years.
Horti: I think part of it is that your part of the experience. With folk music, bluegrass, and our thrashgrass, you are part of the show. You can relate to it more. It’s one thing to go to a big time show where there’s all these lights going on and there’s a backdrop, props all over the place. It’s like watching a movie. It’s fun, but it’s a real passive thing. You just watch the show. But with folk music, you get to be part of the show.
Evan: I also think it has something to do with hard times. Economic trouble. People go back to listening to things that make them feel good.
NS: Let’s talk about the “Gimme All Your Lovin'” video. It’s pretty interesting to say the least and got some nice exposure. How fun was that making?
Bobby: Yeah, it was good. We got real lucky with that. Our friend Rob Wadleigh made the video. It was his idea, his genius. And yeah, it got some view time. Got really passed around. Goes back to that whole why folk music is eternal. It’s friends giving it to friends giving it to friends. It’s a real “I like this song, you will probably like it too.”