by: Thomas D. Mooney
We caught up with Bobby Fitzgerald, fiddler and vocalist, of the Austin-based Whiskey Shivers a couple of weeks ago and spoke about their upcoming fourth album produced by Robert Ellis and due out this September.
The always entertaining Whiskey Shivers these days isn’t just relying on good times, charm, and full throttle energy to find fans. It’s something that’s always going to be part of the formula, but you can tell they’ve not only refined their skills individually, but a genuine vision. They’ve morphed from being five buddies jamming together to being a well oiled collective.
Watch/Listen to “Shady Grove” below.
New Slang: On this new album you guys have been recording, Texas singer-songwriter Robert Ellis has been at the helm as producer. What do you think has been the most important thing he’s brought to the table?
Bobby Fitzgerald: It’s hard to say because really, he’s played a big part in all of it. I’d say, bringing the whole thing together and making a cohesive album sound. There’s a lot of different kinds of songs and sounds on it. A lot of different voices. But, Robert was able to make a continued thread for the whole thing. His musicianship and ear is just amazing. He had a really great idea or thought on melody lines or parts on a song. You’d get to thinking about it and say, “Hey Robert, what if we did this” and he’d say “and this to make it do that.” He’d know exactly where we were going. “Yeah, that’s even better than I what I was thinking [laughs].” It was wonderful.
NS: Yeah. That’s always a great sign [laughs]. When do you think the album will be coming out?
BF: We’re not quite sure, but we’re looking at hopefully sometime in September. That’s the tentative plan. We’re really trying to take our time with this one and really get it all done correctly. We’re all excited about this record. I think our other albums have been more stamps in time. More of what we were doing at the time. This one, we’ve really taken a step back, put some thought into it–not that we haven’t put thought in our previous ones, but you do learn a lot over time. You start realizing mistakes you’ve made and found better ways of producing.
NS: These songs for this record, how far back do they go? What’s the oldest song on the album?
BF: Well there’s one instrumental piece that was on a previous record that we wanted to redo and take another go at. That’s probably the oldest one, but a lot of the songs, we were trying to figure out what final verses should be right before going in. There was a lot of writing done in the studio. We had thought we had stuff figured out on some songs and then got in there, ran through it, figured it wasn’t working, and really had to do some thinking on our feet. There was some things we really had to work through while in the studio so there’s really a lot of fresh and new pieces on there.
NS: It’s good to see when bands start figuring out exactly what they’re trying to say and sound like. You usually see that in their third or fourth record. If you see that growth and maturity in a band, it’ll usually be that third or fourth record. If it’s not by then, they’re typically trying to recreate the first album over and over again.
BF: Right. I mean, this whole thing, Whiskey Shivers, it all kind of started because I moved down to Texas just to play with no real goal in mind. We’ve just been playing together for a while now. It just kept growing out of our hands and us realizing we’re doing a lot more than just hanging out and jamming with our buddies–but really, that’s still all we’re doing.
NS: Are you guys still going in and recording things or are you done?
BF: Yeah, it’s all been tracked now for a little bit. It’s been mixed and we’re just getting it mastered now. All in all, recording was two weeks there in Houston. We did a week there, a couple days off, and then another week back in.