Hive Five: Our Daily Listicle of Musical Musings
On the Whigs new album Enjoy the Company, you quickly learn that their straight-forward take on rock ‘n’ roll would translate well in a variety of settings. Not only does the Athens, Ga. band jump from indie rock clubs to large festivals like Austin City Limits, they’ve also gained experience playing US military bases overseas, as part of a USO tour. As you might expect, playing in those settings is quite a different experience than the normal avenues one expects to see live rock music. Hive asked drummer Julian Dorio, singer Parker Gispert, and bassist/former military brat Timothy Deaux what they learned from playing military bases in Germany and England.
“It’s just such a perspective thing,” Dorio says of meeting the soldiers who made up his band’s nightly audience. “What your problem or frustrating thing might be today or tomorrow, or whatever complaint you might have – we’d finish playing, and some guy would come up and say, ‘That was awesome. They’re flying me out tomorrow, I’m going to Afghanistan.’ I’m like, ‘Uh, I have a hole in my shoe, I’m gonna have to get new shoes.’” The difference in the scope of their experiences taught Dorio not to take the privileges he enjoys for granted. “That’s the byproduct of being so privileged over here,” he says. “We don’t even have to think about that stuff. Not only do you not have to go to combat, but you don’t even have to think about going to combat.”
2. Converting the Country Masses
The Whigs are a talented and successful band, but they’re not what a lot of the soldiers and their families grew up listening to. (Deaux, who grew up on military bases, saw Garth Brooks on a USO tour as his first concert.) But for Gispert, the fact that the audience may not be familiar with their music worked out to be a plus for everybody. “There’s the experience of seeing Toby Keith, or some bigger artist, but I would assume that these guys don’t get the experience of just walking into a local bar and seeing a band that they don’t already know,” he says. “So it’s probably just as valuable for those soldiers and their families to have that experience as it is with a bigger band.” Deaux recalls that it went over well. “People were fired up. I think a lot of people hadn’t heard of our band ever, but we’re a pretty bare-bones rock and roll band. We’re loud and rambunctious. For them, if it’s something they could kick back, drink a beer, and fist-pump for an hour, that was great.
3. You Get a Crash Course in Weaponry
In addition to the valuable life lessons about themselves and the men and women who fight in their name, the dudes in the Whigs also learned a bunch of stuff about weapons. “I didn’t know anything about missiles or fighter jets, or what the barracks are like,” Gispert says.
4. Real Sacrifice
“Some of their stories are pretty dramatic and pretty heartbreaking,” Deaux says. “They were really almost impressed that we would take the time out of our schedule, or our career, and come over there.” Dorio says that he felt like the opposite was true. “Of course,” he adds. “What they’re doing for us – the least we could do is play a few songs. It’s not that big of a sacrifice.”
Despite being raised in a military family, Deaux found the experience of meeting and playing for soldiers every night to be eye-opening. “You’re dealing with a lot of kids, basically, younger than us, who’ve seen some terrible things. It was heavy – a lot of that was more intense than I anticipated. Hearing those stories and looking them in the eye, when they’re telling you what they’ve seen and done – that’s pretty different from what we’re used to. We play in a band. We play rock and roll. Seeing a day in the life of a US military man stationed far away from his family and friends – it was definitely humbling.”
Enjoy the Company is out now on New West Records. Watch the video for “Waiting” below: