Three questions with Whigs frontman Parker Gispert

Parker Gispert (right) shares a meal and a laugh with Whigs mates Julian Dorio (left) and Tim Deaux.
Photo: Jordan Noel

The Whigs have hit Las Vegas pretty hard with live dates the past few years. We sometimes see that from LA bands, but not typically from bands out of Georgia. Strategy or coincidence?

Well, I love to gamble, and Vegas is always really fun when we're there, so we encourage the agents and our manager to get us shows when we're coming to the West Coast. But I do think that the most basic way to establish a presence is to physically be present; by continually going back to a place, over time you establish yourself in a particular scene. It's like how it was for us when we were just playing in Athens, when we were first getting started. I definitely feel like in Vegas we've been able to make a good amount of ground since we first started going there.

When you guys were writing and recorded your last album, the band was between bassists. How different has it been working on In the Dark [release date: March 16] with a full-time, three-man lineup?

It's definitely reflected in the album. This record was written primarily drums and bass first, as opposed to the first two records, which were pretty much written guitar and vocal melodies first. For this record, I would sing over the drum and bass and then write guitar parts around the vocal melody.


Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
with The Whigs
February 28, 9 p.m., $20-$25
Wasted Space, 693-5000.

That does a couple things. First, it makes [new bassist] Tim [Deaux] a vital part of the writing process, which immediately makes him a huge part of the band. And musically speaking, I've always been afraid of being a guitar-rock band. I think drums and bass are really the most important parts of a rock band. The Whigs have always relied on melodic basslines that aren't holding down a low sonic space — they tend to be a little higher in register for bass. And when you have a guitar strumming chords and a bass playing high in its register and a singer like me who isn't some soprano or even high tenor, you're all kind of competing in the same sonic area. So doing drums and bass first allowed me to sing, and then once the vocal melody is there, the guitar can play different melodies and enhance what's happening, as opposed to just reinforcing what was already happening.

Your producer for this album, Ben Allen, is coming off a huge record: Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion. How big a factor was that in choosing him?

We've actually known Ben since the inception of the band. Our drummer Julian [Dorio], his older brother's in a band that Ben played in for years. Ben was at our first shows ... and we've all kept in good touch with him. For this album, someone from our label — probably because of the Animal Collective stuff — brought his name up. It was right in front of us, and it would have felt unnatural to go with anybody else. I did have the Animal Collective record, and it definitely did make me more confident in choosing him, but we've always had a big respect for Ben.

And I think there are some definite similarities, from an outside ear on their sessions and from an inside ear during ours. I think he made the sonic landscape of our album really interesting for a rock band. A lot of people feel like rock's great qualities are its simplicity and how straight-ahead it is, and I love all that stuff, but sometimes you wanna play with the sonic elements a little bit, and I think Ben did a great job of that. We didn't add strings, and we didn't use any horns this time, but I feel like it's sonically a little more interesting than our other records, just because of the way Ben approached the sound of the bass, and the sound of the guitar and the sound of the vocal. Ben really brought out a lot of life in those elements.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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