The Whigs wore no wigs when they were a major political party in the 19th century, but nowadays a rock threesome has claimed their name, while hoping to not suffer the same slide into irrelevancy as the politicos.
“We needed to come up with a band name, and quick,” says Whigs’ lead singer and guitarist, Parker Gispert, “and we liked one of the definitions of the word that we found: ‘an historian who interprets history as the continuing and inevitable victory of progress over reaction.’”
Gispert formed the power pop, garage rock-oriented band in Athens, Ga., in 2002 with two friends, one of whom, drummer Julian Dorio, is still in the lineup. (The two have been friends since they attended The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, prior to both attending the University of Georgia at Athens.)
Gispert dropped out of school for a time, but went back and finished his degree in philosophy, which he considers a perfect complement to a career in a band.
“It was a great aid in learning to think critically and to help me have a basis for challenging assumptions.”
Original bassist Hank Sullivant, whom Gispert and Dorio met while in college, left after four years, and was replaced by Timothy Deaux. The group is now based in Nashville, Tenn., but credits its Athens roots for its musical foundation.
“Athens is always a very active, creative town,” Gispert says. “There are dedicated people there who were very inspiring for us, when we started the band after hearing and seeing all of our Athens influences, starting with R.E.M.”
In 2005, the group released a debut album, Give ’Em All a Big Fat Lip, followed by Mission Control in 2007, and In the Dark in 2009.
For Enjoy the Company - the band’s latest CD, released in September - the band traveled to Woodstock, N.Y., to record. The place proved to be even more than they expected, Gispert recalls: “Despite all the vibes connected to [Bob] Dylan, The Band and so on, we felt a really new energy, a fresh energy, very transcendent, maybe because the town is so connected to nature and all the trees, and not that near to a metropolis.
“We thought about naming the album for a quote by Levon Helm, since it was when they had the last Midnight Ramble in town while he was alive.”
John Agnello, whose album credits as a producer include Son Volt, Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., produced Enjoy the Company.
The Whigs have opened shows for Kings of Leon, The Black Keys, Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, Drive By Truckers and Dead Confederate, and have become popular fixtures on late night TV shows hosted by David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel.
The Whigs/ Futurebirds Opening act: Collin vs. Adam 8 p.m. Sunday, Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack, 107 River Market Ave., Little Rock Admission: $10 advance; $12 day of show (501) 372-7707 stickyz.com
Weekend, Pages 34 on 04/04/2013
Print Headline: Rock trio set to Whigs out at Stickyz