Last night, Athens, Ga., trio The Whigs opened for California's Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the Knitting Factory.
A scheduled interview with Whigs drummer Julian Dorio prior to the show was nearly scrapped when sound check ran long, but he graciously asked me to follow him backstage to chat for a few minutes.
The Whigs' new album, In The Dark, is due to hit store shelves on Tuesday, March 16. It's thicker and denser than their last album, an interesting turn considering that Dorio said they did far fewer overdubs this time around. It's also the first album with new bass player Tim Deaux in the mix.
"One sort of obvious physical change is Tim," Dorio said. "He wasn't on the last record. He joined us right after we finished recording it. He's been with us over two-and-a-half years now, but this is the first album he's on. As a trio, everyone plays a big role and Tim has been amazing. We're lucky to have him.
"On this album, we took a different approach for a lot of the writing. It was nice for me to have a bass player again who was permanent. We started doing these drum-and-bass beats and lines and songs started from that angle. We would go from beginning to end trying to create a whole song, create a vibe and then bring that to Parker [Gispert].
"It's still a rock 'n' roll record, but it has a little more drum-and-bass influence and grooves ... it gave Parker the opportunity to write lines that he felt were adding to the songs and were important, because there was already a foundation."
The Whigs' opened their set with songs off the new album. The audience was a bit perplexed and fairly quiet during new tracks like "I Am Real" (In The Dark) and its David Essex-ish intro. But the crowd whooped and hollered from the first notes of familiar songs like the Love & Rockets-esque "Already Young" (Mission Control).
The new album is definitely different from Mission Control, the new drum-and-bass influence evident. But it doesn't at all feel like the band took a dramatic left turn or steered away from what made them buzzworthy in the first place. Instead, the music is deeper and darker. It's rich and strong and even a bit experimental. It's evolutionary. And it's brilliant.
(I did not take the following video. Sadly, I forgot to press the record button on my camera at the show last night.)