When last we heard from Whigs singer/guitarist Parker Gispert, he and bandmates Julian Dorio (drums) and Timothy Deaux (bass) were gearing up to record Enjoy the Company, the fourth Whigs album.
The platter arrived in 2012, and it's the band's best yet — thunderous and loud, yet heavy on the hooks and imbued with Gispert's gift of melody, put across fiercely in songs like the eight–minute guitar epic "Staying Alive," the anthemic "Tiny Treasures" (performed live on Leno and Kimmel, respectively) and the buzzsaw pop of "Waiting" (they played that one on Letterman).
The Whigs came together in Athens — Georgia's musical Petri dish — in 2002.
Is there something special for you in the chemistry of a trio?
Parker Gispert: Yeah, I feel like a three–piece is the minimum to have a band. With guitar and drums, you're missing that low end. And for me, a drum and bass duo is not a fully–realized picture. The Who, Led Zeppelin musically were three pieces. Lots of my favorite bands were musically a three–piece, or just a trio.
If you were asked to play a set of covers, what would you play?
Parker Gispert: Man, we've always been a terrible cover band. When I first started playing guitar, I might play other people's songs a little bit. My friends were really into that; it's what they wanted to do. I was always bad at it. But if I made my own song up, then nobody could tell me that I was playing it wrong.
So I've always just leaned on my own material, and I've never really been into covering stuff. And that's another thing with a three–piece. Obviously you can do your own renditions of songs, but more often than not there's that keyboard line, or that guitar part that you just can't do. You don't have the parts, so you're definitely limited. We've covered the Who before — we used to do "The Kids Are Alright" — and we used to do a couple Ramones songs. We used to play a Pixies song, when the band first got started.
There's a lot of bands you'll see and they'll throw in a cover at the end, and you'll say "Man! That was the best song of the set." But that's never been the case for us. We've never been the band that really crushes a cover. It's hard to do.
You guys moved to Nashville two years ago. How's that working out?
Parker Gispert: We'd been touring so much that we didn't really have this concrete sense of home, like more domesticated people do, I guess. Athens is definitely home for the band. That's where we got started. The Glands and all the Elephant 6 stuff definitely laid the groundwork for what we wanted to be as a band. All those bands, that's who we looked up to. The band's molded after that stuff; it's not molded after Waylon Jennings.
Why did you choose John Agnello to produce Enjoy the Company?
Parker Gispert: We've never had the same producer on any of the records. And I like that; it can't help but make each record different, which I'm always into. We had friends, going back to probably 2004, who had made a record with John ... and he had mixed a couple of Drive–By Truckers records. The Hold Steady, who we had toured with, worked with him mixing. Dinosaur Jr., J. Mascis, and Dead Confederate, who are also an Athens band, had worked with him. Basically, a lot of people who are our friends all knew John and said he was the best.
When it comes time to make a record, and you know you're going to spend a couple months of your life doing it ... it's like "Cool! I've always wanted to hang out with that guy. We'll hang out, we'll get to know each other, and we'll make a record in the meantime."
Rock is in John's blood. And there's not a ton of people who just have that innate rock 'n' roll spirit. John is in his '50s, he's sweatin' bullets, plugging stuff in on the ground, driving his kids to school, and going out at night. He's a total machine. And he's a New Jersey dude through and through. His energy is just infectious.