On The Cover Interview With The Whigs' Parker Gispert


Interview by Chip Adams

The Whigs have had one hell of a year so far, and we're only one month in to 2008. They recently released their sophomore album, Mission Control, which has received plenty of critical acclaim. Just a few days ago they performed on Letterman, and have locked in live dates through mid-March. In between their non-stop touring, we were fortunate enough to catch up with frontman Parker Gispert to see how things are going. Here are the results of our chat:

C: For starters, you guys just played "Right Hand On My Heart" on Letterman. How did it feel taking the stage there?

P: Well, we drove from Athens to NYC on Sunday and arrived in Manhattan at about 1:30 AM. Our load in for the show was 5 AM. We were all delirious / so pumped up that the 3.5 minute performance was mostly a complete blur. Then, knowing the history of that stage coupled with being sandwiched by David Letterman and Paul Schaffer on either side of you, the entire experience was surreal. The only feeling I can remember is that it was really, really fun.

C: Did you get to chat with Letterman or Paul Shaffer at all?

P: I talked with Paul and a couple guys from the band after the show. They seemed to be truly impressed by our performance and thought Dave liked it as well. We chatted a bit about Athens and Pro-Tools.

C: With the press you received from your debut, did you feel pressure to create an even better sophomore album?

P: I definitely had things I wanted to improve upon for the second record but I wouldn't say that I felt those things due to any reaction from first record press. I wanted to sing better and there were a few kinds of songs I wanted to write for the second record and that was about it. Whether or not the album was going to be "better" is a preference and was never a concern.

C: What was the process like switching from self-producing your own material to working with Rob Schnapf over at the Hollywood Sunset Sound Studios?

P: Fantastic. We made demos of every song that ended up on the new album so we had everything laid out for both us and Rob. When we got out to Hollywood, all we had to do was perform our parts and we knew Rob was in control of sonic qualities. It provided for a comfortable atmosphere and allowed us to concentrate on being performing musicians instead of engineers / producers, etc.

C: What was the specific reason or reasons that you selected Rob as the producer for Mission Control?

P: First, we were already familiar with Rob's work from the Elliott Smith / Beck stuff and were big fans. Then when we met him, we realized that he was a normal dude, someone we could talk to and someone we wanted to hang out with for a couple months. Moreover, he was someone who could teach us things that would go way beyond this album. He has seen a lot, and he has worked with a variety of people over the years. I learned so much by keeping my ears open to him that will stay with me and help me out not only as a musician but also as a human being here on the planet.

C: I know you've done a good amount of touring over the past year or so. Did any cities surprise you as being much more into your music than you perhaps thought prior to playing there?

P: People in Chicago and Indianapolis stand out as being more supportive than I could have imagined. It wasn't surprising in that we walked in to find hundreds of people tearing off their clothes during the set or anything. Just specific people who have genuinely been interested and positive about the band more than we would have expected.

C: The Whigs have a sound that is modern yet timeless. If you had to cite a few influences that have definitely shaped the sound of your music, what would they be?

P: This is always a tough one and really an impossible answer. The Glands, from Athens, have probably been the biggest influence on the band.

C: When you're on the road, are there any favorite bars/restaurants that you've encountered along the way?

P: Definitely. There is a sandwich shop in South Dakota that serves a hot ham and cheese on croissant, rice krispie bread. You dip the sandwich in jelly and have the perfect brunch sandwich. There is a chicken parmesan sandwich in Buffalo that is calling my stomach right now.

C: I know you guys are coming down for South By Southwest, which you also attended last year. Did you have any time to check out some TexMex or BBQ spots while in town? If not, we've got a few tips for you.

P: I realize it is a chain, but we usually sneak out and hit Texadelphia. Is that lame? We love Maudi's and we don't usually hit tons of BBQ. I worked at a BBQ restaurant in Georgia for 6 years and have had a difficult time transitioning to beef. But I'm open to suggestions. Let's rip something!

C: With the sheer power that Julian unleashes on the drums, is there ever any Spinal Tap-type concern that he could potentially explode?

P: Yes. I have been trying to move my guitar amp away from his kit so that it will be safe in the case of any body explosion. I can't have his innards on my Super Reverb.

C: Congrats again for making one hell of a great album. Well, technically two albums. Mission Control is without a doubt one of our favorites for 2008. Looking forward to seeing you guys here in Austin!

P: Thanks Chip! See you in a bit. Let's eat some BEEF!

The Whigs
ATO Records

On The Cover Interview With The Whigs' Parker Gispert