Just who are the Whiskey Shivers? Are they “trashgrass” or “alt-country?” Why do they play bopping, hillbilly songs about the Mario brothers? Find the answers to all of this and more below!
Tell us the history of the Whiskey Shivers and who plays what?
Well…Bobby, our fiddler, came here in July of Ought Nine fresh outta college in Ohio, and after some unsuccessful dalliances with other old-timey folks, he answered a Craig’s List ad placed by an upright player from Oregon named Andrew. Bobby knew a guitarist named Dave who’s interests leaned in the same direction, and the three of us started playing together regularly, doing standards and covers and generally messing around. One day, Bobby announced to them that they were now a band, and that band’s name was Whiskey Shivers. No-one objected (except Andrew, who thought Piss Shivers was catchier) and so it stuck. Then, in November we were joined by a college acquaintance of Bobby’s, Mr. Evan Heidtman, a burgeoning young banjist also from Oregon. We recorded a short demo in January, and started playing out at stringy jams and open mics and such, and the rest is…well, history.
How would you describe the bands sound?
We’ve been calling it (under great duress) Trashgrass. The instrumentation is typical of bluegrass, but with a pretty distinct gen-x influence. Lots of energy and a lot of loud-quiet-loud dynamics.
What bands/acts influenced that sound?
Most recently the Woodbox Gang, Devil Makes Three, Whiskey Business and Splitlip Rayfield.
How do you feel about the current state of country music?
Pretty great. The world finally got sick of the Keith Urbans and Kenny Chesneys, and our generation has really been giving new life to the Outlaw genres. The repopularization of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, new bluegrass bands like the Avett Brothers and Old Crow, and String festivals like Pickathon in Oregon, and Kerrville here in Texas have really pushed things to this whole other level.
You play around Austin, Texas. Which is more known for blues and rock. How well have you guys been received?
Really well. None of us are natives, and we all moved here (more or less) because of the reverence this city reserves for roots music. All of that was exciting and bolstering, but also very intimidating. In a town with so many great players and such a rich musical history, it’s daunting to try and carve out a place that’s all your own. But what we hear time and time again is that we really don’t sound like anything else this city has ever heard. And love it or hate it, you can’t forget it.
I first encountered you guys playing out of someones home. Which I feel is perfect for the “down home” style of your music. Do you feel like that you’re closer to your audience than other bands?
Well, it’s definitely easier to relate to a person on a porch than onstage at some huge arena somewhere. We thrive on that give-and-take that we get from our audiences, and honestly, we wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t there. It’s what we do all this work for. We can’t really speak for other bands, but we’re damn grateful for the folks that come see us. We’ll get drunk and pass out on the floor next to ya. We call that being on the same level.
The last time this kind of entertainment was really popular was during the depression. Do you think the current state of the economy will kick start a comeback? It certainly does seem like there is a lot of young people connecting to older styles of music.
We don’t think there’s any kickstarting to be done. The thing’s already moving. Bands are sprouting up all over the place and taking old time music into their own hands. Uncle Tupelo got that alt country ball rolling in the early nineties, Bluegrass Revival in the seventies. While there is something to be said for folks suddenly having a lot of time on their hands, i think the ingenuity that’s taken hold on country and bluegrass really just speaks to a genuine love a lot of people our age have for roots music. Love strong enough to put pieces of themselves into it and not just churn out the same songs over and over.
Any upcoming shows you’d like to plug?
Well, of course there’s the Halloween Man Anniversary at Headhunter’s but also we finally got a show lined up with our friends Clem And Clyde’s Whiskey Business over at Hole In The Wall on Tuesday the 31st. There’s no cover, and therefore no excuse to miss that sumbitch!
Check ’em out online!