Raised on the soul of Southern Rock, Country, Bluegrass and Americana, The Whiskey Riders music hits the heart of life in Kentuckiana and America. Highlighting the disenfranchised, exploring adversity, and passion for a life lived to its fullest, they pride themselves on a DIY attitude to produce their music, all while bringing a fiercely passionate live show filled with roaring sing-alongs and calming melodies.
In 2015, The Whiskey Riders joined Louisville-based Eastwood Records to help bring their music to the masses of vinyl-loving, indie-rock fans of the world. Their newest album, 1865, recorded in the spring of 2016 at Goldsmith Lane Studios in Louisville, is the culmination of a band of established musicians coming together to reflect on humanity, culture, history and the struggle of both young and old. From the banjo-driven single “Shine On”, to the boot-stomper “Storm in the Hollar”, 1865 offers a unique sound for every fan of passionate, well-crafted music of America.
In this interview spotlight, we chat with members of The Whiskey Riders about the new album, navigating the digital music world and more.
Full Q&A along with streams and links can be found below.
The new album,1865, is now available on vinyl via Eastwood Records!
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
The band as a whole resides in Louisville, KY/Southern Indiana. We call it Kentuckiana round these parts, ya see what we did there? With Louisville, you get a good taste of a what a bigger city has to offer while being surrounded with great backcountry for fishing and camping. You could say this intersection definitely influences the music. Right now we like to say we play a blend of Americana, Bluegrass, Southern Rock. Recently somebody at one of our shows said we play “Southern Grunge”, and we kind of like that label too. But what’s in a label really?
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to stay the course?
I think there’s a sort of freedom when it comes to making music that a lot of different career paths don’t offer. It is definitely not an easy path to walk when you’ve got such high standards for yourself, and you’ve got to be ready for the rejection. But the creativity you get to wield, the joy and happiness you can give to people, the faces you rock gives you a great feeling that you don’t get with a regular nine to five.
How is your new release different than previous ones? Did you set out to accomplish anything specific?
Our newest release “1865” feels like a natural continuation of what we’ve done in our first two records. We really like to bring variety to the table with our releases and believe this record really accomplishes it. We also wanted to put more of our social justice inclinations in the songwriting. The title track is about a runaway slave making it north in time for slavery to be over. “New World” is inspired by the trail of tears and what the Native Americans were going through, while also attempting to connect it with our current times. “Harlan Blues” is based on a true story of our singer Jonny Whitewolf Cox’s father getting out of the coal business in Harlan, KY after his own father was killed in a mining accident.
We also balance it out with some poppier numbers such as “Two of a Kind”, which is a fun love song, or the lead single “Shine On” which is a lighthearted track about moonshine with a banjo lick that gets the blood going.
Do you face any challenges as an indie musician in a digital age? On the flip side, how has technology helped you (if it has)?
The verdict is still out on this one, technology changes so much so quickly! At a smaller level, the live streaming that’s really catching fire allows you to have way more eyes on you than a normal weekend bar show, and we’re looking at ways to really do some innovating on how musicians can take it to the next level. We’ve got a great team behind us, and are really embracing this all out technical revolution.
Where can we follow you online and hear more music?
You can find us on all the regular channels, iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Amazon. We’ve got a lot of great video content coming out so definitely subscribe to our YouTube channel. We’ve been working with an up and coming filmmaker out of Louisville, Misha Kidwell, and his production team, to get out some next level music videos this year.
Anything else before we sign off?
Just wanted to say thanks for the opportunity to appear on your website again! We’ve got a lot of great things in store for you next year so keep your eyes open for The Whiskey Riders!