The Whigs Play The BPP The Whigs are hailed as leading a return to All-American Rock. The band from Athens, Georgia, plays from their new album, Mission Control.
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The Whigs Play Out of 'Control'

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The Whigs Play Out of 'Control'

The Whigs Play Out of 'Control'

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Back in 2006, Rolling Stone called The Whigs - that's Whigs spelled with a W-H, as in the old time political party. Rolling Stone called The Whigs one of America's best unsigned bands, which meant they didn't stay unsigned for long. Their new album is called "Mission Control." It's on Dave Matthews' ATO label. And judging from the gig list on their MySpace site, The Whigs are probably about to play your town.

You've been to like five million places. Are you going about…

Mr. JULIAN DORIO (Drummer, The Whigs): Yeah.

Mr. PARKER GISPERT (Vocals, Guitarist, The Whigs): Yeah.

Mr. DORIO: We'll see you soon.

GAGLIANO: They came through New York to play the "Letterman Show," and today, we're happy to have them in our studios.

Gentlemen, welcome.

Mr. GISPERT: Thanks for having us.

Mr. DORIO: Thank you very much.

GAGLIANO: Do you want to introduce yourselves and the instruments you play?

Mr. DORIO: Yeah. My name is Julian, and I'm the drummer.

GAGLIANO: Excellent.

Mr. GISPERT: Today, you're the maracan.

Mr. DORIO: Today, I'm the tambourinist.

Mr. GISPERT: Yes. It's unplugged action.

Mr. DORIO: Yeah.

Mr. GISPERT: And I'm Parker, and I play guitar and sing.

GAGLIANO: All right. You're being hailed as kind of a return of the all-American capital R, two fingers in the air rock.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GAGLIANO: Is that really who you are? Did you set out to do it that way?

Mr. GISPERT: I don't think we set out to do that, but I like that stuff, so…


Mr. GISPERT: …you know, if people are into that and want to associate that with us, then I'm definitely cool with that, for sure.

GAGLIANO: All right. You're going to play a couple of songs off the new record today. What are we doing first?

Mr. GISPERT: Yeah. We're going to do "Like a Vibration" and "Hot Bed."

GAGLIANO: All right. Let's do "Like a Vibration."

Mr. GISPERT: Okay, great.]

(Soundbite of guitar chord)

Mr. GISPERT: Ready, Julian?

Mr. DORIO: Yup.

(Soundbite of song, "Like a Vibration")

Mr. GISPERT: (Singing) Like a vibration, my reputation. It's hanging around my neck. It's hanging in and out in bars. For my protection, for my protection, it's knocking a little bit hard. It won't do me no good now.

The world below us, it'll never know us. Could we just have some fun? Could we just make some love? Like a vibration. Like a vibration. Like a vibration. Oh, no, no, no, no, no.

So what you need now, what could you need now? We need to realize our minds. We need to realize we'll die.

The world below us, it'll never own us. I'm dancing on your front porch. You're dancing in my back yard. Like a vibration. Like a vibration. Like a vibration. Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

GAGLIANO: That was The Whigs, with their song "Like a Vibration." It's a strange situation, right, playing like just the two of you for me?

(Soundbite of laughter)

GAGLIANO: This is not typically your modus operandi, as I understand it.


GAGLIANO: This is - you're known for pretty loud, raucous shows, which I'm glad that you didn't bring it into our studio…

(Soundbite of laughter)

GAGLIANO: …because I forgot my earplugs. But what - so what is a live show like?

Mr. GISPERT: Live show's really loud. Julian plays loud on the drums. So the guitars and the bass and stuff kind of has to compete with that, so it's just kind of raise the overall volume. But usually, you know, if we're going to play like this, it's pretty soft, but we tried to - we're trying to rock a little bit more when it's just tambourine and acoustic, which quite didn't really happened there, but…

GAGLIANO: There's no wattage behind it. You got to just use your guts, man.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GISPERT: Yeah.

GAGLIANO: All right. You played "Letterman" the other night. And Parker, I read that you have a collection of VHS tapes that you made as young'un of bands performing on late-night shows.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GISPERT: Yeah.

GAGLIANO: So, first of all, I have to ask. What is the jewel in your collection? Like, what is the band that you can't believe that you have?

Mr. GISPERT: There are so many different jewels just…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GISPERT: …depending on how you want to look at it. But yeah, I got them from all sorts of shows, from like "Rosie O'Donnell" to, you know, "Saturday Night Live" to just anybody playing on TV. But…

GAGLIANO: All right. So which of the acts on those tapes did you model your "Letterman" performance after?

Mr. GISPERT: Oh, wow. Probably Lisa Loeb on "Saturday Night Live."

Mr. DORIO: That actually was one.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GISPERT: That's an amazing performance.

Mr. DORIO: We probably watched that performance more than all the other ones you have, and…

GAGLIANO: Why? What about that just…

Mr. DORIO: I don't know.

GAGLIANO: …just catches the imagination?

Mr. DORIO: Well, that drummer is amazing in that performance.

Mr. GISPERT: Yeah, the drummer is amazing.

Mr. DORIO: He has a lot of attitude.

GAGLIANO: Really? Lisa Loeb's drummer?

Mr. DORIO: A lot of sass, kind of. I can't explain it. You got to see it.

Mr. GISPERT: It's amazing.

GAGLIANO: All right.

Mr. DORIO: That's where I modeled myself after.


Mr. GISPERT: Beck with the Flaming Lips on Conan O'Brien…

Mr. DORIO: Oh, yeah.

Mr. GISPERT: …is a really great one.

Mr. DORIO: Yeah, with Ted Danson sitting on the ground during the performance is amazing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GISPERT: He's sitting on a blanket with Wayne Coyne. It's pretty amazing.

GAGLIANO: Ted Danson and Wayne Coyne?

Mr. GISPERT: Yeah. Yeah.

Mr. DORIO: He was the guest on the show that night.

GAGLIANO: All right. Let's do another song, here. What's…

Mr. GISPERT: Okay.

GAGLIANO: …second on the list?

Mr. GISPERT: This song is called "Hot Bed."

(Soundbite of guitar chords)

Mr. GISPERT: You okay, Julian?

Mr. DORIO: Yes.

Mr. GISPERT: Okay.

(Soundbite of song, "Hot Bed")

Mr. GISPERT: (Singing) Standing at your door, there's a man to me. Shaking on my hand as he starts to speak. And he just might be afraid. He just might be afraid. I don't want to hear what he's going to say.

In the quiet hall, I can hear you sing. And I can hear you now if you want to speak. But you just might be afraid. I just might be afraid. I don't want to hear what you got to say.

I don't know if the past will change me all the time. I don't know if your words will haunt me all my life. I don't know if it will. I don't know if it will. I don't know if you told me enough on that night.

GAGLIANO: The Whigs playing - the song title again?

Mr. GISPERT: "Hot Bed."

GAGLIANO: "Hot Bed" here on THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT. I wanted to ask you about your name, the Whigs. I love the story of how you guys came up with your name. Can you please regale it? Regale us with it once?

Mr. GISPERT: I hope we're talking about the same story.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GAGLIANO: Any one will do.

Mr. GISPERT: Yeah. We just…

GAGLIANO: Create your own myth, man.

Mr. GISPERT: We, unfortunately, don't really have any good story. We just booked our first show, called down to The Barn, didn't have a band name for the man on the other end of the phone, and he said that probably would help us with getting people to the show or with them labeling and putting up concert posters.

So he just told us to call him back and let him know what our band name was. So we just sat there in the parking lot and tried to figure it out. And someone said the Whigs, and we put in the H and thought that made it a little bit more interesting, and we just kind of thought that it didn't really connotate any particular sound. It was just sort of a neutral name.

Mr. DORIO: Yes.

Mr. GISPERT: And hopefully what the band sounds like will just kind of be what you associate with the Whigs.

GAGLIANO: Say you came out within like a half an hour. What were some of the band names you rejected?

Mr. GISPERT: Oh, my gosh. They were terrible. We couldn't help but think of band names that are always really silly or funny, you know.


Mr. DORIO: Or Nintendo games.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GISPERT: Yeah, there were old - they were always on Nintendo games like "Marble Madness," like "Double Dribble" and stuff like that. It's a great basketball game. I remember "Orange" was a band name, because you and Hank both had red hair.

GAGLIANO: Oh, wow. That sounds terrible..

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GISPERT: It would also keep you from using it in any rhymes, because nothing rhymes with it orange.

Mr. DORIO: That's right.

Mr. GISPERT: This is great.

GAGLIANO: All right. You've gone relatively quickly from playing beer joints to at least occasionally big festivals like Bonnaroo, things like that.

Mr. GISPERT: Yup. Mm-hmm.

GAGLIANO: What was the point where you sort of gauged how your popularity was going and realized, hey, like this could actually be my life?

Mr. GISPERT: There's never one thing that sort of said, well, now we'll take this seriously. You know, I think we did start the band in college, so you have other things going on. But we always, you know, within the band, you know, thought well, let's do this. Let's put a lot of time into this and let's take it seriously and see what happens. So, you know, I think if - yeah, things got worse and worse and worse and maybe we would - you would take it less seriously, but I think we always, you know - you know, it wasn't like one turning moment, you know.

GAGLIANO: Not like at a show or something where you realized, hey, there are people throwing their clothes at me. I'm - we're going to rock group.

Mr. GISPERT: That's pretty much every show.

Mr. DORIO: Every show. The first one.

GAGLIANO: This is how I imagined it.

Mr. GISPERT: Letterman last night was like that. It was just kind of - they're all…

Mr. DORIO: They edited out all the underwear.


Mr. DORIO: …and that stuff.

GAGLIANO: They edited out all the underwear. And with that, we are almost ready to say adieu to The Whigs. Why don't you give us one more song before you go?

Mr. GISPERT: Cool. This song - we're kind of and rehearsed on this - is a cover song by a band from New Amsterdam called "The Bingo Trappers."

(Soundbite of song, "The Bingo Trappers")

THE WHIGS: (Singing) Well, I worked all night, quiet in town, staring at the street. You save your words for a world that waits. The story's value form to our end. Your plan is still unknown. If I could find some words to call your own. But I'm not allowed to ask. I'm not allowed to answer. I'm make it up myself. That's what I'll do. I'm not allowed to ask. I'm not allowed to answer. I'm making it up myself. I'm make it up for you.

We're looking outside. I see the world, and there's no need to mesh. A number of explorers won't make you real. But I'm not like this like some true believer living in the center of hell. I'm floating somewhere else and I'm doing well. But I'm not allowed to ask. I'm not allowed to answer. I'll make it up myself. That's what I'll do. I'm not allowed to ask. I'm not allowed to answer. I'll make it up myself. I'll make it up for you. I'm God's biographer. I'm God's biographer. I'm God's biographer. I'm God's biographer.

GAGLIANO: The Whigs. Thank you very much, guys, for coming into the studio today.

Mr. DORIO: Thanks for having us.

Mr. GISPERT: Thank you.

(Soundbite of music)

STEWART: Somebody was working that tambourine overtime.

GAGLIANO: Coming up: a filmmaker has granted a wish by the…

STEWART: The TED Conference.


STEWART: TED, we'll explain it to you.

GAGLIANO: The magic of TED.

STEWART: Oh, it's - it is a little bit magical. We're live from Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan. This is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News.

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