INTERVIEW: Indie/Bluegrass Band Who? What? When? Why? & Werewolves

Pic by Shira Yudkoff

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Great! We are on the road on the way to Rochester, NY for a gig 

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Rattail”?

“Rattail” is the most personal song on the record, it always gets a good response live because it’s funny, but tender 

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

The song is about my brother and his wicked rat tail mullet in the 90’s but it’s also about growing up. We went different ways in life, he’s a little league coach, he has 4 kids. I sing in a folk band and travel a lot, but as kids we looked out for each other when things went wrong or we got bad haircuts. 

Any plans to release a video for the single?

We had an idea to base a video off Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train” video but instead of pictures of missing kids it’s pictures of bad, out of date haircuts.

The single comes off your new album Greatest Hits – what’s the story behind the title?

There’s a documentary about the band Howlin’ Rain, where they meet Rick Rubin and he tells them to go out and play their songs for 2 years before they make a record. That’s what we did, we played these songs for years before we recorded them so to us it sounds like a Greatest Hits record. Also it’s pretty funny and bold to call your debut record Greatest Hits.

How was the recording and writing process?

Recording is usually a very stressful for me but we worked with a great engineer named Mark Watter, and by the end of the recording process it felt like he was in the band, he’s very calm and supportive. The studio where we recorded (The Headroom in Philadelphia) has a great vibe and took away a lot of that stress. It was by far the easiest, most fun experience I’ve ever had making a record.

Would you call this a departure from your previous work?

Not necessarily, our last band had an alt-country twangy vibe, and I wrote the songs so the songs and my voice are still the same, we just focus more on harmonies and instrumentation with this band. It’s usually just the 2 of us out there, so to be engaging and connect with people as a duo you have to be really tight.

What role does Philly play in your music?

Philly has a great, diverse musical landscape. No better example of that then West Philly Porchfest, which happens in June, where you can see bluegrass, irish music, funk, a Star Wars cosplay Jazz ensemble, art rock, a guy playing a double bass through a loop pedal, it’s a great day and total celebration of music and community.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Sometimes just a phrase, something overheard in conversation that I can’t get out of my head. “Bluebird” is one of those. A friend of mine overheard the phrase “Raise your hand and tell me about the bluebird” in a classroom and it stuck with me, then I thought of the Bukowski poem “There’s a Bluebird in my heart”, and created a song out of that. The ideas come from out of nowhere sometimes but it takes work to put them into a cohesive thought.

Any plans to hit the road?

We will be on the road in the Northeast through May, then we’re hitting New England in June, some festivals over the summer and then the South in the fall.

What else is happening next in Who? What? When? Why? & Werewolves’ world?

Just continuing to write and play shows, we already have some songs for the next record, they’re about riding scooters around LA on recreational drugs, and train hoppers we met at an anarchist punk show. 

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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