Brewing the Rock and Roll Stew: Whiskey Fever
interview by Caitlin Cohen
photo by Alice Mills
When you put Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, Tom Petty, Ice Cube, and Weird Al in a room together, you get Whiskey Fever. Jack Mattingly, Andy Brown, Dylan Dalgarn, and Dennis Dorgan take each of their influences to mix up a rock and roll stew chock full of profanity and sincerity.
The group recently rocked the TourPossible contest in Seattle, taking first place and landing them $20,000 in winnings. The money will be used to help them expand their reach through touring and releasing a new album this fall.
Whiskey Fever and I chatted about their TourPossible experience, the past, the present, and the future.
CC: Can you describe the night you found out you won the TourPossible contest, and how you felt? Why do you think you won?
Andy: None of us (band) thought we were the favorite going in. We each had our opinions on which band would win, and none of us picked Whiskey Fever. There were some killer bands that played the event… I often brought up the movie, “School of Rock,” and how that band didn’t “win” that competition, but understood that was not exactly the point. The point and purpose was to play a killer, clutch-cargo rock-n-roll show and kick some ass. By the time we hit the stage, that is all we were thinking. We had an amazing and somewhat unexpected fan turnout – helped in large part to a charter bus that took folks from Burlington to Seattle and back. They were easily the loudest, rowdiest, bestest fans there, and won us the on-site “fan favorite” title… I think the judges (reps from Sub Pop Records, radio station KEXP, and Amazon Music) were maybe a little worried that they would start a riot if they gave the title to any other band… The winner was to be announced halfway through the Dandy Warhols’ set. Just before the announcement, TourPossible crew members ushered us to the side of the stage to prepare. I assumed all of the bands would go onto the stage and they would then announce. But as I looked around, we were the only band in the wings, and I noticed the camera crew and photographers were kind of focusing on us. I was like, “Wait a minute. This is maybe a good sign.”
Courtney Taylor (Dandy Warhols) started to announce the winner, and sort of awkwardly started off by saying, “All the bands tonight were awesome. I have my personal favorite, but I am not supposed to divulge that information. Let’s just say they had me at ‘Karate’” (“Karate” was one of the songs we played in our 4-song set). We all looked at each other and were like, “Wait, did he just awkwardly say that we just won? Or does he just personally like us?”
There were a few seconds when nobody, including Courtney, knew quite what to do. Then a TourPossible rep grabbed the mic and announced us, and we were ushered out onto the stage to accept the award. The crowd went crazy. It is kind of a blurry memory, but a wonderful one.
CC: Though the TourPossible show was only a four-song set, you had this wild energy. How was your performance energy different in this set compared to others?
Dylan: Our performance that night felt pretty close to an average Whiskey Fever show with the exception of the added excitement of the venue, as well as the event itself and support from the crowd. I think we were all a little afraid we were going to be stiff and nervous for the big night, but when we got up there it felt very loose and natural. I could see the other guys felt the same way on stage that night and I think we could all tell right away that we were going to give a good performance.
CC: Question for Jack… The band’s Facebook bio says that you’ve had this vision to be a musician since you were 11 years old. What do you think 11-year-old you would have to say about where you’re at today?
Jack: Actually I think I was probably around seven or eight when I started showing interest in music. My first grade teacher had heard through the grapevine that I could/would sing all the words to Blue Suede Shoes so she started putting me up in front of the class on a regular basis and I would sing all of these Elvis songs in front of an audience of my classmates. I think that’s probably when I started to get the itch.
Fun fact, just ‘tween us, there is still a super secret exclusive cassette tape of me singing Elvis songs when I was seven years old. It’s probably my best work yet. Nothin’ like hitting your peak at seven.
As far as what my younger self would think of me, he’d probably be pretty stoked about the beard. He’d also most likely be a little bit let down. I can just see him/me walking through my house: “This is cool and all, I dig the guitars and the blonde, but where do we keep the WWF Heavyweight Championship belt?”
CC: What are you most excited for about the future?
Jack: I’m excited to take our show on the road. What a way to see the country. Playing our songs for new faces, making new connections, running up bar tabs we can’t afford. It’s exciting. I doubt we’ll make it as far as Portland before one of us (Andy) goes to jail. But that’s cool. We’d love to play the jail circuit like our lord and savior, JC. Johnny Cash that is…
Catch Whiskey Fever opening for Little Hurricane on July 13 at Wild Buffalo. Check out their website to access their music and get more info on tour dates and album releases: https://www.reverbnation.com/whiskeyfever