Is it, A) country slang for a groundhog B) a rye whiskey C) a band from Illinois or D) all of the above. Technically the answer would be (D), but in this case the answer is (C). Very little information is available on Whistle Pigs if your researching the band, there are more descriptions on groundhogs. More info is available over at mudstomp.com
When I traveled to Kansas City to interview Split Lip Rayfield was the first I’d ever heard of the Whistle Pigs. The all day 2nd annual Missouri Chainsaw Grassacre was full of great music. Quite a few bands stood out as memorable and quite talented. Actually everyone on the bill was outstanding. The Whistle Pigs were one of the bands that made me walk over to the merchandise table and buy a CD. Not because they forced me, but because I wanted to remember the awesomeness they emulated while they were on the stage.
Made up of Joe McCamish (Banjo Joe), I‘ll let you guess his instrument of choice, Nate Graham on the upright bass, and Alexander (Delicious Aloysius) Pape who is an absolute madman on the accordion. Yes, I said the accordion. It is a highly underestimated instrument especially when in the right hands. You need to see it to believe it, or pick up their latest album “Bless Your Hearts And Livers”.
The bluegrass boys from Illinois answered a few questions for me.
Greg: How did you come across the name “Whistle Pigs”?
Whistle Pigs: It comes from the old song Groundhog and just like a Whistle Pig if we see our shadow during the day we hibernate for another twelve hours, eastern standard time.
Greg: Do you ever play any traditional material on stage, or mainly original songs?
Banjo Joe: It's about fifty-fifty.
Greg: I had the chance to see you at The Missouri Chainsaw Grassacre in Kansas City. I was a bit surprised when I saw an accordion come on stage. How was this chosen over any other instrument that Alexander is accomplished in?
Alex: I was originally the guitar player in the band, but I played accordion in another band and Joe asked me if I was either going to play the guitar or the accordion. I figured I would get more chicks playing the accordion.
Banjo Joe: I am a one instrument, one band man
Greg: At that same show Joe was tuning his banjo, and had made the statement that “tuning the banjo to an accordion was asinine” at that point someone from the crowd yelled “tuning a banjo is asinine”. How do you respond to that statement?
Banjo Joe: I don't recall that, but you can tune a fish salad sandwich with a bag of chips and a Pepsi, to go.
Greg: What did each of you do for a living before finding success with music?
Whistle Pigs: Slave Wage Manual Labor
Greg: When did you sign with Mudstomp Records?
Whistle Pigs: July 2010, God bless their hearts and their livers!
Greg: “Get that marrying out of your head, I’ll be a bachelor till I die”, “ I like to party boys when I do my chores” “ I got rockin’ chair money I got the hard hard way”. These are just a few of the clever lines from the album Bless Your Hearts And Livers. How much truth is there in a Whistle Pigs song?
Banjo Joe: “Bachelor till I Die” was written by Hank Williams and he was married three times by the age of 28. “Rockin' Chair Money” is by Billy Carlisle and no one really knows about him, and I love to party when I do my chores, so yes.
Greg: What is your favorite city to play in?
Banjo Joe: I love all the cities, cities are fun.
Alex: I don't have a particular favorite, which one is next?
Greg: How did you get booked to play a predominately heavy metal show in Dallas? What year was that?
Whistle Pigs: I guess you mean the Prophet Bar in Deep Elum, you got to keep your money in your socks or so we've been told, and that was around 2010.
Greg: Do any of you listen to Heavy Metal?
Banjo Joe: GWAR!!!.!!
Nate: I guess occasionally, Anvil need I say more?!
Alex: I like blacksmithing.
Greg: Being from Illinois, how do you put together a band that has such a southern cultured style?
Whistle Pigs: We're from Illinucky, that would be the southern section. Look at a fucking map, Yankees.
Greg: Where is PK’s?
Whistle Pigs: It is a bar where we get drunk, frequently. It is located at 318 s.illinois avenue Carbondale,Il Lunch served from 11 to 2 pm every Tuesday through Saturday. Make sure you stop in on Thursday when drinks are a dollar. Tell them Whistle Pigs sent you.
Greg: What is your favorite pro wrestling move, and if you could administer it effectively to anyone in the world, who would it be?
Whistle Pigs: Our buddy Mouse just gave Goldberg a CD so we're going to have to let the Jackhammer talk for itself. You know who you are. America, Goldberg, Whistle Pigs!
Greg: Beer and whiskey of choice?
Whistle Pigs: Whatch'ya got.
Bless your hearts and livers and we hope to see you soon.
by Greg Waldrop