Dirty Dozen: The Whiskey Gentry

Following the release of their first two acclaimed albums, Please Make Welcome (2011) and Holly Grove (2013), the Atlanta-based band The Whiskey Gentry are set to release their third full-length studio album entitled Dead Ringer on April 7th. On it, the husband and wife duo of Lauren Staley & Jason Morrow and bandmates have created an effort that builds on many of the sounds of their previous albums – incorporating deep country, Americana, honky-tonk, bluegrass and a stiff shot of gritty rock ’n’ roll, yet it also finds the band testing themselves and pushing beyond their own boundaries.Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the past few years?
Hello! I’m Lauren Staley Morrow, and I was born, raised, and currently live in Marietta, Georgia – a suburb just north of Atlanta. My husband, Jason, and I started this band in 2009, and we’ve been working our butts off ever since! We play close to 200 shows a year, touring the United States and Europe. We’ve released two studio records and a live record, and we’re about to celebrate the release of our third studio album, Dead Ringer, in April.

How would you describe your music?
This is by far the hardest question for us to answer! We’re been called anything from country to bluegrass to AmeriKinda to CowPunk. It’s definitely easiest to say we’re “Americana,” but I think there’s a grittier edge to us than some. We can play pretty country ballads, bluegrass burners, or straight up rock n roll. We just like for people to listen to it and decide for themselves!

Can you tell us a little bit about your influences?
My personal influences are all over the map. Ironically, all of my favourite bands growing up were all from the U.K. I was obsessed with the Beatles and U2 as a kid, but I also listened to Garth Brooks and the Dixie Chicks. Around the same time, I fell in love with Oasis, which led me down the BritPop path. However, I still listened to Ryan Adams, Wilco, and the Old 97s. I moved to Newcastle to study British & American Cultures at Northumbria University when I was 19, and that’s when my love of country and Americana started to really shine through. I started to miss Georgia a lot and listened to Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and others that reminded me of home. That’s also when I started to come into my own as a songwriter. In fact, I played my first ever show of my entire life when I lived in Newcastle! I played a few gigs other there, and then I started my first band as soon as I got back to Atlanta. So… I guess I have the Geordies to thank for my career!

What are you currently promoting?
Our third studio record, Dead Ringer, is coming out on April 7, 2017. We’ve been working on this record for over a year now, so to say we’re excited for everyone to hear it is an understatement. It’s different from the last two – more on the rock side of our sound than bluegrass. It’s a welcomed change for us, however. We really feel like we’ve found our own sound on this record.

Have you got a particular song you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of, one that might define you?
“Dead Ringer,” the title track off the record, is particularly autobiographical to me. I wrote it right before I turned 30. I put a lot of pressure on myself (like most women do) to have their lives all figured out by that time. Marriage and babies and house and career. I have some of those things, but I still feel like I’m chasing this wild dream of being a musician and I’m flying by the seat of my pants through life while some of my other friends have retirement plans and are having their third baby. But at the end of the day, this is the path I’ve chosen and I still choose every day. I may question it from time to time, but I’m grateful for where it’s taken me and where I hope it will continue to take me in the future.

What are you currently listening to?
Another question I’m terrible at answering, because I do truly listen to everything. I love 80s new wave to traditional bluegrass to hip-hop. Good music is good music, and I’m all for it. I am excited for the new Ryan Adams record though!

And your favourite album of all time, the one you couldn’t do without?
U2 – Achtung Baby. This shocks a lot of people, because they assume that a country singer should love country. And I do…but I love U2 more. This record was constantly playing in my house as a kid, and I could honestly listen to it everyday and never tire of it. When U2 came to Atlanta on the ZooTV tour, my mom refused to take me (said I was too young) and she took my brother who was 16 at the time. I threw a massive tantrum and promised her that I would see them every time they came to Atlanta in the future. I’ve made good on that promise!

What are your hopes for your future career?
We’d love to see this record take off and open more doors for our careers. We’d love to tour the UK and Europe more often. We’d love to tour with other bands that are bigger than us and help us get exposure to their fans. Overall, we’d just love to be doing this 24/7. Sure, we’d love the arenas and the busses and the awards and whatever else. But honestly, we just want to quit our other jobs and make music for a living.

If money were no object what would be your dream project?
I would buy a private plane and fly the band and myself all over the world to hang out, jam, and record tunes with our favourite musicians. And when we’re bored, we can just bring some guitars and fly to some deserted island somewhere and chill. Oh yeah, and my dogs get to come, too.

What’s the best thing about being a musician?
I think the best part about being a musician is being able to travel and see the world with your best friends while doing what you love the most. Sometimes, I just sit back and think about how grateful I am that I’ve been able to do this.

And the worst?
The worst part is the pay. Haha! But seriously, unfortunately, musicians are the ones who get f**ked in the long run, so it can be hard to keep your chin up sometimes when it comes to that.

Finally, have you anything you’d like to say to the readers of Americana UK?
We hope you all enjoy the new record, and we’d love to come tour your beautiful country someday! Let’s make that happen.

 

Author: Rudie Hayes

Rudie is the weekly host of the syndicated radio show - The Horseshoe Lounge Music Session - playing the best American Roots and hosting terrific live guests.

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