Hard lines and bitter pills, sweat and rust show up in the songs of Americana group Whiskey Foxtrot. They sing about running on empty, and engine blocks swinging from the chain.
Theirs is a working-class milieu, but they also celebrate blasting the radio and “riding shotgun like it ain’t no thing.”
And behind the scenes, they’re jokers at heart, cracking wise about playing Wiffle ball and facetiously citing ‘70s Swedish pop group ABBA as an influence (in reality their music has been more typically likened to that of the Drive-By Truckers).
The group, made up of singers Sam Foster and Seth Williams, bassist Brad Cardille and drummer Jacob Kuhn, was founded in 2017 and has developed a loyal following around the Triad. They released an album earlier this year titled “Hard Lines & Headlights,” and are working on another album.
In a recent interview they spoke about those efforts, as well as their collaborative process, and an incident with an overenthusiastic dancer.
How did you get started?
Foster: Seth and I met about five years ago at a singer/songwriter night that a buddy of ours had thrown together. And we just kind of stayed in touch, and started performing together at shows. We were both doing solo things, but eventually we were playing together so much, we thought we might as well start a band. We put an ad on Craigslist for a bass player, and that’s how we found Brad. And Jacob has joined us this year. He plays in a couple of other bands as well.
Who are some of your inspirations?
Williams: We all kind of come from different backgrounds. But, really anything that’s good music, has good soul, good substance. But me and Sam being songwriters, we came up with country, and whatever is played on (Greensboro radio station) Rock 92.
Foster: We’re all over the place, but we all have similar stuff we’re interested in.
How would you describe your music?
Kuhn: I definitely feel like there’s a heavy Allman Brothers inspiration, also Bruce Springsteen. I guess Wilco is another example ... and obviously ABBA.
Williams: Basically, rock ‘n’ roll music is what it comes down to.
Cardille: We do get some comparisons to Drive-By Truckers.
What’s your creative process like?
Foster: Usually what happens is Seth or I will write a song kind of on our own, and we’ll have the general skeleton of it. Then, we’ll bring it into the band and flesh it out. And, sometimes we’ll nix a song. We’ll say this is not working and put in on the backburner.
Do you sing karaoke or sing in the shower, and if so, what do you sing?
Williams: I do have a little boombox. I have to have music in the shower, but I don’t necessarily put on a concert in there.
Foster: I’ve always wanted to do a Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn duet with somebody, karaoke, maybe with Seth.
Cardille: I go for showtunes I guess. I got two daughters, and one of my favorite things to do whenever they’re having a heated discussion and one of them says something that’s a song lyric, I might go, “It’s a loooovellly dayyy.” And it annoys them to no end.
What’s the funniest or weirdest thing that has happened at one of your shows?
Williams: Once in Love Valley, there was a fellow who swung a girl around and she went headfirst into the monitor, took out Brad’s pedalboard. He gave her a twirl and she just kept on going.
Cardille: They just didn’t get the idea of centrifugal force or the gravity of what was about to happen. Inertia took over, and she rolled right over the top of the monitor and right into my feet and pedalboard.
Williams: Did they offer to pay for that?
Cardille: No, no, no.
What’s your favorite song to perform?
Williams: They all have their moments, but some of the new stuff that we’ve been doing, especially since we’ve been so creative these last few months, those are the funnest right now.
Cardille: During the COVID situation, we’ve had a burst of creativity. And we’re actually going into the studio to start recording. And it’s always fun to get out there and put out new music.
Foster: A good answer, I think, is whatever is inspiring you at that moment. It could be new stuff. It could be Tom Petty covers.
What’s next for you?
Williams: Putting together the new album, that’s definitely the big thing on our plate right now. We’ve got to write six more songs. But Sam really shot ahead over the summer and pointed us in the right direction with the concept.
Cardille: We have a lot of 2021 dates that are looking promising, out of state. We’ll see how that goes.
— As told to Robert C. Lopez, firstname.lastname@example.org
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