Thursday, March 30, 2017

Interview: Tony Esposito of White Reaper

Tony Esposito is the front man of White Reaper, a Louisville based rock band that has a new album, The World's Best American Band, coming out on April 7th. They have 2 previous albums, 2014's Self titled, and 2015's White Reaper Does It Again 
Tony Esposito (center). Still shot from the White Reaper video COOL

37)   The new album, The World's Best American Band, has been touted as a markedly different sound than 2015’s garage punk hitter White Reaper Does It Again; Stereogum even describing it as a "power-pop radio-blaster.” Do you recognize a sonic difference in the new album as compared to your last effort, or 2014’s self-titled, and was this on purpose?

TE) The biggest difference is probably the intricacies in the melodies of each individual instrument, like, there's a lot more going on this time around. Where as, on the last record, guitar and bass were kinda married for the most part, this time they kinda dance around each other. 

37)   Personally I do not hear a wildly different sound as compared to your first 2 albums. The power pop angle is there but there are still the heavy slap-back vocals and catchy guitar licks that we have come to expect and love from the world’s best American band. 
The first single, Judy French, could practically be Sheila’s sister in terms of love drenched pop-punk gold. I think the difference might be something like the difference between Rocket From the Tombs and The Dead Boys. How do you feel about the forensic cataloging of your sound by the media and what were your influences while writing the new album?

TE) For whatever reason people love to use words like "garage" or "punk". I feel like people keep stacking those kinds of words on top of each other to try to describe a certain band or even a song, and it's just too much most of the time. We've always seen ourselves as a rock band, some might say we're a "garage rock" or "power pop" band, but we don't think too hard about it. 

As far as what we were listening to when we made the record, it was all stuff we were listening to on tour. A lot of classic rock radio kind of stuff, we listened to a ton of ozzy osbourne, Boston, Joe Walsh, things like that. Some of us didn't have any way to stream music back then, so a lot of times we would just try to find the best radio station wherever we were at the time. 

37)   There are definitely  ‘power-pop’ inspired tracks including Tell Me, and Crystal Pistol, that are reminiscent of Cheap Trick’s classic 1977 In Color. Some would say In Color is a natural progression of the punk scene evolving into power pop and pop rock, much like your earlier efforts being more garage punk slowly moving into a power punk sound.  Where do you see White Reaper going from here musically and what is on the horizon?

TE) Well, it's hard to say where we'll be or how we'll feel or what we'll like when we make the next record. Now that we've added another guitar to the band there's a lot of things we can try that we haven't thought about yet. 

37)   Some might see the title of the new album, The World's Best American Band, as an audacious claim, but others might completely agree while sighting a lack of straight-up American rock on the record shelves these days. The revamp of Torch, soul, and R&B genres causing Rock N’ roll to take a back seat at the moment. Do you worry that the climate might not be right for a rock album, or do you feel Rock N’ Roll is alive and well in the U.S.A?

TE) We're not worried. The people that need to hear this record will hear it. We're gonna continue to make rock n roll records no matter the weather, rain or shine. 

37)   What bands do you feel are keeping Rock N’ Roll alive, and where do you see American music going?

TE) Our buddies in Twin Peaks, NE-HI, Together Pangea, No Parents, bands like that who go and tour and play music everywhere they can. There's a lot of young kids too, in Louisville and in Nashville and all kinds of other places who are gonna start great bands and tour all over the place. Now that everybody can make any kind of music they want to, the massive amount of American music will continue to grow in a diverse and unpredictable way. 

Louisville's White Reaper will celebrate the release of their new album The World's Best American Band (out 4/7 on Polyvinyl Records)  on April 8th at Zanzabar.

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