music morsels indie music February 2007



ARTIST NAME: Josh Warney - Drummer for The Wailhounds
MUSICAL GENRE: Psychedelic jam rock with blues influences
# OF CDs SOLD: 1000 of the most recent release
FAN BASE: several thousand

MM: Have The Wailhounds always been into the jam rock style of music?

JW: Yes to an extent, but really we like everything. We were big into hip hop bands and also really into folk. We definitely have a classic rock style with a new edginess to it. We were also into Southern rockers like Lynyrd Skynyrd, and you can hear some of that influence in our music.

MM: When the band started out, were you doing original music or more covers?

JW: We were always doing more originals, because we didn’t really know how to play too much so we couldn’t do the covers. We just jammed and jammed and jammed until we started getting better and better.

MM: Did you create some songs in concerts or were most of them created in practices?

JW: We have created some live and we do a lot of jams when we perform. A lot of songs are born through jams. If a new jam comes up and we like it, we turn it into an actual song.

MM: Do you write other songs more conventionally as well, like sitting down at a practice with a planned idea?

JW: Sometimes that is how we do it. Our lead singer is very good with lyrics, and he comes in sometimes and sings what he wants to, and we build the song around it.

MM: In the early days of the band, what did you do just to get your name out there?

JW: We played a lot of coffee shops and wherever else we could, and were trying to spread the word through our shows as much as we could. It was a lot tougher when we started, because the internet had not exploded yet, but there were always kids at the coffee shops looking for something new. 

MM: Did you have any product back then like tapes or demos?

JW: No, we just used the word of mouth at the start. We did end up making a demo, and we spread that around quickly, but then our guitarist had to leave the band so that slowed things down a bit. We didn’t know what was happening for a while, but we found another friend who liked the band and was a guitarist, and he has been our guitarist ever since. It has been a constant battle, but we have been doing pretty well the past five years. 

MM: What happened where things started to improve for the band five years ago?

JW: We have a local paper in northern Indiana called Whatzup and they have their awards every year. We actually got nominated for doing covers one year and we won for that, so it started to take off from there. A year later, we won three awards including best originals this time. Then we went out to California and Arizona for about five weeks, quit our day jobs and everything. When we had the nerve to do that, people really started to like us because we were doing what we wanted to do.

MM: Tell us about the first CD and what you did to market it.

JW: We released it just before Christmas of 2001. We played in book stores and other places to get it out there, and we had a local distributor that got it into the stores where it was the best selling CD for a couple of weeks. It got us some notice nationally, and there haven’t been too many people locally who have done that. Also, before we went out to California, one of the main DJs in the area was playing our music for about a month, and we came close to getting signed because of the airplay. But we ended up not getting signed, I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

MM: You are working on a new album right now. Do you see the possibility of that kind of buzz happening again?

JW: Definitely. We have been recording when we can for about a year, and one of the songs we did was put on a local station where they do this sort of grudge match between locals and nationals. Our song that no one had even heard yet was winning those matches all week long. It also made it into the “Fort Wayne’s Essential Music” CD. We seem to have good luck that people in radio like the music that we are doing. Our music has that classic rock style and it seems to connect with other people.

MM: Of course, you have your local fan base, but you went to the Southwest, and more recently you played some shows in the Southeast. Do you feel you won new fans over in those areas, people who had never heard of you before or been exposed to your music?

JW: When we went to Georgia and Alabama that was just awesome, and that was also the best we have ever been as a band. We played in a main club at the University of Auburn and the place was just slamming, and we had some incredible reviews. It was really cool.

MM: Beyond the performing do you do a lot at your shows to connect with the fans to make sure you solidify them as loyal fans?

JW: We go out and spread the word to them and interact with them as much as we can. We also help spread the word about local music in general.

MM: Wailhounds have been around for eleven years, primarily in their local area. Some bands throw in the towel much earlier if they don’t “make it big,” what keeps you going?

JW: We’re friends who became musicians. Our core membership has kept the vibe going because we were friends before we formed the band, unlike bands that form and then try to become friends.

MM: You said previously that you came close to a record deal. What do you feel the band has to do to take the further steps and enjoy some of that often elusive success?

JW: We need people to get the new CD in the right place and for us to play in the right places. We would really like to get into the high profile fests like Bonnaroo that are more music oriented.  I think if we were able to do that we could really take off; combining live performance success with the radio success we already seem to get. When we are live, people feel a sort of aura from us, because we interact so well together on stage and people like to see that. They can tell we are having fun and this isn’t like a job to us. Its a good vibe and they feed off it. The Grateful Dead made it big because in concert they played music people could relate to, whether it was their originals or their cover versions. We love to do our originals but also love to do our versions of the music we grew up with, so that is the formula we use and hopefully it will keep making us new fans.

Division of Serge Entertainment Group