The Whiffs dig power pop. Their logo is based on London's Stiff Records, who in the 70s and early 80s released records by Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Any Trouble, and one listen to "She Lies", a track taken from their new EP, and you get a strong sense that there is some Big Star and Nerves albums in their collection.
The Kansas City four-piece trade in big hooks and big choruses and since forming in April 2016 have become the band to lead a KC power pop revival. They are about to do release an eight song EP record on local label High Dive records and take part in the South By Southwest hokey pokey.
We had a chat to bassist and vocalist Zach Campbell, who also plays with Wet Ones and books shows at Blind Tiger, a local dive bar/venue that serves $2 Pasts upstairs and hosts bands like Sheer Mag, Ex Cult and Beta Boys downstairs.
Noisey: You say that half the band had never actually met each other before playing music together. I didn't think Kansas City power pop scene to be that that big. How had you not met each other before?
Zach Campbell: I'm not really sure how this was possible, but its true. KC isn't tiny, but it's by no means big. Jake doesn't really go out that often, and Rory and Nic have surely crossed paths before, but Nic also lived in STL and Chicago for a while, and just moved back less than two years ago I would say. So that could be a factor. I remember Nic when he was a straight edge teenager who in his hardcore band sounded like the dude from Drop Dead! It is kinda cool how it all just happened the way it happened, which is strange for a city this size, with a really tight knit rock n roll community.
What are the advantages of a band like The Whiffs to go to SXSW (besides playing a show with Rik and the Pigs!)
That might be a better question to ask when we get back! We got on really good showcases somehow, so I don't think it's going to be as crappy as when I have played in years past. I haven't done one of these SXSW trips since 2012, and I usually jab at a lot of the bands around here that do. They play all these KC showcases, 12 hours away, to the same people that watch them in KC. I don't know. That's totally cool if that's what you want to do, but it seems a little redundant. If you're going to make the trip, and "pay your dues" you should try and play the showcases, that your Kansas City friends might not be at, or whatever, but those aren't always easy to get on. We got lucky that we knew some people that wanted to help us out. I think the bigger advantage, or maybe the biggest advantage of doing this is the tacos.
Does every mid-sized Mid West city have a venue like Blind Tiger?
No, but a lot of them do to a degree. I like to borrow cool ideas for the bar, from touring through other cities. We have a ton of cool bands coming through this spring including Tenement, Barbed Wire, S-21, Lysol, Beta Boys, Platinum, Boys and White Mystery. A venue is only as cool as the people who work there, and right now I feel like we got a pretty good crew, and really have always had a great group of people working here, that are into the idea, or "identity" of the bar.
What was the greatest song that came out on the Stiff catalogue?
This might sound a bit predictable but, its really hard to deny "Whole Wide World" by Wreckless Eric. I mean really....
Catch The Whiffs at these shows:
March 4 - Lawrence at Replay Lounge
March 8 - Kansas City at Blind TigerMarch 13
March 14 - Austin at The Grand
March 15 - Austin at Hotel Vegas|
March 16 - Austin at House Show
March 17 - Austin at Hotel Vegas
March 17 - Austin at The Grand
March 18 - Austin at Fine Southern Gentlemen
March 19 - San Antonio at The Paper Tiger
March 21 - Kansas City at Blind Tiger