Fisherman’s Friends

White Reaper_photo by Michael PowellWhite Reaper, one of the most famous rock bands to ever emerge from the humble backwater of Louisville, is doing it again with this week’s release of their official debut album, White Reaper Does It Again. Issued on vinyl, CD, cassette and digitally by Polyvinyl Records in the U.S. and Royal Mountain Records in Canada, its birth is being celebrated by the youthful quartet with shows at Headliners Music Hall on Saturday and the Forecastle Festival on Sunday.

In this exclusive interview, guitarist/vocalist Tony Esposito gave us an update on some of the all-male band’s recent adventures, their philosophies and the album about which NPR said, “You’ll be combing it out of your hair for weeks.”

Are you taking your recent success for granted?
Obviously.

How much fun do you have on a Tuesday night?
Is it Tuesday?

 Did you enjoy meeting Spongebob?
You know how sometimes when you meet your idols they turn out to be pretty rude? Not the case here. You see, Sponge was a real class act, as well as his buddy Patrick. They were very nice, very down to earth, and they didn’t act like we were wasting their time. Great group of guys.

 You’ve spent a lot of the past couple of years on the road. What are some lessons learned from other bands? What have you learned from regular people?
Greg from Deerhoof told us that when you check into a hotel, you should ask for a “late checkout.” Typically, these places want you gone by 11 a.m. or something like that, which doesn’t seem early, but we usually don’t get to check in until about 2 a.m. But if you ask for a late checkout, you can sleep in a little longer.

Do you enjoy playing in small-to-midsized cities in places like Utah and Iowa?
It really depends. A lot of small cities are college towns, and when you play there over the summer, no one is there because they all left school and went home. But if you play these places in the spring or fall, they can be really great. Small cities are nice, though, because parking is a piece of cake.

Has Royal Mountain Records been good to you?
Royal Mountain Records have been incredible so far. They came to our show the last time we played Brooklyn in May, and that’s when we met them. One of the heads of the label – his name is Menno – he gave me what’s called a “Fisherman’s Friend,” which is a Canadian throat lozenge (available for sale on Amazon.com). We gave them some beers, they gave us some beers, we hit it off instantly. We’re super excited to be working with those guys.

How much immense, overwhelming pressure does the band feel about playing record release shows in their hometown that have to be THE GREATEST EVER?
Crippling – no, DEVASTATING pressure. Just pulling your leg, man. We actually look forward to playing shows in Louisville more than we look forward to playing shows anywhere else because people have known us for so long that the shows are just so much fun no matter what. We actually didn’t really get to play a release show last year because we were out west when the record came out, so we’re really excited about these shows.

You’ve been written about by a few “music writers” who seem dismissive of Louisville and of Kentucky, and who want to keep labeling you as representing certain genres you never defined for yourself. Is that frustrating? Is it worth it?
It’s a little frustrating, I guess, but there’s just really nothing we can do about it. They can overlook Louisville if they want to, but they’re obviously wrong, and they’re not going to change our opinion. There’s a ton of great bands in town, like Jaye Jayle, Tropical Trash, Vaderbomb … and on top of that, everybody is friends with each other. If you sat down and worried about what a bunch of other people thought or what other people said, you’d probably lose a lot of sleep. VT