Local heavies The Whore Moans have a CD release show tonight at Neumos for new album Hello From the Radio Wasteland. Stranger contributing photographer Dagmar Sieglinde interviewed them after a recent Vera Project show where, for probably not the first or the last time, an audience member got their nose bloodied.


Interview, after the jump...

The Whore Moans are: Ryan Devlin (bass/vocals), Nikki Anderson (guitar/vocals), Jason Kilgor (drums/vocals) and Jonny Henningson (guitar/vocals)

I was reading on one of your blogs about flying — Ryan, are you the one whose dad works in the airline industry? So you get to fly whenever you want?
Ryan: Yes, in theory we get buddy passes. If there’s any space, you get on. For some dumb reason we thought we could fly to South by Southwest on my buddy pass...

Jonny: He’s better than standby — we’re below standby.

Jason: We were last priority, so like everyone who’s being pushed back — we were behind them. We spent a lot of time laying on the airport floor.

Nikki: Drinking in the airport bars.

Jason: We missed some shows in Austin and got there barely in time.

The new album is out on Mt. Fuji Records. How’d that come about?
Nikki: When we first met Mike Jaworski from the Cops. We'd played a couple shows with them. We got along really well. He approached us.

Ryan: He came by to our practice space and brought a case of beer and chatted about Mt. Fujji records.

Jason: He didn’t bullshit us or blow smoke up our asses. He’s a great guy.

How does the new CD differ from your debut, Watch Out for This Thing?
Jason: For me, there’s three songwriters in the band. On the first one, even though a lot of the songs are collaborative, it was mostly Jonny writing a song and we'd flesh it out, or Nikki writing a song. This time around we gained a lot of trust in each other, just playing around a lot, and we’re really open to new ideas. Jon’s like, I want to do a sea shanty tune, well, okay let’s do it. It’s a lot more collaborative.

Jonny: On 'Fingers and Martyrs' - that was one of the newest songs we practiced for the album - all I said was when we get in the studio, I want this to be super epic; I want chanting, I want church bells and car alarms and machine guns. Super, super vague. We went in there and we had a cello and a violin and Ryan arranged the string part. Also, the chanting on that is just his [Ryan’s] voice. And we had this chick come in who could do opera.

Ryan: That was Jonny’s and the producer’s [Johnny Sangster] idea. We brought Andrea [Wittgens] in and she can do all sorts of different vocals.

Nikki: She also does the be my baby part [in Rise and Shine].

Ryan: She just put out an album.

Jonny: I just love that we’re at the point where we can go in and try a song, and then while we’re in the studio make something that we haven’t done before. We trust ourselves and we trust each other to just go for something. The first time we recorded I was just scared.

Jason: It’s still abrasive and garage-y as shit. But it’s a lot more varied in the styles of music.

Nikki: We actually have a unifying them through this one that we didn’t have on the first one. The record’s not a concept record but it’s tied together by this idea of a radio wasteland. That’s why we have the golden oldies bites. We didn’t want to be just one thing anymore. We wanted to be ourselves but branch out.

Jonny: All of us on our own were writing things that were so different. It was all over the board, but at the same time it felt like it was still us.

How do you decide who’s going to sing a particular song?
Ryan: Generally the person that wrote the lyrics sings it. Everyone screams but there are distinct voices. When I write a song I have the instrument of Nick, this metal growl — so you can kind of parse out different parts.

Nikki: Sometimes I’ll write a part and Jonny will do it.

How do you work up to screaming like that?
Nikki: I spent a lot of time when I was younger in my room alone, just doing it. Playing along to records and just screaming. My friend’s old man, he was always yelling at me because I was quiet. He was like “Listen, here’s what’s going to happen. When I was younger my old man told me my voice wouldn’t crack until I went outside and just screamed. That’s what I did. I went outside for a couple of days and screamed.” So I was like, okay. I’d put on a Choking Victim record and [screams].

Jonny: I was always really self-conscious about people hearing me. I used to scream with my face in my pillow. I used to listen to records really late at night — everybody would be sleeping — so I’d put my face in the pillow and scream.

Ryan: Jonny had a really sad childhood. There’s no warm ups, if that’s what you mean.

Nikki: We [do] have a little pre-show ritual that we do and we get charged up. Once you get that energy going it’s pretty easy.

Jonny: A lot of people go their entire lives without knowing what it’s like for themselves to scream as loud as they possibly can. It’s really liberating, no matter what you sound like.

Has a crowd ever rioted at your show?
Ryan: We had an experience at the Sunset... We had a lot of friends that meant really well. It was a Friday and they’d just got their paychecks.

Nikki: They just went apeshit. We were going apeshit too.

Ryan: We were drunk out of our minds.

Jason: The cable stand got busted, Ryan’s mike got busted.

Ryan: I like to move around the stage a lot and if there’s any props I’ll definitely use them. I was jumping around and then I was like, "look at this lead pipe". I wasn’t going to hit anyone with it but there was a rafter above me, and I was going to keep time with it. So I get the pipe and smack it on the rafter, at which point I realize it wasn’t a lead pipe, it was a black light - a tubular fluorescent black light. It shattered all over my face, my hands, some of the people. I wiped my face and it was covered with blood.

Jonny: Everyone was like, what is he doing?

Ryan: The sound guy was so pissed, the door guy was so pissed, the lead bartender, who’s one of our biggest fans, didn’t even want to look at me. I got offstage and they handed me a broom and a dustpan — it was like, welcome newest employee of the Sunset.

Jason: And the Sunset’s always been so amazingly nice to us.

Nikki: There was that time at the Comet. Remember when they were throwing shit at the Comet?

Jason: Trashcans.

Nikki: It was all in fun, I mean it didn’t hurt or anything. I looked over at the sound guy to see if this is all cool and he’s got two beers.

Ryan: Chaos - that’s what rock ‘n’ roll should be.

Jason: In Medford we just kind of happened on this house show. One of the bands cancelled and everyone’s like, who the fuck are these guys? Next time we go there, we played at a record store and they had us play last because they figured no one would stick around. While we’re setting up all these kids are hanging around and then they’re all going apeshit crazy, screaming all our lyrics.

Nikki: It was so weird. I had this line of punk rock kids screaming along.

Jason: They were literally leaning over the drum set and shaking their fists right in my face.

Jonny: During 'Wall of a Song' I gave my guitar to some guy to hold it, and he started playing it. He knew the song.

Jason: The Rogue Valley is easily one of our favorite places in the world.

Nikki: Northern California too — we have some good friends there. Tonight got a little weird. When it’s a bunch of drunk adults it’s one thing but when it’s a bunch of kids . . .

Ryan: I don’t want her going home and saying she got a nosebleed.

Jonny: Not to sound like old ninnies or anything.

What are some of the worst injuries you’ve caused to each other? At one point tonight I saw Nikki almost take Ryan out with his guitar.

Ryan: I hit you square in the head with my bass stock.

Nikki: That was at the Sunset too. He has a small bass now but he used to have this normal sized bass. And he’s got these long friggin’ arms.

Ryan: There was that time that you [Nikki] jumped and landed on my foot. I woke up in the morning and I couldn’t walk.

Jonny: You were all hobbled up and then two days later it disappeared.

Ryan: I went to the E.R. and they took an x-ray and they were like, there might be a hairline fracture but we can’t figure out what’s wrong.

Nikki: In Olympia one time I jumped through his drums and it was like at the Capitol Theater. They had this curtain over the back and the drums were on a riser that I didn’t see. I went over the drums and fell off the riser and a bunch of drum shit fell on me and my guitar smacked me. I saw stars.

Jonny: I’ve got one injury that I’ve got three times from when I go down on my knees and be all epic & rock ‘n’ roll. It’ll be right on a cable and my skin breaks around the cable. So I have a cable shaped bleed.

Nikki: Not to mention the injuries we cause to our gear.

Ryan: We don’t really have extensive incomes. We break our own gear just by doing what we do. We had a sit down conversation — do we need to move back a bit because I can’t afford to replace the tubes in my amp again. We decided we were going to suffer through it.

Jonny: That’s what feels natural to us. We never discussed let’s be a crazy band onstage. We never had that conversation ever. It’s just how it was from the very beginning.

Do you ever get in trouble for your name?
Jonny: The first show in Medford there was a band from West Virginia. I went in there and I was in the shed watching their set. They intro-ed one of their songs [with] this one goes out to the first band — just because you have a guitar between your legs doesn’t mean you get to exploit women. I didn’t want to tell the other guys but then they went to him [Ryan] when he was selling merch.

Ryan: They wouldn’t let anything go. They’re saying the most absurd shit, like we’re promoting rape and we’re misogynists. I was like, you have no idea who we are, what our group of friends is like — you didn’t check out the set or read or lyrics. The women in our group of friends run the show.

Jonny: I have two moms.

Ryan: You think our name is stupid —

Jonny: So do we.

Ryan: It’s a party punk band.

Jason: They wanted to fight us.

Ryan: They were getting up in my face, getting ready to throw fists at me.

Nikki: It had no relation to gender when we first thought of it.

Interview (and photo) by Dagmar Sieglinde.