Take a Whiff: Chatting Honey-Mustard Power Pop with The Whiffs
The Whiffs are the best kept secret of indie rock. Full stop. You needn’t look further than their punchy throwback style and knack for crafting infectious earworms.
At first listen you might think the four-piece hailed from across the pond and another era entirely. Mixing addictive elements of Herman’s Hermits, The Turtles, and The Who.
In fact, the Kansas City outfit – Zach Campbell (bass/vox), Joey Montanaro (guitar/vox), Rory Cameron (guitar/vox), and Jake Cardwell (drums) – is fresh-faced and ready for your turntable (or playlist). We’ve been listening to them nonstop. Rare is the record that can be played front to back without skipping a track, yet they’ve managed to accomplish this feat twice – on their debut album, Another Whiff, and preceding EP, Take a Whiff.
Keep an eye out for these guys when they make their way up the East Coast this spring, because after they’ve blown up, you’ll have that “I saw The Whiffs when…” story in your back pocket forever.
Rory (and Zach) spent a bit of time with us discussing their music…
Bowery Boogie: How did you guys form, but more importantly, how did you come up with the name The Whiffs?
The Whiffs: Zach and I had known each other through playing in other bands in the Kansas City and Lawrence, KS music scenes. After Zach moved to KC, we worked together at a venue called the Blind Tiger. We pretty quickly realized we had a shared love of 60s pop, Power Pop and 70s Punk. It was an “Oh you like the dB’s? Wait you know who the dB’s are?!” kind of thing.
The Whiffs name was purely for the puns.
BB: So, the biggest musical influence on your sound would be…
W: The Beatles.
BB: Tell us about a memorable concert moment.
W: When we first started, we posted two terrible demos online and somehow conned our way into a full week of SXSW shows (including an official showcase). So we record the Take A Whiff! EP in a night and mixed it the next, so we could sell some tapes. We got to share bills with Protex, Television, Bash & Pop and the Dead Boys, to name a few. The show the Dead Boys headlined was with Bobby Leibling from Pentagram singing, which we all thought was going to be mediocre at best. Long story short, they ended up completely ruling it, and I lost my Little Richard button in the pit. I never mosh.
BB: First concert you ever attended?
Zach: Blood, Sweat & Tears at the Texas state fair.
Rory: The Dead Kennedys without Jello Biafra.
BB: What are you currently listening to?
W: Burt Bacharach, Gene Clark, and Supergrass.
BB: You’ve just recently dropped your debut album, following your 2017 release of an 8-track EP; what’s next for The Whiffs?
W: Recording a better record. More tours.
BB: Are you planning on touring soon?
W: Northeast tour this May!
BB: Care to share any unique experiences in New York City?
W: I snuck up on and pet a feral cat on a bet, and ate the best chicken I’ve ever had from a street cart. Zach says he saw a dead body in Alphabet City and then ran into Richard Hell. We also played WFMU – can we count Jersey City?
BB: You cannot. Do you guys have a favorite hangout in Kansas City?
BB: Tell us about your basement practice space, “Electric Babyland” – are there pictures of Hendrix as an infant? Are there snacks?
W: We started using my daughter’s old socks as windscreens for our microphones, because they were by the washer and dryer. I guess that’s how we came up with the name? Still looking for the Hendrix baby photo.
BB: What’s the inspiration behind your standout track, “Dream about Judy?”
W: Zach and I had a late night and started working up the chords and melody. The basis of the song is about an actual dream I had about living with a girl named Judy. It would almost be clever if it wasn’t so literal.
BB: You seem to successfully weave nostalgic nuggets into every song – what’s your secret?
W: Lil’ bit of honey, lil’ bit of mustard.
BB: What are you doing when you’re not whiffing around?
W: Zach and Joey work together at a brewery, Rory bartends at a dive bar, and Jake builds drums for C&C drums.