The band formerly called “maybe the best unsigned band in America” by “Rolling Stone” is taking the stage in Columbus this week.
Formed in 2002, The Whigs is a three-man rock ‘n’ roll group, consisting of lead singer and guitarist Parker Gispert, drummer Julian Dorio and bassist Timothy Deaux.
The original trio of band members, which consisted of Hank Sullivant on bass instead of Deaux, began writing and performing music while completing their undergraduate studies at the University of Georgia.
“Parker (Gispert) and I went to the same junior high and high school together in Atlanta,” Dorio said. “It wasn’t until my sophomore year, when (Gispert) started as a freshman that we were hanging out more and just shared a lot of the same interests.”
Dorio said he and Gispert found shared interests in their musical tastes.
“A lot of the music that was popular at the time, we started growing less interested in,” Dorio said. “We just shared a lot in common and started writing songs together. That happened almost for six months before we met Hank (Sullivant).”
After meeting Sullivant, The Whigs’ original bass player, the band began to search for opportunities to perform locally.
“We were writing and working on this material, trying to get enough to play a show … finally I think we felt we were ready,” Dorio said.
The band’s name, which Dorio said had originally been a result of a last-minute brainstorming session prior to the group’s first performance, stuck after the success of The Whigs’ first show.
“We played one show, and it was a great show and a great night,” Dorio said. “Everyone we knew showed up and the place was packed, and (The Whigs) has been our band name ever since.”
Dorio said the band has grown closer throughout the years of touring together and producing albums.
“Parker and I have known each other since junior high, but … I think at a certain point (the band) almost transitioned into family,” Dorio said. “We do everything together. Good and bad things happen out here … (and if) we put them all together, we just have years and years of experience. I think that is a special bond that we have.”
Dorio said an underlying devotion to “mastering their craft as musicians” is what has contributed to the band’s success.
“The same little dream that was in us when we were kids, when we just dreamt of being in a rock and roll band … I don’t think that’s really gone away,” Dorio said.
Some students at Ohio State said they appreciate The Whigs’ sound.
Danny Stelson, a first-year in engineering, had not previously heard of The Whigs, but enjoyed the band’s song “Right Hand On My Heart.” He said The Whigs’ sound was unexpected.
“Normally, I listen to a lot of alternative or indie music, so (The Whigs’ music) kind of plays right into that (genre),” Stelson said. “The vocals … seemed smoother than I expected to go along with the instrumentals, but I like it. I think it works really well.”
Since the band’s first independent album release in 2005, The Whigs have released four studio albums. Dorio said the band’s fifth album, “Modern Creation,” is set for release April 22.
Columbus audiences can expect to hear several tracks from this new album during The Whigs’ performance at The Basement Friday, Dorio said.
“It is fun to go to Columbus to share a couple of new songs,” he said. “It’s fun, it’s kind of like we’re like right at the beginning of another cycle, which is a really exciting time.”
Dorio said The Whigs have played in Columbus many times in the past, and it is one of the band’s favorite venue cities.
“We’ve played in Columbus a lot,” Dorio said. “Ohio has always had great fans. And if you give them a good show, I feel like they reciprocate that. It’s always one of our favorite cities, and we’ll always come to Columbus.”
Marissa Luther, marketing director for PromoWest Productions, said The Whigs’ past performances at The Basement have “generally (sold) very well.”
Luther explained that the multiple music venues in Columbus allow for various artists and bands to visit the city.
“Columbus brings all artists,” she said. “We’re not really specific to one typical genre. We like to bring all kinds of music to Columbus.”
Doors open at 7 p.m. Friday and tickets are $12 for general admission, available through Ticketmaster. Red Feathers is set to open.