Local Cowpunks the Whiskey Daredevils Continue to Go Against the Grain

When the Cowslingers, a terrific local cowpunk act that picked up a bit of a national following during a decade-plus-long run, called it quits, singer Greg Miller assumed he was probably done with music. But when drummer Leo P. Love and Miller's bass-playing brother Ken came to him four months later and wanted to start a new band, the Whiskey Daredevils, with guitarists Bobby Lanphier and David Bowling, he was into it.

Though Lanphier, his brother Ken and Bowling have since left the Whiskey Daredevils, the band, which formed in 2004, is still active and has just issued its latest studio album, The Good Fight. Miller tells us the album title is “meant to convey that despite the random winds of fashion blowing away momentarily from American roots rock and our particular subgenre, we are doing what we do against that tide.”

“We’ve seen it before,” he says. “It all rolls back around. Still, it’s not always easy to be one of the only ones doing what we do. When is the country punk renaissance coming anyhow?” Miller tells us a bit about each of the album’s tracks. The band performs with Lords of the Highway at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23, at the Beachland Ballroom. Tickets are $10 ADV, $12 DOS.

“Open The Door”

This is a little rockabilly thing that the band really swings pretty well on. The abusive boyfriend gets his comeuppance. I totally swiped an RL Burnside lyric on part of the verse just to see if anyone would notice. I guess this isn’t helping in that little experiment.

“Mojo Twist”

I misread a sign of one of those ice cream hut places and thought it said “Mojo Twist,” which would be perhaps the greatest ice cream hut business name of all time. It wasn’t though on second glance. This song did come from it however, which is loosely based on when I was 15 and a girl we knew held down the very high profile gig at the local Dairy Twist. She always smelled like fryer grease and sugar. When a song has the word “mojo” in it, it’s almost impossible not to make it an homage to Southern Culture on the Skids, which we did here. When you get down to it, I think it’s us doing a version of SCOTS doing their version of CCR.

“It’s Just Jail”

Leo had a girlfriend that he had to drive to county lockup to do a ten-day jail term. When she was upset about this stark reality of going into the facility, he comforted her by saying “Baby it’s not prison, it’s just jail.” I think that’s what any lady wants to hear in a moment of personal crisis. This song has it all. Ukulele and kazoo!

“3 o’clock In The Morning”

This is a killer Gary [Siperko] riff that we built a song about insomnia. If you have ever lived part of your life between 2 and 6 a.m., you realize that it becomes a different reality than everyone else. I worked a job unloading trucks once where they would have me work Monday, Tues and Thursday one week and then Tuesday, Friday, Saturday the next. I was always in this overtired dream state. [Bassist] Sugar always rocks out when we play this. She must like this one. I should ask her.

“Half Can of Pabst”

We travel to Nashville often and have plenty of friends from the area. At this point in time no one “from” Nashville is actually from Nashville. They all dropped whatever their lives were previously to get involved in chasing a dream that is unlikely to come true. One thing that has always struck me about going to Nashville is that every single waiter, cook, coffee shop employee and truck driver is a more talented than I am. This is a song written from one of their points of view. Gary has a monster solo on this one that reminds me of Jimmy Page.

“Me and Hank and Joe”

I talked to a guy once that preferred being in jail as to opposed to being outside in that he felt secure there. He liked the routine and his friends. This is a Johnny Cash type thing about three guys that get paroled, get sent back, and find the silver lining of being back in their real home.

“Red Dress”

I can’t remember what small time rock star said that there are only two real subjects of rock songs: cars and girls. You can’t go wrong writing about either. Gary had this really off kilter rockabilly garage rock riff and I couldn’t think about a car to write about, so it became about a particular dress on a girl.

“I Don’t Love Your Sister”

I was in a grocery store with my girlfriend once and came up behind her to playfully grab her ass. The problem was that I grabbed some lady that looked like my girlfriend from behind. That was what I and store security would call “a situation.” This is a shaggy dog country song that came from that.

“Phil Spector Says”

This is a love song from a Brooklyn hipster guy that just can’t seem to meet his true hipster gal. This is one of those 1962 pop songs that we write that by the time we are done with it sounds like something the Cynics would give to the the Stents as a B-side.

“The Wheels Go Round”

For some reason that Bon Jovi video of “Wanted Dead or Alive” has stuck in my memory from my formidable teenage years. Even as a kid I laughed at how they were trying to portray the hardship of the road going from the tour bus to the sports arena to the Ritz like it was real toil. This is our country take on low budget touring in Europe. You haven’t lived until you’ve slept in a bunk bed that a member of Crass slept in the night before.

“Sunshine Girls”

When we started messing around with this in the basement someone noted that this has a real “Cotton Candy sound” in reference to a horrible Ron Howard directed teen exploitation movie from the 1978. Then Leo said “Man, a cowbell would be great on this!”. It all sort of unraveled from there. [Guitarist] Bobby Latina told me this is his favorite one on the record. Let it be noted I have absolutely no idea what anyone likes when it comes to music.

“Cosmic Cowboy”

A number of years back in Buffalo, an urban cowboy with a chemical sparkle in his eye offered up the band some pot butter he had brewed up. That incident reminded me of all the guys out there that share an equal love of Gram Parsons, “Workingman’s Dead,” 1970s cowboy clothes, psychedelics and enormous Cadillacs with steer horns as hood ornaments. It contains my favorite guitar solo on the record, that sick phased out sound in the middle of the song. We get totally psych on this, man.