By Alan Brostoff
For the past three years I have had the opportunity to attend Riot Fest and sit down with many of the bands. This year White Reaper stole the event. Playing in the middle of the last day, these boys from Louisville, Kentucky, blew up the festival with high energy and great music. After their performance singer/guitarist Tony Esposito, keyboardist Ryan Hater, guitarist Hunter Thompson, drummer Nick Wilkerson and bassist Sam Wilkerson took to the time to sit down with Goldmine, doodle a little on one of their past recordings and share their thoughts.
As the band sits down for the interview, Ryan picks up the copy of their 2015 release Does It Again, takes out the vinyl record and inspects the poster insert.
Ryan: I forgot about this, it looks great. Kind of forgot.
Goldmine: During an interview with The Struts I asked them who they like out there and what they are listening to, and they said White Reaper.
Tony: We love those guys. We went on tour with them.
Goldmine: You have a new album coming out on October 18, You Deserve Love. What process did you take in writing this record?
Tony: One thing we stressed when making this album was making sure that we created something that gave a lot of different feels. We wanted to make a record that had different feels and we did that.
Ryan: We wanted the record to be very cool.
Goldmine: Your 2017 release was called World’s Best American Band, that is a pretty strong statement to make. Did you get any blowback on that?
Tony: Surprisingly no.
Sam: No one got mad about it. People either said it was funny or awesome.
Ryan: I think a lot of people said that was really bold, but it was obviously a joke.
Sam: That was the goal when making it.
Goldmine: This record is not the easiest record to find on vinyl.
Goldmine: I have seen it up to $100 on Discogs.
Ryan: No way.
Tony: I can probably find you one in my basement. That’s insane.
Goldmine: During your set you talked about playing to some small crowds overseas, a handful of people. How different is it playing in the US?
Tony: Maybe half a handful. It was a huge sigh of relief to see a crowd like today's (they played to a packed crowd, one of the largest crowds during the day).
Nick: It was a perfect event to come back to after not playing to a lot of people overseas.
Tony: It was one of our better shows to play, honestly, I was blown away.
Goldmine: What is the music scene like in Kentucky?
Tony: Really cool. The scene is really eclectic. They all kind of do their own thing and build their own communities. Everybody is really supportive. I feel it’s kind of magic because the kids pay attention to what is going on in their town and they put on their own shows.
Ryan: It’s super creative and people are doing a lot of cool stuff in their shows all the time.
Goldmine: You have a new album — You Deserve Love — that is being offered in a couple of different vinyl variations.
Sam: I think it’s almost standard practice to offer it on record. Also, we deliberate on what we want it to look like and the whole layout. We want to find the coolest way to show off the record. It’s gives you so much space to work with that you don’t get to on a CD or a download.
Ryan: All I ever wanted when I was growing up was to have music I was involved with pressed to vinyl, so this is really awesome to get to be part of creating that whole thing that people want. It’s so cool to see it coming back to this. I remember going to Goodwill in middle school and buying “Rock the Casbah” or something like that.
Tony: It’s everyone’s favorite way to now buy music. They have something to hold and it’s big and in-your-face with all these moving parts. It’s like a toy.
Goldmine: Do you collect records?
Ryan: Yes, but when I turned 19, I kind of sold every record I had because I had no gas money and now I am slowly building back.
Nick: I’m currently buying only the records that I really like so now my collection is a 'best of.'
Tony: What little money I have now goes to food but if we were a bigger band my vinyl collection would be vast.
Ryan: We live right behind my favorite record store, called Guestroom Records (in Louisville). We love the people that work there, and they have supported us for a long time. Every time I go there I end ip leaving with something. They even let us DJ on Record Store Day and we just pull records out of the dollar bin. I love the dollar bins. You can find some old county/western records.
Goldmine: What is that elusive gem you are looking for?
Sam: An original mono Pipers at the Gates of Dawn.
Tony: I know this is not hard to find, but I would love to own an original of Hunky Dory.
Ryan: That’s my favorite of Bowie's records.
Tony: I think this new record is going to be pretty special.