An Interview with Rory Cameron of The Whiffs

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Time to check in with one of the better Indie Rock bands out there today, The Whiffs. Rory Cameron is the leader of the band, and I am happy to say we’ve got him aboard for a chat today. In 2019, The Whiffs released their fantastic sophomore record which is titled Another Whiff, which was the follow-up to the also stellar Take a Whiff. If you’re into vintage, Garage and Power Pop vibes, then The Whiffs are definitely for you. Seriously, they manage to keep it fresh, while also sounding as vintage and old school as anything actually released in the late 70s and early 80s, and that is the key to their mastery. With all that being said, if you would like to learn more about The Whiffs, head over to their website here and their Facebook here. Once you’ve done all of that, give this interview a read. Enjoy.

Andrew:
Rory, thank you for joining us. It’s been a weird year. What have you been doing to pass the time?

Rory:
Indeed it has. I’ve been working sporadically. Writing songs earlier this year and lately been working on new recordings. Having nothing else to do at least gives you no excuse for not being productive. 

Andrew:
Tell us more about your backstory. What was your musical gateway?

Rory:
My dad is a drummer so I’ve always been around music, but getting into Punk in my early teens was definitely when I started to carve out my own musical identity. That and Piracy. I would read a book about the Sex Pistols or something and listen to what they were into, and go download the whole Small Faces discography on Soulseek. I got into some really good music at a young age that way. 

Andrew:
Your sound has such a vintage vibe to it, but still sounds fresh all the same. I’m a big fan. I definitely hear The Ramones in there, but I also hear some Big Star and latter-day Replacements, and Paul Westerberg influences, too, especially in your second album, Another Whiff. Tell us about some of your influences.

Rory:
We’re definitely all Beatles fanatics in the band but that’s sort of a given. I learned how to play guitar to Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True, which I think definitely shows in some of my songs. I love Nick Lowe as well. But I always have a habit of tracing back the influences of the artists I like, so a lot of 60s and 50s music is in the wheel house for our maybe more 70s sound.

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Andrew:
The band’s name, and even the album covers have that vintage vibe. Was that intentional? The Whiffs sounds like a name of an Indie, Power Pop type band from the late 70s and early 80s. What’s the origin of the name?

Rory:
We came up with the name when Zach and I were hanging out one night doing the typical musician thing of just making up jokey band names. We thought of like 20 punny album titles that night and just went with it. The imagery and the name are definitely evocative of that time because I think that’s our collective era of influence as a band.

Andrew:
The Whiffs are originally from Kansas City, right? What’s the music scene like out there?

Rory:
There’s some good local bands here, but we’re kind of outliers musically. A lot of the more popular bands here seems to be more on a 90s Indie Rock trip. We have a solid fan base here but we make it a point to tour as often as possible.

Andrew:
My understanding if you have a basement recording space, which you call “Electric Babyland.” Tell us more about that! 

Rory:
We’ve relocated this year. I still live in the house where we recorded Another Whiff, but Joey bought a house that he is renovating and Zach lives there, too. We have a studio set up in the living room where we’ve been working on our next album. The house is called Club Sandwich.

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Andrew:
You guys are Pop meets Punk. Shifting more toward the Punk side of things- often times people will say that Punk is more of a mentality than a genre. Would you agree? What are your thoughts on the idea of “Punk?”

Rory:
I think punk is whatever it wants to be. As a teenager, I got turned off by how homogeneous it had become in the early aughts. Punk to me was this revelation that I’m allowed to be myself and like whatever I want, and fuck you if you have a problem with it. I get pretty annoyed by this contrarian attitude of people hating on things that aren’t quintessential “punk.” There is plenty of music that is most definitely not Punk that possesses the same spirit.

Andrew:
You last released an album in 2019 with Another Whiff. With all this time off, can we hope for a new album soon?

Rory:
We’ve written so many songs between the three of us having so much spare time and a studio readily available that we might have two albums by the time we can go back on tour.

Andrew:
Your last album was with Dig! Records. They’re a pretty cool label and have some really great young and interesting artists. How has it been working with Dig! Records?

Rory:
It’s been great. Tim is awesome and has been super helpful getting this record out there. All the bands on Dig! are fantastic as well. It’s a good feeling to be in such great company on a label. 

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Andrew:
One of the cool things I’ve noticed is that both your albums have been released on cassette and vinyl. Vinyl is obviously making a huge comeback, and cassettes are as well, albeit to a lesser degree. What went in to the decision to focus on those two old school, analog formats?

Rory:
It’s the medium we all buy our music on really. I started buying records from this antique store down the street from me when I was in high school. I think streaming has made CDs sort of obsolete. So, we’ve never bothered making any.

Andrew:
This has been an unusual time, but we’ve still seen a lot of great music released. What were some of your “must have” albums of 2020?

Rory:
I’m still always digging for some hidden gems from the past, but we’ve all been liking the new Speedways, Tommy & The Commies and the Spits stuff.

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music?

Rory:
I DJ on the weekends, I usually and pretty much exclusively buy vinyl. But, I like being able to listen to stuff I’ve never heard on streaming apps. I shop at some different local record stores, but I always like digging at thrift stores or antique stores.

Andrew:
What are some things within the industry that you would like to see change for the better of both the fans and artists alike?

Rory:
Bands being paid properly from streaming services definitely needs to be figured out. Bands getting paid in general. I don’t think it’s un-punk to not have to live hand-to-mouth.

Andrew:
Last question. What advice do you have for young bands just getting started? Is there anything else you want us all to know?

Rory:
Don’t waste your money on some studio that doesn’t understand what you’re trying to do. Take whatever you can get your hands on and record your songs. Get whatever merch you can made and then hit the road. Who cares if you’re marginally popular in your hometown?

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Interested in diving deeper into the work of The Whiffs? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. After losing his life-long vinyl collection in 2014, Andrew began his vinyl collection from scratch again when he met his future wife Angela in 2015. Andrew’s love of music only further blossomed as his collection spanned all genres possible. After amassing 5,000 albums, Andrew knew it was time to finally follow his dream, and thus, Vinyl Writer Music was born. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict, for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island with his wife Angela and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie, and Kevin. Andrew works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night. Andrew is also the admin of several Facebook groups dedicated to music.

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