I have spent a lot of time talking about music with my good buddy Chris Weller. These chats began way back when he worked here at Blue Ridge Outdoors and have continued since over beers at local festivals and long distance email communique. I won’t ever forget the first time he emailed me about linking up with Brandon Whyde, an Indiana-based singer/songwriter. The excitement in the email was palpable. Chris let me know I had to check him out – I did, and I was much impressed – and he had good feelings about what would be happening once the band started playing.
If Your Ad Here, the brand new release from Brandon Whyde & The Devil’s Keep is any indication, his hunch was right.
The new record is a fine collection that showcases Whyde’s songwriting and the chemistry that this new trio possesses.
I caught up with Chris Weller to chat about the new record, how he prepared for his role in the band’s music video, and some really bad alternative album titles.
BRO – While you lived in the Asheville area, you played with Johnson’s Crossroad and Bear Down Easy, two great acoustic bands. With Brandon, you have a heavier sound. You digging that heavier vibe?
CW – I remember playing heavy music in various bands with friends back in high school. We’d lug the biggest amps we could get our hands on into someone’s garage and basically wait for the cops to show up. I feel like a lot of guys who come up in urban settings and eventually find their way into the realm of acoustic music probably cut their teeth on stuff like that. Playing with Brandon affords me the opportunity to be edgier than traditional music might allow while still falling back on solid principles I learned from playing in those acoustic ensembles. I feel so honored to play on stage with Brandon and Benji. I had been tracking Brandon down for years in the hopes of making a band like this a reality. And I do enjoy rocking out, but nowadays I don’t care how small the amp is, as long as it has good tone.
BRO – Stoked about the new record?
CW – You know, I remember the day Brandon sent me a text to say he was ready to give this band a try. He asked me if I was down to play some bass. I’ll never forget my immediate gut response, which was to quote Doc Holliday from Tombstone – “I’m your Huckleberry.” He told me that I could not have said it any better. It’s been really exciting since that day, and I can’t wait to see what becomes of this album. We are incredibly proud of it, even it it’s not titled Eating Popcorn With Your Parents or Hauling Ass Through Space On A Giant Potato Chip, two titles our drummer, Benji, suggested.
BRO – We are featuring “Gun To My Heart” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?
CW – You know, I can’t speak for certain on this because I’m not the songwriter, but this song has always held a femme fatale vibe for me. I should ask Brandon about it sometime. That’s something I have long appreciated about his songwriting; I get very distinct feelings and strong mental imagery from his work, but he rarely – if ever – just hands it over and spoon feeds you a plot line. For me, this song touches on darker themes of seduction, entanglement, and confrontation.
BRO – You guys show a pretty nice video for “Gun To My Heart.” Tell me about the shoot.
CW – We had the opportunity to work with John Moon, a very talented director from Indianapolis, and his crew, Story House Media. The steamy scenes were shot at my place, because my cozy little house is definitely the sexiest our band has to offer. The bar scenes were shot at the historic Melody Inn, which is renowned for its Punk Rock Night, the longest running weekly PBR-guzzling punk rock showcase on the planet. The live performance scenes were shot in an ancient barn where we invited lots of friends, including our honorary band made, Landon Keller, on a frigid day in November. I had to catch a ride home because I partied a bit too hard. It wasn’t in that bad ass muscle car, though.
BRO – In the video, you nearly get into some fisticuffs. Who did you channel as you prepped for the scene? Chuck Norris? Charles Bronson? Patrick Swayze from Roadhouse?
CW – Well, I feel like I spend most of my days channeling Ben Stiller’s character from There’s Something About Mary, which is probably not very intimidating. For this role, I first called upon Jim Beam for inspiration, and then I pretty much did as I was told. Also, I did apologize to the guy once the camera stopped rolling because I was afraid I hit him too hard. My mother raised a gentleman, you know? But damn they made me look tough.
You can catch Chris, along with Benji and Brandon, when Brandon Whyde & The Devil’s Keep takes the stage on September 24th in Nashville at Daisy Dukes. For more information on the band or how to get your hands on the new record, surf over to www.brandonwhyde.com.