BY MICHAEL DONOVAN The Whigs — currently the pride of Athens, GA — play the Download Festival tomorrow in Camden in support of their rocktastic second album, Mission Control, released earlier in the year. We managed to catch up with Parker Gisper, just back from the Whigs whirlwind tour of Japan, and currently stuck in traffic somewhere on 95…
PHAWKER: First and foremost: Download’s tomorrow — how’s it feel to be going on stage with Iggy Pop and The Killers?
PARKER: It’s pretty exciting! We’re huge Iggy Pop fans, and I’ve never seen him live, so hopefully we’ll get done with our set and have some time to head over and get to see his set
PHAWKER: Is there anyone else on the billing you’re excited to see?
PARKER: I really haven’t even looked at a ton of it yet.
PHAWKER: I saw Man Man on it there…
PARKER: Oh, Man Man! Yeah I’d love to see them.
PHAWKER: Their fans show up with face paint.
PARKER: (laughs) Some buddies of ours have said they’re amazing — I’ve been wanting to see them for a while.
PHAWKER: I hear you just got back from Japan?
PARKER: It was insane. I had never been… the jetlag was pretty intense, and I found myself pretty tired most of the time. It was such a different place. Lots of very shy people — I think we were terrifying them trying to hit them with high-fives.
PHAWKER: Did you have a good turnout?
PARKER: Yeah, it was great. The show went really well — lots more people than we expected came and checked us out. They seemed pretty responsive to rock music, which is always encouraging. My Bloody Valentine was the headliner, so that was pretty cool… a very different atmosphere.
PHAWKER: Wow, I can’t even imagine opening for My Bloody Valentine!
PARKER: Yeah. It was insane.
PHAWKER: I see you have a couple more festivals in the coming weeks. How do you feel about the large festival setting — does it lose too much of the intimacy?
PARKER: They’re just different things. There’s something magical about being in a club and having the people in front of you and being able to see their reactions… but the festivals are always a little bit more fun. You get to play for the people who might not normally check you out. Playing outside is always a treat, too — it’s nice to have some breeze.
PHAWKER: Which of your other upcoming festivals are you most looking forward too? I think I saw Lollapalooza on the list?
PARKER: Yeah, that should be great. We’re in Chicago right now sitting in traffic, which is my favorite Chicago pastime… we play a club show tonight, and then the (Download) festival tomorrow. Also, we’re playing Monolith, which I’m really excited about, and we’re doing Street Scene in San Diego, as well as one in Victoria, BC. Oh, and Bumbershoot in Seattle, too.
PHAWKER: I noticed your latest record, Mission Control, has more of an entire-album appeal—I find myself flipping easily from side A to side B and back again, whereas your first record was more of a collection of individual tracks. What went in to the writing process to give it more of a cohesive feel?
PARKER: It’s definitely something that you always think about. “Mission Control” was a track that was definitely more suited for the end of the record. You find yourself playing games, like “if this going to be the first track, what would be a good second track? What would be a good last track?”
PHAWKER: Definitely. Lastly, I’ve been looking at your schedule and it looks like you’re pretty packed for the next few months. Do you ever wish you could take a break from all the touring?
PARKER: Yeah, we’ll take a break…but as for now, we’re still having fun. We just got back from Europe, and I had never been, which was super exciting. We just got back from Japan, we’ve got to play a lot of these festivals, we get to come to Philadelphia… we have a lot of exciting shows coming up. As long as we have a lot of exciting stuff on horizon, it’s not very hard to continue to want to be on the road.
The Whigs play Download 2008 at the Susquehanna Bank Center tomorrow afternoon.