Whiskey Folk Ramblers Inspired by Spaghetti Westerns

Categories: Interviews
Whiskey Folk Ramblers' lead vocalist Tyler Rougeux.
Midnight Drifter, the debut album from Fort Worth’s Whiskey Folk Ramblers, will be available for the first time at their CD release party Saturday at Lola’s in their home city. While they won’t be selling copies until then, you can get a taste of what it will sound like tonight when the acoustic folk / traditional country / bluegrass / klezmer / gypsy combo performs at The Cavern in Dallas.

The Ramblers album has 11 songs, plus an Ennio Morricone spaghetti Western-soundtrack-inspired intro and outro. The band covers Hank Williams’ “Ramblin’ Man” and two traditional songs, “Die Easy” and “Great Grandson.” Lead singer Tyler Rougeux is especially excited about “Great Grandson,” a song his grandfather taught him when he was a kid.

We talked to Rougeux about Whiskey Folk Ramblers' evolution and the frustrations of capturing the band’s live sound on record.

Tell me about recording the new album.

We tried to do it ourselves and it didn’t work out right. We tried to do it again kind of by ourselves, and just didn’t get the sound we wanted; so we finally went into the studio (Panhandle House in Denton). We knocked the whole thing out in a week.

How did you choose the Panhandle House?

We had heard from some friends (Rodney Parker & Fifty Peso Reward) who recorded there, and their album went over really well. Out of most of the local bands, we liked their recording quality most, and they suggested them.

Had you already been playing the songs you recorded?

We’d been playing the majority of them out for a while, and there’s a few new surprise songs that we won’t play until Saturday.

Were you listening to any other albums for inspiration while you were recording?

No, actually one of the guys in our band, his brother lives out in Denton. He’s got a three-story house, and the bottom story is a basement with a couple couches, and we stayed down there. It was kind of cool for no distractions. There wasn’t any TV or radio or anything down there. So we were just holed up in the basement all week, just the five of us. It was the week it was snowing in Denton, too, so we got snowed in and had to walk around Denton half the time, which was kind of cool. So we just kind of crashed in the basement with our instruments and whatever else, and worked all day on the album. We watched Westerns, but that’s about it.

Were you ready to strangle each other by the time it was over?

No, we’re all pretty laid back, actually. I figured that would be the case, but it ended up being fun. We had a good time. It was kind of like being at recording camp or something.

How well do you think the album captured your live sound, that kind of raw and raucous style you have?

I think it came out really well. It’s generally a live album. We had the rhythm and root recorded live. We were all in separate rooms where we could see and hear each other, and just played live and got the general thing down, then put the leads down over that. It basically sounds exactly like we do live -- on a good night, anyway. We did the recording process the most real way we knew how, so the energy wouldn’t get lost in the production.

I know this is a fairly new band, but you guys have been playing for a while. Is this your first traditional country band?

It is the first traditional country band, but it’s kind of turning into an experiment of sorts. Me and the guy who plays fiddle and lead guitar, Jeremiah Christensen, he and I used to be in a punk rock band about six years ago, and he moved to California. Whenever he came back, me and Richard Davenport had been starting this band, and then he joined in. -- Jesse Hughey



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