Hailing from Florida, Whiskey in the Pines bring warm, heartfelt Americana on their new EP, Sunshine From The Blue Cactus.
With songs as varied as the driving "Roses" to the somber, "Drunk With My Friends," and the love paean “Do You Believe in Hell,” the quartet connect with the listener on songs personal, yet universal. Recently, Whiskey in the Pines front man David Lareau (Singer/Songwriter/Guitar), - the band also consists of Kelly Chavers (Guitar), Aaron Halford (Bass) Guitar, and Erik Wutz (Drums) - answered his Essential 8 and talked the story behind the album's title, his unbelievably cool Goonies' gift, and much more!
What’s the story behind your album’s title?
We recorded the majority of the album right outside of Nashville proper. We have a mild obsession with Mexican food and there was this little Mexican restaurant called “The Blue Cactus.” We would frequent this little joint for afternoon beers and chips and salsa. The drummer, who shall remain nameless but played on the record, found himself infatuated with one of the waitresses. Ironically, she seemed to always catch our table, which I attribute to my excellent jacket collection and witty dialogue, but we’ll let the drummer think it was him. Anyway, her name happened to be Sunshine. Months go by and we were struggling to find the right album title when lo and behold the drummer speaks and says “Why not call it Sunshine From The Blue Cactus?” A light bulb goes off, and brilliance ensues. It’s most likely going to be his big life-defining moment. He’s actually moving to Nashville this month--I’m convinced he’s moving there for her. Sadly I don’t even think she knows his name. But thank you to her for all the mid-day buzzes!
Do you write about real things that have happened to you or are you a storyteller? Which is easier?
I tend to borrow from life experiences to help find the lyrics to the songs and tell the story. I wouldn’t say I write chronologically or autobiographically, and I never set out to write about a certain thing. The words just find their way. I’m a firm believer that the listener should be able to relate to the song and make it their own story, as some of my favorite songs are the ones I can put my own spin on. I tend to find the best songs are the ones you don’t try to write; they just find you when you’re out mowing the grass or perusing the grocery store aimlessly.
Where do you draw inspiration from when writing? Books, Movies, personal experience, other musicians?
I can try to sound all ethereal and say inspiration is around us all the time, but quite honestly I find it comes down to whatever moves you. I think there also has to be a sub-conscious decision of taste as well. The best songwriters all have excellent taste. Whether that be in music, food, clothes, style, guitars, etc. it comes down to do you know what’s good and what other people will like. So if you see a movie and say, “Hey, that would make a really good song,” then sure, use it. Use whatever you can. That being said, if it’s a Polly Shore movie you’re choosing to write your song about, you’d better be one hell of a lyricist.
When/where do you do your best writing?
I used to write late at night when it was quiet and there were no distractions. These days I have a four year-old son running around and sleep is something I have come to cherish, so late night writing is out the window. I try to at least play the guitar for an hour or so in the morning over coffee, and I’ll normally stumble upon a melody of some sort. The rest of the day I’ll try to piece together what the song is about in between building play-dough snowmen and imitating the cookie monster for the little one.
What’s the best advice to give to a musician just starting out?
Don’t be negative. Don’t say it can’t happen. Don’t get caught up in the Internet. Don’t be afraid of the Canadian tuxedo. Do believe in yourself. Do write everyday. Do believe in songs. And for the respect of all previous rock stars please get a solid jacket collection. Do all of this because it’s fun and because it’s what you want to do. The day it feels like work or a 9-5 pack it up put it away and come back to it when it calls to you. Music is the greatest thing in the world and has the ability to change the energy in the room instantly. It’s literally god-like and it should be treated rightfully so.
What’s your favorite venue and why?
There is a beautiful local venue called Fifth and Thomas in my hometown of Tallahassee, which I adore. Now, to understand this fully, Tallahassee is a college town that has shown little interest in live music over the years. Some would digress but the proof lies in the fact that for years the city went without a proper venue for touring acts to play at. Then, about two years ago, this venue had a vision and within months you had real, accredited artists riding through town like Lucero, Turnpike Troubadours, American Aquarium, John Moreland and more. My hat goes off to them because they’ve given my band (and all the other local musicians) a hometown hub to play and attend shows. If you’re ever in Tallahassee, that’s the place to go and there’s even a little Irish pub connected to it called Finnegan’s Wake which is owned by the same folks.
Do you have a favorite gift from a fan?
God yes. My buddy Jeff; he’s been a fan for years and is more a friend now than a fan. I used to have a previous solo project before Whiskey in the Pines called David Lareau and the Copperpots (a nod to my favorite movie the Goonies and the character Chester Copperpot). Long story short, Jeff is involved with Comic-Con and I shit you not he got a photograph and a Copperpot shirt signed by Sean Astin himself. If you had told five year-old me that one day this would happen, it would have been utter disbelief. I’m still in shock.
Do you have any touring tips?
Back in the day they didn’t have sensors on the hotel room mini-bar. So when you got to the room you could dump the bar in your bag and then call down to the poor hotel operator and notify them that your in-room bar was empty upon arriving to the room. Free booze and snacks for weeks if you stocked up right. Nowadays the only advice I can give you is get your sleep where you can and try to avoid the free booze late at night. Also, be kind and be grateful – it will help you everywhere you go.