by Matt Robert
“Life is too serious. Rock ’n’ roll is an escape, man,” says Whiskey Bent vocalist, Ray Auger. “We are a band you can have beers with. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and we hope the audience doesn’t, either.”
Whiskey Bent brings their good-times hard rock to The Lucky Dog Music Hall Saturday, March 10, when they release their debut eponymous E.P, and open for local rock stalwarts Deep Six (featuring Jimmy D’Angelo) and Mullethead.
If your good times involve crankedup Marshall stacks and Gibson guitars, then Whiskey Bent might just have your number. Whiskey Bent will take you on a trip straight back to late ’80s “Appetite for Destruction” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” unabashed Sunset Strip hard rocking and hedonism. On “Freak Like Me,” from the new E.P., the band welcomes you to its world with a Ramones-cum-Motley Crue gang vocal (“Hey! Hey!”) and a wah-wah riff right out of Slash’s private stash, while Auger sings, “Hot living, sweet sinning. Bet you never met a freak like me,” as he celebrates a night out, full of “Gibsons let out of their cage” and “willing” girls and their friends: the stuff of ’80s MTV videos.
“Narragansett Nights” continues the assault with a touch of Diamond Dave (the band cites both Van Halen and Chickenfoot as influences), as Auger talks to the listener, laughing and invoking the local beer label’s slogan, “Hi, neighbor! What’s shaking? This could take all night,” as the band gets the riff together, announcing that it’s party time. ”You can bet I feel a party comin’ on/The clock stops at five/Living on borrowed time, Narragansett nights,” he sings over a rocking groove that evokes images of stick twirling, and lascivious, predatory looks for groupies in the front row. Later, as dual guitars solo, Auger sets up a tryst with women in a bar, in a gag right out of Roth-era Van Halen. This is arena rock, plain and simple.
“We’re performing in a beer commercial,” Auger says. With this song, they soon could be.
“When we hit the stage everything wrong in the world goes away for 45 minutes and the room becomes a sanctuary from evil forces,” says Auger. “Good times, good friends and good cheer. We do a song called ‘The Legend of Whiskey Bent.’ It’s actual folklore about the rise of Whiskey Bent from rock ’n’ roll scripture. So it is written, so it shall be. We perform it while wearing sombreros.”
“Rips Down,” the third and final track on the E.P., recorded recently at Rocket Dog Studios in Cambridge, takes the listener to a more sober place, but still within the parameters of any selfrespecting, libidinous rock act, lamenting the morning after blues “about my heart getting busted.” Dave Mabardy and Peter Hubbard’s guitars interweave in clean harmonic tones ala Jimmy Page, and Dave’s solo shows unmistakable Page influences in tone and phrasing, while drummer George Moomjian and bassist Glenn Selmi lock on a syncopated twochord groove.
“Rips Down” provides the necessary balance to what will no doubt be a largely up-tempo, rocking set, full of tight and practiced grooves, screaming guitars, and a general atmosphere of good times and partying.
Whiskey Bent’s crusade to bring a little hard-rocking fun into your life is just getting underway, but they seem to relish being unknown. “There is so much talent out there in our own backyards. How many more butterfly songs do we need from Nickelback? Don’t be fooled by the house on ‘Cribs.’ The true talent lies within the unsigned, baby.”
Yet, the band’s hopes, as you might guess, include playing more gigs, reaching more fans (especially “willing ladies,” it seems) and acquiring a recording contract. “That’s not to say we won’t sign on the dotted line in a second, though. Who wouldn’t?”
Experience the band live with Mullethead and Deep Six, Saturday, March 10 at 8 p.m. – 1 a.m., $8. The Lucky Dog Music Hall, 89 Green Street Worcester. luckydogmusic.com, reverbnation.com/bostonbent