Whispertown2000

Feb 8, 2007 - Daytrotter Studio, Rock Island, IL


Whispertown2000

Tracks

  1. 1 Welcome to Daytrotter
  2. 2 103
  3. 3 Restless
  4. 4 Mountain
  5. 5 Ebb and Flow

Sharing Borders With Bottled Excitement, Some Yell And Some Gossip Since 2005

Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley

The other night, Whispertown2000 lead singer and songwriter Morgan Nagler dreamt that the proverbial "they" outlawed roller-skating and the sleeping her was uproarious, becoming an activist instantaneously, to fight for the right to roller-skate freely without the establishment regulating her ability to take wheels and shoot the moon whenever and wherever she pleased. This is not the dream that she has most frequently, however. That dream involves a pack of baby sea lions and her decision to become a mermaid - to stay under the sea for good, enjoying every second of her mermaiden sexiness. Those kinds of dreams, should a place like Whispertown - which is 10,000 leagues apart from Whiskeytown ( U.S.A) - exist, would be code. They would be written into the constitution or recited at the point in the Whispertown city council meetings where the man with the gavel and authority asks if there is any new business. People would give up their vivid recollections the same way they bluster on about property line disputes and city roads that have fallen into disrepair at the council meetings that exist in real life. They would be noted and envied when applicable. Meadows would be verdant in this land and the life seen and enjoyed there would be a transmogrification of the vapor that we've decided long ago overstayed its welcome, but we're fine with its familiar sight, sound and smell.

This group, which includes bassist Casey Wisenbaker, second bassist Colt Maloney, drummer/guitarist Tod Wisenbaker and singer/drummer/multi-instrumentalist Vanesa Corbala, through Nagler's exploratory lyrics and attention to saying things in new ways ("I met a man with a lumberyard tan") - which feels like skinny-dipping into a cool freshwater lake, fans life into their songs with more effort than the average bear. Nagler's been friends with Rilo Kiley's Blake Sennett and Jenny Lewis for years (10-some years in the case of Sennett) and some of that exquisite, wide-eyed storytelling may have just transferred itself unwittingly through those lines of companionship, some peer-to-peer, heart-to-heart, mind-to-mind spirit share. Whispertown2000, we offer, as an exception to meaningless names everywhere, to monikers that are indefensible and woefully non-descriptive. So the name is still meaningless, the numerical suffix pointless, but in cahoots with songs that become miniature nests for lazy, lilting dream sequences that never get too far-flung, tabernacles for those hankering to toss a ring around the neck of the feeling of everlasting comfort -- which seems to rush by like a comet or a flash -- the name cuts a striking and fitting form. The songs on the self-released (soon-to-be released in Europe) debut album Livin' In A Dream come lay at your feet with soft tongues and expressive smokiness that is only visible during the points of a night when the babies are put down for their nightly slumbers and the creaking of a floorboard being walked across can sound like a single explosion of cannon fire, singeing through the silence.

The songs aren't babied in the least and they're not really precious. They just tug on your sleeves, hoping to be held just cause they enjoy the closeness. Nagler's voice is all girl, but aged like a grape plucked from a vine. They say that a grape draws out the history of the earth it's grown in - the lives formerly lived in that area, the taste of maple from the neighboring trees - and it's this that makes wine such an expressive drink. It gives wine its unique vocabulary. Perhaps Nagler benefits from the same sort of process because within the songs she writes comes history and a naked feeling of life that's gone, life that's here and life that's soon to be, though she can't very be in three places at once and bringing them together is a logistical nightmare. There are restless old souls, pleas for hints at what the future brings and yet there's no hurry to get there. She's inundated with the minutia that gives our palette something to do when it's bored and lazing. She would make a terrific wine. Her songs make a terrific wine. You'll run your tongue over your lips and around the insides of your cheeks, cheerfully grabbing all of the stowaway imprints that are meant to enrich the experience.      
 
*The Daytrotter Interview: (Note: Morrissey was in town over the week so we had him sit in with us to help with the interview - Whispertown2000)*

*What are your friendships with Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett (both of Rilo Kiley) like? How did you all first meet? What have they done for you guys? Have you guys ever gone out and gotten ice cream together?*

Morgan Nagler: They're real nice old friends that have helped and supported me endlessly over the years. If it weren't for them, I'd probably still be playing alone in my bedroom. Blake wanted dessert recently, but in lieu of sweets, he bought me pickles and avocado because I love savory.

Morrissey: We hate when our friends become successful. You're the one for me fatty.

Tod and Casey Wisenbaker: They have really done a lot for us as friends -- being supportive and inspiring and taking us out on tour. Personally I have learned a lot from their work ethic.
 
*Where is Whispertown and what does it have going for it? A good library? A strong public transportation system? Is it an arbor city?*

MN: Well, Whispertown is a tiny little guy. It's almost like it doesn't exist, just like the original name Vagtown definitely doesn't exist. I have a trouble with things all encompassing, like names. One word or group of words doesn't seem to do it. I don't appreciate a summary. I like the details. Sooooo...add 2000?? That'll do the trick.

M: Here is London, giddy london is it home of the free or what? Can you squeeze me into an empty page of your diary?

T and C: Whispertown isn't anywhere. I think the library is a good one and getting bigger. HA! -- the transportation system. Whispertown has horrible public transit. We use the Kiley van for tour.
 
*You're currently working on a new record. What can be expected?*

MN: I feel a little more rock. Also I feel we're a little more sculpted and focused, although still in many directions according to individual songs.  But our style has naturally developed after playing so much this year. We haven't been playing together that long so this year was like a fast forward button. But I've been feeling super inspired and motivated by how good it feels to play.

M: Frankly, Mr. Shankly, this position I've held, it pays my way but it corrodes my soul.

T and C: I think the new record will be a better representation of how we want the songs to sound. We've been a band for a little while now and aren't rushing in any way. We are all finding our own place in the songs. We've yet to record so I don't know what is to be expected but I do know that the Daytrotter session was very inspiring, so I think we are going to go for a live feel.
 
*Why don't Tod and his brother Casey look anything alike?*

MN: I think they look like sooo cool.

M: Why don't Tod and his brother look anything alike?

M: You say, break up the family
And let's begin to live our lives
I want to see all my friends tonight
It wasn't Youth, it wasn't Life
Born Old, sadly wise
Resigned (well, we were)

T and C: We have another brother. He's blonde and tall. Figure that out.
 
*How did you get so polite and kind Morgan? It's very noticeable.*

MN: My parents are the best.
 
*How was your Super Bowl party?*

MN: Well, I arrived after the party was over and thoroughly enjoyed the 7-layer dip Vanesa had made, before we went to our new friend Cindy's mortuary for a photo shoot.

M: Losing in front of your home crowd
you wished the ground would open up
and take you down
and will time never pass
will time
never pass
for us.

T and C: That game sucked. I really love the Bears. LOVE. I remember watching them win the Super Bowl when I was five. Vanesa and I had our own party. The two of us we made 7-layer dip, about five pounds of it. The Colts were awesome, but not as awesome as Prince playing "Purple Rain" in the rain.
 
*I've seen you play in heels. Are there certain things that you've found are more difficult to play in than others?*

MN:  I just like wearing what ever suits my mood, which may require changing throughout the day. So, as long as I still feel like it it's easy to wear, but if my mood shifts I become super uncomfortable.
 
*Please do tell the story about how you received that bad ass guitar of yours. Please, every detail.*

MN: Well, we wanted to do a tour of all house parties with Michael Runion, so we sent a post out over MySpace to play local house partiess in order to raise money for future house parties. One of the first responses was, "I'm having a party tomorrow. Do you want to play?" So we said yes and had a great time playing around the fire pit and hanging out with the nicest couple and their family and friends BBQing and drinking tequila. Such a great time. Then, three days later I received an enormous "thank you" box at the apartment. Colt and Tod were there and they called me saying, "Can we open it? Can we, can we? There's a huge box!!" So they did and inside was the greatest gift of all time. Not only a bunch of awesome books and a nice bottle of tequila, but a 1977 Martin acoustic guitar that his Mom had bought in '77. And the nicest letter. Previously, I had been playing the guitar my parents bought me from Guitar Center when I was 16 for 100 bucks, so it's been the best treat and I'll treasure it always. But more than that, I took it as a strong sign we were doing the right thing. And we went out for three weeks playing house parties and it was the best experience. Actually, when the dudes opened it and told me what it was  over the phone, I wrote the first lyrics and melody to "Ebb and Flow" on my car ride to the apartment to play that guitar. It sounds so good.

M: I thought that if you had an acoustic guitar that it meant that you were a protest singer. Oh, I can smile about it now, but at the time it was terrible.

*Do you play random parties like the one that resulted in the guitar very often?*

MN: Yeah, we still play parties!
 
*What's the feeling like, knowing that at this moment Rilo Kiley is covering one of your songs for its new record? Which song are they doing?*

MN: Well, it's actually a b-side! But, it feels soooooooooo good. They really must like it.. Oh, it's "Goodbye Baby."

M: the sycophantic slags all say:
"I knew him first, and I knew him well"
Re-issue! Re-package! Re-package!
Re-evaluate the songs
double-pack with a photograph
Extra Track (and a tacky badge)
A-list, playlist
"Please them, please them!"
"Please them! please them!"

T and C: The song they are supposed to be doing is "Goodbye, Baby." Jason Boesel, who is in Rilo, played on our version, so it's only a 75-percent cover. Figure that out.
 
*How did your European release come about and what does it entail?*

MN: Well, Regular Beat Records contacted us through MySpace! So, we're going to release Livin' In A Dream over there. I'm real excited as we've never had distribution!
 
*How do you guys like having fun?*

MN: We love dancing and talking and hearing each other. And things that are funny.

M: I wear black on the outside because black is how I feel on the inside.

T and C: It doesn't take much -- pizza, beer, soda, cigs, puppies, tunes, homies, cactus, crafts, Gameboy (Tod, Casey and Vanes), any road trip or tour, strangers....
 
*What do you fear most about growing older?*

MN: I'm not scared. I want to know what happens and how things unfold. As I get older, I keep having better understandings and it's proved to enhance my quality of life and make me feel comfortable.

M: Oh, where did all the time go ?
Once always in for the kill
Now it's too cold
And he feels too
old
Too old
Mmm, old...

T and C: I don't fear growing old, the thought sounds nice, but I can't speak for anyone else.
 
*Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?*

MN: Yes. It was about pasta being delicious, but too spicy. I wrote it with Blake. Now I love spicy. The song was about how hungry I was and how delicious the pasta was. I think the hook was, "I really want some angel hair pasta, but it's too spicy," from a time before I loved things so spicy. Other topics of early songs include someone falling on their face in the back of a dark theater, and I remember the opening line to another one, "If I was her, I'd smile and wave, and only, wear, leather." Some real gems.

*The next time you're out on tour, will your mother be MapQuesting directions for you again?*

MN: I hope so. I'm not good at computers. Plus, every time I looked at those directions I thought of her. 
 
*What's the best dream you've recently had?*

MN: Well, the first half of the dream is reoccurring. I'm on an enormous circle bed with four or five pet baby seals, and they keep trying to play and jump in my arms but they're all jumping on top of each other and slipping around and I love them and I'm involved, but I wonder how I ever got this much responsibility as I have no pets or children, but I do love being underwater. Then, a door opens and I chase them around a maze of hallways, and every time I pick them up they slip out of my arms and I'm not sure how many of them there are. Then, the dream usually takes a turn and the baby sea lion creatures aren't involved anymore, but, the other night, I lost them down a hallway and was drawn to a window where I found them hovering outside. So I harnessed my focus, which I always have to do to fly in dreams, and the sea lions and I flew over the city and over the ocean where we dropped into the sea, and I instantly had to make a choice whether to swim to shore or to stay underwater forever as a mermaid and I went with the wind and became a mermaid and I was so happy swimming around and exploring the sea. And the seals were gone. And then I felt so attractive as a mermaid, and instantly began to lose it because I didn't think of how I was losing my family and friends. And from this great stress, I guess, I woke up. 
 
*Are you a girl who would be impressed by a guy with a motorcycle?*

MN: Yes. I think my boyfriend's so tuff.
 
*What awes you?*

MN: Open space, outer space, and really old tall trees. And new perspective. 
 
* Did you go to many haunted houses when you were younger?*

TW: When I was 17 I lived with a family and outside at night I could hear what I thought was a bicycle going past over and over. I thought it was a ghost. Freaked me out.
 
* Did you go to many haunted houses when you were younger?*

TW: When I was 17 I lived with a family and outside at night I could hear what I thought was a bicycle going past over and over. I thought it was a ghost. Freaked me out.

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