Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
It seems as if the people who are meeting each other in Whalers songs are the kinds of people who know it would be better if they just kept walking, but they can't help themselves. It would be in everyone's best interests if this all stopped before it started. There are no moons to guide them through the nights that they're pointed toward. There's no compass that's going to help them through their days together. It's going to be one struggle after another, but damn if the few non-struggles don't make it all the more worth the real struggles. There's a compassion that comes through on so many of the Austin, Texas band's songs that are the sentiments that come from those people who have been married for decades, heading toward their silver or paper anniversaries. They've shared their drinks together. They've shared many cakes and trips together and, even with the bickering and the dumb ass things that they've both done, even with the sheer capacity that each has for making the other angry, they're mostly fine with the person they chose to live their lives with. These old married people - though the folks on Whalers songs are questionably married, more likely getting through the lusting or courting process and seeing where everything shakes out from there - are quick to admit that they're infuriating to live with, but so is their spouse, so it all works out. And then they'll laugh together and share a bed, once again, for the thousandth time in-a-row, as if there's nothing to the empty words and chidings. There was a woman that we met in Vermont a few weeks ago, a real sweet, but crazy woman, who told us, out of nowhere, that her husband pisses her off. It came apropos of nothing and yet, even with those sentiments offered freely to near strangers, one got the feeling that they were made for one another, raising their cattle together and drinking beers when they could. Gus Smalley, the lead singer for Whalers - a group that puts a bit of a jalapeno into the mix, with a bass-heavy, but spicy sound - gives us these sketches of people as they are navigating through themselves and their ever-changing waters. These are people who are on the brink of those biggest of choices in life and there's both the belief that this is exactly what they want and the same percentage of belief that this is all going to go horribly wrong and they're making the worst mistake in the world. Some people are just unable to infuse confidence in others and it can make for some passionate inner-monologues. Whalers have that volatility on lockdown. It's putting everything on the scale and finding that nothing's tipping in either direction, only making it all that much more complicated and, really, just the way shit is.