Q&A with William Elliott Whitmore

By: @brentXmendoza

Friday, Iowa born folk-artist William Elliott Whitmore brings his uniquely modern take on bluesy Americana here to The Roxy Theatre. With a soul bearing voice well beyond his years, Whitmore has been catching a well-deserved buzz touring across the U.S. with a vastly diverse array of acts ranging from Red Sparowes to The Pogues. Before reaching this week’s stop on The Sunset Strip, learn all about WEW’s journey to his genre defying success, as he regales fond youthful memories of moonshine, explosives, and gangsta’ rap.

You’ve toured and performed with a number of notable acts? Who was your favorite? What are your recollections?

I’ve had the fortune of touring with some great acts over the years: Red Sparrowes, Chris Cornell, Samantha Crain, Murder by Death, and many many others. The Pogues tours were fun. We did a couple nights at the Wiltern in L.A. a few years ago, and I remember going onstage during their encore. It was a raucous number, band members flailing every which way, Spider Stacey hitting himself over the head with a foil serving tray, friends rushing the stage to join in… I went onstage with a pint glass of whiskey and offered it to Shane (MacGowan). He took a worthy swig thinking it was beer and made a sour face, then shrugged and took another pull. A bunch of great fellas!

Is finding success and building a fan base more or less challenging in the folk/acoustic genre, as compared to other more “mainstream” styles of music?

Finding success in any genre is a challenge, unless you’re Justin Bieber, who seemed to be a sensation overnight. I’m not knocking him at all actually, it just so happens that he never did a basement show in Tulsa and upon being offered a place to crash, was offered the couch that the dog normally sleeps on—and throws up on. Just saying…

What was the first record/CD/cassette/eight-track you purchased with your own money?

I remember my mom buying Dolly Parton records… but I think the first tape I ever bought with my own money was Kill at Will by Ice Cube.

Which song off the new record are you most proud of? What’s the story behind it?

My favorite track on Field Songs is “Don’t Need it.” I wrote that song in the studio in between recording other things. I wanted to use an electric guitar on it so I had to walk to the music store and borrow one.

Any good moonshine stories?

We used to blow things up for fun! These were our own things: old junk cars, faulty washers and dryers, broken television sets. Never other people’s things—like an act of vandalism—but our own stuff for acts of poetry and enlightenment. Even Alfred Nobel knew that poetry and explosives could go hand-in-hand. There was moonshine involved almost every time… One day we were watching an old Buick “give up the ghost,” and a chunk of the engine block blew into the air and onto someone’s truck windshield. Fortunately it belonged to the guy who fashioned the bomb.


Tickets are available via Ticketweb.