Interview: The Whiffs
Zach Campbell Discusses Their East Coast Tour With The Speedways
The Whiffs! The Speedways! The East Coast Tour!
Last week I interviewed Matt Julian from The Speedways. Now it’s time to put The Whiffs’ songwriter/vocalist/bassist Zach Campbell in the hot seat…but he already knew what to expect since I’ve interviewed him and the rest of the band before.
Here’s how I described The Whiffs in my cover story/interview for Remember The Lightning: A Guitar Pop Journal, Volume 1:
Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, this four-on-the-floor Midwest quartet has delivered three solid collections of punk-infused guitar pop that would be just at home at the Cavern Club in the ‘60s as it would at Jay’s Longhorn in the early ‘80s—or on a Nuggets compilation, for that matter—but this is the 2020s and The Whiffs are among a handful of exciting new bands driving the beleaguered genre ever-deeper into the post-rock Millennium.
I stand by that description, but I wrote it before I had seen them live. After witnessing a blistering set in a sweaty downtown Los Angeles club I was even more certain about my “Cavern Club-meet-Jay’s Longhorn” take on their sound.
The Whiffs play impossibly hooky, high-energy rock and roll that’s meant to be experienced loud, loose and live late at night.
Which is why this early November East Coast tour—starting Nov. 2 in Brooklyn—is such amazing news for fans of modern power pop. The Speedways’ Talk Of The Town was definitely one of my favorite releases of 2022, and I have no doubt The Whiffs’ Scratch ‘N’ Sniff will be on many ‘Best of 2023…’ lists.
If you live anywhere near the handful of lucky cities on this short run of dates, you don’t want to miss out—especially since The Whiffs will be headed straight back into the studio to record their next album once they get home.
“Hopefully the new album will be in the can sometime early next Spring or Summer. It doesn’t have a name yet, but the songs we have for it so far are really good I think,” Campbell told me for the interview below.
I chatted with Campbell by email to discuss the set lists for this East Coast tour, find out about some of his favorite places to eat on the road, and ask what advice he has for The Speedways on their first American tour.
Zach Campbell Interview
Very excited about The Whiffs and The Speedways doing a US tour together...but why the hell aren't you coming to the West Coast?!
Well, we just did the West on our own. That really didn’t have much to do with it though. The Speedways had a small window of time and wanted to play NYC. Maybe the next time they roll in we can do the same package but out west!
There is also talk of us doing a show in London because The Whiffs will be on The way to EU anyways and we usually fly into London to make a connecting flight. This bill would go over very well in Spain too. That would be a dream of a tour as well!
What are a few of your favorite songs by The Speedways?
Honestly, I love their last album, Talk Of The Town, a lot—from front to back. So it’s hard for me to narrow it down.
I’m a big fan of “A Drop in the Ocean”—it has a great melody. And I love the big hooky chorus on “A Song Called Jayne & A Lie Called Love.”
The Speedways have never toured America before. What five pieces of advice do you have for them?
Be prepared to sleep on a floor if need be.
Since it’s your first time, whatever food the city is famous for—get it.
Prolly should let us drive.
When loading in, always have someone camp out by the van.
Have fun and don’t stress out too much about things because touring America is way different than Europe.
We’re gonna have fun though!
How is touring American different than Europe?
The venues in Europe are a lot more hospitable for the most part. That being said, touring the USA is a lot of fun. You get to know people really well over here, because you usually are at their house meeting pets, etc. after the show.
I know The Whiffs have played many of these cities/clubs before. What are a few of your favorite places to eat when touring the East Coast?
I love going to The Commodore in NYC. That hot chicken sandwich I dream about. Basically anything from there is good, even though it’s not a famous NYC food.
Clearly they should get pizza or a pastrami sandwich, bagel etc. Oh and we’re definitely gonna have to get a late night chopped cheese!
Can fans expect any new material from the set lists on this tour?
There were a couple new songs we played on the last tour that will be in the set again, but a lot of our new material isn’t live ready yet.
I love all your releases, but each one feels like a big leap forward. Can we expect the same from the next album?
There are things that already feel like they are shifting in the writing, some songs getting longer and coming from different places. Out Midwest hero worship has doubled down in some songs, other songs are more based in new wave or psychedelic rock.
It will be more filtered into a cohesive thing once we get into the guts of recording it, but there’s a ton of good ideas floating around.
If I got in the van with The Whiffs, what would I hear on the stereo?
Well, this probably would be the case already, but I’m sure we will be listening to some Dwight Twilley on this tour (RIP).
I love all The Dwight Twilley Band records, and his first solo record. My friend Josh Berwanger did a split single with him a few years back that is also really great if you can find it.
Remember The Lightning—A Guitar Pop Journal, Volume 1
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