[Interview] Louisville's White Reaper Remains "The World's Best American Band"

Main Image: Jesse DeFlorio

White Reaper was one of the bands that was unable to perform at this year's Sloss Fest, as the threat of severe weather forced the cancellation of several sets. But it didn't stop the Louisville rockers from enjoying their visit.

While passing through town, lead singer Tony Esposito talked about the weekend's conditions and the weighty responsibility of being "The World's Best American Band." Esposito also talked about landing a gig opening for Billy Idol this fall.

Sloss Fest didn't turn out the way we all hoped. What was the experience like for you guys?

We just kind of sat in the trailer and looked outside and it was really sunny the whole time, so we were a little bit confused. But we just told each other jokes and drank a bunch of Tito's.

Was this set to be your first visit to Birmingham?

A while ago, we played Syndicate Lounge. But that was a while ago.

Do you think you'll be able to get back soon? Was there ever a contingency plan to play at a local club during the festival weekend?

I think it'd be really cool if we could play at that place called the Saturn. Our other guitarist, Hunter [Thompson] has been talking about it. One of this other bands played there and he said that's the spot. So it'd be great if we could get a gig at the Saturn.

Did naming the record World's Best American Band give you a lot to live up to?

Yeah, I think for sure. I don't really think we realized how many people would take it on. It almost became an alter-band name. Some people just know us as "The World's Best American Band," you know? They'll just point at us and say, "Hey, it's the world's best American band! Hahaha!"

I've often asked artists who the best five American rock bands are. Since the record is named as such, who are the five best American rock bands of all time?

There's just so many different ways to look at this; it's like to Jordan/Lebron debate. Everyone has different rules that you have to follow. Is Bob Dylan a band?

I mean, yeah. Kinda.

So there's much gray area. And if Bob Dylan is a band, he's in there. Beach Boys are in there. Ramones are in there, I think, for sure. But then you start listing them off and you only have two spots left; I feel like you're starting to forget some people. So I can never really answer that, you know?

And obviously White Reaper.

Well, yeah, of course.

Will you guys remain Louisville-based? Or has that ever been problematic? Being away from "music towns?"

No, it's never been a problem. We visit so many places that it doesn't really matter where we live because we'll be hitting every city at least once a year; sometimes twice if we're lucky. We all really love it here. It's super chill and it's home for us. It's familiar. All of our friends are here. You never say never; we all really love New York and Chicago and all of those places. It'd be fun to maybe spend a summer or two somewhere else. But when it's all said and done, I'll be sitting on some rocking chair here in Louisville.

How important is that to you guys? Representing your hometown? At this point, you're probably one of the biggest bands currently from Louisville.

We love it here, and it's where our friends and family and favorite restaurants are at. It's a little different than the road. It's a lot more chill. We sleep in beds. We like it here.

What are the best restaurants in Louisville?

I really like this taco place called La Rosita. And this chicken restaurant where Nick [Wilkerson] used to work called Royals.

You recently landed an opening slot with Billy Idol this fall. How did that happen?

We basically just called and asked. We saw that there were tour dates happening and poked around as a team to see what was up; said, "Hey if you need an opener...we could do it!" And they let us come with!

How close are we to new music?

We're getting there. We're working on it.

Do you ever try stuff out on the road? Or would you rather wait until you've finished the record before playing any of it?

I think we want to wait for the finished product, because a lot of times, things change from demos to what has been released on the record. And sometimes, there have been songs released on the record that didn't have a demo. We wrote pretty much the entire last record in the studio. Sometimes we don't have a song until it's all finished.

Blake Ells

Birmingham, Ala.

Blake works in public relations by day, and he’s a music journalist by night. His work has been published at AL.com, Birmingham Post-Herald, Birmingham News, Weld for Birmingham and Birmingham magazine, among many others. Blake continues to serve The Literacy Council of Central Alabama, where he has previously served as chair. He is a proud alumnus of Auburn University and his top five American rock bands of all time are R.E.M., Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Blake was raised in Rogersville, Alabama, but he currently resides in Birmingham. Follow him @blakeells.

To purchase The Muscle Shoals Legacy of FAME online, visit http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00W3ROMCU.

Share this: