With Josh Allen on vocals, Sweets Balthaser on rhythm guitar, Ryan Boone on bass, and Matt Boettcher on drums they make up a fantastic band called Josh Allen and the Whisky Brothers. Josh Allen Spearheaded this interview giving us exclusive info on himself, the band and the release. The release is titled “Keep It In The Ground!”. Continue reading to know more about this amazing band.
What is your real name?
Joshua Rand Allen is my full name.
What’s your official Stage Name (showbiz name)?
Josh Allen and the Whisky Brothers
What do you do (fashion, music, comedy, artist, dancer, etc.)?
I like to do creative stuff. I make art and music and I write and make things. Sometimes more of one thing than another. On this song, “Keep It In The Ground,” I wrote the words and music to the song, I sang and played guitar on the recording, and I wrote and illustrated the music video.
How did you get into what you do (music, modelling, art, dance, etc.?)
I was always into music and drawing as a kid. Parents and teachers and peers were pretty encouraging along the way. And I guess I just haven’t been able to stop.
What field or genre are you into, and give a brief description of what your career/profession/ field feels like?
In terms of music, what I listen to from day to day is quite different from the type of music that I make. As a songwriter, my biggest influences are folks like Bob Dylan and Neil Young; as a Rock&Roll musician and fan, my favorites are groups like the Stones and the Clash; but as a casual music consumer, I get more excited about acts like RTJ and Dua Lipa than anything I’ve seen in the mainstream Rock world lately. I feel like my music is perhaps anachronistic, but I don’ t mind that so much. I’m at a point where I kind of gave up on trying to make a career of it and I’m just doing it for myself now. I got pretty burnt out about a decade ago, trying to do all the creative and administrative stuff – being my own label, publisher, booking agent, promoter, manager, band leader, artistic director, etc. And then trying to write songs and practice guitar also? The industry was already really tough for artists, and then COVID came along and I have hardly been to or played any shows since. But I know the scene is still alive. I’m looking forward to getting back out there.
Who or what inspires you or motivates you? And why?
I’m inspired by activists speaking truth and spreading revolutionary ideas. Young folks and oppressed workers starting movements, and the art and artists that have historically gone along with and helped spread those movements. I’m inspired by music with a palpable feeling and words with tangible truth. And I’m motivated by fear, and by love. Before I became a parent, I would say that personal pleasure was a top motivator – doing what felt good in the moment. But now I can’t stop thinking about the rest of my kids’ lives, and the rapidly escalating climate crisis, and political and economic precarity, and when I’m not frozen by it all, it can be quite motivating. The urgent need to do SOMETHING.
What was your first project and the people you worked with, and which year?
My first project that was not recorded in my bedroom (or a friend’s bedroom) was an album called “Orpheus” (2007). It was recorded in late 2006 at Alta Vista Recording Studio, Austin, TX; engineered by Tom Johnson. It’s a solo/acoustic album – ten songs, just me and acoustic guitar, no overdubs or anything. I was 23 when I recorded it, and some of the songs on it were written when I was still a teenager.
How many projects do you have so far?
So many projects. Musically, the Whisky Brothers has been my primary project for the past 15 years (since 2007), but I have played and collaborated with a lot of great folks since I started doing this. My wife and I had a duo called Old News for a year or so, and we went on tour backing a singer named Izzy Cox around 2009-2010. That was a lot of fun. And my old friend Dan Veksler was one of my earliest and most enthusiastic collaborators (2000-2004), who I still hope to collaborate with again someday, when we’re not thousands of miles apart. And the music videos are always big fun projects too. I love the collaborative element of storyboarding, etc. Among others, I’ve made a few videos with my friend Carlos Haynes that I’m quite proud of (“Orpheus,” “Wanted Man,” “Born at the Wrong Time”).
How long have you been doing what you do?
I started playing guitar when I was 11-12 I think, but songwriting/performing didn’t really come until 16-17. So I don’t know, 20-25 years?
What do you look out for in this line of business?
Backstabbers, opportunists, people who don’t care about you or believe in what you’re doing. Also, gigs where you have to sell tickets to play. On the flip side, hang onto the real connections you make. The people who do care about you and what you’re trying to do. Because you need a support system. Personally and professionally.
Have you won any awards or been nominated for an award? Or, in short, any achievement? Both in and out of your career path.
My 2007 album “Orpheus” was reviewed in the Austin Chronicle and given 3.5/5 stars. The song “Dust This Town” from that album was chosen as a song of the week on local radio station KUT, and I was also invited to perform it on a television show called “Songwriters Across Texas.”
The Whisky Brothers and I have played shows opening for acts such as Ghostland Observatory, Gary Clark Jr, Junior Brown, and King Khan and the Shrines. We’ve also done live performances on a couple of local tv shows, and had songs included on one or two local punk music compilations (at one point we were playing a lot of punk shows, despite not exactly being a punk band).
And there was one time I did a live radio interview and performance at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Oh yeah and then a year or two ago I got a message from BMI that my song “Ties That Bind” from the “Orpheus” album was being used in a European TV show, which was pretty cool.
What is this new release about?
This song “Keep It In The Ground!” is about fossil fuels and how they need to stop being a thing. The burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the climate crisis, and rational leaders would have outlawed their use years ago.
Who and how many people worked on it?
My band, the Whisky Brothers played on the track with me – that’s Sweets Balthaser on rhythm guitar, Ryan Boone on bass, and Matt Boettcher on drums. And then the kids singing along at the end are from my son’s second grade class at school – that was fun to record! The whole thing was engineered by Charlie Richards at Hoo Doo Studio in Austin; and the video was put together by my friend Jake Perkins in New Zealand.
What can your previous and new audiences anticipate from you in the future?
Our upcoming 5-song EP “Still Alive” should be out this summer, and we have plans for at least one more music video from that set of songs. And then I don’t know! We’ll see how it goes. Early in 2021 I felt compelled to write and demo some new songs – a compulsion I hadn’t felt in a few years – and I ran with it. That’s pretty much what got me here today. Hopefully it won’t be such a long time before the next wave of inspiration hits!