Whiskey Myers Releases ‘Tornillo’

Whiskey Myers

Credit: Khris Poage
It’s been a whirlwind summer for Whiskey Myers. The Texas-based band has sold out shows, added tour dates, and played major venues like Red Rocks and Bonnaroo – all while building momentum for their new, self-produced record Tornillo.

“We’re pretty proud of what we’ve got on this album,” says lead guitarist, John Jeffers. “And we’re excited for people to hear it.”

The same day they released the album – they debuted a music video for their single “John Wayne.” At six minutes long, set in an Old West background, and featuring actor Danny Trejo, it’s more of a short film than a music video.

For anyone not familiar with Whiskey Myers, this dynamic, guitar-driven group has become known for high-energy, arena rock shows, and a music style that often blends Southern rock, country, and blues. But their sound is difficult to categorize or pigeonhole because it’s uniquely their own. And Whiskey Myers is constantly pushing the creative envelope.

“I feel like the guys are genre-less,” says Eddie Kloesel, band manager. “They strive to just make the music they want to make whether it’s rock or country or wherever it fits.”

Tornillo is a great example. The album features 12 tracks, most of them written by lead singer Cody Cannon, two others written by lead guitarist John Jeffers. Depending on the song, musical influences seemingly range from Lynyrd Skynrd to Little Feat to Waylon Jennings to the Rolling Stones, and others, but bottom line, Whiskey Myers is doing what they do best – their own thing.

Whiskey Myers new album “Tornillo”

Courtesy of Wiggy Thump Records/Thirty Tigers

For this, their sixth studio album, they wanted to try something different. For a while now, Cannon says he and other members have wanted to add horns to the mix.

“This was the second album we produced ourselves, and we wanted to change it up a little bit to show our versatility. It just worked out where it was perfect for this record. I think in the back of my mind when I was writing the songs I could kind of hear horn arrangements. And when we got into the studio it was like, let’s just put it on all of them.” He laughs, then says, “or most of them anyway.”

Whiskey Myers working on new album “Tornillo” at Sonic Ranch Studio in Texas.

Credit: Khris Poage
And though it might sound slightly different than some of what they’ve done in the past, the songs like “The Wolf,” “Whole World Gone Crazy,” “Heart of Stone,” all feature the strong lyrics their fans have grown to love – reflecting real life and real experiences.

“It’s still us at the core,” Cannon says, “because we’re writing the songs and playing the instruments.”

Producing Tornillo was a collective effort for the hard-working, close-knit band that formed in Palestine, Texas 16 years ago. Cannon says they’ve known each other and worked together so long, they can “look at each other and know what’s going to happen.”

And from the beginning, they’ve shared the same goals for the band and the music.

“We were always about the work, Cannon says. “We never gave a shit about anything else, we just wanted to play shows. We didn’t care about being famous, or walking down red carpets, or taking pictures. We just wanted to play music together. And I think our uniqueness, writing songs the way we do and our music style, kind of came out of that. Just doing it our own way because we didn’t really care about anything else.”

During their first 10 years together, they played the clubs consistently, building a strong and loyal fanbase in their home state of Texas.

Then, about six years ago, they began taking their music to other parts of the country. Meredith Jones, an agent with Creative Artists Agency was instrumental in helping them map out a strategy. She recalls telling them, “I want you to go all the way up to Maine, all the way up to Seattle, down to Miami, over to San Diego, like the whole breadth of the country. And then, international, as well.”

Once they broadened their reach and more people began discovering their music, things started to happen. In 2018, their song “Stone” was chosen for the TV show Yellowstone and Whiskey Myers became the only band to perform on the show itself.

Since then, they’ve had nine songs featured on the Paramount series, so far.

The following year, they were invited to open at a stadium show for the Rolling Stones. Jeffers says he was told Mick Jagger was going through videos on YouTube and just happened to run across one of Whiskey Myers. He describes the experience as a pinnacle career moment.

“I don’t think you can get much better than to open up for the Rolling Stones. And especially as we were there before Charlie (Watts) passed away. We got to hang out with them after our show and before their show and take some pictures. That’s a hard one to top.”

The Rolling Stones and Whiskey Myers together at Chicago’s Soldier Field – June 25, 2019

Credit: Kena Krutsinger
In June of this year, Whiskey Myers got to headline Red Rocks in Denver. It was a dream come true for the band that had turned down offers to perform there in the past, holding out until they could headline the venue. Tickets for their show sold out in less than a day. It was a long-awaited opportunity, and they made it count.

“They didn’t just show up at Red Rocks and perform the same old show,” Jones says. “They brought in singers, they brought in horns, they made sure they looked cool. They take it very seriously about portraying their art in some of these big moments.”

After Red Rocks, they performed at Bonnaroo.

For an unsigned, independent band without the backing of a big record label, their success is unprecedented. At last check, they were at more than 1-point-8 billion streams of their music.

And they’re not only selling out shows, they’re selling merchandise at near the same level as major acts like Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, and others. They’re also seeing success with their own brand of bourbon and coffee.

“These guys have developed an incredibly loyal, hard ticket fan base that wants to come see them over and over again, year after year,” Jones says. “And they keep bringing other fans into it, bringing their neighbors into it, their friends into it. Whiskey Myers continues to make better and better music, but they’ve also developed a fantastic fanbase.”

And as much as fans are drawn to the music, they seem to appreciate what the band represents.

“I really do think it’s their authenticity,” Kloesel says. “What you see with these guys is what you get. Even if you don’t even listen to their music and you just read the lyrics, there’s no question of how this band grew up and what they stood for. They’re blue-collar, hard-working people. They just do it with a guitar in their hands.”

That’s not going to change, according to Cannon, despite their growing success. Whiskey Myers will continue to focus on what matters most, writing songs, playing shows, and creating their own brand of music.

“At the end of the day, we’re just out here doing it,” Cannon says. “We’re doing the same thing we’ve always done, there’s just more people listening.”

Whiskey Myers

Credit: Khris Poage

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