West Water Outlaws Keep Vintage Rock 'n' Roll Alive and Well

West Water Outlaws
West Water Outlaws
West Water Outlaws / Jim Minma

With a goal of playing 150 shows all over the country in 2013, Boulder-based rock 'n' roll band West Water Outlaws have come a long way from 2010, playing shows in singer Blake "Whiskey" Rooker's basement. The band's urgent message to keep vintage rock alive was heard loud and clear over the DJ- and Autotune-drenched club hits, showcasing such influences as the Black Keys and Led Zeppelin.

Guitarist Will Buck and Rooker used to jam during freshman year of college, and then reconnected when Rooker stumbled into the wrong class a few years later. At the time, Buck was mulling over who he could recruit to start a blues-rock band, and he recalled a time he played Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance" on guitar while Rooker sang. After class the two arranged for a jam session, and they've been writing and performing ever since. After adding on drummer Andrew Oakley and bassist Vincent Ellwood, West Water Outlaws has shared the stage with major acts across the country.

Following the band's 2012 EP Real Killer is an 11-song self-titled debut album coming out on November 2, which keeps in stride with the band's diplomatic and open writing style.

Up On The Sun talked with drummer Andrew Oakley about his favorite songs off the band's debut, how funk music affects their style, and reaching their goal of 150 shows.

Tell me a bit about what people can expect from this record. It's our first full-length album, so it's just showcasing our sound and the different aspects of our influences. It'll be longer than our EP, obviously, along with a bigger variety of sounds. We've been working on it for a while, so we're really excited.

What are a couple tracks off of the record that you are particularly excited about? They all kind of have a special place for us. Our first single is going to be called "Caught in Headlights." It's super hard-rock and heavy, and the lyrics are really catchy, as is the chorus. We also branched out and used a lot of acoustic instruments, so the final track on the album is called "I'm Not Bad."

What are some of the obvious, and not so obvious, influences behind West Water Outlaws? We all grew up listening to classic rock and blues, but we all have our own different influences that we bring together. You know, we've got some heavy metal and classic rock, but we also bring in jazz and country music. Funkadelic styles [are] probably not so obvious.


How did you originally come on board with Will and Blake? I met Will in college. Me and Vince, the bass player, have been playing together in bands for about nine years now. We knew Blake through family friends, and after he and Will met they called us, because they needed a new rhythm section. We've all been playing together for about four years.

So you guys had a goal of doing 150 shows this year. Have you reached that number yet? It's going well. It's been wild touring all over the country. It's been crazy. I think we will meet that goal this year, because in the last year we've done about 100 shows.

Are you guys more into writing in the studio, or do you write on the road? We usually do writing in the downtime, like not when we're out on the road. You don't get a lot of rehearsal time playing shows every night. We also like to write all of our stuff before we go into the studio, but on this album we have a couple spontaneous tracks that we actually wrote in the studio.

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