White Reaper Wants to Be the World's Best American Band

White Reaper Wants to Be the World's Best American Band
Photo by Jesse DeFlorio/Courtesy of Grandstand HQ
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White Reaper certainly makes no bones about their convictions with their second album, The World’s Best American Band. Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, the four-piece has grown from Marked Men-style garage-rock to a blend of glam and power-pop. And they’ve made one of the best records released so far this year.

Front man/guitarist Tony Esposito, along with keyboardist Ryan Hater, bassist Sam Wilkerson and drummer Nick Wilkerson, looks forward to hitting the road, as they’ve been off of it since last fall. Though the band is young, they’ve hit up the Lone Star State a few times already.

In trying to remember positive or not-so-positive memories about their previous trips here, White Reaper didn’t give a stock answer. “As far as Texas goes, a lot of positive memories,” Esposito says. “We’ve always played great shows in Dallas and Houston and especially Austin. Austin was one of the first places that we sold out a show that wasn’t in Louisville. So, that was a great feeling.”

As for why the band tours so much, it's more than just a youthful desire to get out of town, Esposito promises. “We’re the only band in Louisville that sounds the way that we do,” he says. “It makes us want to go out and tour to meet other people like us and other bands that make similar music to ours. Meet people and make friends that way.”

If they stayed in their hometown, they’d only be a good band in their town. Touring makes any band better, and Esposito agrees 100 percent. “You have to tour,” he says. Because of all the touring they did for their debut album, White Reaper Does It Again, that helped them figure out how to progress as a band. “I think we wrote better songs because we are better players,” Esposito says. “How we got better was playing so many shows.”

For The World’s Best American Band, hearing bands like Heart, The Sweet, Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, the Stooges and the Cars on terrestrial radio greatly influenced their new material, which was recorded a year ago. “Usually when we’re out on tour, we run out of data, so we can’t really use Spotify or anything like that, so we surfed the radio dials until we found oldies stations and classic-rock radio,” Esposito says. “We listened to that stuff all the time.”

The band sound like they’re swinging for the fences here, and it has worked out. And in 2017, the concept of doing more doesn’t equate to becoming a phony sellout. “I think you should be what you want to be regardless of what other people say you are,” Esposito says. “So far, everyone’s been incredibly supportive.”

Their tour kicks off at Walter’s, and White Reaper will be on tour almost nonstop until September. They’re already working some new song ideas for a third LP, but for now, it’s all about this album cycle. “We’d like to play as many shows and as many places as possible, so we’ll see what happens,” Esposito says.

White Reaper performs with SWMRS and No Parents on Sunday, April 23 at Walter's Downtown, 1120 Naylor. Doors open at 7 p.m.; $15-17.

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