"I was on a trip to Ireland with my family when I fell in love with the fiddle," recalls Bobby Fitzgerald. "It just seemed so fucking cool!"
The Whiskey Shivers front man began playing the instrument at 12 years old, honing the skill while growing up in the tiny upstate New York town of Dundee, where his high school's graduating class had just 53 students. In 2009, the singer relocated south, settling into Austin.
"There was no plan," he reflects. "I just had to go somewhere."
Pairing punk skuzz with bluegrass twang, the quintet -- washboard player Joe Deuce, guitarist Jeff Hortillosa, banjoist James Bookert, bassist Andrew VanVoorhees, and bandleader Fitzgerald -- fittingly brand their genre "trashgrass."
"Our music is accessible -- anyone can do it," laughs Fitzgerald. "We just make a bunch of noise."
Earlier this year, the group summoned native Houstonian and fellow folk wiz Robert Ellis to produce their self-titled fourth LP.
"This album was the first time we really took recording seriously," he explains. "Before, we'd just been doing whatever...we were experienced, but this was the first time we made a real, actual record.
"So, we wanted to do the very best job we could," he admits.
Introduced through a mutual friend, Ellis traveled to Austin to attend a Whiskey Shivers show and largely shaped the group's September release.
"It was just immediate. Perfect chemistry," notes Fitzgerald of meeting Ellis. "He's such an incredible musician; like, stupid good!"
Story continues on the next page.
Recording at Houston's famed SugarHill Studios, the group found boundless inspiration in Ellis' expertise.
"He brought so much to the table, always thinking and listening, and always on-point," Fitzgerald's says. "Like, any idea we had, Robert already had - and his idea was better. The whole experience was a great opportunity for us to just listen and learn.
Plus, we're nice guys, but I can't say we're the easiest bunch of dudes to hang with," the singer admits. "We can be trying and exhausting," he admits, "But Robert...he can hang."
The album's outcome, a rowdy breed of delinquent Americana-rock, is even better consumed live, the band's infectious pep often spurring all-encompassing rock-and-roll hoedowns in the audience. Their tour hits Fitz Tuesday night with the Legendary Shack Shakers.
Touring, says the front man, is an even greater reward than recording.
"There's simply nothing I'd rather be doing," he says. "It's just...perfect."
Whiskey Shivers and Legendary Shack Shakers perform Tuesday night at Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak. Doors open at 8 p.m.
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Support Our Journalism