By Max Asper
CALGARY – When we are younger, we tend to be much more impressionable – there are certain things we come across that can set us on a particular path. For Tony Esposito, lead singer of White Reaper, it was as simple as watching music videos from the likes of Judas Priest and Accept; two influences very prevalent in the band’s guitar-heavy sound. The young Louisville, KY, native would eventually take some of that inspiration and charisma to create “The World’s Best American Band,” or so White Reaper have deemed themselves with their latest release of the same name.
It was around the age of 13 that Esposito, the lead vocalist and guitarist of the group, would rally the troops to start playing together. Esposito recalls playing at Skull Alley, an-all ages venue in his hometown that allowed his band to perform. The band consisted of Esposito, Ryan Hater (guitar), and Sam (bass) and Nick (drums) Wilkerson, and honed their skills at the Alley. Through high school, the guys would grind through the local scene, hitting the road nationally only once they could ditch the books.
White Reaper’s sound has certainly evolved over the years, but it’s always been loud. The quartet seem to fit in a variety of genres within the indie rock world, they bring elements of classic ’60s garage rock and the rock revival of the late ’90s to early ’00s. The product is a library of lo-fi, melodic, poppy rock ‘n’ roll songs. That being said, their new album, The World’s Best American Band, released in April via Polyvinyl, incorporates a healthy dose of arena rock which is felt through the heavy, driving guitar riffs.
Obviously the new project’s title is supposed to be taken in jest, the band has displayed their sense of humor with earlier releases as well, like 2015’s, White Reaper Does It Again. The band is obviously confident, and maybe that’s because they are obsessive. After their four month North American tour, Esposito bluntly proclaims that he and his band mates are “just going to keep making records and putting them out,” without pause. A method defined by their choice to book studio time without having any material to work with for their newest project; Esposito calls it, “Let’s just make a record.” A bold strategy, but one that has led to a very good album this time around.
The future for White Reaper is bright, and it’s certainly nice to see a band penetrating the ever-expanding indie rock scene with a more traditional power pop sound. Esposito even admits that modern rock ‘n’ roll seems to be a little bit softer than it used to be, but denies any credibility to anyone’s opinion on such a massive and diverse category of music. Things are much less complicated with White Reaper; they’ll either be on the road or in the studio; always making a racket.
White Reaper perform on August 30 at the Winspear Centre (Edmonton) and August 31 at MacEwan Hall (Calgary).MacEwan Hall, White Reaper, Winspear Centre