The Hippo


Dec 6, 2019








Courtesy photo.

Whiskey Kill with Reverend Todd Seeley

When: Saturday, Jan. 23, 9 p.m. 
Where: True Brew Barista, 3 Bicentennial Square, Concord

Biscuits and gravy
Having fun with Whiskey Kill

By Michael Witthaus

When Whiskey Kill front man Tom Ferry clicks on his cell phone to begin the interview, he’s parked outside a Palm Springs restaurant called Felipe’s. With him is his significant other, Elissa Williamson. 
“We’re on our way for some Mexican food,” he said, adding with a laugh, “but we just call it food.” 
It’s a fitting stop on a West Coast winter vacation. The spirit of Whiskey Kill’s high-octane rockabilly sound lives in many of these dusty desert towns. Social Distortion leader Mike Ness came up in nearby Orange County, and echoes are evident of the 1980s L.A. club scene, a melting pot where punks, roots rockers and cowboys shared stages, at shows the band plays in its Seacoast home.
Southern California is also where Williamson grew up. Though she’s not a performing member of the Whiskey Kill, the four-piece band wouldn’t exist without her. 
“If you’ve heard our stuff, a lot of these stories are Elissa’s,” Ferry said. “I build hooks around them.”
Ferry calls Williamson Whiskey Kill’s “muse” — officially, she’s the manager. 
“Elissa makes the jackets, the connections, crafts the whole image. I didn’t even play rockabilly music before her, though I loved it,” he said.
He was in an alt country groove when they met; Ferry’s band had a name but lacked a sound. “Elissa came from ska and rockabilly and we just sort of crashed together,” Ferry said. At her urging, the band began opening shows with a bit of revved up twang; crowds ate it up. Soon, the two were writing songs together, with names like “Cold Steel Lover” and “Pissed Off Betty,” the latter the title track of Whiskey Kill’s  2012 debut album. 
The band plays everywhere — bars and car shows, gun clubs and KofC halls, forging a Johnny Burnette-like path across New England. In particular, the denizens of Fury’s Publick House love them. 
“It’s more working class in Dover, straight up,” Ferry said. “Younger people are going to our shows. We call them the bearded barber crowd; they like to drink PBR and enjoy some good music.”
Since forming six years ago, Whiskey Kill has made three albums. Its latest, Round Three, is a scorcher.  Pedal-to-the-metal standouts include “Loaded Gun,” “She Loves This Car” and “The Motel That Time Forgot” – the latter a co-write with guitarist John Cortes inspired by a road trip to the Catskills where they encountered many long-in-the-tooth resorts.
The hard-luck-story song “Herointown” and “God Bless All The Bars,” a tune so honky tonk all that’s missing is the Nudie suit, are among the other treats on Round Three, released last September. 
Whiskey Kill is returning to Concord for a show at True Brew Barista on Jan. 23. While Ferry is a late bloomer as a performer, he spent a lot of his youth in Concord. The currently emerging live music scene encourages him; his band played last summer’s Camp-N-Jam Festival and had a great time.
“I know the area well. … Back then, Chantilly’s and maybe Forefathers had music, there just wasn’t a ton,” he said. “To see a couple of music venues popping up and where they’re open to original music, that’s tremendous —anything that’s fresh and original. Back when I lived there it seemed to be a lot jammier.” 
The band is a part-time endeavor, a labor of love in many ways. This means that just breaking even adds up to a more than decent payday. It often provides an excuse for Ferry and his mates to live out the reckless youth they never had. Recently the band, currently rounded out by Mike Demers on drums and bassist Roy Himmer Jr., drove across multiple state lines to play a car show in North Carolina. 
“We all have good jobs and can pay our bills. We’re in the time of our life where if we want to take a vacation, we can afford it,” Ferry said. “We wanted to sell a few CDs and T-shirts, but I don’t think we even did that and we didn’t care. We got in late and slept. We enjoyed the car show, played our gig, and stayed over again. It was like a 15-hour drive each way.” 
The band returned home energized, ready for their next roadhouse show.
“I’d never done that; we’ve all been local weekend warriors,” Ferry said. “We felt like we were in our 20s living on peanut butter. It was biscuits and gravy.” 

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