Catching Up

An interview with The Great Whiskey Rebellion

By Zach Shaw
Scarlet Staff

The Great Whiskey Rebellion at the '09 Battle of the Bands. Photo by Ashley Klann.

Geo Poor, Amy Levine, Emma Hyatt, and Nick Checchio have certainly accomplished more than most Clark musicians since graduating. Not only have they become staples on the campus music scene, but the Great Whiskey Rebellion has continued to move forward, expanding their fan base within the Massachusetts bar scene and releasing the EP On The Whiskey Trail.

Their unique blend of Irish folk music and live rock adrenaline has made them a fan favorite amongst mass audiences. It’s for that reason why many Clarkies get riled up whenever the Clark graduate band returns to campus.
GWR’s most recent return to Clark came at this year’s Spree Day.

After performing a blistering full hour set, I got the chance to sit down with the quartet to discuss the recording process of their debut release, the band’s start and transformation into their current state, their experience performing on and off campus, and what they hope the future holds for them.

What have you guys been up to since you were last at Clark?

Nick Checchio: These two [Geo and Amy] did a lot of writing during that time. We always practice like one day a week. So I would just come down to their place and they just would’ve written a song. We’d learn that, and then just practice old stuff. We kind of just took the time to do some writing and see where we could go.

Amy Levine: Yeah, and we played a few shows in Worcester and around the Northern Boston area too. But yeah, writing and just taking the hiatus towards a new direction was kind of what we were doing.
So does more writing mean that we can expect a new album or EP soon?

Geo Poor: That’s the hope. Definitely new live material, and the hope and plan is to get into the recording studio and record a new CD with a lot of those new tracks and some of the older crowd favorites.

Geo Poor on bass. Photo by Ashley Klann.

Before the Great Whiskey Rebellion, I know a lot of you were in other bands at Clark. Like [Amy and Emma were in] The G Spots. I don’t know, though, about Geo and Nick…

Nick: Not me. This is my first band! I’ve been saving myself [laughs]
How do you feel being in The G Spots, or any other college band you were in, differs from the Great Whiskey Rebellion?

Nick: And though we have this great, loyal following at Clark, we don’t consider ourselves a Clark band. Like we got started in Boston and then came to Worcester, which worked out for us because we love playing here and it’s totally appreciative of all of our fans. But we don’t identify as a college band. We were all in grad school and we all kind of started somewhere else and then came back here.

Emma: I still think of us as a Clark band, though.

Nick: I mean, we met at Clark, but our first shows were in Boston.

Amy: But that was thanks to Clark.

Well, in that case, were you guys relatively surprised when you won the Clark Battle Of The Bands back in January, 2010?

Amy: Yeah, we didn’t even think about that being a big deal at all [beforehand]. We were like “Oh yeah, guess we got this one more thing to play” because we were playing all the time.

I just remember how at the Battle Of The Bands, everyone’s jaws just dropped to the ground when you guys performed. Pretty much most of the musicians playing that night, including me, were like “Crap, they won!” [laughs]

Nick: And what was cool about that for us, or at least what I enjoyed, was that that was the first time we had met a lot of bands that we would play with later on.

Geo: I feel like I knew absolutely nothing [while I was in college], particularly about going out and playing shows. When you’re at Clark, you almost never leave this little bubble of a community. You don’t go out in Worcester.

And it’s totally different now cause there’s no safety net of “This is where we live, this is where we’re going to play.” So we have to go out and play different places, which is better because there’s definitely more money [laughs], and also more people to connect with.

Amy: But Worcester in general has been awesome. Outside of Clark, Worcester has been a great place for us.

Amy: Beatnick’s has been great! We’ve played a lot at Beatnick’s. And the good thing is we get a lot of people who are like “Oh yeah, I’ve heard about you,” or “Oh, I just stumbled in, and you guys are great,” and the widest range of ages and interests and all kinds of people.

So then they really must love your cover of Snoop Dogg’s “Gin And Juice,” eh?

Nick: We edit. [laughs]

Amy: We played a show at Fiddler’s Green. It’s all people in their 70’s. So I was editing some words, which is silly cause they’re old and they’ve heard everything, but I felt a little guilty. And I edited some words in “Gin And Juice” and it was really funny, but I don’t remember what I said.

Nick: Instead of rubbers you called them “greasy coats.” That’s the one I remember.

Amy: Yeah, there were a few other words I very quickly, on the fly edited. But overall, we’ve done very well with, like kids love to dance to our music!

Geo: And I would branch off from what we were saying before in terms of advice for people in bands and not in bands is “get off this campus!” I lived in Worcester for ten years, and I never knew what was here until the last three of four because I didn’t venture out of this area. There’s actually a lot to do. It’s actually not as bad of a city as people make it out to be.

Nick: We’ve developed really good relationships with bartenders and owners. We actually got started in Beatnick’s cause the cooks heard us at an open mic night! That was how we developed that relationship.

Geo: I think that’s a really great thing, when the bartenders are big fans of your band because the bartenders here hear every band and hate 90% of them. So when they like you, you know you’re doing something right there!

So this may be looking too far ahead, but where do you guys hope to see the band in 10 years or so?

Amy: On the whisky trail maybe.

Nick: We’ve definitely talked about it and we all have other plans outside of this band. Well, geographically, other plans. [laughs] I mean, I don’t know.

Geo: I would love to have this really go somewhere. I mean, that’s been my dream, is to be able to make a living off of music, for a very, very long time.
And this is the first band that I’ve actually had any success with, other than a handful of fans, and that have made some good bank with. We have potential to actually make that go somewhere, and that’s what I’d love to see happen.

Emma: It seems like it’s getting more serious. I’m filing taxes for the band this year! And we had a manager [Blake Boris-Schacter, fellow Clark graduate] albeit it was for a short time, but it still was good.

Nick: People tell us that we’re on to something. That sensation I get, I mean we’re still just playing little places like four or five times a month, but scratching at the surface of something is really good. I mean, it’s always special to me, but it’s definitely…it would be nice to be doing this in ten years! I can’t work nine to five. [laughs]

Clarkies won’t have to wait much longer for the band’s next campus gig. The Great Whiskey Rebellion will be playing at this year’s Relay For Life event on April 29 and Earth Day on May 1 (both at Clark University). You can check out the band’s website (TheGreatWhiskeyRebellion.com) to keep up to date on all things Great Whiskey Rebellion, while you can purchase their EP On The Great Whiskey Trail on iTunes or CD Baby.