The Whale & The Warbler has a sound that turns beautiful into sublime. The band’s melodic acoustic guitar and horns are always vulnerable to sudden incendiary crescendos of full-bodied instrumentation. The band achieves this effect through its array of instruments, including acoustic, hollow-body, and bass guitars, a trumpet and trombone harmony and a viola, all supported by a full drum set. It combines elements of folk, down-tempo jazz and swing.
The Whale & The Warbler began when trumpeter senior Steve Rosenzweig and guitarist and singer senior Conor McCann met in their fraternity a year and a half ago.
Along with violist Emily Cirincione ‘13, they put together the 15 minute-long original version of their song, “Mary & the Carousel” for a Battle of the Bands show. The band was then formed, under the name of Red Skeleton and the Elk’s Breath, and their sound was experimental.
“We would start progressively playing weirder and weirder music,” Rosenzweig said. “We played this one song called ‘We Are Birds’ − we would just squawk for 10 minutes. We thought we needed a ‘birdier’ name; we came up with The Whale & The Warbler.”
Out of that early experimental sound came the songs that were used for the band’s album, Thanksgiving, which was released Sept. 19.
According to McCann, Thanksgiving is “largely about the way emotions work qualitatively, rather than quantitatively.”
“My goal was to put the kind of emotion that would accompany serious tragedies, and serious highs and lows, with less substantial happenings.”
The band’s music also contains themes of the American experience, and a lot of songs can be interpreted as stories, as Rosenzweig and percussionist senior Rob Wojcikiewicz added.
The entire band contributes to writing the songs, typically beginning with a guitar chord progression prepared by McCann, a process he said can take months. The rest of the musicians then write their own parts for the song until it is complete.
Rosenzweig cited a challenge that he and trombonist junior Andy Patt face in every song. They struggle to find the harmony between their instruments that m sakes fullest sound. Rosenzweig said that he draws inspiration from playing jazz to find those harmonies with another horn.
Wojcikiewicz added that one of the elements that makes The Whale & The Warbler unique is its emphasis on a swing beat in the music.
The long-term goals of The Whale & The Warbler, setting aside ideas of going into space and playing a show under the ocean, are to continue making full-length albums and to tour the United States.
“We’re starting to write more music,” McCann said. “But we want to get touring. Keep making music, finish school − and keep the family together.”