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Whigs Sound Man Travels Well


Local musician/sound engineer
Steve Girton.

Original Post

One day in 1989, Steve Girton walked into Bogart’s looking for a job as a sound engineer and was hired on the spot. That night he found himself alone at the mixing board doing sound for the opening band, the Afghan Whigs. “(Singer Greg) Dulli asked me to turn up his guitar, and I did. The next thing he asked me is if I wanted to go on the road with them,” Girton says.

Thus began Girton’s 10-year association with the Whigs as the band’s live-sound engineer, one of several such gigs the Newport resident has landed over the last 15 years. Here are five memorable excerpts from Girton’s travelogue:

Afghan Whigs (1989-1999): “The grunge thing was happening, and they were the first Sub Pop band who wasn’t from Seattle, so it was a big deal. It was great. I got to go to a lot of places: Yugoslavia before the war, Austria, Amsterdam, and all those festivals in Europe where you get to see all these other bands. I engineered their live records and in-studio radio shows.”

Scrawl (1990): “Nice girls. They were co-headlining a tour with the Whigs, and I was doing sound for both bands. That’s when (Whigs bassist John) Curley’s back went out. They had a big show in New York that they didn’t want to cancel, so I played bass. The day before we shot a video for “You My Flower” at Maxwell’s in Hoboken. I played bass but the director told me to stay out of the light.”

Better than Ezra (1995): “They called me because my name was on a Whigs record. Their hit was called “Good.” It was a big college frat-rock type song. They were playing Bogart’s-type places, 1,000-seaters, really packing them in. The Whigs was all they really wanted to talk about. Big, big fans, which I can understand, but I would have rather talked about something else all day long.”

The Spinanes (1996): “That tour ended in Seattle, where Greg (Dulli) was living at the time. He was in the studio doing demos for the next Whigs album, and I came in to play bass. The drummer on those demos was Dave Grohl, so it was me, Greg and Dave Grohl playing together. That’s one of the benefits of being on the road, getting to play with all kinds of people.”

Interpol (2003): “In Boston, the light guy didn’t get out of his bunk on the bus for sound check. Somebody whistled loudly right in his ear, and the guy didn’t flinch. I said, ‘I think we should call medical people to wake him up.’ An ambulance came. He had an overdose. He took too many uppers, and then he took a downer and went way down. He was all right, but they said he had some hearing loss.”

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