The big country

The Whiskey Heroes

Classic twangers: Max Landis, Trent Wood, Dillon Secklin and Aaron Henry are Whiskey Heroes.

Classic twangers: Max Landis, Trent Wood, Dillon Secklin and Aaron Henry are Whiskey Heroes.

Photo/Anna Hart

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Formed in the summer of 2014, The Whiskey Heroes is a five-piece ensemble that infuses country music with elements of classic rock, heavy metal, and R&B. The band’s lineup is Aaron Henry on lead guitar, Dillon Secklin on drums, Matt Bailey on rhythm guitar, Max Landis on bass, and Trent Wood on rhythm guitar and lead vocals.

While the undercuts, cowboy hats, and rugged beards have proved overwhelmingly effective in drawing in sizable audiences—including a lot of older women—for The Whiskey Heroes, their strongest attribute is the uniqueness of their style.

Amid the classic twang and power of storytelling that defines country music, the Whiskey Heroes also employs an eclectic mix of guitar riffs, edgy vocals and relaxed backbeat. It’s a combination that distinguishes the group from the pop-infused country music of today, while still being accessible to a larger audience.

The fusion of so many different musical elements is due in large part to the musical backgrounds of each member. This has ranged from an R&B group, to classical and jazz training, to playing for Beard the Lion, a local heavy metal band that had garnered a significant fan base before its split a few years ago.

“When I listen to Keith Urban or Jason Aldean, I don’t hear their drummers throwing in fat double bass rolls,” said Landis. “And Urban is a great guitar player, but he just can’t melt faces like Aaron. … There are little moments in our music that show the musical path we’ve traveled.”

“There are a lot of people who hate country music,” said Henry. “It’s this definitive barrier between people who do and don’t like it. What we want to do is create music that bridges that gap and can appeal to everyone, especially those that aren’t normally fans of country.”

For the most part, none of the members played country music originally. But as The Whiskey Heroes originated as an acoustic duo from small towns in Northern Nevada, the transition to the genre was organic.

“We’re from places like Carson City and Dayton, so the influence of the country lifestyle has always been around us,” said Wood. “And over the last few years we’ve gone to Night in the Country. That has made a huge impact on us.”

Night in the Country is a country music festival held every summer in Yerington, Nevada. This years’ festival proved to be a big milestone for The Whiskey Heroes.

“Earlier this year, Night in the Country held a battle of the bands for a chance to open the event,” said Wood. “We had a lot of our friends nudge us to do it. We ended up entering right at the last minute. I even thought we missed the deadline. But we made it, so [Henry] and I rounded up three of our friends, and had three days to practice before the contest. We didn’t consider that we’d actually win.”

Two months later, The Whiskey Heroes found themselves playing at Nevada’s longest-running country music festival to a crowd of close to 2,000.

Since then, the band has played a multitude of shows and events, most recently the inaugural Off Beat Music Festival held in downtown Reno.

Currently, The Whiskey Heroes are in the midst of creating a new full-length album. The band hopes to finish recording by the end of this year to release the CD by next January.

“We all find those songs that make us feel a certain type of way,” Henry said. “I hope that this album can do that for someone. I just want to write someone’s favorite song one day.”