After nearly a decade of playing music together, Whiskey Class is giving a new kind of release a spin.
A self-titled EP from Patrick Troll and Liz Snyder, Southeast Alaskans now living in Seattle who perform and record together as Whiskey Class, is being released on vinyl — a first for the duo. While most buyers will need to wait for later this month to get their hands on a copy, Troll already has his copies.
“It still is trippy,” Troll said of the record. “I was looking at it, and it’s like that’s our sound coming through the indents.”
Both Snyder and Troll praised the personal touches and ritual associated with records. The extra-large album art, the legible text on the packaging’s spine, the artwork inserts and the listener participation required to place a record on a platter and drop a tonearm were cited as part of the appeal. Plus, in an era where even MP3s and a dedicated audio player are generally eschewed for streaming, there’s a novelty to actually owning a release in a tangible way.
“I feel it’s really special to have a physical copy of something,” Snyder said.
Troll and Snyder each said releasing music on vinyl is a process drastically different from putting it out on other formats, such as CD.
“You can’t make a vinyl in your bedroom,” Troll said.
Snyder said “Whiskey Class” was about a year in the making. Troll said the band had a couple of songs completed, when No Trend Records, a Chicago-based record label, reached out and set the wheels of a vinyl release in motion.
“Once we kind of knew that this was going to be on a record, we were like we have to make this sound good,” Troll said. “I think it’s some of our best work yet.”
In addition to Troll and Snyder, the EP features additional guitar and bass from Alex Nelson, additional guitar from Cullen McCormick, additional vocals and lyrics from Alex Kotlarsz and additional lyric support from Kyle Palmer, according to the album credits.
“It wasn’t just me and Patrick, we had a bunch of homies,” Snyder said.
It took a team to bring the physical release to fruition, too.
Troll said No Trend was massively helpful in getting the music mastered for vinyl and finding a plant that could press it. The EP, which was mixed by Troll who Snyder called a “wizard,” was mastered by Carl Saff, cut at Welcome to 1979, a Nashville-based studio, and pressed at Blue Sprocket Pressing, a vinyl record-maker based in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
The process that led to the physical release included decision-making on minute details about packaging that is absent from other types of releases.
“It was a lot of back-and-forth,” Snyder said.
Both she and Troll said they were ultimately pleased with the results.
The cover art, which depicts Troll and Snyder in detailed, black-and-white line drawings frozen mid-reverie by a psychedelic paisley UFO tractor beam, was done by Kelsey Lovig. Album layouts were done by Tyler White and West Smith. The Iron and Wine-meets-Madchester aesthetic fits with the EP’s electro-tinged, spacey folk sound.
“Opening the box was a pretty surreal moment,” Troll said. “It was a dream come true.”
The artists are hopeful the bespoke final product finds its audience.
“It would be awesome to see support,” Snyder said.
Troll said he’d be excited if all 300 copies of the EP find buyers.
Vinyl hounds in Juneau have the chance to make that happen, as both local record stores —Downtown Disc and Hi-Fi Senpai — plan to stock “Whiskey Class.”
Keith Crocker, co-owner of Downtown Disc, said his shop will have three copies in stock when the store opens on Friday. Nano Brooks, co-owner of Hi-Fi Senpai, said he hopes to have copies soon. Shoppers will also be able to purchase it through the Downtown Disc site, Crocker said.
Getting the release into her hometown’s record stores was a goal for Snyder.
“That was honestly my only thought,” Snyder said. “I want these in Juneau.”
Whiskey Class can trace its roots back to the Alaska Folk Festival in Juneau —specifically the 2012 iteration of the fest.
That’s when the duo started playing music together. And over the years, Snyder, who is from Juneau, and Troll, who is from Ketchikan, have continued to collaborate. and release music.
Snyder said “Whiskey Class” is the first Whiskey Class project recorded while the duo lived within driving distance. Although, early on in the recording process, the then-nascent pandemic meant recording in familiar ways.
“Liz and I didn’t really meet up for the first couple of months of the pandemic,” Troll said. “We started getting together, and we kind of made these tracks just in our bedrooms, just the two of us.”
Eventually, in-person recording could safely take place, Troll said.
With vaccines now widely and freely available, there are plans for some Whiskey Class live performances in the near future.
Snyder said the live shows have evolved to feature multiple musicians to better replicate the music without having to be overly reliant on pre-recorded music. Both Snyder and Troll said they’re hopeful that the future holds performances in Alaska.
“Alaska’s still a huge part of our identity,” Troll said. “There’s so much talent in Alaska. So much talent and energy. It’s in my DNA. It’s just who I am.”
• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.