The Good Word

Whiskey Dick Mountain preaches — just not about the usual church stuff

The squealing organ and the reverend’s voice hypnotize the audience into swaying, hand-clapping drones. Then a change in tempo, and a throaty “Hallelujah!” drives the crowd into a fire-and-brimstone tent revival. Feet stomp. Souls are saved. It’s possible someone will fall to the ground and speak in tongues. This, however, is because of booze. That is, after all, the gospel of Whiskey Dick Mountain.

“We encourage vices,” says Tim Lannigan, the band’s bassist. “Alcohol is the gospel we’re speaking. It’s not a disease.”

“We are a rhythm and blues band with biblical undertones and sinful undercurrents,” adds Ryan Coleman, who formed the gospel-blues-punk band with Lannigan in 2006, during a night of drinking.

Although the band’s name is also the name of an actual mountain in Washington state, they don’t claim to be outdoor enthusiasts.

“You should have heard some of the other names I came up with,” Coleman says.

Whiskey Dick Mountain preaches a gospel — but this isn’t Christian music. In fact, Coleman says, if any listeners are confused and bold enough to ask if they’re a Christian band, they promise to laugh and point at them.

The band simply likes the sound of gospel music. And campy church clothes. Their bible salesmen outfits, their “Amen!” outbursts — it’s satire.

In fact, Coleman says some of the band’s songs are “so blasphemous.” One song, “Baby Jesus,” refers to oral sex acts.

“We are truly a garage band,” Lannigan says. “That’s where we practice and where we record. Someone once told us our microphones smelled like gasoline.”

The band clings to their lo-fi music and claims they wouldn’t sound right if they were well-rehearsed.

Tucked in a corner of the Baby Bar, the band meets at a table shellacked with pin-up girls. Round after round of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Miller High Life and Olympia disappears at a dizzying pace. The band discusses the recording of their first album, which is taking longer than expected.

Initially, they wanted to record on vintage equipment. That plan backfired; they ended up spending every penny they had on new equipment.

“The problem is,” Lannigan laughs, “we have a bad habit of playing for free, like at this bar called the Baby Bar.” (The space, conveniently enough, is co-owned by Lannigan).

Their album has been in works for more than a year and, despite the setbacks, Lannigan says the record will be done in one take, one beer at a time. Once they’ve figured out the recording process, the band says they’ll record multiple albums.

“We’re prolific enough song writers,” Coleman says, while another chimes in, “and almost good enough musicians.”

The band hopes that with an album, they can start touring; they joke that the farthest Whiskey Dick Mountain has traveled was to Hillyard, and once to the Spokane Valley.

But just past their playful banter — about not taking themselves or their music too seriously — you’ll find a band worth listening to.

Like most punk bands, their allure is buried in their live shows. The band claims to worry more about their energy than their musicianship, and it shows, in a good way.

Mounted at the front of keyboard is a thrift-store painting of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” Behind this pulpit their organ player, Reverend Ryan, delivers his sermons. By night’s end, the audience will be hollering and tiptoeing on the line between good and evil. If he succeeds, the audience is doomed.

Whiskey Dick Mountain plays with Dearly Departed and Hillstomp at Sunset Junction on Saturday, Jan. 15, at 9 pm. Tickets $5. 21 . Call 455-9193.