Whiskey Drifters drift to Screwy Louie’s

Erika Kreider

It’s the Whiskey Drifters at a bar. Wonder how this band got its name?

Credit: Ben Breier


Whiskey Drifters

Where? Screwy Louie’s

When? Friday, Dec. 16 at 9:45 p.m. How much? $6 for 21, $8 for 18 to 20


College is known for drinking and having a good time, and the Whiskey Drifters bring this atmosphere right into their shows. This influenced-by-rock band sounds like classic rock with a contemporary edge, brought together by music and drinking.

The members are lead guitarist Mike Altier, senior communications major, drummer Dave Altier, sophomore business major, bassist Steve Lester, general studies major, singer Mike Bianchi and rhythm guitarist Dan Ball.

These five party-themed characters met through working at the library and being long time friends. There is also the Partridge Family-like feeling to the band, sans giddy happiness and replaced with a drunken good time, with brothers Mike Altier and Dave Altier and their cousin Lester.

“For the most part we all have a common bond in Jack Daniel’s and we’re sponsored by a bar, Bob’s Lake Bar,” Bianchi said.

Their first album, Down N’ Out, is a self-help album for themselves. A few of them had just broken up with long term girlfriends, and this album was the brainchild of the feelings associated with the breakup.

“The whole drinking part came from the girls,” Mike Altier said.

Obviously the drinking helped them because most of their songs were written on bar napkins, Ball said.

Do not get the Whiskey Drifters confused with emo rock because they sing about girls and breakups. They are strictly good rock ‘n’ roll, Bianchi said.

The lead vocals of this band stem from the raspy, knows-what-kind-of-cigarettes-he-likes singer.

“Mike is the one that a lot of people come out and see. He’s always on key and definitely a showman. His stage presence is amazing,” Mike Altier said.

The glue of the band, and butt of everyone’s jokes is Ball. He is the only member that is not in school, and it is not surprising that “he is more dedicated than anyone,” Mike Altier said.

Ball is the mastermind of the band’s contemporary sound that helps attract a younger fan base, instead of just 40-year-old bikers.

Dave Altier, the drummer, is also a vivacious mix to the bunch. He will be featured in the January issue of Drum! magazine.

For live shows, the Whiskey Drifters drink before the show, during the show and after the show, respecting their three-drink-before-the-show limit.

“We have a drink at about 10 places called Whiskey Drifter,” Bianchi said.

They claim the drinking helps them loosen up and does not change how the band sounds.

They have opened for Velvet Revolver at Germain Amphitheater in Columbus.

Because four of the five members are in college, the band does not tour and it is tricky to catch them live. They like to play bigger venues rather than play locally.

“We have a fan base in Chicago. Our fans are pretty scattered, but we need to come back and get a local base,” Ball said.

Catch them live Dec. 16, and, as they say on their Web site, “have a drink with us.”

Cheers to the Whiskey Drifters.

Contact ALL reporter Erika Kreider at [email protected].