When terrorists stormed the historic French theater turned rock concert hall last November, the Whigs’ Julian Dorio was seated behind his drum kit on stage with Eagles of Death Metal.
“I’d gotten that phone call in October. They needed a fill-in for the tour and off I went,” says Dorio, who was two weeks into the tour at the time of the terrorist attack at Le Bataclan in Paris.
Barely a month later, Dorio was back in the States with the Athens-born, Nashville-based rock trio to play two Atlanta concerts from which its new live album, “Live at Little Five” was culled.
“The live album (was) my first show after the attacks with the exception of playing two songs with U2, which is more of a mind-melting, weird experience with all the emotions we were going through at the time,” he explains, standing in the new nursery he and his wife recently put together.
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“I didn’t really know what to expect or what to think, but it was important to me to get back on the horse,” he continues. “That doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with some strange feeling. Playing in Atlanta was great and I’m happy with the recording. I can’t help but be scanning the room like I never have before.”
On Friday, the Whigs will play Visulite Theatre surrounded by friends and longtime fans. It re-teams with old buddies the Sammies, a local band it met while both bands were in college more than a decade ago. Since then, the Whigs have released five albums, toured amphitheaters with Kings of Leon, and played “Late Night with David Letterman” four times.
“Charlotte was one of the first cities we would play out of town,” Dorio says. “That was a huge deal to us, even though it was only a three-hour drive. We met the Sammies and became immediate friends. Charlotte’s always stood out to us. We played Charlotte more than we played most cities.”
The trio’s history here made Dorio’s presence at Le Bataclan hit home. Sammies’ frontman Will Huntley was admittedly jealous when he heard his friend was touring with EoDM.
“We listened to Eagles of Death Metal since their first album,” Huntley says. “I met Jesse (Hughes) from EoDM at SXSW, found out he went to Clemson, and studied journalism, so when I heard Julian was going to tour with them I was insanely jealous. ...
“The day of (the attack), he posted a pic. Julian was riding a bike around (Paris), about to take the stage at another cool venue, getting paid to play music for a band I really liked.”
“That was what was so crazy, the juxtaposition,” Huntley continues. “I go from being happy for one of my boys, to worried to death, no longer jealous, thinking no one should have to go through that.”
When the news broke, Huntley texted prayers to Whigs’ frontman Parker Gispert, who responded soon after that Dorio made it out and was OK.
“Live at Little Five,” which is a brisk 10 tracks instead of a sprawling double album, will be released on vinyl on Nov. 11, two days before the anniversary of the attack. But Dorio is looking forward.
“Oddly enough our baby is due Nov. 8th,” Dorio says. “It’ll be a strange week.”
When: 8:45 p.m. Friday.
Where: Visulite Theatre, 1615 Elizabeth Ave.
Details: 704-358-9200; www.visulite.com.