In its native Midwest, The Why Store regularly plays to soldout venues. Its first two independent albums sold more than 30,000 copies, and the Indianapolis-based group has a 8,000-member fan club of self-professed “Whomheads” who follow them from show to show.
Now the rock quintet plays an unaccustomary second-fiddle to the Samples on a nationwide tour that opened July 17 in Louisville, Ky.
“We’ve worked our way up to being a headlining act and playing two-and-a-half-hour shows,” Why Store lead singer-guitarist Chris Shaffer said recently. “We’re taking the back seat just to get to some new places. It is going to be kind of different for us, but we’re willing to do this for a little while.”
They are willing to do just about anything to get the word out about its self-titled album on Way Cool Music/MCA. The slow-burn rocker “Lack of Water” is already whetting some appetites, climbing Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
“Lack of Water” originally appeared on The Why Store’s second album, “Inside The Why Store.” It was remastered and added to the new album, humorously placed as track No. 27 on the 13-cut disc.
“That’s my baby, but I didn’t pick it to be the single,” Shaffer said. “The president of the label has everything to do with that. I wrote it, but he pushed it 100 percent. We added a few tweaks to make it similar-sounding to this record. At first, we argued a while about adding it, but I compromised and said let’s put it down at the bottom and make it a bonus track kind of thing.”
The Why Store is a do-it-yourself success story. Shaffer, who has a marketing degree from Ball State University, teamed with guitarist Michael David Smith, bassist Greg Gardner, drummer Charlie Bushor and keyboardist Jeff Pedersen in 1991. Their first two albums and relentless touring didn’t go unnoticed by the major labels. They settled on Way Cool for its small-label attention.
“We wanted to make the best album we could make and keep on growing and improving,” Shaffer said. “We want to go gold and then platinum. That’s what’s great about this band, we’ve always set goals, achieved them and then set new goals.
“We’ve never sat on our laurels and said, ‘Oh, we made it, we got a record deal.’ We knew that once we signed this deal that we have to work harder than ever now.”