White Denim

Bedlam In the USA

For Issue 39, Clash Magazine spoke to White Denim’s bassist Steve Terebecki read below for the full interview

On the wire from the other side of the Atlantic, he’s on his way to jam in his home town of Austin when he reveals that even though LP number two is about to drop in the UK, the jamming trio might already have another full album in their shorts. The revelation is made when the topic of White Denim’s upcoming summer gigs is mentioned, when Terebecki assures me that even if you were there to experience the band’s enthralling live shows last year, there are new highs to be had this summer.

“There are a couple of songs that we never played live last summer and I think we’re actually going to be bringing those songs we never played off ‘Workout Holiday’ we’ll be playing this summer. We spice it up!” the lean bassist gags before continuing. “And we’re also playing new songs from our third record. Nobody knows what they are so we’re playing new stuff too.”

This all too casual insight to the eminent group’s prolificness excites, as it was just over a year ago that White Denim (Steve, guitarist/vocalist James Petralli and drummer Joshua Block) debuted in the UK with ‘Workout Holiday’. Critically, 2008 was a ripper year for the groove-riding three whose genre jarring jam of funk, psyche rock and prog with a ’60s garage aesthetic had them the toast of Britain’s broadsheet and musical press. The hook-honing simplicity of debut single ‘Let’s Talk About It’ and follow up ‘Shake, Shake, Shake’ plucked a tender string in the hearts of audiences, though Terebecki is quick to applaud Full Time Hobby, the band’s UK label, for aiding the group’s fruitful year.

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“We had no idea what to expect because we had been doing things ourself here [in the US], so we definitely didn’t have very high expectations. We were just happy having a record released, you know, and having it maybe in a couple of stores, but Full Time Hobby, they are definitely professionals and know what they’re doing.”

Credits continue to roll for the British indie (home to The Hold Steady, Fujiya & Miyagi and more recently School Of Seven Bells) for feeding White Denim to the UK, having hooked them up with Tom Haynes, who produced the comical video to ‘Shake, Shake, Shake’ and also securing the posse with a slot at Glastonbury. Indeed 2008 was a stellar debut year and, having squeezed out a US LP (‘Exposion’, a self-released cocktail of songs from ‘Workout Holiday’ and previous EPs) since then, White Denim stand before us with a second edition, ‘Fits’.

“We would sort of go to the studio and we did this thing where we would record one song idea per day. And we did that for probably about twenty days and then we made a record from those one-day sessions and decided where to go, or what songs we were going to work on a little bit more. And then spent extra time on those songs. It happened really fast and smoothly.”

And so, these single day sessions (and tacos, I’m told) eventuated in the simply marvelous ‘Fits’, a fun tumble dryer of tunes packed with hot sound sheets and rolling guitar beds. Potent bass riffs and hammering beats surge through the start of the record, though unlike the brilliantly chaotic ‘Workout Holiday’, ‘Fits’ is a record with two distinguishable faces: the first a snarling mad, note bending, zany rock-a-thon, the second a melancholic and soul filled, space-rock journey. The airy, softer face seals the record, as Petralli’s sentimental falsettos and Block’s gently brushed cymbal in final track ‘Syncn’ bares light on White Denim’s widely noted diversity. Though fittingly ‘Syncn’ is a joyous send out to an album that has a congenital air of optimism within it, from the Stevie Wonder-esque chorus of ‘Regina Holding Hands’ to the dreamy, lax-stringed highs of ‘Mirrored And Reverse’. Raucous opener ‘Radio Milk, How Can You Stand It’ similarly re-introduces White Denim as, above all things, maestros of rhythm and bona fide soul. Though this thematic stoicism is wholly unintentional, the omittance of politics, opinions and socially loaded lyrics makes ‘Fits’ a deafening rebuttal to the reprimanding (Gallows, The Enemy) and morbid (White Lies) thoughts currently nourishing the creativity of young British rock bands.

“We’re pretty laid back and we all have our opinions but I guess just our personality types, we’re the type of people that for the most part like to keep our opinions to ourself, but I have nothing against political bands. To me, the political aspect kind of speaks to a younger crowd. If you talk to thirty-five-year-olds about politics, chances are you’re not going to sway their minds in a couple of days; they’ve already made up their mind. It almost seems like you’re cutting off a big part of who you’re talking to if you’re just talking about politics and things like that,” states the bassist insightfully.

Though somehow more than anything, ‘Fits’ cements White Denim as a band of experience, where the beats, riffs and rhythms assume a life of their own, and these three scruffy white boys from Texas become the instruments for this suburb psych-rock. Indeed the stench of summer is upon us, and though this crew have upped the production ante and similarly fine-tuned their sound (“I think people will think it’s more focused and more cohesive as a record,” reveals Terebecki) it’s safe to say that White Denim will yet again, have a wild, raucous season.

words by Natasha Arico

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