White Denim has been getting some serious ass pats from the blogosphere over the last few months, and I’m happy to join in on the lovefest. Their last two eps have been ball crushing psych rock filled with yelps and jumps and noise. I had heard only good things about the live show, so I ventured out into a lovely Montreal evening to see White Denim with Tapes n’ Tapes at the Cabaret Music Hall. Heres how it went down:
When I first heard White Denim’s music I half expected to go the show and see huge dudes with Abraham Lincoln beards, swigging bottles of red label. Thats not exactly how it turned out, but close. The trio (Steve Terbecki (Bass), James Petrelli (Guitar), and Josh Block (Drums) came on stage to a pretty thin crowd. The lack of enthusiasm did not nothing to quell the bands fury. All three members shredded back and forth. Steve initially looks like the kind of guy that’d be great at dungeons and dragons, and while thats probably true he also busts lines on the bass like no ones business. Josh’s talent comes off in their recordings, but what I really liked about his live show was that he looked like he was in serious physical pain. Really, like he was about to explode from too much syncopated madness. James is as good of a frontman as I’ve seen in a while. He reminded of Justin Harris from Menomena. Singing rawkusly, whilst thrashing the guitar and looping licks left and right. All the guys had their own thing going on, but the sound came together tight, and the effect was a wall of tripped out rock that had me mesmerized all the way through.
Songs like “Mess Your Hair Up” only became cooler when played mind numbingly loud. Understandably, not everyone felt that way (i.e. the girls standing next to me who spent the whole set coming to the conclusion that the band playing was not, in fact, tapes n’ tapes), but the people who weren’t turned off by the booming onslaught were seriously into it. Enough for the crowd to chant “one more song” when the set ended. The band obliged and everyone continued to rock-the-fuck-out.
James was kind enough to hook ML up with an interview. That and some tracks after the jump.
ML: So you guys were just in London and Paris. How was that?
James: Yeah, that was a lot of fun. We played so much we really didn’t get to take in any sites which was disappointing, but the shows were great.
ML: Those were some of your first shows over seas?
James: Yeah definitely
ML: So weve seen a couple EP’s and the four songs out on RCRD LBL, but is there any news on an LP?
James: Yeah the LP is done already, but we don’t have a…well we might put it out ourselves within the next couple of weeks, ya know if we cant get something together. Its actually been done for a long time hah. Were working on a second record already.
ML: Nice, I look forward to it. I’m a little curious about the sound because it seems like all of your songs have a different style to them. How is that going to translate in the record?
James: Oh Yeah, I mean we tried our best to make a cohesive record, but the way that we work, were drawn to so many different things. Some people might come away feeling like it’s a bit scattered. But we tried to work different parts into different songs and look at it a little bit as a whole. I mean, it makes a whole lot of sense to us but im not sure if it will translate. You never know these things
ML: If anything White Denim has an eclectic sound. It seems like reviewers are always searching for the right reference to describe you. Does that shit ever bother you? Like review us not some other jackass.
James: Yeah ya know I guess being referenced is just sort of part of the whole thing. That’s a big part of our style…were referencing lots of different sources. Lots of different styles and trends in music. So I guess that will always sort of be a part of what were doing. But sometimes someone will throw out a reference, and maybe Ill hear that when were really cranking, but when I’m just sitting down listening to our music I won’t hear that.
ML: So you and Josh (Block) started off in a band called Parque Touch, is that right? (I actually said torch and he corrected me and I felt like a dumbass, but we will just leave that part out)
James: Yeah that was really the first time we ever tried to get together and write rock music. Before that I was doing a lot of improvised post-rock type of stuff, ya know some real dorky kind of late 90s stuff. And Josh comes from a Jazz background so we just came together, and parque touch was sort of our first attempt to play, what we considered, straight forward rock music. We also picked up Steve (Terebecki) so he was also a member of that group, eventually, and then our singer moved away so we just started writing songs together. We’ve been playing as White Denim though for about two years.
ML: So it hasn’t been long since you were at South by Southwest which is in your hometown (Austin). That must be nice?
James: For sure! Being able to sleep in your own bed is great. And just being able to play as many times as you can, ya know.
ML: Plus you’ve got ACL (Austin City Limits) coming up?
James: Yeah, its crazy this year. Im not really sure what were gonna do with all that stage space. (Laughs) I’m a little nervous about it to tell you the truth.
ML: I saw your show in Montreal a few days ago. What’d you think of the town? Man you should consider yourself lucky you got the weather you did.
James: Montreal is beautiful man. We didn’t get enough chance to look around, but yea the weather was great and the architecture was amazing. Also, the people at the venue (Cabaret Music Hall) were so kind and accommodating, good people.
ML: At the show I felt you guys weren’t as in your element with everyone just sort of standing around. Do you think your show makes more sense with like bar fights and blood flying and what not?
James: Ha, that’s usually the case outside of Texas…I mean that’s just sort of the way it goes. For some people that are first hearing our music it could be or might be a little frustrating. Ya know, they might come in with certain expectations of what they’re gonna hear, and we sort of change song direction a lot and theres lots of different ideas, so that could be kind of a weird experience.
ML: At the end you guys stopped then abruptly picked up the instruments and started playing again. Was that just for fun?
James: Hah, well that show was kind of weird because I had busted up my finger really bad a couple nights before.
ML: I saw that. It looked pretty burly.
James: Thanks. Yeah, so I tried to play by gluing my fingers together, but that wasn’t really working, so I tried to use some tape. I couldn’t really play like that so I eventually just lost the tape. That was more comfortable but my fingers were all gross. Anyway, I felt like I sort of needed to redeem myself with one more song. Hah, I’m not sure if it came off that way, but yea.
ML: Ha, well I enjoyed it. I am told you guys are on the road. What do you usually listen to on the ride?
James: Today were listening to Robert Wyatt. You know the guy from soft machine. You know those records?
ML: Yes, good shit.
James: Its fucken great shit man. Also, I got a chance to listen to the new tapes n’ tapes. I like the production, its good to see people moving forward.
White Denim will continue their tour over the next few months. Check em out.
White Denim-Paint Silver Gold & White Denim-World as a Waiting room over at RCRD LBL