White Lies Biography
White Lies are the glowering, glistening, moody, magnificent, cheekbones-of-granite, stone cold future of Rock...
As teenagers in what now seems a different life, they were a spanking great pop band called Fear Of Flying. Lumped in with the underage Way Out West club scene they’d known each other since they were babies in West London, been playing together since bassist Charles Cave and drummer Jack Brown played woodblock and triangle at a school play, and formed a proper band with singer Harry McVeigh at the age of fifteen (Jack got his first drum kit literally a fortnight before the band formed). Eventually they outgrew themselves, with ideas and ambition beyond the confines of the pop band they had created.
Those years spent playing weeknight gigs to an excitable burgeoning fanbase and being driven home at midnight by their mams in time for assembly in the morning were all in aid of finding their musical feet. Starting with a jagged and jittery desire to make any music they could, influenced by each member’s vastly different musical taste, they gradually honed their style into a more atmospheric, grandiose beast. Then last October they found themselves writing an elegiac mood rock masterpiece by the name of ‘Unfinished Business’ inside fifteen minutes, realised it was the first of their songs which was the work of master pop craftsmen rather than enthusiastic trainees and decided on a fateful tube journey home from the studio that Fear Of Flying were dead; long live White Lies.
“Towards the end of it we were like ‘This is veering towards something much better’.” says Charles. “And that’s why there came a point where we said ‘We’ve got these new songs that sound really different, they’re where we want to be’. We had three songs and after the first one we pretty much decided that that was what we wanted to do, we decided to wipe the slate clean.”
White Lies were go. With their music blooming with darkness, maturity and density – ‘Unfinished Business’, with its church organ synths, gigantic galloping gouts of guitar and mentions of having blood on your hands, singer Harry McVeigh resembled a preacher-man Julian Cope fronting a tuneful Interpol – their transformation had to be total. Their image blackened to suit their new mood and their gigs began to rage with such devout intensity that some fans were literally driven to tears.
“We wanted our first show to look amazing, sound amazing and it needed to be like the perfect first show” Jack grins. “It was quite intense really and not only was there a lot of pressure on us to perform well but afterwards friends, family and just random people were taken aback by it. We had friends who were on the verge of crying and it was weird.
“It’s kinda religious,” Harry nods.
Charles: “It is and people send us messages saying ‘I’ve listened to this song 59 times in the last week’ and at the same time that’s intense but we’ve all done that with other bands and it feels really good to be one of those bands."
Does it feel like a bit of a cult?
Charles chuckles. “It is yeah”
With all of the lyrics written by Charles, a fresh, invigorating and slightly deviant new storyteller enters an indie landscape full of mouthy Mancs and dole-ish dullards like a dark-eyed Nick Cave overdosing on James Herbert and Shakespeare’s tragedies. Dark, cinematic tales of murder, madness, revenge, loss and love from beyond the grave; as we speak he’s working on a piece concerning a girl who hates her parents so much that, to get their revenge on her, they include a clause in their will forcing her to have them stuffed and mounted in her front room so she has to look at them every day. And that’s one of the brighter tracks.
“‘Unfinished Business’ is a story about a guy who comes to try and sort out some kind of argument with his lover,” Charles explains, “but when he gets there he finds out that the argument is so severe she ends up killing him. He’s a ghost and she’s begging God for forgiveness and he’s like ‘don’t worry we can still be together’. And we have a song called ‘E.S.T’ which I wrote after talking to my dad about family history as I never really heard much about his grandparents and he told me about his Grandmother who was a manic depressive and this was years ago when doctors really didn’t know how to deal with it, so they were going to send her for electric shock therapy.”
The result is a brooding synth rock monolith of desolation, desperation and ultimate hope that combines with the like of the elegant orchestral pop gallop of ‘From The Stars’ – imagine an undead Killers - and the unequivocally titled glory stomp that is ‘Death’ to create a monstrous new talent; a band of immaculate melody, poise and portent. A band, essentially, born to play in churches. Charles laughs. “Definitely, that’s something we want to do when we get to that stage and whether it’s at a weird outdoor space or at an old church or something.”
“It brings people into your world if you can find somewhere that matches your sound,” Harry nods. “I mean we use organs, so playing in those kinds of places would be great. I think it should feel like you’re on a set that matches the sound, like on the side of a huge lake surrounded by mountains.”
And that new moniker?
“It sounds like it should be something quite pure,” Jack muses, “but it also sounds quite tainted and has a dark undercurrent and so does our music.”
“Like I said about the songs we’re singing about things that people think about everyday but pointing out how dark they are,” Charles adds. “Everyone tells white lies everyday and it’s the kind of the thing that you do on reflex but it’s still a lie.”
White Lies: you’ll either love them or you’re already dead.