Interview: White Lies
Wed, 18 Mar 2009 13:01:56
It’s been hard to avoid the name White Lies in the British music press for the last year. Shout outs across BBC airwaves, near-daily NME updates and blog posts galore helped fuel the “next big thing” machinery that sprung up around the three-piece post punk outfit, all of which eventually translated to a #1 debut on the UK charts for their brooding debut release, To Lose My Life… With that success under their belts, the band is now expanding their focus to American shores, as the album finally hits shelves stateside this week.
To top it all off, the trio is gearing up to hit the road in the U.S. for a massive tour that’s sure to introduce them to even more fans along the way. It’s been a long journey for a band that’s just taking its first recorded steps, and we caught up with bassist Charles Cave to help get a map of where things all started.
You debuted at #1 on the UK charts after so many months of hype. Did you expect such a meteoric launch right out of the gates?
No, not at all. No one did though, not even the people that work with us. They were even more surprised than us probably. It was an amazing start, but it still feels like a start. Wherever you end up when you make a record, it's still the start of so much. Especially coming from the UK to the U.S.. Now that something good has happened in the UK, we're setting our sights higher and trying to work as hard as we can in the other places where we have fans already.
I think the American fans are primed and ready for your arrival.
It's really exciting. We've been over twice before actually, but only for a few small shows in the major cities. They were still great, and we're looking forward to seeing a few familiar faces this time.
This is your debut record as White Lies, but the band started off back in the day as Fear of Flying. Can you tell us what the difference between those two bands is, and how that change took place?
We were in a lot of bands. We've been playing music together since we were 15, but Fear of Flying was really the only one worth mentioning. We put out a limited edition single, 500 copies. That was sort of our weekend project at school, and we don’t regret anything about it, but we were making music for other people, not for ourselves. It wasn't very honest because we were being influenced by what we thought we should be doing. We didn’t have any affection towards our songs, we just wanted people to think we were good or something. We got a bit bitter and hibernated for awhile. Then we decided to come back and write more honestly, which is when we wrote the first White Lies songs. We stopped caring what people thought, and decided to do it our own way.
The music seems very personal, like it comes from a personal place with you all, but you also know how fickle fans can be when you change on them. There's an idea of authenticity that might feel confused to the fans, even though, to you, it feels like your reality. Is there ever any disconnect between what people think is "authentic" and what you all think is?
Definitely. I think people will throw accusations at you. Like we somehow manipulated this, but we had absolutely nothing to lose when we quit our former band. We just didn’t care. We weren't trying to hit the big time; we were just trying to be happy with what we were doing. We knew that we'd worked so hard for six years at being musicians that we thought we deserved to be proud of ourselves, but we hadn't written songs that we were really proud of. For us that was the main reason. I felt guilty in our last band because we were stealing other people's ideas.
Hearing your music, I don't think you would pick this sound if you were looking to storm the charts.
That's part of what’s so weird about us making #1. I just can't think of a band like us that's made #1 is so long. The charts are dominated by pop these days. For an alternative rock band to get to #1 is good news for music. Whether you like our music or whether you don’t, I think people will appreciate the fact that we're not some sort of bubble gum pop.
You're certainly not pop. There's an overcast, grey skies, quality to your sound that I think fits into a certain UK tradition. What bands were you listening to growing up, and do you think the weather at all influenced you?
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