It’s one thing to be compared to a legendary band, but it’s a far greater achievement to be recognized as great musicians based on your own merit. White Lies long ago escaped the lazy critic-syndrom that tried to lump them along with Interpol as a “second-wave Joy Division”. Their music has an epic quality that if far more comfortable in a stadium than in the bedroom of a sullen teenage boy. Here are the young men who come from England and seek to capture your heart. Bassist Charles Cave from the band took a few moments with Todd to discuss the upcoming release of their newest album, Ritual.
TDOA: As big fans of Alan Moulder, we were quite excited to hear that he was producing the new album. Can you talk about the experience of working with him?
CC: It was a great experience. Something we would repeat in a flash. We already had a fairly good relationship with him as he mixed our debut album but of course that was solidified during these sessions. We trust and value his opinion so highly that we insisted he be involved before a single note was written. We were calling or emailing between us multiple times a day sharing ideas and suggesting things to try. When it came to actually recording the music properly in his studio, there was no doubt about the songs. We were all totally on the same page and understood what needed to be done. Everything else that came from those six weeks but hugely enjoyable and inspirational.
TDOA: Some producers inject themselves into the process of writing and/or arranging, some help shape the “sound” of the record, while others are there purely to just keep the whole thing organized. What role did Alan play?
CC: I think I have just answered this question already. He clearly played the role of a traditional producer, which is rare these days. We trusted him with everything. Including dinner.
TDOA: He’s worked with so many bands, were there particular records he’s worked on that drew you to him?
CC: Probably for this album it was ‘The Fragile’ and ‘With Teeth’ by Nine Inch Nails. Those albums are a fantastic demonstration of injecting tasteful electronic instrumentation into a rock music. We approach making music in a fairly intellectual way in that we don’t jam or anything. We talked with Alan about the process of making The Fragile and it seems we worked in the same way on Ritual. Starting with drum loops or rhythmic ideas and then creating a sonic landscape around that and then trying to fit a very simple song amongst it all!
TDOA: How has the songwriting process for the band changed over the years? Does each member bring their own songs to the table or do you do the bulk of your writing when you’re together?
CC: No, we never write whole songs alone. I will sometimes come to Harry with a chorus based on some lyrics and chords I have written, but a lot of editing and re-working happens all the time. That is the fun part. It’s great to share the responsibility with such interesting and talented musicians. I would hate to rely on only my skills. The main thing that has changed is we now involve a computer from the first moment of writing something. It is an amazing way of being able to create a sketch of any music idea you can think of. In seconds you can have an orchestra in front of you and equally a Minimoog or a steel drum.
TDOA: You’ve all made it clear that people have mis-identified your influences in the past. Why do you think critics seemed to universally attempt to compare you to bands like Joy Division and Interpol?
CC: To be honest it really isn’t something I even think about any more. Harry sings in a baritone register. Not many bands have a singer who can or will do that. Those two aforementioned are rare examples. Also critics are sheep. I ought to start using that to my advantage more and making up some lies in interviews.
TDOA: In the past, Harry had said their would be no new material in 2010 do to your touring schedule. Some bands write on the road, while others don’t. Why do you find it challenging to write while on tour and what do you consider to be the best environment for writing?
CC: I think if you are interested in writing individual songs one at a time then writing on the road is very productive. But for us, we make albums and they need to be done in a concentrated period of time with no interruptions. We wrote this album in five weeks in Harry’s parents living room. We wouldn’t have written it in five years of touring.
TDOA: Can you talk a bit about the video for Bigger Than Us? How involved do you get in story-boarding your videos and discussing the message/look of them?
CC: We don’t get involved in the fine details. I am a very passionate movie enthusiast and would some-day love to be involved in film but when it comes to music videos, we approve or disapprove and that is about it. This video was made by Jonas and Francois who are two young but accomplished Parisian directors. It is a short love story with a surreal twist based around a scene from E.T.. Have a look and make up your own mind I would say. It has got a lot of people talking!
TDOA: Do you enjoy making videos or are they merely a necessary evil of the industry?
CC: I enjoy seeing them finished. Making videos involves more waiting around doing nothing (often in the cold) than I can often entertain.
TDOA: It’s rare for bands to have great success in both England and the U.S.. Any thoughts on why the U.S. is so difficult to crack?
CC: The United States invented the music it listens to. In Europe we have stolen, shared, mixed, and re-worked music between our countries for centuries longer than America has existed. Of course some music was brought to America during the slave trade between the 16th and 19th century and that traditional African music will have had a huge influence on the ‘blues’ which is heard all over America today in different forms. However, once America became fully colonised, I don’t feel it let much more influence enter its shores and instead developed musical history in a vacuum. This means that anything invented outside the US, no matter how close it might cater to the American music-lover, will sound alien. I think though, now after years of this, some people are keen to hear what we do over the Atlantic. There’s never been a better time for a British band in the United States and we feel lucky to be invited over to give it a shot.
TDOA: How would you describe the new album to your fans?
CC: To our fans I would say, “Trust me. Trust me. I think you’ll love it.” To someone that has no idea about us, I think I would say, “Trust me. Trust me. I love it.”
As a bonus feature for our readers, we offer you this free download of a free version of Bigger Than Us.
DEC 17 Fleche D’Or Paris, FRANCE
DEC 18 Haus Auensee, Leipzig, Germany
JAN 22 Neumos, Seattle, US
JAN 24 Troubadour, Los Angeles
JAN 27 Highline Ballroom, New York City
JAN 29 Mod Club, Toronto, Canada
FEB 4 Cambridge Junction UNITED KINGDOM
FEB 6 Norwich UEA UNITED KINGDOM
FEB 7 Brighton Corn Exchange UNITED KINGDOM
FEB 9 Bristol O2 Academy UNITED KINGDOM
FEB 10 London Shepherds Bush Empire UNITED KINGDOM
FEB 13 Leeds O2 Academy UNITED KINGDOM
FEB 14 Birmingham Institute UNITED KINGDOM
FEB 16 Glasgow Barrowland UNITED KINGDOM
FEB 17 Newcastle O2 Academy UNITED KINGDOM
FEB 18 Manchester Academy UNITED KINGDOM
FEB 23 Lille Grand Mix FRANCE
FEB 24 Amsterdam HMH NETHERLANDS
FEB 25 Hamburg Docks GERMANY
FEB 27 Oslo Rocke