Today’s Feature – November 25-26: White Lies

November 27, 2008 at 10:57 am (Today's Feature)


Don’t be fooled – while UK-based band White Lies has formed a clearly advanced sound, they’re not some band who burst onto the scene just this year. They were known as Fear of Flying from 2005 until earlier this year, and put out some great stuff including two double A-side vinyl singles: “Routemaster/Round Three” and “Three’s a Crowd/Forget-Me-Nots.” However members Harry McVeigh, Charles Cave and Jack Lawrence-Brown soon realized their music was taking them to a level they’d never been before; a place that a band like Fear of Flying couldn’t exist. Thus the introduction of White Lies, complete with a compelling, darker sound, something they feel is best described as “Cathedral Pop… cinematic and yet tender at times.”

In preparation for their new record, “To Lose My Life” (available January 12th), White Lies has released an EP called “Death,” a sort of appetizer for what is to come. Harry, Charles and Jack have a unique approach to their music; an approach that also operates as sound advice to any emerging artist. They say “if you start with bells and whistles, there is going to be a hollow belly underneath which will eventually be exposed. With us, lyrics come first and then we try different things to establish the mood we want to take the song in. We layer and layer and strip way until we are happy with how the arrangement sits.” Admittedly, “Death” and “To Lose My Life” has its definite influences, but Charles says it is still “uncompromising and comes very naturally to us. I also think that our sound is very bold compared to a lot of other bands at the moment.”

As the date for the new record approaches, White Lies continues to tour forcefully. They know their stuff, and they know exactly how to bring it to the people. So check the schedule as they start their UK tour with Glasvegas, work their way to the NME tour in the UK before returning to the states. There’s a lot more to learn in the XXQ’s, so jump in.

XXQs: White Lies – Charles (PEV): Tell us about how you first jumped into becoming White Lies? Was it an instant connection for the band?

Charles: As with everything to do with White Lies. The creation of the band came from the creation of songs. We wrote unfinished Business and Death very close together and knew in our hearts that we were finally proud of ourselves musically. It was a moment in time for us that needed to be named so White Lies for us, represents not only a future of writing important music but a very definite time for us personally where we were finally happy with our creativity.

PEV: Hailing from Chiswick in West London, England., what kind of music where each of the members listening to growing up?  Do you guys argue on different kinds of music? What was the first concert you attended?

Charles: Yes we argue about music and always have. i always hope to. I find there’s three things you can talk about to get someone heated up, religion, politics and music. We all grew up on different things. Harry was classically trained from an early age, although that doesn’t come into the work of White Lies much. I was brought up on Paul Simon and Brazilian music my Dad listened to a lot. But we’ve all agreed on a few bands over the years that will always be important to us like Talking Heads, Echo and The Bunnymen more recently.

PEV: Tell us about your creative process… What kind of environment do you have to be in to write music?

Charles: We have to be somewhere where we can sit down and relax. Harry and I always come up with the basic ideas for songs on a keyboard and then it gets handed over to the gang as a whole and we rip it to shreds. David Bowie reportedly wrote Life On Mars with two fingers on an out of tune piano (apparently he wasn’t a good player at all) but which ever producer working with him at the time, heard it in that simplistic and crude form and knew it was an exceptional song. We have adopted that technique in some ways. if you start with bells and whistles, there is going to be a hollow belly underneath which will eventually be exposed. With us, lyrics come first and then we try different things to establish the mood we want to take the song in. We layer and layer and strip way until we are happy with how the arrangement sits.

PEV: Having performed together for quite some time, what can fans expect from a live show?

Charles: We have got to the stage where we know the songs and can play them well. So for us, the excitement and fun starts now with our live show. We can now totally engage with each other and people watching in a non vocal way. We dont like to say much on stage. Everything we have to say that is worth saying is already being sung in the different songs. We love to be very involved in our lighting and we view our shows as a performance but not an act.

PEV: Tell us about your first live performance as a band. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?

Charles: We will never forget our first show. It was the most pressure I think any of us have ever felt. Knowing we were basically going into the lions den. Family, friends, record labels, producers, you name it, we all there willing to listen but as is the way in London, ready to go “it’s all hype” after two songs. At the end of the set, there were actual tears coming from some men and our families and friends were speechless. It sealed the deal for us in our confidence in our music and also proved a lot to those who had always believed in us. It also impressed a lot of record people.

PEV: What can fans expect from your latest EP, “Death”? What was the collaborative process for this album?

Charles: The Death EP is a small taster of what is to come next year. It features the song Death which is the first track off our forthcoming album and a big moment in our live show. it also features one B-side track and two remixes. One of those remixes was done by Crystal Castles which we were and are still flattered to have had that done. It wasn’t a collaboration in that we didn’t Ethan (CC) any rules or guidelines. The collaboration came from his ideas and a song we had written. We are very pleased with how it turned out. he has really put his fingerprint on that.

PEV: How is “Death” different from others out right now?

Charles: Our music is not un-influenced. It is not even unfamiliar. But it is uncompromising and comes very naturally to us. We dont worry about what other people will think too much, but rather hat we will think of a song three months later. I dont think too many bands can say that these days. I also think that our sound is very bold compared to a lot of other bands at the moment. Its very emotive and powerful.

PEV: How would you describe the sound of White Lies? How do you plan to stand out above the other musicians in your genre?

Charles: The best description of us has been “Cathedral Pop”. We like that term. Our sound is cinematic and yet tender at times. However we have no qualms about rocking out in some moments. We do what is right for each song. We plan to stand out by maintaining our integrity, by exploring things that we find interesting whether it be string arrangements

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of the band?

Charles: Perhaps something about all of us is that none of us can drive…

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

Charles: I think we are still hoping that will be true but we’re not even a year down the line of doing it properly yet.

PEV: What one word best describes White Lies?

Charles: Sincere.
PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts? Any fun stories?

Charles: Life on the road is very lonely at times. We all miss home and it is hard to stay sane. However playing the music we love every night makes it very worth while. Not really any funny stories. We like to go Go-Karting when we can though and that usually gets pretty competitive.

PEV: In all your travels, which has been your favorite city to play (US or International)?

Charles: I would say Reykjavik in Iceland. The people are lovely and the atmosphere is amazing because of their culture. The scenery is breathtaking and really suits our sound.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

Charles: Everyone is happy for us but it does mean that we dont get to see people as much as we would like. At the end of the day, everyone is so thrilled that our hard work seems to be paying off.

PEV: What can we find the members of the band doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

Charles: Watching films. Writing, going Go-Karting, listen to more music. Normal stuff.

PEV: Which artist would be your dream collaboration? Why?

Charles: Scott Walker. He is always pushing any country in sight and it would be really interesting to see what he might see in us.

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

Charles: Yes, Violens.

PEV: If you weren’t playing music, what would the members of the band most likely be doing for a career?

Charles: Id like to study film. We would all be involved in something creative. That’s just who we are. There never felt like we made a choice to do what we do.

PEV: So, what is next for White Lies?

Charles: We are currently feeling like dragons sitting on a pile of gold. Our debut album is ready and we are so proud of it. We can’t wait for people to hear it when it comes out early next year. We are doing a UK tour with Glasvegas. Early next year we are going to play on the NME tour in the UK before returning to the USA and Europe/Japan etc to play the album to everyone.

For more information on White Lies, check out:


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