Drawing on mildly psychedelic influences and living with a growing dislike of anyone meddling with their music, fiercely independent Texans White Denim are treading an unusual path.
Born in vibrant Austin – a rare liberal haven in the state – the four-piece almost collapsed in recent years, when two of the four members walked out to tour with another act. Having considered their future, remaining members James Petralli and Steve Terebecki came out publicly to say that despite a recent UK top twenty album, they weren’t sure they could carry on.
But carry on they did. Recruiting new members and re-routing their music to its original, slightly roughshod home turf, they abandoned the idea of producers, and reconnected with the shabby, garage-led sound of their early records. They also set themselves back up in their music-obsessed city, ploughing their own furrow far from watching eyes in a purpose build studio far from the eyes of record labels looking to spin their sound.
“Austin has so many venues that you could play every day of the week if you wanted to,” Terebecki says of the early days that have begun to inspire again. “I guess that helped us to forge our set up as a live band, which was really healthy. Now, we probably play in London more than we do in Austin. We had two albums out in the UK before we released the first one in the US, so we had a bit of a head start there, and we play a lot of shows in Europe compared the back home.”
White Denim are now seven albums deep, but their most recent effort ‘Stiff’ is unusual, in that it is such a throwback to the band that originally broke out of the Texan scene, and throws aside the more complex take of the last three or four records along the way.
“I don’t think too much has changed, really,” Terebecki says. “We used to listen to a lot of early 70s [Frank] Zappa, and we still do. We’re kind of all over the place, like that stuff. We don’t write for a record, particularly. We have enough tracks to put our another three or four records right now, but we’re writing them as individual tracks.”
“Instead, when it comes to releasing something, we look at what we have and how it will fit together as a whole. Starting with the new guys has really helped us grow. We had to relearn a lot of old songs with them, and they’re not easy songs to learn. It’s given us confidence that we can work it out and carry on.”
“They haven’t been contributing too much to the writing on the stuff we have out so far, but that’s changing now. They’ve hit it out of the park, really. We’re tighter than ever, and really happy with what we’re writing. It’s taken away the question marks that we had a couple of years ago, really.”
Shortly after I spoke Terebecki, White Denim announced their eighth album, ‘Side Effects’, which is likely to feature heavily in the forthcoming Dublin show, where the freshly-forged four-piece will refuse to toe the line.
“We’re not the type of band to play the ‘hits’ or even the same songs for many shows in a row. We also don’t change too much to suit an audience. We like extended instrumental, bridges, messing with our songs, stuff like that,” Terebecki says. “We think it works better, but I guess that’s for the audience to judge.”