In The Middle with White Denim

Austin-based band White Denim first gained public attention in the late 2000’s for their experimental and infectious sound. Since then, the band have received continuous praise for their creativity and eclecticism. With elements of the blues, psychedelia and indie rock, White Denim are one of the most exciting and dynamic acts around. Following the release of their well-received seventh studio album Performance in August, the band are eager to embark on their February UK tour. I was able to speak to bassist and vocalist Steve Terebecki to discuss White Denim’s latest album and their upcoming tour.

What was it like mixing and recording parts of your latest album Performance in your own studio- Radio Milk?

It was great, it was the first record that we produced ourselves since Last Day of Summer. We kind of went through three records working with other people and in other studios so it was nice to finally have it back and with all the time we wanted to make the record. It’s how we did our first few records and it was nice to take time with the songs.

How do you feel Performance is different to your previous albums?

Because we got to spend all the time we wanted to on it, Performance has the spirit of our earlier records. Also, since we weren’t watching the clock we were able to develop the songs and try everything out that we wanted to. It’s our second record with a new line-up so we collaborated on our song writing with three or four different guys. That was new for us as we normally have everything written out, but it was fun to open the door to different ideas.

The album artwork is really interesting, and it is also used as animation in your music video for ‘Magazin’. How did this come about?

I have a buddy named Will Gaynor who is a great artist. I have always appreciated his work and he’s pretty prolific, he puts a lot of stuff out there. We have always liked to pick pieces of art for our covers instead of getting someone to make an album cover. Will is doing our new record Side Effects that’s coming out too.

You have also been announced to perform at Gasparilla music festival. How do you like the dynamic of performing at festivals in comparison to concerts?

I like festivals for the most part. There is a more eclectic mix of bands than when you’re playing a club show. That being said, there are really great festivals and really horrible ones, but with the ones you haven’t played before it’s a bit of a dice roll. However, sometimes the bad ones are just as fun as the good ones.

You are touring in the UK before going back to America. Is there anything that you are particularly looking forward to with this tour?

We are looking forward to playing Newcastle again because we haven’t played there in a long time and going back to Leeds of course. Also, the Albert Hall in Manchester and the Roundhouse in London are exciting venues for us. It is also exciting with the band that we have right now, we are sounding better than we have maybe ever sounded.

You have a huge fan base in the UK. How are the audience in comparison to the American audience?

We have always had a larger audience in the UK because our first couple of records were released there on the label Full Time Hobby. We self-released our first two records in the States, so we had a two-record head start in the UK. The shows in the UK have always been energetic but in America, maybe because we are from here, it doesn’t quite have the same energy. The US is so big that it’s hard to have a great show every night as you have to play smaller towns in front of people who may not know you. Yet, no matter where we play in the UK, there are back to back good shows.

Your music is dynamic and exciting since it has elements of multiple genres. Do you think this a reason why you receive a lot of praise for your live performances?

I don’t know if that’s the reason, I feel some people like that, but we like to keep things fresh and interesting for ourselves. We are always trying to do new things so maybe that’s what people pick up from our live shows. For example, we haven’t played ‘Let’s Talk About it’ the same way for 12 years.

You toured with B.C. Camplight in November and he is supporting you on this UK tour- It must be great touring with musicians that you know well.

I’m a big fan of Brian’s records so it is exciting that he’s going to come on tour with us in November. It was great to see him perform every night and they are a great group of musicians. It was a fun tour in November, so it just makes me look forward to this one in February even more.

What music are you currently listening to?

Lately I’ve been listening to early to mid-70s Zappa records like Weasles Ripped My Flesh and stuff like that. There’s a German krautrock band called Kraan that I’ve been listening to. For newer stuff I’ve been listening to Chris Cohen, he’s got a new record coming out soon. Also, Cass McCombs has been around the same period as us and he’s really great. I’ve been listening to B.C. Camplight, even though I couldn’t get his songs out of my head for a month after we toured with him. I’m that style of listener where I don’t really like to repeat listens very often; I have a month-long playlist that I try to cycle through.

Be sure to catch White Denim on their UK tour, the band will be in Leeds on the 19th of February at the 02 Academy.

Phoebe Berman

Header image via Roundhouse