After releasing three consecutive top five albums, it’s hard to imagine finding anyone who hasn’t yet heard of the White Lies, the trio hailing from London behind “Farewell To The Fairground” and “To Lose My Life”.
However, we managed to find such a person right here in the TSA office and set out to convert him to a fan and – spoiler alert – we succeeded. So much so that TSA’s Kenny became determined to find out more about the band and to his delight, he discovered that their fourth studio album, Friends, had just been released in October following a three year hiatus and that the band have just recently embarked on an extensive tour which will include a stop in Glasgow – guess who’ll be attending that.
So ahead of the White Lies gig at Glasgow’s O2 ABC on 27 November, TSA’s Kenny was thrilled to be able to chat to Jack Lawrence-Brown from the band about their latest album, playing in Glasgow and the show everyone has been talking about, Stranger Things.
To be honest I’d never listened to White Lies before and listening back through your older material the new album has a different focus sound wise?
Yeah! We always like meeting people who haven’t heard our previous album because I think it’s the best way to get a really honest review of it actually. It’s always good to hear what people think about the albums, going through the catalogue the opposite way.
It’s a different sound for us for sure, we have had a lot more creative control I think than we’ve had on previous records and we were very keen to go for whatever we wanted to go for for each song we weren’t worried if it sounded like anything we’d done before or how different it could have been from the first album for example. It was a fun process, shackles taken off.
What music was the band listening to while you were writing this? Anything that was influencing you directly?
Well I think the truth is that I think we were listening to quite a large amount of varied people really. Certain songs take inspiration, a kind of jumping off point from different works from the past.
A lot of the more upbeat songs were the dancey ones, with things like the guitar playing. All the things that we listen to find their way onto the record in a small way but in the end it sounds like a White Lies album and I think this one is a very different take on a White Lies album.
I’m hearing a bit of A-Ha on “Take It Out On Me” and maybe another couple of songs.
That’s a great shout, I don’t know if at any time we thought directly about A-Ha but it is quite similar to that. A-Ha were one of the great bands of the 80’s and potentially got a little bit overlooked because they had these massive hits that the rest of their output got ignored but they’re actually quite an incredible band.
So you recorded Friends in a pretty special studio?
We were very privileged to go to Brian Ferry’s place in London which is not a commercial studio, he lets people use it occasionally. We were pretty much the first young band to use it, was really exciting – Prince was there a few months back. It was quite an honour just going there it’s so full of history, quite a space in which to be working.
Compared with your previous albums the synths are really prominent. Was it soft synths you used or the old classics from his studio?
It was a bit of a mix, a lot of the synths are soft synths which are from the demo stages of the record but then obviously didn’t want to get bogged down in the world of synths that were available to us there because there was everything from the first two Roxy Music albums and a lot of them hadn’t been played for about 30 years.
We could quite easily have got quite over excited about that. We did use them, of course we had to, couldn’t have them there and not use them and give them an airing, which was great and we found a great combination between modern technology and really quite 80’s technology. As long as it sounds good and they’re definitely part of the sound on the record.
Like everyone else, I’ve been watching Stranger Things lately and when I was listening to one of the songs from the album, “Don’t Want To Feel It All”, it reminded me of that.
I love that thought, it’s such a great compliment. Obviously that show is amazing and it’s true that they go through a lot of the same influences, the soundtrack I thought actually when I was watching Stranger Things, a lot of our early videos, the way they were filmed is quite similar to the way that show was filmed.
I definitely think there’s a connection between White Lies and that show.
What’s your plans for the next 6 months?
We’ve been working on a few bits and bobs for the record, we’ve a couple of videos we filmed a couple of weeks ago before we went on tour which should be seeing the light of day in the not too distant future, that’s pretty exciting.
We’ll be touring all through November, coming up to Glasgow touring the north of England and we’ve announced for next year another headline show in London in March and we’ll be putting in more dates around then too.
My feeling is we’ll probably be touring around the UK maybe at the start of next year then back into Europe playing and I use inverted commas when I say this, a greatest hits type set, like we might play to a festival crowd and that’s always really fun.
It’s pretty exiting for us on our forth album and we’ve so many songs to choose from now and we don’t have to play everything we know. In previous tours we’ve been going on stage and thinking alright we need to play every song we’ve ever learnt and thankfully we’re now at the stage of our career that we can pick the good ones and leave the other ones.
I think that’s what we’re really finding on this tour that we’re able to put together a really strong and concise set and it’s been really enjoyable.
Any other bands you’re listening to just now you could recommend?
There’s a record that’s out from an old friend of ours from a few years back who has put an album out, out of the blue. The album’s called Borderland State and it’s by a guy called J Churcher. I can highly recommend that, should give it a listen on Spotify, it’s a really cool record that.