There’s something to be said for the hard-working bands in the “indie-rock community” (whatever the hell that means, at this point) who have managed to rise above the teeming echelons of no-namers–many of which will forever remain buried in the netherworlds of the underground music blogosphere.
Then there comes along a group like White Laces. The sound isn’t exactly what you might call groundbreaking–an amalgamation of dreamscape textures and laid-back hooks that throb just outside the confines of a shoe-gazer’s rhetoric. But they’re a band with a vision, and that vision just happens to be executed with a remarkable, and at times almost clairvoyant, finesse.
This kind of self-realized artistry and conviction doesn’t go unnoticed. The band went from playing small theaters and bars in their hometown of Richmond, Virginia, to a nation-wide tour last year in support of The War on Drugs. They found themselves selling out amphitheatres alongside a musical powerhouse fresh on the heels of releasing an album that garnered “best of” accolades from publications including Pitchfork and Rolling Stone.
Less than a year later the band opened up for the wildly successful Future Islands during a high-demand summer tour.
“It’s been incredible,” says Landis Wine, a founding member of White Laces. “You really can’t get a better education than to be thrust into those positions where you’re a little nervous and a little unprepared. I think we’ll be able to put out better records and end up with a better live show as a result of it.”
The opportunity arrived on the heels of Trance, an album Wine and company released almost a year ago today. Swirling evanescence mixes with rhythms and harmonies that balance the songwriting with a deliberation sorely missing from many other bands who attempt to blend ambience with pop sensibilities.
It’s something White Laces have spent years and years refining. When Cinemasophia disbanded nearly five years ago, guitarist and songwriter Wine retreated to his room and started putting together material for a new project. It would have to be a band decidedly different, that he could really believe in and imagine himself listening to.
A chance encounter at a party with Field Day drummer Jimmy Held led to a series of musical collaborations that would result in the earliest incarnation of White Laces and a Wine/Held helmed debut. The dark lyricism and washes of reverb were juxtaposed against a certain clarity and focus that have remained true to the band today.
Photo courtesy of Courage Music Photography.
Lineup changes ensued, as is often the case for most groups trying to tough it through their formative years. White Laces tied the knot with bassist Jay Ward, whose relationship with Wine extended back to songwriting together in Cinemasophia. The main difference between the groups, however, was readily apparent in the approach to the craft.
“A lot of bands will have multiple members that write the songs, yet it ends up sounding like you’re switching between different bands while you listen to it,” Wine tells BTR.
“We’re not always going to be this way, the songs each of us writes aren’t fully indistinguishable, but they’re pretty close. It’s a fun place to be since everyone is working in the same zone.”
The three would get together and jam over musical ideas until they’d discover something worth shaping into a song. Dynamically, they were a ceaseless explosion. Loud is an understatement. Wine recalls the band getting banned from a pizza joint early on for their abrasive volume levels.
Each of the members hails from varying degrees of the punk aesthetic, yet eventually they hit a sonic wall. Coming from a town like Richmond, Wine explains, you’re immersed in a musical community that is predominantly rooted in heavy metal. There’s just no way you could out-loud any of those bands–not by a long shot.
Rather than “inflicting” their sound upon audiences, White Laces decided to hone in on subtler dynamics going forward. After a brief stint playing with guitarist Alex French, the group replaced him with keyboard player and vocalist Tori this past January. She provides textures that support the punchy guitar lines and fill the spaces between bass and drums.
Her recent addition also comes with tidings of a new album on the way. After relentless touring, the band is taking some much needed time off to finish a record worth of material inspired by the colossal performances from the last year. At the end of the month, Wine will join producer Jeff Zeigler (who mixed Trance) in Philadelphia to put the finishing touches on everything.
What should listeners expect? Something more electronically rooted, it turns out. White Laces are a band that simply isn’t content with staying in one place.
“It’s different in the sense that it’s a lot more rhythm based, trying stuff that’s electronic and using a lot more samples,” says Wine. “Melodically and stylistically, however, I think people will be able to recognize that it’s us doing it.”
To hear the rest of our interview with White Laces, tune into this week’s episode of Discovery Corner.
Or interpret the music for yourself by clicking here.