Alex and Francis White have been jamming together since they were kids. In 2008, they finally decided they were born to be in a band together.
“When I took up guitar, when I was about 11, he started playing drums, which was a cool decision because we were able to be a band immediately, [but] we jammed and [then] kind of went our separate ways musically,” Alex White tells BTRtoday.
Each traveled their own musical journey before teaming up for White Mystery. Alex played in Miss Alex White & The Red Orchestra and The Hot Machines and Francis playing in a rockabilly group called The Nuke Mutes. After all these experiences the siblings finally saw the light.
“I had just graduated college and we had an epiphany moment where we realized we were really destined to play together—that’s how White Mystery was born,” White says
Ten years later, Alex hasn’t looked back.
“We have a ton of fun together and I guess it’s a testament to our parents, raising us to be close and understanding and cooperative,” she says. “But we’re also really similar, so we’re hungry at the same time, tired at the same time and wanna party at the same time—and we have a pretty telepathic relationship where we can anticipate each other and I think that comes out in our music as well.”
This spring, White Mystery released Hellion Blender. Though still strongly steeped in their melodic garage rock roots, with gritty vocals over fuzzed out guitar, the album exposes their artsy side more so than before. The album kicks off with the two-minute track “Boy Next Door,” an in-your-face rock’n’roll blast, but the album ends quietly with two spoken-word tracks “Disco Ball” and “Part Deux. It’s the first time Francis has presented his lyrics without musical accompaniment. Alex loves that the words have a chance alone in the spotlight.
White Mystery “Bad Neptune”
“It’s beautiful,” Alex says about the end to Hellion Blender. “We usually back up Francis’ awesome lyrics with music, but for this album we really just wanted to hear them stand on their own two legs—so I think a lot of our fans who have all of our albums are gonna get a totally new exciting fun taste [of White Mystery] and complexity from this new record.”
While a number of artists inspired Hellion Blender, Alex singled out Shirley Manson of Garbage, who they toured with in 2012, as a key inspiration. “We were hanging out with her [Shirley Manson] last year when Garbage played with Blondie here in Chicago and we were like, ‘Shirley you’re so great, what kind of advice do you have to offer us as we turn ten and we’re moving forward?” Alex says about the inspiration to the track “Penny Saved.” “She said, ‘every experience that you guys have is like a penny in the bank.’”
After releasing 10 independent albums over 10 years, they don’t plan on selling out anytime soon. “I think if we were on a larger label they would be like, ‘what is this? This isn’t a song. We can’t get this on the radio,” Alex says. “We’re in the business of trying to change people’s minds and break rules.”
White Mystery will be offering their chaotic rock ’n’ roll shows around the East Coast until mid-August. Hear the entire interview with Alex White on this week’s The Music Meetup and White Mystery’s Hellion Blender in full.