In 2011, I interviewed White Lies‘ Jack Lawrence-Brown ahead of the trio’s debut performance in Singapore. However, the concert never happened. Two years later, I will be watching White Lies playing at a private event and thought it would be a good time to dig out the interview that never ran at TODAY for the sake of completeness.
KM: Congrats on the new album (2011’s Rituals), people usually say that 2nd albums are difficult ones, was it true in this case?
JLB: I think it wasn’t really the case. Maybe we were lucky or maybe it’s different for other bands but for us it was a much easier album to make than the first record and also a lot more enjoyable. It was a process we all really enjoyed getting into. And we were really worried about making a 2nd album but it actually happened quite naturally for us.
KM: Why were you worried about the 2nd album?
JLB: Just because we were touring for 2 and a half years and we hadn’t done anything creative in terms of songwriting or recording for that long so it’s a worry when you sit again and have to think – do we know how to do this? But thankfully, it came to us quite easily.
KM: So what was the process or approach for this recording or songwriting different from the first album?
JLB: On the first record, we probably wrote half of it in the studio. The main difference with this album was that the whole thing was demoed and sketched out before we even went into the studio and we also had Alan Moulder on board from day one and he was talking to us whilst we were getting tracks together and he was very ‘in the know’ about the songs when we started recording so it wasn’t like we went into the studio and we didn’t have anything, we already had the basic ideas of the songs written down and it was just more about fully realizing the songs and making them as big as we wanted them to sound and as ambitious as we wanted them to be.
KM: I find that the songs on the album fit together very nicely – was that a conscious thing?
JLB: Yeah, definitely – as a band, we’re quite traditional in our view of albums and we’ve very aware that these days people just go to iTunes and grab their favorite tracks of the record very easily. So it’s more important to make an album which is very coherent and for that reason we did all the recording in one solid block – in about six weeks in London – and we don’t like to split any of that process up cos we wanted it to sound like – if you had it on vinyl or CD, it would play like a good record should. Each track has a place on the album and it’s a little journey.
KM: Yes, that really comes across like a very consistent album, which is quite rare nowadays.
JLB: It’s definitely something we’re into cos all our favorite records from anytime – 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s – the best ones are able to do that, to keep you interested across the whole duration of the album, however long it is. An hour of your time, it has to be constantly engaging – it has to have some kind of path through it.
KM: I take it that you’re quite satisfied with the final result then?
JLB: Yes, definitely, it’s something that we’re very proud of. Very happy, this time round.
KM: But if you had to do it all again, would you change anything?
JB: I think probably not at this stage but maybe in a year’s time, there might be somethings I would like to change but one of the most important things to learn when you’re recording is that there has to come a point where you say – “this is finished and this is done”. It’s quite easy to get sucked into a world where you wanna keep tinkering with things, wanna keep changing things all the time but for me at the moment, I don’t think there’s anything I would like to change and that’s a good thing and it’s a testament to the fact that it represents a period of our lives and we shouldn’t be thinking too much about it after it’s been recorded.
KM: How does this album represent White Lies – the band – circa 2011?
JLB: It is probably a good indicator of our progress if nothing else. The first two or three years of our career were incredibly busy and quite stressful at times (although most of the time it’s been enjoyable). This record shows an improvement of our ability as recording artists and for me, that’s the thing I enjoy most about the record is that I can play the first album and then play the second album straight afterwards and I can see how we’ve improved and see where we’ve really done well in the last couple of years.
KM: I have to totally agree with that as compared to your first album, this really sounds like a second album, in the best sense of the word, in the sense that the songwriting is more matured and the band sounds more confident and assured of what it can do…
JLB: It is definitely the case, I think we feel much more confident in ourselves and we have a better idea of who we are, more aware than we were on the first album. Having said that, I’m still very proud of the first record – it’s the best we could have done at that time in our lives with the ability that we had.
KM: Do you think it’s difficult for a band in 2011 to be distinctive when people are always comparing you to other bands from the past?
JLB: It’s almost impossible for a band to be entirely original these days. I mean, people grow up on past music that was written 10, 20 or 30 years ago – the concept of completely original music is flawed and in my opinion, is not even possible. There needs to be some technological advance or a new instrument or piece of software – that’s the way that people would be able to create completely original music. But people get too caught up with references of the past in new music. We need to take it as it is. People compare us to all sorts of bands but all the bands we’re compared to have never written the songs that we’ve written and we haven’t written any of their songs and they’re still completely new songs. It’s just that you can hear influences from different times and different periods of music and it’s not somethings that really bothers us anymore because we’ve come to a point where we’ve realized that regardless of what anyone else says they’re still our songs and our personal attempt at something original.
Of course, White Lies have a new album out – Big TV – and if, like me, you dig their 80s post-punk references, you will like the new one I am certain. Check it out on Spotify!