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Monday, January 14, 2008

White Rabbits interview

With their acclaimed debut Fort Nightly and an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, White Rabbits were one of the breakout indie bands of 2007. What’s up for 2008? We checked in with pianist/singer Steve Patterson about the new album, the upcoming tour with the Walkmen, and finally moving out of that Brooklyn loft

MP3: White Rabbits - Kid On My Shoulders

I got hooked on the band after seeing you last year at Lollapalooza. What was that experience like?
That was a really early show, as I’m sure you remember. I think half of us hadn’t slept at all. A few of us had slept for a couple hours. Playing Lollapalooza at like 8 in the morning isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be. But it was a good time and it was cool to be part of the whole festival.

Tracks like “Kid On My Shoulders” and “While We Go Dancing” are pretty lively. Do you think Fort Nightly captures the energy of your live performances?
Honestly, we were pretty wet behind the ears whenever we were recording the record, and we feel like we became a fully-formed band after this recording. This happens with a lot of bands - they release their record and then like 5 months later they wish they could go back and re-record a few things or do some things differently. And I suppose I feel pretty much the same way, but I’m proud of it. I think the live shows are definitely a little bit more raucous than the record, but there’s things I love that are on the record that you just can’t do live. There are moments that capture the way it is live, but they both feel pretty separate to me.

How did you end up with two lead singers?
I used to play drums for the band, that’s how it started when we were in Columbia (Missouri). I did harmonies with Greg (Roberts). We moved to Brooklyn and things were kind of going slowly, so we decided to shake things up. Matt (Clark) moved to drums and I moved to keys and sang, so we just decided to switch things up and see if things could move a little bit faster, and it turned out to work really well.

How is the new album shaping up?
Slowly… we’ve been on the road pretty much constantly since before the record even came out. I think we started touring in April. We stopped touring this past year in November, and we were right into the holidays and so everybody’s going home and seeing family. So, we’re writing stuff now… hopefully we’re gonna play a few new things on this tour with the Walkmen, then we’ll get back and we’ll really knuckle down and write and record stuff.

Can you tell us about some of the new songs?
We’ve been playing a couple of the new ones live for a while. One’s called “Sea of Rum.” The other one doesn’t have a name yet. They’re not too much of a departure from the Fort Nightly stuff. There’s some dark elements and some calypso elements to it. I think they’re both more mature and developed.

I enjoy when people admit to liking bands that aren’t cool. You’ve cited the Everly Brothers as an influence. Can you elaborate on that?
You don’t think the Everly Brothers are cool? (laughs) I guess they’re not. Yeah, (they’re an influence) because of their harmonies. They had a lot of really cool drum stuff going on too. That’s stuff that only we notice, maybe. It’s definitely an inspiration for me and Greg.

I read that you thought you were the smallest (least-known) band ever to play Letterman.
Yeah, I stand by that (laughs). We got in on the front end of them starting to book smaller bands, so we lucked out.

Are there any interesting stories from your Letterman appearance, aside from how cold it was in the studio?
We were getting calls from our landlord five minutes before we went on, asking us where our rent payment was. That’s probably the most ironic story. It was pretty unreal. Our parents were able to fly out, so it was nice to be able to give them that.

Do the six of you still live together in a loft in Brooklyn?
No, we just moved out of that loft last month. A few of us still live together but we’re not in that loft anymore. We’re still in Brooklyn though. (See a tour of the old loft here).

It seems like that would’ve been the perfect setup for a reality show, if you’d thrown some cameras in there.
Funny that you mention that, I’ve had a couple people asking if we’d want to do one, but no, we’re not the Monkees (laughs).

Purchase Fort Nightly at Amazon

White Rabbits tour dates (with The Walkmen)
1.16 Pittsburgh - Diesel
1.17 Detroit – The Crofoot Ballroom
1.18 Milwaukee – Turner Hall
1.19 Madison – High Noon
1.20 Chicago - Schubas
1.21 St. Louis – Blueberry Hill
1.22 Columbus – The Basement
1.23 Philadelphia – Johnny Brenda’s
1.24 Baltimore - Ottobar

YouTube: White Rabbits - “The Plot” on The Late Show with David Letterman:

Photo credits: D. Yee


Beth said...

Great interview. I'm not all that familiar with White Rabbits, so I look forward to listening to the MP3 and exploring their catalog.

Scott said...

Thanks. I'm fond of the word 'peppy' to describe their stuff.

BeckEye said...

Never heard of them. But I wish I'd known there was a loft available earlier.

Scott said...

And it had a basketball hoop. You could've practiced your skills while watching E!

Aural States said...

Good interview. I fell in love with them after a show too.

Our interview @ www.auralstates.com, where we explore the influence of the Specials on their music.