White Heat - Interviews - Soundblab

White Heat

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

One of the more interesting, shadowy bands to emerge from the resurgent and fecund Leeds scene, White Heat have been brewing up their dark and beautiful music for a while. This band mines a furrow of exquisitely black sounds from an unholy lineage of English bands: Joy Division, Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Cure, Bauhaus, The Jesus and Mary Chain, along with some twisted American cousins. White Heat aren't afraid to let their let their music stretch out, expand and breathe. They're not in a rush but when they explode it's with a force few indie bands can muster.

We caught up with them to discuss influences, band reformations and Sherbert Dip Dabs...

What are your influences? I hear some early 80s proto-goth/4AD stuff in your sound.

Sasha: You could say I do listen to a lot of the music that was written in the early 80s, like

The Bunnymen, Banshees, and The Cure but not limited to that genre alone. I love 60s & 70s punk, experimental electronic music such as the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and lot of the noise bands of the 80s. The list is ridiculously long; it all depends what mood I'm in.

With 4AD, I admire the output of the label bands Bauhaus, Pixies, Cocteau Twins, Xmal Deutschland and Lush. They are big influences to me but the label has slowed down its output. Occasionally, there are some gems like Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti.

Maria: William Faulkner is one of my favourite writers and a big inspiration for the lyrics of White Heat. I'm fascinated by his use of language and the beauty is an interesting contrast to the harshness of the music. However, musical influences would include Spacemen3, Brian Jonestown and The Velvets.

Andy: I'm diggin' My Bloody Valentine, A Place to Bury Strangers, Slowdive and Sonic Youth, and although this list of bands is fairly 'normal' for underground influences, I am inspired mostly by the textures these bands create. 4AD is great of course, and I'm sure people can hear some of it in our sound, but for me, even though I listen to bands on 4AD, it hasn't been as direct as others in shaping our sound.

How did the band come together?

S: I first met Andy through mutual friends. We used to run into each other at the Brudenell in Leeds as well as house parties in LS6. We talked at great lengths about the artists we admire. Personally, I thought he had the right attitude so I set about forming a band with him. Paddy (drums) had played with Andy in a previous band and he liked the demos that we had recorded at my home studio. It took a good four months to eventually find Maria and a friend introduced Stu to us. By November 2011 the jigsaw was complete.

A: I guess that kinda sums it up. We've all played in bands before and I remember it being an exciting prospect bringing five people together with such different influences and musical backgrounds.

Why did you choose the name White Heat? Is it a Velvets reference or something more?

S: People will initially think of The Velvets but it's also a James Cagney film that I love. We wanted a name that mirrors the music. A band name like Jesus Hates Heroin just does not!

M: It was the only name we all agreed on! We needed a name a week before our first gig, and this was the one that nobody said 'that's shit'.

What music are you guys into right now? What would you recommend Soundblab readers check out?

M: I really like Tame Impala, Moon Duo and Dead Skeletons. Other than that I listen to a lot of classical music, ballet and opera scores. Also, I love New Orleans jazz.

S: There is some great music being produced in Leeds at the moment: Rent Boys, Yugoslavian Boys, Black Moth, Downdime - all top Leeds bands. New Candys from Italy, Soft Moon from SF and I was also blown away when I watched Dead Skeletons play recently. These are some of bands I personally love from the last year or so.

A: Dead Mellotron are great, as well as The Oscillation who released a 7in on Record Store Day. Check 'em out! I work at Vinyl Tap, which is an independent record shop in Huddersfield, so I guess it helps with listening to new music. Come down, I will recommend some!

What music pisses you off right now?

S: I'm not keen on twee-indie, indietracks and townie indie bands! Music that I dislike doesn't really exist in my world; therefore I don't let it piss me off as such, I just ignore it.

M: I don't really care.

Any bands you'd love to support? Use this space to get their attention!

All: Spiritualized, Moon Duo, Soft Moon and when they find out how to bring people back from the dead we'd be up for supporting 13th Floor Elevators, The Doors and Jimi Hendrix.

You can either have, right now, world peace or Sherbet Dip Dabs for each band member. Which do you go for, and how do you decide - take a vote or does the bandleader have final say?

S: Sherbet Dip Dabs would probably last longer than world peace. The band is a democracy; there is not one leader. We're comfortable around each other and not afraid to speak our minds. Not saying there aren't instances when things get heated, but what's great about this band is that there are a lot of sparks flying around the room when we get together.

Your music seems quite dark. Are you attracted to the dark side of life?

M: No.

A: What, like S&M? Or drugs? Violence? Crime? If so, yeah, count me in!

S: The music we write is quit dark and melancholic. I say that's down to the frequency we pick up on that is floating around us.

A: Sasha, you sound like you should join the Church of Scientology or something..

S: How do you know that I haven't already…

Where do you stand on bands reforming? There's been a fair bit of that lately. Good thing or bad thing? Has it gone too far?

S: It can be a good thing sometimes but mostly falls short of the original energy, but that's probably down to age. It's a shame as the playing ability has improved and I guess it gives newer and younger fans a taste of what these bands were once like. One of my favourite bands is The Stooges but I just couldn't bring myself to see a band I regard highly having become a caricature of themselves.

A: Nobody cares about the new music that old bands create. The crowd only wants to listen to their classic tunes, that's all.

Imagine you get huge, fall out acrimoniously and then your various solo projects fail. Would you reform for the cash? How much wonga would have to be on the table?

A: At least a tenner otherwise you can all fuck off.

S: Never go back, always move on and forward and never do anything you don't enjoy for money. It's not worth it.

What's next for White Heat?

S: We're taking each day as it comes. There are some interesting offers coming our way but the main thing is to keep writing decent songs. A new EP should be released at the beginning of next year then an album. We have some decent gigs coming up soon - 24th October with O Children at Oporto, 8th November with Exitmusic at Wharf Chambers and 30th November with some bands at Hifi. Come see!

M: I don't like playing gigs that much. I prefer writing new stuff, experimenting in the studio with sounds.

A: We're gonna go to Westminister Abbey and turn all the crosses upside down. Then we're gonna sing anti-government protest songs in Flemish before we set the Coalition on fire. Physically.


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