White Denim Announces New Album Tour
Ask frontman James Petralli to outline White Denim’s mission statement a decade on from their debut and in the run up to the release of their seventh album and his answer is instant and unequivocal: “It remains unchanged from the beginning – which is just to make interesting, up-tempo rock & roll”.
That’s both bang on the button and too modest by half, because the Austin quartet have long “just” pulled hard at the parameters of rock & roll, admitting garage punk, soul, psychedelic boogie, prog, jazz and country blues while holding onto its vital goodtime core, and their up-tempo drive has produced a body of work defined as much by stellar musicianship as off-the-chain exhilaration.
Energy and adventurism have always been paramount.
Which is why, just two years on from Stiff’s grubby blues and sweet soul inflections, singer, songwriter and guitarist Petralli and bass player Steve Terebecki have changed tack again for Performance, not only welcoming two new members – drummer Conrad Choucroun and keyboardist Michael Hunter – but also introducing new practices into their record-making process and tapping a whole new gene pool of inspiration. The feeling of liberation and elastic possibility twinned with conviction that defined previous albums such as Fits (2009) and Last Day of Summer (2010) is key to Performance - that sense of energy and purpose is renewed here and doubled down with a truckload of attitude.
The album was recorded over eight weeks between October 2016 and October 2017, mainly in Radio Milk – White Denim’s new studio, built in an old general store and horse stable constructed in 1902 in downtown Austin, now respectfully restored and sandwiched in between bars and modern condominiums – and self-produced by the band, with Jim Vollentine. New recruits Choucroun and Hunter were key in what Petralli describes as “a super-collaborative record”, although he and Terebecki shared the leadership. Choucroun, their new drummer, played with northeast fusion legends NRBQ who frequently shared band members with the Sun Ra Arkestra. Young gun and “crazy genius” Hunter came heavily recommended by White Denim’s front-of-house engineer.
If the album’s title seems meaningful in its prosaicness, it is. There is, of course, the meaning of “performance” that applies to anyone for whom the live arena is the proving ground. There’s also something more personal but universally acknowledged – the gap that exists between what we project and who we really are, everybody has to put a face on for certain things.But there’s extra piquancy. Radio Milk is sandwiched in between two bars and when White Denim were first recording, they’d have people knocking on the door asking what was going on there and staring in. They’ve since built a fence for privacy, but initially, it was “like a secret place, but people could clearly see everything inside. It was like a stage/Petri-dish combination,” laughs Petralli.
Twelve years and seven albums on from their inception, White Denim are back - regenerated and resolute. “It’s just a fun way to spend time,” Petralli says, simply. “At the core, it’s always been a way for me to communicate with people about the records that I like. And second to that, it’s sharing my feelings. It’s still fun to sit and have an idea that’s kind of silly and chase it down in a room full of adults that are all committed to making something great. The absurdity of it as a career and a way to spend your time is so… liberating. Every time I get a chance to go into the studio and make a record or just hang out with people and talk about records, it feels like an extraordinary gift. That’s who we are as people.”
28 Aug - London @ Rough Trade East
29 Aug - London @ Moth Club (Matinee)
29 Aug - London @ Moth Club
31 Aug - Vlieland, NL @ Into the Great Wide Open Festival
02 Sep - Salisbury, UK @ End of the Road Festival
07 Nov - Paris, FR @ Le Point Ephemere
08 Nov - Maastricht, NL @ Muziekgieterij
09 Nov - Hamburg, DE @ Rolling Stone Weekender
10 Nov - Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
11 Nov - Nijmegen, NL @ Doornroosje
13 Nov - Berlin, DE @ Beghain Kantine
14 Nov - Munich, DE@ Milla
15 Nov - Cologne, DE @ Artheater
16 Nov - Baden-Württemberg, DE @ Rolling Stone Park
17 Nov - Antwerp, BE @ Trix Club
Genre: Music & Sound Design , Music performance , People