Rollo & Grady Interview // Steve Terebecki of White Denim

Rollo & Grady Interview // Steve Terebecki of White Denim
Steve Terebecki @ The Peacock – SXSW 2009 (Image – Rollo & Grady)

When’s the last time you came across a band whose sound you couldn’t categorize? White Denim is a band that prefers it that way. Their music is chaotic – organized or not, but it doesn’t really matter, because White Denim is one of the most exciting and original bands I’ve heard in the past 5 years. If Frank Zappa was alive, I imagine he’d be a fan too.

The Texas trio has been the “buzz” band in Austin since their inception. And thanks to their solid albums, full-throttle live shows and support from UK label Full Time Hobby, they’ve become the “it” band in the UK. It’s something White Denim appreciates, but doesn’t strive for. Their hard work and stellar reputation paid off recently when they signed with U.S. label Downtown Records. It gives me faith that record labels can see the potential in unconventional bands.

I caught up with White Denim bassist Steve Terebecki last week to discuss their new album Fits, British press and signing with Downtown Records.

Rollo & Grady Interview // Steve Terebecki of White Denim

R&G: How was the UK tour?

Steve: It wasn’t bad man. Actually, it was great. All of the shows were well attended.

R&G: Did you guys sign with Downtown Records while you were over there?

Steve: Yes, we signed in Newcastle.

R&G: Nice, and how did the relationship come about?

Steve: We’ve been talking to them for a while. A long time ago, we released an EP on RCRD LBL [joint venture with Downtown Records], and we talked with them a bit then. It was actually the record label we were talking to the longest, and then we finally worked something out.

R&G: Did you sign with them because they understood your vision, and you’re not in the regular mold of the bands that are out there today?

Steve: Yeah, perhaps, because they seemed totally cool with us recording our own stuff in our own studio. They were pretty cool about what we’re doing. We are looking forward to working with them.

R&G: You guys have been vocal in the past that you didn’t want to be labeled the next big thing because it could hinder the creative process. But what if you guys become the next big thing?

Steve: We try to ignore that kind of thing. When we go to the studio, it’s out in the woods in the middle of nowhere and we can forget about everything except for our music. A lot of people ask us about the pressures of making a second record and this and that. It’s all the same. You just make music. Whatever people are saying, we forget about it when we’re out there. We’re fortunate to have that seclusion.

R&G: You guys are getting some Kings of Leon loving from the UK press. Is it rewarding to have such high praise from the top British publications?

Steve: I imagine it would be if any of us loved Kings of Leon, but… I’m not going to say we feel insulted because of that. I don’t know. When we get that, it’s basically a mixed bag for us because we don’t want that and I don’t think we will ever write a hit single like those guys. It’s sort of hard to believe.

R&G: Clash, Q, Uncut and Mojo gave your new album Fits high marks. Do you read your reviews?

Steve: Yes, I read the Uncut and Mojo reviews. I don’t read all of them, but we were super happy with all the things the critics had to say about this record, especially compared to Workout Holiday, you know? It just encourages us to go out there and make a third record.

R&G: Cool. Speaking of that – I read the Clash article, which mentioned you guys have a shitload of new material.

Steve: Yeah, we have a big song bank right now. We’re adding to it every day. That’s sort of how we make the records.

R&G: Are you saying that you have another album or two in the bag?

Steve: As far as the amount of songs goes, we do, but they’re not ready. They all need a lot more work. The general structure of the songs is there.

R&G: What are the biggest differences between recording Fits and Workout Holiday?

Steve: Workout Holiday was recorded over a long period of time. It was probably two years worth of material, and we were a new band. We were just figuring things out and figuring each other out. It’s sort of a compilation of those two years – our proudest work. Then Fits, we had already been on tour a lot and we hadn’t been working day jobs and so when we were back from tour, we could just get in the studio and work every day – like a Monday through Friday type thing – so we focused a lot more on making a record as opposed to jamming on the weekend and eventually putting it together. With Fits, we actually had the goal of making a record.

R&G: Fits is going to be released through Downtown Records in October.

Steve: Yeah.

R&G: Are you guys going on tour anytime soon, or are you going to take it easy?

Steve: Right now, we have another tour for Europe in early September. We’ll get back in mid-September. It’s not in the books yet, but we’ll probably end up doing a couple of two-week stints in late October or November. It’s funny, this year we’ve only toured the States for two weeks, which compared to last year is nothing at all, so we definitely need to get back out there.

R&G: Whose idea was it for you to run in the “I Start to Run” video?

Steve: The director. Tom.

R&G: Tom Haines?

Steve: Yeah. He knew that my nickname was Turbo so he wrote me into the script as the person that was running.

R&G: What was the point of it? Was it like a “Mad Max” theme?

Steve: Did you see “Shake, Shake, Shake” video?

R&G: I haven’t.

Steve: He did that one too. If you watch them back to back, you can tell that there’s this post-apocalyptic sadistic scene going on – like “Mad Max” and “Blade Runner” – and this one has some “El Topo” vibes going on. He’s super into that kind of thing and we are too.

Fits is available in the UK only, to purchase a copy (click here)
Rollo & Grady Interview with White Denim’s frontman James Petralli (click here)

Rollo & Grady Interview with RCRD LBL founder Peter Rojas (click here)

MP3: White Denim – Everybody Somebody
MP3: White Denim – Paint Silver Gold
MP3: White Denim – Shake Shake Shake