Richmond has an awesome music scene. Just last weekend, we were enjoying music by the river at the Richmond Folk Festival. For the remaining 51-weeks of the year when the festival isn’t going on, there is a good chance that you can find us catching a show of any number of great bands around town. One group that has always stood out to us is White Laces. Their music is heavily textured and full of energy. Last spring the White Laces supported The War on Drugs on a national tour. We were able to catch the final performance of the tour at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. and witnessed epic performances from both bands. Fresh on the heels of their sophomore album release, Trance, we had the opportunity to sit down with the band’s frontman, Landis Wine. We discussed the new album and the experience of touring with The War on Drugs.
As a band, you guys are difficult to put into any one genre. How would you describe White Laces?
I think our sound has changed a lot as a band since we first started. When we first started out, we were just loud. What we’ve been doing lately is figuring out how could we have that same impact without being aggressively noisy all the time.
We’re very interested in texture and different ways of approaching a song. We all play multiple instruments. Jimmy Held, our drummer, is easily a better guitar player than me. He’s an excellent drummer and also plays the keyboard. Jay Ward, our bassist, also plays drums and the keyboard. It works well because we can switch instruments around and no one feels as if they’re exclusively stuck with one thing. I don’t know how this translates to how we sound, but it may help us get to these heavy rhythmic repetitions that we try to achieve. The music becomes this big thing without being loud.
So far in reviews of Trance, the only band that we have been consistently compared to is Flock of Seagulls. They did that song, “I Ran,” from the ‘80s. I don’t know what this says about our band.
What influenced the change of direction in the band’s sound?
We’re all very specific with how we think things should sound and we kind of just whittle away with what we create. We don’t want to make things complicated that don’t need to be complicated. Especially when listening to a lot of pop and rap music, you notice that there’s a lot more space there. The less filler there is, the more room the music has to breath.
How did the process of creating Trance differ from your first album, Moves?
Moves is an album that I still like, but instead of doing another guitar-heavy record, we wanted to change the arrangements and try to do something different. Jimmy has been experimenting with percussion methods and we’ve started to use more samples. Our goal was to get more lush sounds, improve the songwriting and get better at what we do overall. We were fortunate to work with our top choice producer, Jeff Zeigler. He’s based out of Philadelphia and has worked with The War on Drugs, Kurt Vile, and several other bands that I listen to. Jeff was incredible to work with and after a while, we didn’t have to communicate as much because we were on the same wavelength.
It may be hard to pick just one, but is there a song on Trance that you’re particularly proud of?
The one that I’m proudest of is probably the last one, “Strangulation Blues,” just because it’s so different from the other songs on the album. It’s the most subdued song that we have made. We’re mostly anxious dudes, but we actually calmed down and reined it in for a minute. I also really like “Skate or Die.”
We were excited for you guys when it was announced that you would be touring with The War on Drugs. Was this made possible through your connection with Jeff?
We played a show in Philadelphia last year. Adam Granduciel, from The War on Drugs, lived around the venue and stopped by the show. He knew Radical Dads, one of the bands that we were playing with, and came out to see them. He caught our set, picked up Moves, and ended up liking it. We went back to Philadelphia to record in December and happened to run into Adam at a party. Jeff reintroduced us to Adam and he told us how much he had liked our album.
We weren’t really too sure how we got invited to go on tour until we watched a video interview that Adam did with In It To Spin It. Adam told the story about how he met up with Jeff for beers one night and asked Jeff what he was up to. Jeff told him that he was working on our album. Adam thought that he would invite us out because he remembered the tours that he did with Destroyer and The Hold Steady and how it really helped out The War on Drugs. Taking us out was his way of paying it forward.
You all were mid–tour when Lost In The Dream was released. In my opinion, this has been one of the most exciting albums of the year that has come from a bigger band. Was there a feeling of growing momentum as the tour progressed?
The album came out closer to the beginning of the tour. Philadelphia was a huge show because it was the homecoming show for The War on Drugs. Then they did a warm up show in New York. We could feel something growing, and then after the record came out, people were really excited for the band in a very intense way.
People just fell in love with that album. It was definitely momentum-building. With the exception of one or two of the shows in the Midwest, a good majority of the shows were either sold out, or very close to selling out. It was really awesome to be a part of that.
Maybe it’s too early to say, but will this tour have a lasting impact on the band?
That’s the kind of thing that’s hard to tell, but there have already been immediate effects. Because of the tour, we’re a better band and we’ve been playing a lot tighter. The tour helped to put us in front of a lot of people, but now the pressure is on us to deliver so people actually stick with us. There’s still a ways to go, but supporting The War on Drugs definitely gave us a certain amount of confidence and tools to become a better band.
Now that Trance is out, what is next for the band?
We’ll be doing a bunch of shows on the East Coast this fall and will tour again in the new year. We have a couple of videos in the pipeline, and will be releasing the first in a couple of weeks. We’re also going to try to learn a few new songs so we can work on them while on the road. That’s mostly it for now. For now, it’s all about waiting for the vinyl pressing of Trance to get in.
Trance is out now on Happenin Records. Stream the album via Stereogum, and purchase the album here. For those in Richmond, White Laces will play a record release show for Trance at The Broadberry October 24th.