White Denim Feel The Side Effects of High Productivity

Friday 12th, April 2019 / 09:00
By Emily Corley

Photo by Jo Bongard

White Denim bassist Steven Terebecki is fresh from the band’s latest SXSW appearance. “It’s still fun!” he laughs, fondly. He’s well placed to reflect upon SXSW’s recent history, having played there with White Denim every single year since their inception in 2006.

The band’s distinctively upbeat, dance-friendly rock and roll is influenced by a vast range of genres, making them ideal ambassadors for the many styles offered by these Texans’ ‘local’ festival.

“In the past we’ve tried to categorize it and someone came up with grog-rock, which is nice. I guess like, a garage-y prog-rock? But that doesn’t work for quite a few of our songs. We just like so many different styles.”

After all these years, SXSW must feel like a second home to Terebecki and White Denim’s other remaining founding member, James Petralli. “SXSW has evolved continuously.” Terebecki says, unaware that he could easily be describing his own band. “It’s actually a lot smaller than it used to be. There are definitely less pop-up backyard parties; no matter where you went, there would be people set up in the streets with a PA playing. But it seems a little bit more controlled now.”

Controversially, Terebecki also mourns the loss of corporate sponsors and their associated promotional merchandise. “Around 2010 – 2012 huge corporations like Taco Bell started throwing parties, but that’s over now, which kind of makes me sad. I have the best Doritos SXSW shirt; it’s a guitar and the body is a Dorito. I mean, it was worth going to SXSW just to get something like that!”

One positive change he cites is that the festival now puts greater emphasis on record labels supporting showcases for up-and-coming acts. “But there’s still a lot of the square-peg-round-hole thing happening – they’ll try to put on events in spaces where there just shouldn’t be events. That’s always been a part of SXSW.”

Because they’re veteran rock, White Denim exude a palpable and seemingly effortless energy, captured both in their live shows and on every record they’ve ever released. Their latest album, Side Effects (out March 29), is no exception. It seems that their secret is closely linked to their high productivity:

“We’ve definitely tried our hand at a bunch of stuff that we don’t ever end up playing live, so we decided to stick to writing songs that would really come across in our live show.”

White Denim are a band with a passion for just jamming together and the lack of preciousness over their ideas is refreshing. Terebecki admits that the relatively recent additions of Greg Clifford on drums and Michael Hunter on keys have helped the band keep it fresh. “You kind of get a new spark; the whole band does. The drummer we have right now – he’s 22, and he has nothing but energy. He’s keeping us old guys young!”

The band have generated so much content in the 11 years since Workout Holiday and Exposion were released, that even Terebecki can’t remember how many records they’ve put out. “I guess eight or nine, something like that. We’ve had some confusing releases. Workout Holiday came out in England only, and in the States we released a different version of it; Exposion. They did have some crossover, so they are two different records, but mostly the same. That’s why it’s tricky.”

Terebecki is excited about their upcoming West Coast tour. “Everywhere on the West Coast is real nice, it’s some of the nicest touring that we get.” However, he admits that his enthusiasm for playing Vancouver is largely down to the quality of the sushi available here. “I like to go and get sushi after sound check. It’s super good in Vancouver.”

White Denim perform at the Rickshaw Theatre on April 19.