"We're not depressed people," says Charles Cave, bassist and chief songwriter for White Lies, the hottest new band out of England. "We are introspective. We all think about what whatever we're doing with great intensity, but that's good I think."
The reason Cave might feel the need to clarify his band's current mental state is because since the release of White Lies' debut album, “To Lose My Life”this past January in the UK and last week in the US—the West London band has been fielding constant comparisons to the original kings of gloom and doom, Joy Division, which they find unfair. Their singer-guitarist Harry McVeigh does kind of eerily resemble the late Ian Curtis. And sound like him, with a bit of Robert Smith thrown in for good measure. But he doesn't even write their morose lyrics, which appropriately do happen to be about things like death and love lost; bassist Cave pens all the words and then hands them over to the chisel-cheeked frontman.
And judging by the scene backstage at the New York's Bowery Ballroom tonight, neither Cave, McVeigh, or their bandmates are brooding miserablists. Cave is creating a mix on his computer to spin at Webster Hall after the show tonight, while the other band members laugh, drink and seem anything but remotely nervous about taking the stage in less than an hour. And they are all wearing head-to-toe black—much like Joy Division disciples Interpol and the Editors before them—which will only further perpetuate the comparisons, though they swear it's just so not to let the visuals distract from the music. So it seems none of it has gotten them down too much, but why should it when they've already had a Number One album in the UK and have received rave reviews in the US, albeit for helping resurrect a seminal time in British music history.
With romantic soundscapes that weave string orchestrations through rock music in the vein of Echo and the Bunnymen (another common comparison that they seem to find more fair), the band's sound is both nostalgic and achingly beautiful. And their live show, with its intense white lights, though short, has been long on praise, thanks in part to a memorable performance on The Late Show With David Letterman.
"The songs are coming into their own," says Cave of the US shows so far. "We do as much as we can to make it an experience that's dazzling."
The band is currently crisscrossing North America with Friendy Fires and The Soft Pack on the NME Presents tour, and then performing at the Coachella Music Festival. See dates below.
Mon 03/30/09 Montreal, QC Les Saints
Tue 03/31/09 Toronto, ON Lee's Palace
Wed 04/01/09 Ann Arbor, MI Blind Pig
Thu 04/02/09 Indianapolis, IN Radio Radio
Fri 04/03/09 Chicago, IL Double Door
Sat 04/04/09 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock Social Club
Tue 04/07/09 Seattle, WA Neumo's
Wed 04/08/09 Vancouver, BC Richard's On Richards Cabaret
Thu 04/09/09 Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge
Sat 04/11/09 San Francisco, CA Slim's
Appearing at "Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival"
Fri 04/17/09 Indio, CA Empire Polo Field