White Denim talks local music scene, new album

Julie Rene Tran


An intoxicating, wonderful fusion of progressive and psychedelic rock, indie band White Denim is by far one of the best local bands in town. From the quartet’s insane energy on stage to their sick guitar solos, White Denim knows how to command their listeners.
The quartet has been voted Best Rock Band at South By Southwest four years in a row by Gorilla vs. Bear and their latest full-length, D, has been well-received by music critics and other musicians. The album was a Rolling Stone’s editors’ pick and Bjorn of Peter Bjorn & John gave White Denim’s hot single “Drugs” an even higher dose of psychedelic-twist in his remix.
White Denim is headlining at Stubb’s with Manchester Orchestra and The Deer Hunter on Saturday before driving across America for their album tour.
The Daily Texan spoke with drummer Josh Block.
The Daily Texan: The weather has been so beautiful here in Austin. How have you been enjoying it?
Josh Block: I’ve been walking my dog. I’m use to living in colder areas, so it’s not exciting at all. But I’m trying to enjoy it as much as I can.
DT: Cool, cool. So I recently saw you play at Wild Frontier Fest at Emo’s and this weekend, the band is playing at Stubb’s. So of all the venues in town, which one has been the most fun to play at?
Block: Like historically, we’ve had the most fun playing at, I guess I would decide between Mohawk and Antone’s. So between those two, we’ve played at Mohawk’s a lot for a while and have had a lot of great memories there.
DT: It’s kind of cool that the local music scene here, a lot of bands are close-knitted, so which bands are in your circle?
Block: I know people in a lot of bands, but I don’t see them play and I don’t see them at our shows either. But I have a lot of friends in other bands. I use to love Brazos. Do you remember that band when they were here?
DT: Brazos? No, I’ve never heard of them.
Block:Really? Well, they no longer exist, but they were amazing. [laughs] That’s probably why.
DT: For the tour, are both bands sharing one touring bus? Or how is it going to work?
Block: No, we’re going to take our own van out and yeah, you know, say ‘hi’ to them before and after the show. To be completely honest with you, and I hope they don’t read this, but I’ve never heard of the band we are touring with.
DT: Manchester Orchestra?
Block:Yeah, no, I’ve never heard of them before.
DT: Oh. Well, I guess we don’t have to include that part in the Q&A?
Block: No, no, put it in there. They probably wouldn’t have heard of themselves either if they were me. So I think they’ll understand if you put that in there.
DT: [laughs] Okay. So are there any written rules or guidelines yet about what can and can’t happen on the bus?
Block: Well, we don’t write any of them down. We just try to have our own personal rules and we just hope that’s enough for the other guys. I think everyone probably have a problem with the fact that I don’t wash my jeans that often and I play drums, so that’s a really bad combination. [laughs] I don’t think they care about why I don’t wash my jeans, they just don’t like the fact that I don’t do it. So, that’s probably one of them and I’m sure no ones says anything about them, but I’m sure the frown on their faces sometimes is from the fact that my jeans are totally from five weeks since I’ve washed them.
DT: That’s gross. [laughs] So are you going to bring a lot of pair of jeans?
Block: [laughs] Yeah, I switch them out and let them dry. [laughs
DT: I mentioned earlier seeing you guys at Wild Frontier Fest. Watching you guys play, I couldn’t get the thought of ‘man, they are a real rock band is,’ out of my head — like you guys really control the stage. But then you guys also channel a lot of other styles like psychedelic, jazz and funk. I want to know what the process is like, drawing up your sound and lyrics.
Block: Well, I don’t write the lyrics, but I can say that I don’t think either of us are interested in being that band or that band. No one is pushing a scene. Yeah, no one is pushing a certain scene on each other. That’s probably the perfect way to put it. We’re just in a rock band, and not a certain type of rock band.
DT: For your latest album, D… Well first off, why just the letter D?
Block:It’s a very significant letter to the band. We spend a lot of time talking about that letter. I’m not being sarcastic. We actually have. I prefer a lot of words in lyrics that starts with that letter as the first letter. And it sounds really cool before the band’s name.
DT: What was the inspiration behind this album?
Block: Oh, lots of things.
DT: Could you name a few?
Block: I wish I could but I feel like I would leave something out and not represent someone else’s point of view very well. Between the four of us, it could go on forever.
DT: That’s fine. We can be ambiguous about it. So my next questions are about “Drugs,” the song. The song got remixed by Bjorn from Peter Bjorn & John. That’s so cool. How did that came about and what was your thought on it?
Block: I don’t know how it came about actually. I think we knew mutual people and I’m sure one of our friends approached him. Did you like it?
DT: Yeah, I really liked it. Did you like it?
Block: Yeah, I like it. I think he did a pretty good job.
DT: And for that music video, you guys had these paper-mache, mummying effect on your faces. Was the experience as gross as it looks?
Block: Yeah, it was, it was really gross. Sitting there for 18 hours with gunk on my face was not a lot of fun. I don’t know what all they used but it was layers and layers of gunk.
DT: Well, it looked cool.
Block: I’m glad. I’m glad it was worth it.