When your band is the resulting product of a band member moving to Russia and you record your first album in a mobile home, your group can be expected to not exactly be ordinary.Based right in our own backyard, Austin four piece White Denim have been pounding out blues inflected psych rock together for about six years now and will be headlining the first ever Gorilla vs. Bear Festival on July 23 at The Granada BUY TICKETS HERE. On the surface the group’s style may seem straightforward, but White Denim’s charging garage rockers are anything but. The band has never met a time signature they can’t wriggle their way out of and spread their wings out across a splattering of influences including blues rock, psychedelic rock, folk, punk, R&B, country, and experimental music. Formed in 2005 originally under the name Parque Touch, the band made up at the time of Lucas Anderson, James Petralli, Joshua Block, and Steve Terebecki began to make a name for themselves around the local Austin circuit with blistering live shows that went against the entirety of the Austin scene at the time. Parque Touch’s shows were comedic, antagonistic, and freeform as the band focused on having fun more than anything. When frontman Anderson moved to Russia, the remaining members decided to carry on as a band under the new moniker White Denim.
The process that went into recording White Denim’s first few songs should be considered somewhat legendary by today’s standards. Petralli, Block, and Terebecki worked minimum wage jobs during the day and when they got off work, retreated to Block’s then home, a 27 foot long caravan lovingly nicknamed The Trailer. While The Trailer lacked the modern conveniences of a modern home, the members of White Denim saw its attributes as endearing and decided to rehearse and record their first album and EP in the space. The band recorded “Let’s Talk About It” first, which would serve as the lead track for their debut 7″ EP of the same name. The band self released the “Let’s Talk About It” 7″ which was picked up by the denizens of Austin and led to more shows in the Austin area. White Denim’s concerts gained a reputation as being completely uncompromising affairs which would leave the band members drenched in sweat, throwing everything they had behind the music which served to add to White Denim’s legend.
The band played an impossibly packed string of shows at South by Southwest in March of that year playing an incredibly packed 12 shows over four days. The band’s strong showing at SXSW reeled in a deal with UK label Full Time Hobby which repackaged the “Let’s Talk About It” 7″ and as White Denim went on tour in Europe, released their nine song tour only EP Workout Holiday. The success of the European tour solidified for White Denim the fact that they didn’t need to compromise their sound or style to find an audience who would be receptive towards their work, however, the band was reluctant to sign with a US label for fear of a larger label pressuring them for hit songs and being restricted to set marketing patterns. When White Denim went to record their first widely distributed record Fits in 2009, they found that The Trailer had contracted toxic black mould, so instead of going into an actual studio to record Fits, the band moved to a caravan that was in fact 15 ft. longer than The Trailer and had a cabin attached. It was during the recording and touring time that White Denim was approached by US indie label Downtown Records to give Fits an even wider release in the US than planned. White Denim agreed to the deal and in exchange stayed on the road for another six months.
Fits served to expand White Denim’s sound palette even further incorporating elements of funk and smoldering R&B into the mix. The result was a mix of soulful psychedelic blues rock with mind expanding forays into progressive and math rock complete with spindly guitar lines, chunky chords, and a southern boogie that represented the band’s Texas roots. As White Denim got off the road, the band expressed a clear desire to write their second widely released full length and after going into an actual recording studio for the first time in their careers, emerged with D six months later. The band ran into exactly the kind of trouble they were hoping to avoid with a record label however when Downtown asked for a single. The band delivered “Drug” a looping piece of wonky psychedelia that producers reworked several times as engineers quantised the lovable looseness from the songs on D that fans loved about White Denim.
The band members were not pleased with the label’s interference so in response, White Denim went back to their roots in The Trailer and self recorded a set of tracks they released for free on their website entitled Last Days of Summer, a statement of punk rock sloganeering in the face of quality control by a record label. It was during this time as well that guitarist Austin Jenkins joined the band. The move drew even more fans on White Denim’s side as Downtown expressed their dissatisfaction with the band, but continued D‘s release process.
D was finally released in May of this year, being White Denim’s most focused but thoroughly experimental record to date. The band’s new songs are full of loose acid jazz skronk, bluesy flower child riffs and chords, impassioned vocals from Petralli, and even a flute solo or two. White Denim refuse to be anything but themselves even through the trials with record labels and secret coup against the music industry man. Their shows have become more raucous than ever with Jenkins adding more sound with another guitar and filling another space onstage, with band members bouncing against each other as they bop around venues. The energetic live shows play perfectly with White Denim’s unique blend of garage rock, jazz, soul, and dirty psychedelia as audiences can hardly be disappointed when the band routinely leaves everything they have on the stage. With their blasts of skronk, berserking live energy, and just plain fun songs that allow you to bob your head or just trip out, White Denim is sure to be a treat as the headliner for the inaugural Gorilla vs. Bear Festival at The Granada on July 23 BUY TICKETS HERE. This is one you won’t want to miss.