By Chris Hammond
From humble beginnings, The White Lies’ rise to become one of the biggest rock acts in the country has been both swift and impressive. Famed for their bombastic big stage performances, the trio from Ealing are all set for their favourite time of the year – the festival circuit. Speaking to Scotcampus, band member Jack Lawrence-Brown describes the group’s outlook on the summer ahead.
“I love festivals”, starts Jack. “Going to them was one of the ways we all bonded. I guess almost every teenager in the country can relate to the tradition where after finishing all your exams there are festivals to look forward to. That was definitely the case for me. We used to go to Reading every year, even before we were in a band we were always good friends and we’d been playing music together for a very long time. Yeah, we’ve got some pretty hilarious memories and stories from those days . . . we were way more rock ‘n’ roll then than we are now! We had some really good festival times.”
The jump from attending festivals to headlining them has come in the space of about six years according to Jack. This time round the trio are making appearances at a glut of the country’s most celebrated events and are even set to headline Beachbreak Live, something Jack is looking forward too.“There’s an element of pressure as a headliner but I dunno; it gives you more space to do what you want to do. The trouble in this business is that when a band plays a festival there’s this assumption they play their best known songs for a bit then bugger off. But with our headline sets the idea is much more to do a full White Lies set and to spend a bit of money to make it all look ridiculous and fun which you don’t always get to do lower down on the bill in festivals. It’s an opportunity definitely and one we’re quite excited about. If you said to me a few years ago that we’d be headlining any festival a few years down the line then I’d have said you were a liar!”
Known for their spiky rock sound, The White Lies have been described as everything from a stadium rock version of Joy Division to England’s answer to Interpol. Whatever their music may or may not sound like, one thing’s for sure, their sound is perfect for large audiences. Only last year the group performed to a sold out stadium of 60,000 in Amsterdam and Jack firmly believes it was their early festival appearances which helped them make the step up from smaller venues. “It’s always interesting to do a run of festivals then take a look at what happens to you. Back in 2009 we did a really big run of festivals and ended up being kicked into much bigger venues as a result which was great.”
The band’s second album ‘Ritual’ might not have had the critical acclaim of their bestselling debut ‘To Lose My Life,’ but that hasn’t stopped demand for The White Lies continuing to grow and with it the anticipation of their festival performances. For Jack, the notion of playing festivals rather than enjoying them as a spectator still feels a little odd for him, as he explains: “It’s always a bit weird being in your tour bus driving to the festival site, looking around and thinking ‘oh my god I remember being here at 5AM a few years ago and now we’re actually going to play’. It’s quite a bizarre feeling, I don’t know if every band gets it but it’s sort of messed up when you’re going back to play in-front of people who are basically doing what we were a couple of years ago.”
The one downside to both playing and attending festivals is that they don’t always go to plan, something The White Lies have a little experience of. “Every summer you’ll have a couple of festivals where you’ll remember why it isn’t always fun to play a festival. Usually it’s not the fault of the audience, or organisers. Usually it just comes down to weather which might be a bit boring but that’s how it is. We’ve done festivals which we thought were absolutely shit because it’s been freezing cold and pissing with rain. And you just think why would anyone want to watch a band in this situation? It’s not the right place.”
Not that a bad festival is ever enough to put a band off for long, this year The White Lies have asked their management to get them as many slots as they can. “I think we’re taking it as best we can because who knows when we’ll get the chance again”, finishes Jack.
For tour dates and more info visit www.whitelies.com