Interview with White Lies at Leeds Festival.
You're currently getting a lot of attention from all sections of the media despite only having released one single to date compared to what your previous band received.
Charles Cave: It's funny that our old band Fear Of Flying have got more attention over these last few months than it ever got in its whole three year career purely on the basis of what we're doing now, and I think that highlights the fickleness of the industry a little bit. At the same time you may argue that White Lies have had a bit of hype, but that wasn't down to us. Even on our MySpace site we were conscious about giving very little away about the band; none of the individual members' names are listed, there's no biography or history, only two songs on there and no photographs. That's why I think it's fair to say any hype about the band has been created purely on the music, nothing else.
Jack Brown: I think quite a lot of people are trying to make judgments on us already without knowing or hearing very little about us and I see that as putting us in a very powerful position as a band.
Musically White Lies is a massive departure from Fear Of Flying. What made you change direction so drastically?
Charles Cave: I think the last four or five songs we wrote together as Fear Of Flying which we only played live a couple of times were pretty much a halfway house between the Fear Of Flying you'd know if you'd seen us from the beginning and where we are now with White Lies. I mean, I don't want to keep talking about Fear Of Flying but even before then we've always been developing as songwriters and musicians and we've never really stayed in one place musically too long.
Jack Brown: When I look back I see Fear Of Flying as being the growing up stage and White Lies as almost like the fulfilment of who we are as people.
Charles Cave: I'd agree with that. White Lies is where we are and Fear Of Flying was almost like our experimental passage in getting there. I think the fact we've been playing together for so long in one guise or another has been so beneficial to us; we've already made the change that so many bands experience between their first and second albums for example.
White Lies songs are certainly a lot darker than Fear Of Flying. Was that a conscious decision as part of the band's evolution?
Charles Cave: Most of the lyrics are quite dark but at the same time they're not too pessimistic. I tend to write from a more melancholic point of view, and I think there are some euphoric, uplifting moments in there too. 'Unfinished Business' for example is a twisted love story whereas 'Death' is from a more personal perspective, but I don't honestly read too much into what the lyrics are about. I don't sit down and analyse what I've just written. I just write what comes naturally, and I think the creation of our music is very natural and not forced in any way.
'Unfinished Business' has already been called one of the best debut singles of the past decade by many a writer and publication. Were you surprised to receive such glowing adulation with your first single release?
Charles Cave: When we wrote that song we were really happy with the way it turned out.
Jack Brown: There is no doubt that was the turning point for us musically.
Charles Cave: The biggest compliment for me was seeing 'Unfinished Business' in Music Week's Top 10 tracks of 2007 alongside the likes of Rhianna and Beyonce!
Jack Brown: It was quite surreal seeing our name listed with these people who'd sold millions of records worldwide, when at that point we hadn't even released anything.
At the same time, does it worry you that 'Unfinished Business' may end up being this albatross the band may never live up to in the future in some people's eyes?
Charles Cave: I think a lot of people have actually responded better on our MySpace to 'Death' than 'Unfinished Business' anyway.
Jack Brown: I think 'Death' is pretty much the defining track of our live set as well so people seem to get into that one more when they come and see us play too.
Charles Cave: People are going to be surprised when they hear the album. I'm not just saying that because I'm in White Lies but I honestly think we have 3 or 4 equally if not better songs than either of those, and when we've finished writing and recording the rest of the record, who knows?
When are you hoping to have the album ready?
Charles Cave: The plan is to have it released in the early part of 2009, but we're not really thinking too far ahead just yet.
Your onstage attire of matching black uniforms hasn't gone unnoticed either.
Charles Cave: That was something we did for our first ever show as White Lies because we felt there was a lot of pressure on us. We felt black was something of a neutral canvas in that it suited the mood of a lot of the songs, the lighting looks good reflected against it and I suppose it's the least outrageous colour co-ordination we could think of which meant the spotlight would be more on the music rather than on us as individuals. At the same time, it's not something we're necessarily chained to either.
What made you choose Fiction as a label?
Charles Cave: I think they've just got this huge aura around them in terms of where they came from and what they've achieved. I mean, obviously everyone associates Fiction with The Cure but they've done so much more besides. Their philosophy is still very independent even though they're now a part of Universal and they have this interpersonal connection with their artists which I don't imagine any other label of a similar stature enjoying. They've been unbelievably supportive of the band so far and we know they're working their butts off for us, so from our point of view you can't really ask for any more than that.
Finally, what can Contact expect from White Lies at Leeds Festival this afternoon?
Charles Cave: Well, if yesterday at Reading was anything to go by, absolute mayhem! But no, I think people watching us will get a clearer picture of what we're all about and hopefully when we go on our headline tour in September they'll come back and see us!