A chat with Charles Cave from the White Lies

Jack caught up with bassist Charles Cave from White Lies just before the four-piece band kicked off their US tour in Washington talking about an incredible 2016 for the band.

 

How did the trio of White Lies come about?

We started as friends. The band (under a different name) was at first a means to get us into indie clubs, by playing when we were underage. Perhaps it still is. I’m sure at some point we’ll start taking it seriously. White Lies was the name we adopted when school was finished, the parties had stopped as our friends went off to university and we actually wrote a few pretty alright songs.

2016, not a bad year for yourselves was it?

Pretty textbook year, all things considered. We really didn’t expect our fourth record, ‘Friends’ to get that kind of positive response. It has definitely been our best received album since the first. And that felt, and still feels incredible. We’re “on the up” 8 years into our career.

The end of last year saw you end with a UK tour followed by shows in Greece, since then you’ve had a little bit of time to yourselves over the Christmas period after an incredible string of shows, what did you get up to in that time?

We all settle back into domestic life pretty easily now. We’re able to just pick up where we left off; seeing friends, making coffee, cooking, walking, reading, writing. Nothing sensational. I’ve made a bit of solo music, too.

Going back to the string of shows, its phenomenal how many shows you actually played! You just love touring it would seem?

We love playing for our fans. I wouldn’t say we love touring as touring encompasses a fair bit of discomfort too- the travel, the sleeping for 7 weeks in a bus etc – but most of the time it’s all worth it for the shows. When we’re on stage, stuff sounds great, and there’s smiles in front of us, that’s just fantastic.

You are touring the UK, which starts towards the end of February, which we’ll talk about in a moment, before that you are playing in North America, excited?

First show tonight. Excited, apprehensive, all the emotions. Strange time to be in the USA, but certainly interesting. We usually can’t afford to get over here so I’m so pleased this time we made it work and can give our fans out here the show they’ve been hoping for.

Onto your upcoming UK tour. Revisiting some familiar cities, visiting some new ones, where ever you play the British fans adore you, what makes them special not only to White Lies but to British music as a whole?

Not sure. Island mentality? A sort of pride and inclination to protect ‘their music’? I have to admit, I’m as happy being in Europe or Asia or pretty much anywhere as I am in the UK. Yes, it’s home, but I’m not tied to it, and it’s a pleasure to know our music connects with so many different people. I don’t see it is “British music” at all.

The latest album Friends released in October of last year, have you begun planning or even making a fifth album as of yet or are you letting the public soak it all up still?

No solid plans, but there’s no way we’ll take as long between records this time. Our songwriting is stronger than ever. We need to keep working.

Talking about soaking up music, what has been your listening material recently?

I’ve been enjoying ‘Salome’ by Marriages, all the recent Roisin Murphy records – especially the Italian one. Also I have this Foreigner song in my head all the time – ‘Can’t Wait’.

Eight years since the debut album was released, how has the band changed since then?

We’ve just settled like cloudy water. We work with much clearer minds now, I think. We’re more in control of what we are and how we operate and that makes writing music a real pleasure. We haven’t changed all that much as people. We still have the sense of humour of 14-year-olds.

When the first album was released, was the music industry in a better place than it is now?

Who knows? It always changes. The music industry has and always will be an industry designed to exploit. That’s how it works. It exploits the art of musicians, in order to make profit – and that is totally FINE. People accusing the industry of being unfair or anything simply haven’t worked out how to exploit it back! It offers bands and artists some amazing resources that can be abused and devoured. So stop complaining about streaming royalties and figure out a way to make the system work for you. It’s only unfair if you allow yourself to be in a weaker position than someone else.

I do feel a lot of artists work in a very passive way, and it aint going to bring much reward. Now, more than ever, if you are a singer, let’s say, if you are not able to record, write, produce, mix, your own music, make a video on your computer, mock up some artwork, teach a band the parts, find a space to rehearse, make friends with another artists who you could support on tour…then what are you doing? Nobody has the cash to do that stuff for you. You need to do it all yourself, at least at the start. I’ve got no end of respect for new artists like Alex Cameron who is just writing his own success, one step at a time, but getting his hand dirty and doing it himself. White Lies were super fortunate in 2008 to sign a major record deal, but we’ve always kept every plate spinning with our own fingers, and this record ‘Friend’ would not have happened if we just expected the same as we had in 2008. We wrote this in Harry’s bedroom, we saved a lot of money by being clever with what we were able to do ourselves, we came up with a lot of the ideas for artwork etc etc. I’m not trying to say this is anything special, by the way. I’m just saying you’ve got to adapt and there’s not a second that’s worth being used to moan or complain about the industry. The industry isn’t listening; it’s figuring out its next business move, so why aren’t you planning yours?

2016, not a bad year for yourselves was it?

Pretty textbook year, all things considered. We really didn’t expect our fourth record, ‘Friends’ to get that kind of positive response. It has definitely been our best received album since the first. And that felt, and still feels incredible. We’re “on the up” 8 years into our career.

The end of last year saw you end with a UK tour followed by shows in Greece, since then you’ve had a little bit of time to yourselves over the Christmas period after an incredible string of shows, what did you get up to in that time?

We all settle back into domestic life pretty easily now. We’re able to just pick up where we left off; seeing friends, making coffee, cooking, walking, reading, writing. Nothing sensational. I’ve made a bit of solo music, too.

 Going back to the string of shows, its phenomenal how many shows you actually played! You just love touring it would seem?

We love playing for our fans. I wouldn’t say we love touring as touring encompasses a fair bit of discomfort too- the travel, the sleeping for 7 weeks in a bus etc – but most of the time it’s all worth it for the shows. When we’re on stage, stuff sounds great, and there’s smiles in front of us, that’s just fantastic.

You are touring the UK, which starts towards the end of February, which we’ll talk about in a moment, before that you are playing in North America, excited?

First show tonight. Excited, apprehensive, all the emotions. Strange time to be in the USA, but certainly interesting. We usually can’t afford to get over here so I’m so pleased this time we made it work and can give our fans out here the show they’ve been hoping for.

Onto your upcoming UK tour. Revisiting some familiar cities, visiting some new ones, where ever you play the British fans adore you, what makes them special not only to White Lies but to British music as a whole?

Not sure. Island mentality? A sort of pride and inclination to protect ‘their music’? I have to admit, I’m as happy being in Europe or Asia or pretty much anywhere as I am in the UK. Yes, it’s home, but I’m not tied to it, and it’s a pleasure to know our music connects with so many different people. I don’t see it is “British music” at all.

The latest album Friends released in October of last year, have you begun planning or even making a fifth album as of yet or are you letting the public soak it all up still?

No solid plans, but there’s no way we’ll take as long between records this time. Our songwriting is stronger than ever. We need to keep working.

Talking about soaking up music, what has been your listening material recently?

I’ve been enjoying ‘Salome’ by Marriages, all the recent Roisin Murphy records – especially the Italian one. Also I have this Foreigner song in my head all the time – ‘Can’t Wait’.

Eight years since the debut album was released, how has the band changed since then?

We’ve just settled like cloudy water. We work with much clearer minds now, I think. We’re more in control of what we are and how we operate and that makes writing music a real pleasure. We haven’t changed all that much as people. We still have the sense of humour of 14-year-olds.

When the first album was released, was the music industry in a better place than it is now?

Who knows? It always changes. The music industry has and always will be an industry designed to exploit. That’s how it works. It exploits the art of musicians, in order to make profit – and that is totally FINE. People accusing the industry of being unfair or anything simply haven’t worked out how to exploit it back! It offers bands and artists some amazing resources that can be abused and devoured. So stop complaining about streaming royalties and figure out a way to make the system work for you. It’s only unfair if you allow yourself to be in a weaker position than someone else.

I do feel a lot of artists work in a very passive way, and it aint going to bring much reward. Now, more than ever, if you are a singer, let’s say, if you are not able to record, write, produce, mix, your own music, make a video on your computer, mock up some artwork, teach a band the parts, find a space to rehearse, make friends with another artists who you could support on tour…then what are you doing? Nobody has the cash to do that stuff for you. You need to do it all yourself, at least at the start. I’ve got no end of respect for new artists like Alex Cameron who is just writing his own success, one step at a time, but getting his hand dirty and doing it himself. White Lies were super fortunate in 2008 to sign a major record deal, but we’ve always kept every plate spinning with our own fingers, and this record ‘Friend’ would not have happened if we just expected the same as we had in 2008. We wrote this in Harry’s bedroom, we saved a lot of money by being clever with what we were able to do ourselves, we came up with a lot of the ideas for artwork etc etc. I’m not trying to say this is anything special, by the way. I’m just saying you’ve got to adapt and there’s not a second that’s worth being used to moan or complain about the industry. The industry isn’t listening; it’s figuring out its next business move, so why aren’t you planning yours?

 

Jack Williams

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