5 Minutes With White Lies

Returning in 2022 with a brand new album and a coinciding tour, indie icons White Lies are one of the most loved live acts of the 21st century.

Since the release of their legendary debut album, 'To Lose My Life', in 2009, the band have established themselves globally with sold out tours in Europe and beyond.

We caught up with the trio to find out what to expect from their sixth studio LP, how they've used their time off to focus on a stellar return, and what's on the horizon moving forward.

Your new album, ‘As I Try Not To Fall Apart’, is released next month – how are you feeling ahead of it?

It is so different these days with albums - once it's out that's kind of it. Everything is in the prep these days. Whereas before, even on our first record, you'd release it and then keep making new videos and releasing new singles. Whereas now, everything comes before you drop the album - and then you go on tour and that's it.

Your last album, ‘FIVE’, was released three years ago, but we lost a couple of those years, so does it feel so long ago from your perspective?

I think I think we were actually very lucky - well not lucky with Coronavirus because no one was lucky with that - but lucky with the timing of it because we had a big year in 2019. Obviously, we released ‘FIVE’ at the beginning of the year and did a full tour for that. We then had the 10 year anniversary of ‘To Lose My Life’, which we played in full and toured Europe with it, then finished off with two nights at Brixton, which was amazing.

Because we had a very busy year, we were planning a pretty quiet year anyway and then the whole Coronavirus thing kicked off. We had tours booked in across 2021 which we moved to the autumn and then obviously moved again to spring 2022.

As a band, what was the situation like internally in terms of rescheduling the tour and the release of ‘As I Try Not To Fall Apart’?

I feel like the delay has only really been like a year for us. That's what it feels like – it hasn’t felt like three years of inactivity. We’d have probably released the album at the beginning of last year had nothing happened, so I don't really feel like we've missed out on too much. But at the same time, making an album during the pandemic was pretty tricky in parts and it definitely had an effect on all of us like in one way or another.

Your discography is fairly expansive now, do you feel like there’s an expectation to balance keeping your fan base loyal and try to bring in a new wave of fans with every release?

Yeah, it's still that way and that’s kind of great because what you don't really want is a constant ebb and flow of fan base, like people really like one album and then the next one they don't so you lose fans. We have an extremely loyal fan base across the world, but especially across Europe and sort of Mexico and we’ve realised it's not even an age thing. A lot of these people were 14 or 15 when they first started listening to us, so they're now in their mid-20s. Plus we have loads of fans that are in their 40s and 50s that started in their 30s.

Our music does seem to kind of transcend age gaps or demographics in terms of age, and people now end up coming to shows bringing their kids. We've met fans that are like, ‘me and my partner met in college when we were 16 and discovered your music - we're now in our 20s and this is our daughter, and she listens to your music in the car.’ It's amazing to know there's a ton of people that are still interested in what we do.

Do you feel that the time between an artist bringing out new material is becoming shorter, and does this prevent the listener being able to digest and wholly enjoy what they’re listening to?

I think it depends what sort of music you're making, and the same would go for TV and film. There's a lot of music, TV and film that is deliberately made to be digested very quickly and then tossed to the side. That doesn't mean it's not good. That's the function of it - it's a quick fix. There’s pop music that mostly deals in singles and it's like ‘I need to put a track out here, a track out x weeks later then another track out’ and there's not a huge emphasis on evolution.

I think for a band like us that are still basically album centric, we need a lot of time in between just as a film director needs a ton of time between trying to make great films. There's a lot of, I'm not going to call it research, but time where you’re living your life, listening to other music, going about things and experiencing things. I guess in a way that's like the ‘research’ part.
Then it just takes a long time to write an album - at least in our world it does. We've never been a singles band and that's been great for us because our mindset is always that the reason we've done well in the past is because we have really solid albums from start to finish and fans really liked them.

Do you think it would be tougher now to be a ‘breakthrough artist’ than when you started in the 2000s?

I feel so sorry for artists who were trying to release debuts during the pandemic. It would have had to happen at some point because you can't sit on an album forever. They will have missed out on everyone knowing the songs because there's no touring to back it up, no promos, no TV, or performances or anything. Because of the pandemic, artists only really had one shot and that was literally when it landed in front of people and when they listened to it for the first time.

I feel very fortunate that we had 10 years before the pandemic started because if we hadn't, we might have just disappeared over the past couple of years.

What has changed in terms of the ‘promo trail’ for an artist? For example, would you agree platforms such as TikTok add an extra pressure when writing material?

We're still encouraged - even as a band that are in our mid 30s and have a solid fan base that can sell quite a lot of tickets around Europe and UK or whatever - to try and do that stuff. To our shame, we are on TikTok, but a big part of my personality is that if we're doing it, then I want it to work.

I don't I really give a shit, but I still there's a part of me that is like we're going to have a huge viral moment on TikTok and will be one of those bands like you can find them all over Spotify now, where they've got one song with 100 million streams and all the other songs have a combined half a million streams.

It 's nice to not have the pressure where we need to have this viral moment where 11 seconds of a song blows up and then disappears again the next day, which is kind of how TikTok seems to work. Being a band releasing music in the modern world means people will push you to do a bit of that, but people like White Lies for very different reason. If we're able to achieve some random new fanbase of very young kids who suddenly decide they actually really love our band through one of these bonkers platforms like TikTok, then I'm not going to knock it - but you know, our fans are generally music lovers, and they like long albums, which have taken some time and taken some thought. They they don't need it to be an instant hit for our fans.

What does the rest of 2022 hold for White Lies?

I think any artist that has released music recently, or is planning to release music, will probably give you the same answer: which is that they're just hoping to absolutely cane it! I'm not saying I feel totally prepped for that because we have all had two years of floating around with very weird schedules, sleeping habits, and God knows what – so getting back to what is essentially full-on work when you're on tour is a bit daunting. At the same time it's our lifeblood and we've deeply missed it.

I think for things like events and rock concerts, it's going to be great. We had a little taste of it last year when we did three sold-out nights at Powerhaus FKA Dingwalls in London. The venue had just reopened and I we were all so nervous about what to expect because it was quite risky that it's even happening. We hadn’t played a show in ages, people haven't been to a show in ages, and I was really expecting people to be sort of stood distance from each other, or clutching a beer to their chest with a mask on.

But it was like a full on mosh pit rock concert from the first song and I think people are just ready to go to shows again. It might take a little while to settle into it, but I think it could be an amazing year for us. We've got so many shows lined up and more keep getting suggested and added for later on in the year in different territories, so I'm hoping to travel for the whole year and just play this record to death.

Buy your tickets to see White Lies on tour now!
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Hey - I'm Callum. Fan of The National, collector of vinyl, season ticket holder at Leeds United, owner of Dougal the cat.

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