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- Posted on Jan 14th 2011 1:00PM by Chris Cottingham
It's two years since White Lies were tipped as ones to watch in the BBC's Sound Of 2009 poll, coming second only to Little Boots. The West London three piece went on to deliver on the hype: their debut album, 'To Lose My Life...' went to Number 1. Now they return with the follow-up, 'Ritual.' Produced by Alan Moulder, whose CV includes Depeche Mode, the Killers, Interpol, it sees the band embracing a more electronic sound. Spinner joined singer/guitarist Harry McVeigh and bassist Charles Cave to talk about religion, karaoke and leaving those comparisons to Joy Division behind.
How does the new album differ from 'To Lose My Life...'?
HV: It's White Lies, but we've taken it much further. We had the confidence to try things that we've never have tried before. For example, a couple of songs have predominantly electronic drums. That's something we would never have done.
Did you need to do something different to maintain your own interest?
CC: We were just excited to be able to write again - it was something that we were longing to do. A lot of bands make a really big deal out of their second album and take it a bit too far. Going off to the woods in the middle of the Czech Republic for six weeks. We didn't feel that was necessary. We just started work one day and six weeks later it was written.
Do you write while you're touring?
CC: No. When we're writing it's a collaboration between three people, all with strong identities. When we're on tour we're a gang, with no one person in the spotlight. It would be hard to combine those two states, so we never write on tour.
Do you have different roles when you're writing songs?
HV: Charles writes the lyrics. Apart from that it varies from song to song. Someone will end up playing devil's advocate. Someone will be pushing it in a more cheesy direction. Someone will be trying to pull it back to something a bit weirder. The balance between those three is White Lies.
Lots of second albums are about being on tour because that's what bands do after a successful debut. Were you wary of that?
HV: What is there to write about? Waiting eight hours in an airport? Going out and taking some class C drugs and some heavy petting with a tranny?
CC: When have you done that?
HV: I haven't. I'm imagining what people think bands do on tour.
CC: We have a good time on tour, but...
HV: It's very routine. You could write about one day, but every other day is the same.
CC: There are so few occasions on tour when we have the opportunity for some rock'n'roll hedonism. The show finishes, you get kicked out of the dressing room and you're on a bus. One of the best times we've had on tour was doing karaoke in Japan.
What did you sing?
CC: We do a lot of power ballads.
HV: Our manager, who is a Northerner, does 'Can't Touch This' by MC Hammer in a Yorkshire accent. It was amazing.
What's the new album about?
CC: The title, 'Ritual', ties everything together. It's about the different daily practices people have that give their life more meaning. There are songs like 'Holy Ghost' and 'Turn The Bells', which are about religion and faith. 'Turn The Bells' was written after I went travelling in Tibet in January. I saw a lot of very foreign practices. If a child under eight-years old dies they bury it by feeding it to flesh eating fish. It's not for me to judge, but those kind of archaic rituals are interesting. Alongside that there are songs like 'Strangers' and 'Is Love', which are about the rituals of love.
You're frequently compared to Joy Division. Does it annoy you?
HV: There's so little of the new album that you can compare to Joy Division. I hope the new songs can shake all that off. Still, Joy Division aren't the worst band to be compared to. Our music wouldn't exist if it hadn't been for Joy Division. They changed the face of music. They paved the way for bands that use keyboards without being an electronic band. That's what we are: we're a rock band with electronics. But there are a lot of bands from that era that we listen to, like Tears For Fears and Talk Talk, that are more appropriate comparisons.
What are your ambitions for 'Ritual'?
HV: I don't mind whether it goes to Number 1, but I'd like the people who bought our old records to enjoy this record more, because that's how I feel about it. We've evolved.