Originally from Columbia, MO, White Rabbits are among the next wave of New York-based bands finding increasing success in the latter part of this decade.
Touring with the likes of Spoon, Fiery Furnaces, The Walkmen and Richard Swift, the band’s profile among music fans continues to grow. Known for their energetic and entertaining live performances, the band has been on tour this Fall in support of their sophomore album, It’s Frightening.
The band, which consists of Alexander Even, Brian Betancourt, Matthew Clark,
Jamie Levinso, Gregory Roberts and Stephen Patterson is on tour through mid-November.
DeadJournalist.com brings you this exclusive interview with Matthew Clark of White Rabbits.
The band’s second album, It’s Frightening, is continuing it’s positive momentum, getting more notice and airplay. How does it feel to see the band’s success continue to increase?
MC: I personally try to not pay to much attention to the press and what not, but it’s really great to put a lot of yourself into something like an album, which can be interpreted countless ways, and then play a show and see the spectrum of people that are listening and (sometimes) enjoying what you have created with your friends in a basement.
Going back to the recording of the album, how did it differentiate from your first album?
MC: On the first album we were really green and had only recorded in small studios in Missouri prior to Fort Nightly.
We figured out a lot of parts for the songs while in the studio which is time consuming and takes away from actually recording and focusing on getting the best sounds possible.
On It’s Frightening we demoed all of the songs months before going into the studio. We had created a definitive blueprint of the flow and sounds that we wanted on the album. So when we were in the studio we would would focus on how to get the sounds and not so much on composition, though that is always going to come up at some point.
Being a band that has toured extensively, was there a particular band or artist took you under their wing in your early days?
MC: The Blood Brothers gave us our first touring experience many years ago and I will never forget that. Once we moved to New York Richard Swift was our first tour; and that was really great since we are fans of his.
The Walkmen are always great to have around, they are great guys and definitely have their way of doing things, and we have learned a lot from being around that. And Spoon has really been great friends since we met them. You can learn a lot from a band that has been doing it for as long as those guys, especially if you’re my age and can remember seeing these songs with 100 people.
And I can’t forget Mahjongg. Those guys were really important to us as a group. They were good friends who were doing what we wanted to do and that was enough for me to want to push what we were doing as a band. I’m sure my peoples will agree.
How has the reception of the audiences been at your shows thus far?
MC: The reception has been really amazing across the board. The new material is in a lot of ways different (better) and so the show is different (better) than it was. So it’s great to not know if people are going to like the changes you made and then have a great response.
We toured with the Fiery Furnaces just a bit ago and we were playing places we have had bad turn outs in the past or haven’t played at all, and every time I’ve been suprised,and that’s always a good feeling.
Of the cities you’ve played, which has been your favorite?
MC: They are all my babies, but if I was to say as far as crowd reaction, Denver has something in the air. It was the first city where it seemed like we could get a crowd in other cities which is the point of touring. and the people who were coming to the shows all seemed to be into it. I can remember being on stage at the Larimer Lounge and being taken back because they knew the songs and were having such a great time.
And I can’t forget Chicago. Never forget Chicago.
What is the biggest challenge of live performances? What is the most enjoyable part?
MC: Endurance and equipment. The two E’s as I like to call them. The most enjoyable part is when you get it right and everything is working together. That especially goes for things out of your control. If something goes wrong you just have to keep going which can make some great moments for both fan and musician. And I think that we both can agree that we love great moments.
Which do you enjoy more, performing live or writing and recording?
MC: They are very different beasts, so I will cop out and say I like both. The catch is you usually want to do one when your doing the other. So it’s pretty much like being married.
Since your latest album has been out since May, are you working on new material? If so, are there any formal plans for the next release?
MC: We don’t have anything planned yet. We have been working on some new songs but nothing in a playable stage yet. We have been playing alternate versions of some songs and recently have been playing those out from time to time.
The band has stated that it was influenced by, among others, The Specials. Is there a song or album that stands out as your favorite?
MC: Their catalog really is great. And their talent as songwriters supersedes any preconceived notions about ska music. Having said that I think “Friday Night, Saturday Morning” sums it up for us.
The band spent time as guest DJs on SiriusXMU; what did you find as the most enjoyable part of that experience?
MC: It’s cool (or at least I think it’s cool) to be able to play songs that people might not have listened to other wise. I just don’t like it when people decide to show off their obscure record collections at a bar at 1AM on a Friday night. There is a time and a place for everything.
But in all “Siriusness” the coolest thing (again my personal opinion) was when we were playing I was looking directly at the physicist Michio Kaku. Just sitting on a couch…chillin’.
And there was all you could eat Klondike Bars of all different varieties.
While on the road, what’s a normal day for the band? Did you attempt to main some kind of routine?
MC: Wake up. Get in van. Drive. Play show. Sleep.
This is only altered for friends and family. I try not to live like I’ve been on tour while I’m on tour. I try to take care of myself a bit and keep my clothes from smelling to bad.
Is there an artist that you’ve encountered recently that you’ve been recommending to your friends?
MC: The Subjects are a really good band that is only getting better. We’ve been friends for a while but we brought them out on tour and it was such a great time. They’re a band that is in it for all the right reasons,which tends to get overlooked a lot these days. Also Glass Ghost. They have an album coming out on Western Vinyl in Oct. called Idol Omen and I’ve been listening to it a “shit-ton”.
What were you listening to in 1999?
MC: I was all over the place then and still am now. I did however start listening to Depeche Mode again during this time. And it was the time when Saddle Creek was starting to take off, and it was pre-Strokes which if you think about it is a big thing. Being in a band pre- and post-Strokes.
Which do you prefer: MP3, CD, Tape or Vinyl?
MC: I have a fondness for all formats. But making and receiving mix tapes was such an important thing for me and people my age. I remember the first one I got and the last one I made. I actually saved all the track lists of the ones that I made and there still alright. Not groundbreaking, but good enough.
Web site(s) you read regularly?
MC: CNN is always a safe bet. Other than that FFFound is great even though it doesn’t exactly fit into your question. Sean from Daytrotter also has some really great things on that site.
One Drink; One Movie; One Album:
MC: Black Russian, Katt Williams It’s Pimpin’ Pimpin’, Speakerboxx/The Love Below.
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