Interview: White Legs
For most bands, it takes a few years to build up a reputation, find your sound, record a single, record a music video, start writing an album, have quite a few gigs, and start to get exposure in the media, but not White Legs... They did all of the above and more throughout about half of 2018.
The band is made up of Richard Amundsen, Jordan Hill (both previous members of the widely successful This Ain't Vegas) and Martin Longstaff from The Lake Poets which has received significant attention recently.
This isn't their first joint project however, as they used to perform under the name B<E<A<K, but after the band "naturally ended", they decided to come back together and continue doing what they love with White Legs.
I got chatting with the band and we had an insightful, yet chilled and informal conversation about 2018, 2019, the general music scene, and their aims/ambitions for White Legs in the near future.
I asked the lads about how they felt 2018 had been for them and how the formation of the band came about.
For things moving so fast in 2018, they seemed really settled with how things were going and totally engrossed with progressing even further.
"Our first gig was in July but we had been practicing quite a while, just over a year".
Having been musicians (and also friends) for years, the three were already well adjusted and comfortable playing alongside one another.
Richard expressed how they were just "doing what they loved and having a mint time doing it".
"After B<E<A<K naturally ended, we all needed something to put our energy into, and almost use as a release.The three of us have been playing for quite a while and we just love playing music together, and so we just put our heads together and formed White Legs. It felt like the next step".
I then went on to ask the band about their plans for 2019.
Having worked their fingers to the bone last year, I thought they would be keen to have a chilled 2019.
Oh how wrong I was...
"We want 2019 to be even faster.
We want to get an album out there, to have something physical out there...
Like a document, a sort of legacy".
"We kind of missed the boat with B<E<A<K, we didn't get a record out in time".
"Music is changing and the way things work has sort of changed too now, you know when a band used to put an album out, they'd make money off of record sales, but now it's all online, that has totally changed".
"We were used to pre-internet music, where everything was word of mouth and bands made money from CD and vinyl sales. There's something so personal about buying music physically and owning it and playing it, but Spotify accounts are like business cards".
Faced with a fresh start and a blank canvas, White Legs have had to build up their reputation off of their own backs and the band are hugely understanding and appreciative of that.
Willingly and admirably, they took themselves back to square one.
The other projects that they are in/have been in, have been hugely popular and they have played shows both abroad and at home with crowds ranging from the hundreds to thousands.
One thing that really impressed me was the humble attitude and gratefulness that these guys have for the music scene and how bands have to put the work in themselves.
"In This Ain't Vegas, we'd play shows abroad to hundreds of people, and in White Legs, we're playing to crowds of 30-40. But that doesn't matter, we play because we love to, and there's something so electric when we're playing a show and we're having a great time bouncing about on stage and you look to the crowd and they're having a great time too...
You have that connection to the room. That's why we do it man, not for the numbers, it's an instant community".
I was keen to find out how it was for them playing as White Legs compared to other bands they had played in, were they more comfortable in their tough, garage rock skin?
Martin said: "With The Lake Poets when it's just me and my acoustic guitar and I'm playing to a crowd of people, they listen carefully and they clap and cheer when I've finished a song, you get this electric buzz from the applause and I'm really proud and relieved. But when I'm on stage with White Legs and we're all on stage having fun, playing in synchronisation with each other and we're in an intimate venue with a good crowd, it's a totally different type of electricity...it's amazing".
"It's like we're cogs in a clock, and when we're all on stage playing together in time, we're all turning and moving together, making the clock work".
"I said this to Rich before, when I'm with my acoustic guitar alone, I'm like a boxer.
It's me vs. him, I can't fuck up, but when I'm playing with White Legs, it's like we're Barcelona FC or something, we can take on the world".
I asked the band what they stood for and what they wanted to portray to people...
"Just honesty, not cryptic music - real stuff" Richard said: "even when I'm on stage, I don't use any effects pedals - it's just the roar of the guitar, I'm not hiding behind anything.
There's no overproduction because sometimes too many effects take away the element of the music".
"Some music industry wankers have their heads up their arses. We just want to be sound. We want people to have a sound night and we want to avoid being cunts".
Martin runs songwriting classes at Pop Recs in Sunderland for young musicians while Jordan and Richard also both work with young kids in schools.
The band is clearly switched on to youth culture and are very keen on getting kids into music.
Martin's amazing work with "blossoming kids" is aimed at opening their minds to the creative music scene and showing them that they can "have a canny little life in creative industries".
”You know when I meet them, a lot of them are starting off with ukuleles or acoustic guitars playing to YouTube, and I watch them become so much more involved in the music scene. They start going to gigs, releasing music, meeting more musicians like themselves and it actually really helps their social skills too. It's just a very rewarding experience."
Finally, I asked the band about their album, which is planned for 2019, and what kind of stages it was in at the moment.
They already have a clear outline of what they want the record to be:
"We want it to reflect where we're from you know, we're very proud of the fact we're from Sunderland.
We want the album to be authentic, something that flows and we really don't want to waste a second on it. There's nothing worse than an album that doesn't flow at all".
"We really don't want to write anything for the sake of it" Martin said.
"Being in a band is totally different to being a film maker for example.
The way I see it, a film maker makes a film, they release it, produce it and then they move on and forget about it, when it's done it's done. But when you're in a band, you write an album or a song and you have to keep it alive, you keep playing it live, practicing it and hearing it. You cant just forget about it because you're constantly working with it".
White Legs have so much in store for us in 2019, and I really enjoyed talking to them.
These guys know exactly what they are doing, and they're having a laugh and doing what they do best - playing together.
The product of their collaboration is hard, fast and energetic garage rock music that is hard to ignore and too punchy to discard...I can't wait to hear whatever they release next.
Here's to 2019!