White Room’s Jake Smallwood talks politics, psychedelia and Paul Weller’s Black Barn studio with Katie Leigh-Lancaster
Promising shoegaze-tinged melodies and mesmeric distortion, Brighton indie rockers White Room are fresh out of the studio and heading back on the road. Fixated with the literal and metaphorical meaning of the number 8, the band’s aptly-named double EP, Eight, pulls together their most recent digital releases, seamlessly blending their Stole The I.V, The Blue, Cable-Built Dreamland and Twisted Celebration double singles in vinyl format for the first time.
Invigorated by their much-coveted support-act slot for Paul Weller last year, the band are set to embark on their first headline tour this month, swinging by the Actress & Bishop in Birmingham on Wednesday 29th November. Reflecting on the dizzying success of the past year, lead singer Jake Smallwood talks to Katie Leigh-Lancaster about the band’s festival highlights, and looks ahead to an exciting future.
Katie: Congratulations on such a successful year for the band! Your new EP, Eight, is set for release on 1st December – what can fans expect from your latest material?
Jake: The sudden urge to wiggle your toes and get right down into it.
There’s rumoured to be a social and political core to the lyricism on Eight – do you think that music has a responsibility to talk about current affairs?
Yes of course, music is a platform like no other and if you feel you want or need to say something then you should, whatever it is.
You toured with the Modfather, Paul Weller, earlier this year and even recorded your Fizzy Liquid EP at Weller’s Black Barn Studio, where legendary artists The Who, The Moody Blues and Gary Numan have all previously recorded. How does it feel following in such famous footsteps, and how has it inspired you?
Well, Black Barn just has that vibe, you know? You step in there and it feels homely. There’s a sense of belonging and freedom to explore and play with anything and everything, and I think when you have that in a studio, you really start to find something special. We developed our musicianship a lot recording there, so when we headed back for sessions for a few tracks on Eight, we just stepped right into that mindset, but better this time.
The band signed to Deltasonic (The Rascals, The Coral) this year – what has the shift from being unsigned to working with an iconic label felt like?
It feels like a huge step in the right direction for sure, and to be part of a family with such lovely people and acts that we really like is a beautiful thing. Deltasonic is a home not some shelving unit.
The music video for your latest track, ‘Cannibal Song’, is a grisly venture into the macabre – where did the inspiration come from?
‘Cannibal Song’ is kind of this twisted love song so in the video we wanted to capture that narrative and portray his struggle of survival when separated from his love. The 70s slasher film style was the inspiration point for the direction of the video, with the quick zoom shots and grainy finish. But, also, as the artwork of Eight is all quite colourful we had to keep that continuity through high saturation in the grading of the video too
Your sound is rooted in psychedelia and shoegaze, which has had a celebrated revival with bands like Tame Impala, Temples and The Horrors. Which bands are you listening to at the moment?
Loads of great groups or artists like Zuru, Vinyl Staircase, Baxter Dury, Gwenno, Mild High Club and Mr Jukes to name a few.
You’ve had a Summer packed with festival appearances, including Reading and Leeds, Isle of Wight Festival and The Great Escape. What’s been the highlight of this festival season, and where do you hope to play next year?
I think our shows at Y Not were probably one of my biggest highlights. Then of course Great Escape, being in our hometown, was one to remember. Packed out venue with a line outside. Can’t really ask for much more there, haha!
As a Brighton-based band, you’re part of an impressive local music scene. Which independent Brighton artists are you fans of?
Brighton has some good stuff going for sure. The Ferns, who are supporting us in Brighton on 27th, are sounding great.
Your headline tour kicks off this week, and you’re stopping by the Actress and Bishop in Birmingham for a gig on Wednesday 29th. Which tracks are you most excited to play live?
Well, we’re playing Eight in its entirety from start to finish so, to be honest, all of them. It’s hard to say what my favourite tracks live are because it changes from night to night.
Finally, with infectious riffs and a hypnotic mastery of distortion, you undoubtedly have an exciting career ahead of you. What are your hopes for the future?
New age classics.
White Room’s new EP, ‘Eight’, is available now. Keep up with the band on their website.