No Ordinary Pair of Jeans

White Denim has exploded on to the UK music scene. Ever since the release of their single Let’s Talk About It in April, their name has been circulated as a band to watch. The release of their album, Workout Holiday, in June, certainly confounded any expectations of this trio — James Petralli (guitar/vocals), Steve Terebecki (bass) and Josh Block (drums).

Hailing from Austin, Texas, Petralli explains how they formed; “Josh and I were playing together in a garage rock band and we saw Steve playing at another gig. He was very active on stage and we asked him to join us.”

Workout Holiday explores a wide variety of musical genres; crossing boundaries and creating what White Denim refer to simply as “sound collage.” The record ranges across country, new wave, electronica, looped fx, art rock, neo-prog, pop and garage rock — an impressive feat.

The title Workout Holiday highlights the fact that they produced the album themselves while taking breaks from their normal jobs. Their studio is built inside a silver-metal, 1940s Spartan trailer, parked deep in woods outside of Austin. “Roughly 60% of the songs were composed initially on acoustic guitar. Let’s Talk About It and Shake Shake Shake were true collaborations where everyone was involved. Josh is the main engineer — he has a good ear for dynamics and can bring out the nuances in the songs. Steve and I worked in the studio in the evenings and we would put in 24 hours at weekends. Josh would mix and integrate new melodies, then would let us listen to what he had done. Workout Holiday was a work in progress for a year and is a real document of where we were at the time. In the future I like the idea of working with a producer, someone who can be an outside set of ears to provide a little quality control.”

White Denim love to surprise people, from the exhilarating sounds of Shake Shake Shake, recorded in just six hours, to the more sombre song, Sitting, on which Block showcases his multi-instrumental education and plays wonderfully melodic piano. Workout Holiday fuses the trio’s experience of playing in previous bands and experimenting with different musical genres into a refreshingly energising record. Equally incendiary are White Denim’s live shows, “In the US we self-distribute and book our own shows, so touring in the UK is great. We feel uninhibited and get chance to hang out, as we don’t have to worry about organising the equipment, or bookings like we do in the US. I enjoy playing live — the physical energy it creates on stage. We are really tight as a group and I love the immediacy of seeing people enjoying the music.”

Workout Holiday is an exhilarating record and White Denim is certainly a band to catch live to experience the highly charged interaction of this varied and stimulating band who have grown organically and exponentially from their Austin roots. “Over the next three months we are going to record demos together for the next album. It is going to be like a 9-5 music job going into the studio every day. It would be great to put out two albums in a year.”

Workout Holiday is out now on Full Time Hobby.

Shona Fairweather