Catch up with Austin-based indie pop rockers White Label Analog and listen to lead single "Echoes" off the band's debut album, In Case You Just Tuned In, out now.
What brought you all together?
Chris Didear: Most of us have been in bands for a good part of our music careers. I've been in Austin for most of my life and had known both Aaron (bass) and Heath (drums) for a while. Initially, I had just gotten out of a band and was looking to do something kind of different and outside of my comfort zone - expand my horizons, so to speak - something new, something fresh. I talked to Heath early on and, for whatever reason, at the time we were just both busy and not able to make something materialize, so I just was like, well, I'm going to put an ad on Craigslist and see what happens, and I did and I tried to work with a couple of different guys that didn't pan out and then James answered the ad and he and I gelled right off the bat. We started writing some songs and once we got a few songs together then I reached back out to Heath and he came and jammed with us and, after 2/3 weeks of that, he was pretty interested. So, we just worked as a 3-piece for a while until we felt comfortable bringing another person in and I called my old buddy Aaron and he came in and did a great job right off the bat and blew everybody away. We were a 4-piece and we were looking around for a keyboardist - which seemed to be the ever elusive missing member - and we had always envisioned having a female keyboardist for the look of the band, for the dynamic, for the voice, lots of reasons. We started looking around and a couple people we tried out didn't pan out and, actually, Alison and James knew each other and she'd seen us play live and we had a conversation and she thought we were looking for a male keyboardist and we told her, 'no, we're actually looking for a female,' and she was like, 'uh, well, I'm that'. So we got together with her and we've been this line-up ever since. We did a few gigs as a 4-piece because we were getting antsy looking around for a keyboardist and then, like I said, Alison saw us and that's how we met.
Where does your name, White Label Analog, come from?
Chris: Actually, it was a name that Heath came up with and we probably spent a few weeks combing over about 50,000 names and nothing was really sticking - and this was when we were still a 4-piece - and Heath came up with the name, White Label Analog. Believe it or not, I was the only one that really wasn't into the name, the other guys were totally down with it, so we went with the majority, obviously, and I was like, 'cool, okay, let's go with that,' and it just eventually grew on me; I really like the name now.
Which musicians have you been influenced by?
Chris: That's a very, very difficult question with a long answer, but everybody brings different influences to the table ranging from classical jazz, metal, other indie alternative, modern rock, all kinds of stuff, so it's just a hodgepodge of influences, both band-wise and individually. I think, more than anything, it's the eclectic taste and influences of the individuals that brings together the total sound of the band.
Which words would you use to describe your sound?
Chris: We get asked that a lot. A lot of indie alt-rock and pop music today, it seems less focused on the rock and more heavily on maybe synth and pop sounds and electronic sounds. And, while we like that stuff and we certainly like to have that kind of flavor mixed in with our music, we still like to have a little rock sound, a little meat with the rock sound to add a little more taste. So, I would say indie rock pop.
What were your inspirations behind your single, "Echoes"?
Chris: To be honest, I had reflected back on a couple of personal losses and I just wanted to, in some way, celebrate life and make people realize that life is frail and we need to live in the moment and enjoy what we have, because there's no guarantee of a tomorrow. It's really about making memories and that those memories reverberate after you're gone with other people and with the world around you.
Could you tell us more about your new album, In Case You Just Tuned In, and how it compares to your previous EP?
Chris: The EP was our first recording and so it was songs that had been written early on in the process and we were proud of the EP and everything and still play songs off the EP, but the new record is more of a maturation of the band. Our writing style's evolving; we're navigating our way with our sound. I don't think we're trying to consciously sound like any one thing, but I think the listeners will find that it's an interesting mix, the journey from beginning to end. It's got some pretty fun hooks and it's not too serious. A very fun record to listen to. Somewhat danceable and melodic, but still has a little bit of an edge to it.
In one sentence, how would you sum up In Case You Just Tuned In?
Chris: Endearing wedding music [laughs].
The cool thing about this record is, we got to work with a lot of really good, talented mixers, so it added a lot of cool texture and feel. There was no more than, say, three songs mixed by any one mixing engineer, so that process, in and of itself, made the entire mix of the album unique, in a sense. Obviously, working with Mark Needham and the reputation and his experience and everything was really the cornerstone for the rest of the album; we used his mixes to kind of dictate the overall presentation, so that was consistent throughout the album. But, yeah, that was an interesting mix of people that we worked with to do the recording.
Heath Macintosh: To me, it's got great peaks and valleys. Sonically, each song competes with the next and it doesn't feel like you're just hearing the same song over and over again, which is something that I feel like I hear a lot on some bands' albums. There's a good dynamic; you can really hear where we pull from different influences from song to song and get a different vibe as it goes song to song.
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
Chris: I hope that they just enjoy listening to it and are inspired enough to share it with people because, really, you can do all the online promotion, but word of mouth really is still the best form of promotion. If someone tells somebody else and it just keeps paying forward, then you start amassing an audience. We're hoping to reach new audiences on the road; we've been pretty excited about taking this tour and finding new people to share this music with. We're hoping that they just take away a really good listening experience and that they're excited about it enough to share it with other people.
Is there anything you want to add?
James Millican: I think, for me, this album has been not too serious, not too playful, not too rock, not too pop; it's kind of somewhere in-between where we all intersect with our different musical backgrounds, so I think that sticks out pretty heavily when you're listening to the songs.