Shot Black Lips this past Friday night at Union Transfer.
Text & Photos by: ME
White Mystery is tackling their biggest project since the band’s origins in 2008: a double gatefold, half new music, half live album called Dubble Dragon. The album is a deep dive into the fantastical and exotic imagination of siblings Alex White and Francis White, two intertwined, fire-breathing dragons in the flesh.
It’s six thirty in the evening as Alex White, singer and guitar player, emerges from her bedroom cave, where she was nursing a pre-tour cold. She makes a pit stop to the bathroom to apply some bright pink lipstick, which barely stands out from her glorious locks of orange hair. Alex isn’t obsessed with appearances, rather she is suiting up to talk business.
“I was in a two piece with another gal called The Red Lights, another two piece after that, started a record label when I was 17 and started putting out 45s,” Alex listed nonchalantly. “I still put out records and I’ll be 29 next month.”
Their parents basement on the north side of Chicago has been the incubator for the Whites’ musical musings for as long as they can remember. They grew up in a creative family: their mother, who is both a seasoned and personal photographer best known for documenting the Disco Demolition in 1979, as well as a fashion designer for a younger brother and third sibling.
As teenagers they picked their instrument of choice, guitar and drums respectively, and took off running. Francis delved into the punk and psychobilly realms, while Alex planted her feet in loud, industrial, rhythm rock. They always found time to jam together, of course.
“We had a toy piano that we used to bang upon. We would jam quarters into it for no reason, it kind of turned into a piggy bank,” Francis reminisced about their first encounter with instruments as toddlers, “But it gave it such a demented sound we really liked.”
Missile X was Alex’s first enterprise, as Francis calls it. She started the label with a friend, Chris Playboy, and fellow Chicago musician. They decided to put out an album by one of their favorite bands: The Spits. The Spits like to dress up, like Ronald McDonald, Hamburglar and crew to be specific, so they released the bands album on Halloween with a custom lollipop inside.
Due to the tragic death of her label partner, Alex and Chris’ parents started a foundation, The Chris Saathoff Foundation, which was established in his memory and has raised $10,000 in the last 10 years for the foundation. Missile X fused with the White Mystery brand and the siblings have been releasing their own records annually since 2010.
“You think about nuns or monks and their vow of celibacy, we do not have a vow of celibacy, but neither of us is going to move across the country for a relationship and jeopardize the band, it’s just not allowed,” Alex seemingly quoted from the White Mystery bible. “The no-boyfriend-no-girlfriend pact technically ends on April 20, 2018, which is the 10 year anniversary of the band.”
Alex and Francis are no doubt ride or die. They even boast about a no hair cut rule too. When the band started, they booked five shows very close together, two of which were at The Beat Kitchen, as Francis recalls. Fast forward to today, White Mystery has played in over 15 countries and 40 states.
“Dedication to the band is unwavering,” Francis said bluntly.
Its about three quarters of the way into the interview when Alex received a frantic text from one of the band’s interns. White Mystery was about to embark on their tour supporting Dubble Dragon and the pressure was on. Through the connections they have made, their dedicated interns and their own valiant efforts, Alex and Francis White have been self managed from day one.
“I had to keep visualizing what It looked like in terms of the front cover, opening the gatefold to the back of it to the experience of our fans taking the record out and visualizing the whole concept of the album itself, Dubble Dragon,” Alex explained her thought process. “It was not a mistake, its a fantasy story about two dragons.”
“Unteddy”, a track from the new album up on their website, oozes the band’s intense, head thrashing feel to the very core. “Unteddy” is one part of the three part story of the Dubble Dragon. The band dropped the music video for “Double Dragon”, the title track and another part of the story, on Spin earlier this month. The video is a boys adventure into a psychedelic playground where his newfound dragon figurines come to life. But untilDubble Dragon drops, the rest of the journey the album encompasses will be incomplete.
“For new fans, they will have a taste of what happened on the first three album jammers as well as this very conceptual record,” Alex said. “For old fans, they will have a live concert on wax that they might have attended before.”
Dubble Dragon uses the gatefold to it’s full potential. The first record tells the story of the Dubble Dragon, which they recorded in about six hours at The Double Door, while the second record is a live album. The siblings collected live recordings of their favorite tracks off of White Mystery, Blood & Venom, People Power, and Telepathic. Nothing will ever compare to Alex laying back on her knees while playing the guitar with her teeth or Francis’ dionysiac headbanging, but it’s a start.
“White Mystery shows are high-energy and dynamic. People fall in love at our shows! The pheromones are palpable,” Francis enthusiastically stated.
White Mystery’s face melting, psychedelic reckoning of the Dubble Dragon will all be available on vinyl as a special release during Record Store Day on the 19th and goes worldwide on the 20th following their record release show in Amsterdam.
“The last six years have been an epic adventure with my brother with all kind of Hobbit-like proportions,” Alex said. “There are villains and there is evil but there is also treasures. All of these concepts and the Dubble Dragon represent that epic adventure so far.”
My Favorite Photos I Took From Day 5 of SXSW:
Well, we have arrived. The fifth and final flashback to SXSW. It was my first time in Austin and at SXSW and I had a blast. I was so fortunate to be able to leave the blistering cold of Philly, even though on some days it was colder in Austin than in Philly. Although I will say that festivals can sometimes feel like shopping mall. But this shopping mall was catered to me. I saw a bunch of artists that I hadn’t had the chance to see yet and some that I may have never caught in my whole life. Will I go next year? STAY TUNED!!! :)
From top to bottom: Chill Moody (reppin’ Philly!), The Cool Kids, Joe Fletcher, Small Houses, DZ Deathrays, Cerebral Ballzy.
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Had the pleasure of meeting Small Houses at Flipnotics during SXSW, where Jeremy was putting on a showcase. He is as delightful in person as he is on stage, so you are going to want to watch this charming interview.
Filmed by: Rick Kauffman onlygoodlooks
Stopped by the annual Human BBQ at Pilam yesterday and snapped a few pics.. Caught No Strangers and Daniel Phosphor Walrus. (From top to bottom: Daniel Phosphor Walrus, No Stranger, then Daniel Phosphor Walrus again…its a sandwich!)
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Got to hang out with these cool siblings at SXSW. I fell in love with them at the She Shreds showcase. We discuss their 5th annual release, Dubble Dragon, which comes out 4/20. Look out for a feature on Tri State Indie, coming sooooon!
See the post here: http://www.tristateindie.com/watch-white-mystery-sxsw-2014-tsi-lounge-session/
My Favorite Photos from SXSW Day 3!
I saw The Kooks on day 3 as well, but you already saw that post.
ALL photos are MINE!
From top to bottom: What I call the “rap bus”, Sleeper Agent, Rivers of Nihil, The So So Glos and Diarrhea Planet.
So while Diarrhea Planet was playing they had a “get a free t-shirt if you stage dive” contest. Long story short, I got pummeled to the ground and my equipment spilled out everywhere. Special shout out to all of the kind strangers who helped me out, The So So Glos and Rick Kauffman.
The Kooks @ SXSW (photos by ME)
So I decided to dedicate a whole post to my favorite pictures of The Kooks. Although I was turned down from an interview with the band, I made an effort to go see them, and was instantly rewarded. Though the years have passed, nothing has changed about the band. Their new music has every bit of attitude and playfulness as their previous releases. Although they didn’t play “Stormy Weather”, as I had fantasized they would, I had to try and focus on taking pics of the photogenic band instead of dancing and singing the whole time. Keep and eye out, these dudes are touring soon.
Presenting: My Favorite Photos From Day Two of SXSW
These photos are all mine!
From top to bottom: St Vincent, Drowners, Perfect Pussy, Eagulls, Kelis (she brought the boys to the yard), and St Vincent…again.
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Interviewed Cultfever after their SXSW performance at Rusty’s. They talk new tunes and more!
Went to SXSW and I have been rummaging (nostalgically) through them. Here are my favorites from DAY 1. At the top: MS MR. Next, Cultfever, followed by Philadelphia’s own, Southwork.
Went to SXSW, in the thick of having the worse dog fever. These are a few photos of dogs that helped me cope.