White Label Analog is an indie alternative pop/rock group based in Austin, Texas. They have just released their first full album In Case You Just Tuned In, which Talk Nerdy With Us reviewed last week. You can click the link here to read the review. Comprised of vocalist Chris Didear, guitarist/vocalist James Millican, drummer/vocalist Heath Mcintosh, keyboardist/vocalist Alison Pepper and bassist Aaron Herbster, White Label Analog displays a mastery of music composition as well as performance.
Fortunately for us, band members Chris Didear and Heath Mcintosh were kind enough to make time to speak with us at Talk Nerdy and answer some of our questions.
Thank you very much for taking the time out to speak with us here at Talk Nerdy. I just spent the morning listening to In Case You Just Tuned In and I really like the music. At least for me, it fills a spot for when I need something interesting and yet not too angsty or over-wrought.
In Case You Just Tuned In although your first full-length album, is really a sophomore effort for you, did you feel any additional pressure due to the ‘sophomore curse’? How easily (or not) did this album come together in comparison to your 2015 EP, A Little More Time?
Chris: Any pressure we might have felt was more due to expectations we set for ourselves to write and produce a solid body of work. Picking a single was difficult because there is some variety stylistically and not just one song that wholly encompasses or represents our sound. Even though we released an EP last year, we are considered a new band from any sort of national perspective. We set out to make a debut full-length record that would get attention by hooking listeners in enough to feel compelled to tell others about our band and music.
Heath: This album compared to the EP, was a big challenge and jump in time management obviously with more songs and more time required to get everything recorded…members in and out of town/country for work and vacations, etc… Also working with four different mixers and around their schedules as well as our own. Throw in mastering, photo shoot, artwork, merchandise, setting up radio PR and press team, planning a tour and the list goes on….that 8-month window from starting recording to touring got chewed up pretty fast. Realize we have no label or financial backer, everybody has day jobs and some demanding ones at that, so we are pretty happy with the progression and it’s definitely a more focused album and effort with this first full length as compared to the EP.
You do have quite a bit on your plate and even so produced a first rate album!
What was your inspiration for the album, or perhaps there was less of an overall inspiration and the album evolved out of the music you were writing, so I guess I’m asking, how did this album come about? Is there a specific message or picture you are hoping that your listeners take away from the songs/album?
Chris: There wasn’t a specific message that was intended, I think we just naturally maintained a fun spirited tone overall throughout the process. If there was something that could be pulled from “In Case You Just Tuned In” it would be to go out and live life like it’s meant to be lived. Cape Diem.
What brought you all together? Do you still feel connected by that same initial attraction even as the band and your music has evolved?
Chris: I was friends with Heath and Aaron prior to this band, and I met James through a Craigslist ad. Finding musicians on the web is a little like online dating. You really don’t know what types of people you will meet, but James had me at hello. Ha! Seriously, we started writing “Men Like Gods” a song from our first EP “A Little More Time” and I knew there was some really great potential. After we had a few songs together I called up Heath and then Aaron. We stayed a four piece for a while trying a few different keyboardists and then James brought in Alison, and we’ve been a 5 piece since. We collectively had always envisioned the dynamic of a female keyboardist from the beginning; it just took some time to find the right fit.
Who does most of the writing? Are you willing to share your process? How much of a song is ‘finished’ once the band plays it together? Have you had to scrap songs that just didn’t work once the band started to rehearse them?
Chris: Most of our ideas begin with our guitarist James as pieces or more complete ideas. Sometimes he has lyric ideas, but if not, then I’ll write lyrics and vocal melodies. We then work on the draft ideas as a band in rehearsal. We spend a lot of time working on variations, arrangements, and trying any ideas that might potentially make the song better. Once we have exhausted that process, we will then rehearse until we feel it’s ready for a live audience and continue tweaking if necessary. I think that emphasis is very important in making our songwriting better, and gives us our best chance to compete with other national releases.
Heath: As far as scrapping songs…Yeah, the single “Echoes” on “In Case You Just Tuned In”…was actually worked out during the recording of the EP and the song just wasn’t coming together, so we scratched it, did a complete overhaul on it and it went from a pretty much unlistenable mess to one of our stronger songs on the album. And, yeah we have left a few songs by the wayside, that probably won’t ever resurface…that’s the nature of writing, you kind of have your pre-production group of songs, then scale that back to songs you will record, and then sometimes they don’t all make it thru that process, what you are left with is what you release…knowing that’s the cream of the crop at that moment in time.
That’s very much like any writer’s process as well. Who are your musical (or other) influences and what have these influences taught you?
Chris: Well, I began as a drummer and background singer which taught me a lot about rhythm, tempo, and the fundamentals of music. It also gave me a chance to play in some good bands that toured and the opportunity to learn about the music business. I am a pretty big Dave Grohl fan and thought it was the coolest thing that he successfully made the transition to frontman. He is certainly an influence and inspiration. I think everyone in the band has been influenced from great artists from the classic rock era, to the 80’s, 90’s and beyond. I think it shows in our music.
Heath: As a whole, the band has pretty varied styles and taste, but it all converges together in the great combination that creates our sound and vibe. I will just say that within the band some individual favorites go from Taylor Swift to Meshuggah. But we all love modern indie rock music, just had ACL week 1 this weekend and everybody in the band was stoked to see multiple artists throughout each day.
ACL is something on my bucket list, and to be honest – I’m envious. You just finished a brief tour and are playing in Austin at the end of the month, are there any future plans for additional shows? If so, when/where?
Chris: Definitely. We plan to do some long weekend runs in the interim until we have another longer tour pieced together. We are evaluating where we are getting the most radio support and want to make sure we visit those markets. We’ve been getting some love on the East Coast so we may end up there next, but that is still being planned at this point in time.
How do you know (if you can actually know) when you’ve got a song that will be a hit? Expanding on that, how did you pick the songs on In Case You Just Tuned In? Do you have a favorite?
Chris: It certainly isn’t an exact science, but there are songs that seem to just have the right feel as a single. We elicit the advice of the professionals who represent us like our radio promoter, our PR team, and try to make the best decision we can. In the end, it’s all a gamble, but you just put what you feel is your best foot forward and hope it resonates with people. I really dig “Echoes,” but I like “Rainmaker” a lot too. “Lead Me Along” came out really well too. It’s hard to name one favorite. I enjoy playing all of them.
Heath: That’s a tough question, I think I know when someone else has a hit. And there is a difference between a hit and a song that is a success. I think that pop artists know when they have a hit and something is gonna blow up to a degree. For a band, I think you have some ideas of what might be a successful song, but, it’s just completely speculative and subjective.
As I said in the introduction, I really like the entire album so hopefully that bodes well for how it will carry across various markets. Finally, we call ourselves Talk Nerdy With Us because, we’re all nerdy about something here at the site. What, if anything, do y’all nerd out about?
Chris: Scifi… complete STAR WARS nerds most of us. Not as much with Heath, but the other 4 of us. James and Aaron are total gear heads and are always taking about pedals and guitars etc. James is an electrical engineer and builds some of his own stuff. Heath and I geek out a little on drum stuff. It’s nice to have someone to talk drums with. Alison is a foodie because she has allergies has to know a lot about food, and both Heath and Alison are fashionistas.
Thank you again for taking time out to answer our questions. We here at TNWU wish you success with this album and all your future endeavors.
Chris: Thanks for the opportunity to speak with you. We really appreciate those who are supportive and instrumental in getting our name and music out there. We realize you have lots of choices, so thank YOU very much! Cheers!
Heath: Yeah, definitely…thanks for your time and interest! Much appreciated!
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