Sunday, August 12, 2007

Heavy: The Passionate Blues of White Light Fever

On April 26th I ventured into the Cavern on Lower Greenville expecting to see another typical show, another typical bill of typical bands. What I witnessed was far from typical. The raw energy, heavy, gritty blues and demanding vocals shocked the living hell out of me. Everyone in the club turned to awe at the tight, passionate stage show. We were all nodding our heads, applauding, and begging for more. It’s been a long time since I’d seen a band quite like White Light Fever.
Even more shocking, after the show, I found out that the lead vocalist, Danny Billingsly, sang his insistent, organic lyrics from an 18 year old mouth.
Band members Danny, Mikey Brandton (24), and Thomas Pearl (24) have been stirring things up in the past few months. Featured in Pegasus News back in June, and on the verge of showcasing a unique art/music array at Hal Sample’s Space later this month, White Light Fever’s here, and you’d better pay these boys some attention.
Mikey and Danny recently took the time to answer a few questions for The Sub-Rosa.

SR: Tell me about your start in music.

M: I got my start originally playing music in a shed in the backyard of my friend Matt's house. We basically just wrote shit on the fly and recorded it right there. My first "real" band was called Army Of Fools. I was with them for a year, then me and the drummer (Nathan Wakefield) left Army Of Fools, met Danny, and formed Japanese Auto Clinic. Shortly after (Nathan) had to leave the band. We met Thomas (Pearl), and changed the name to White Light Fever. And here we are.

D: After watching Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, [the] Black Keys, [the] White Stripes and [the] Doors videos for hours on end, I eventually found dedicated musicians to form my own band after having written dozens of songs.

SR: Who are your greatest influences?

M: Musical: The White Stripes, Queens Of The Stone Age, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Nine Inch Nails, and The Melvins.
Personal: My father. He is also a bassist and pretty much got me into playing. He bought me my first bass and has supported me throughout. My mother has done a lot too. She pretty much taught me how to have the drive to succeed in anything.

D: Jack White, Dan Auerbach, Jimmy Page, Ray Charles, Peter Hayes, Alex Sharma(my brother).

SR: Who are some of you favorite local bands? Why?

M: Oh crap, there are way to many to list. I'll give you my top three:
Record Hop. They are the first local band I ever got into and through them I learned about A LOT of other great local acts. They were to me and the local scene as marijuana is to harder drugs (allegedly).
The Demigs. They are the first band I actually made friends with. They have played with my old band and White Light Fever more times than any other band I have played with. Chris, their lead singer is probably one of the nicest guys I have ever met. They are starting to get a lot of attention and even some play on The Adventure Club lately so I am really proud of those guys.
Stella Rose. These guys (and girl) are pound for pound the best local act I have ever seen live. They put on one hell of a show.

D: Stella Rose. Badass shows. Dragna are a lot of fun, and Holy Diver are my heroes. Ha, ha, ha.

SR: What venues do you like to play at in the area?

M: My all time most favorite place to play is Andy's in Denton. I just love that bar. Also I really like Club DaDa, Double Wide, O'Rileys, and The Cavern.

D: I love Club Dada. Its my favorite. The cavern is a blast (even though its no longer 21+).

SR: What is your most memorable show?

M: Defiantly the Town Square Project show at Club DaDa. That was a fucking blast. So many good bands, good art, and good people. It had to be the best show I have ever played.

D: Shows at Club Dada and Andy’s Bar. One memorable show was at Andy's Bar in Denton where, during one of our slower, heavier songs, one of the guys from Dragna came out with a trombone and started playing with the tune in the right key. It added an amazing dynamic to the song. It was fucking badass.

SR: Who writes the music/ lyrics? (Is it a collaboration?)

M: Danny writes the lyrics. He usually comes in with an idea for a song, then me and Thomas will throw in our ideas, and poof! We usually can bang out a song or two every practice. It's actually pretty amazing.

D: I come into practice with the songs played out in my head, including the lyrics, melody, guitar, and baselines for the rhythms. I like to type out the formation of the song, or come into practice with most parts figured out. Thomas and Mikey respectively add their own spin on the ideas, and a song is conceived.

SR: Who would you like to play with that you haven't played with yet ?

M: Record Hop. Mainly because they got me into the local scene and it would be an honor to play with the band that did that for me. I guess playing with them would be full circle for me.

D: I would love to play with..... The Black Keys, ha, ha, no but I would love to play with Jetscreamer and The Black Angels.


SR: Tell me about the show you've put together for Aug. 25th.

M: Ah yes....the show is called "Obscenely Unseen: A showcase event for unrecognized local arts and music". And that’s exactly what is. It all started when my friend Matt was inspired, after seeing us play at the Kettle Art "Spring Cleaning" show. He told me [that] he wanted to put together his own event, and I knew I could help him make it happen. We put our minds to it, and before long we had a pretty stacked line up of bands, artists, and even a DJ. All we needed was a venue. At the advice of many people (including the lovely conductor of this interview), we went to see Hal Samples at "Space" in Deep Ellum. As soon as we walked in, we fell in love with the place, and knew we had to have the event there. It's going to be really fun. We have a lot of great bands and artists. Blackheart Society, The Grass Fight, and Arguing Semantics are just a few of the bands we have. We also have some great artists lined up including a few from the Studio Fling gallery.

SR: What are the band's plans for the future?

M: Just to keep on keeping on and having as much fun as we can doing it.

D: Hopefully we can play rock and roll as long as we can, I have plans for college but who knows, if something big enough comes along maybe I'll have to reevaluate things.

SR: Tell me about the album "Heavy Knife Blues".

M: It was recorded by Shawn Lunsford in his home studio. We slipped up and forgot to credit him on the album (so there you go Shawn!) He is also recording our next record as well, which should be out shortly. The album itself is just Danny, Thomas, Nathan (our former drummer who plays on some tracks), and myself just working our ass off to make music that doesn't suck. We were (and still are) pissed off about the general state of modern music and wanted to make a record that we would love. I think we did a good job and we are all very proud of it.

D: Heavy Knife Blues is our first album recorded by Shawn Lunsford, a good friend of mine. the songs on this album are quite personal (some more than others) with the elements of blues, psychadelia, soul, folk and rock and roll. I truly have a love for the blues. The language of this album come from soulful, eerie, and real emotions. I hope this record is able to create something that people can feel.

If you’d like to feel the power of Heavy Knife Blues, check out White Light Fever’s myspace. It's the #1 featured link. If you’d like to see one hell of an act, catch “Obscenely Unseen” at Space on August 25th.

-Written by Alison Marie Welsh
-Photos courtesy WLF’s myspace

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