Newcastle-based alt-rock trio The Pale White are one of the most exhilarating rising groups on the UK rock scene, and they have been garnering fans with their melodic and reverberant riffs backed by roaring drum fills which dominate venue stages and get entire crowds moving. Consisting of brothers Adam and Jack Hope as well as close friend Tom Booth, the group are finally unveiling their debut album after years of smaller releases teasing their potential.
"It's always been on our list, there have just been various delays," frontman Adam explains. "We've promised this album for a long time, and the cogs have been turning, but of course, we didn't anticipate a global pandemic hitting. That might work in our favour; the world needs music right now when you can't do much else."
This album has been quite a turning point for the band, as they hone their energy into a more concise and controlled sound that allows mature writing to shine through while also fleshing out more of a sonic climate than they'd aspired to previously. On ditching their focus on sheer volume alone, bassist Tom comments: "Sometimes you have to push the boundaries of what can be done in a rock band, because certain sounds have been done so much that you need to at least try to inject something new in order to keep things interesting."
Their collaborations in the studio are what has enabled this progression. "Since our single 'Medicine', we've worked with Jolyon Thomas, who has produced Royal Blood, Slaves, U2… he's a big deal! That was the first time we heard one of our songs in such an HD form – the sound was just taken to the next level," Adam describes. It's clear to see the change across this trio's career, and as drummer Jack adds: "If we hadn't improved over the years, I'd be pretty worried!"
Production improvements are most obvious when you compare their recent single 'That Dress' with the original demo, which dropped five years ago. "I used to leather my guitar in reverb to try and mask the imperfections," Adam reflects. "With vocals, our older stuff is double or triple tracked to try to hide issues rather than nailing one solid take. Little changes like that add up and made rerecording that song worthwhile."
It was much discussed whether this fan-favourite would make the album cut. "No artist thinks their first thing is the best they've done; you always want to be progressing and improving," Tom declares. "People form relationships with songs, and sometimes you shouldn't fight that. 'That Dress' had never been released properly, and it seemed like a missed opportunity to not get it out to a wider audience."
The alt-rock label which The Pale White operate under allows them to broaden their discography with pop-leaning songs as well as heavy rock bangers. "It doesn't confine us to such a specific and limited spectrum of sound," Jack observes. The contrast between their poppy moments and the aggressive phases is what shows that this is a group with a lot to offer, and they've certainly embraced this recently. Speaking on the fact that some fans idealise a raw recording style where the live elements are obvious, Adam responds that "only five per cent of people who hear your songs will ever get to see you live. It's worth pushing the record as far as you can and worrying about figuring out the rest later."
With creative decisions such as these being pivotal, it's thanks to the chemistry between the three musicians that the collaboration is so effective. As Jack quips, "we're hardly Oasis." "There's always going to be disagreements, and you have to be strong as a unit to get past them," Adam continues, "but if you can't get past that, don't fucking bother."
The group draw from a variety of musical influences, with the more notable and obvious being groups such as Nirvana, who Adam admits "opened the floodgates for us when we were younger. Jack is a music machine, always up for discovering new bands. I can't tolerate that, I can only listen to music that is absolutely mega, so I find myself going back to the same records," Jack retorts. "That's a curse."
The central theme of 'Infinite Pleasure' is how a constant chase for further fulfilment will always be fruitless as you pursue new highs and ignore the victories you do achieve. This crops up on moody single 'Glue', "a song about sheer motivation and not letting anything stop you from doing what you want to do and getting where you want to be; about trying to reach that fulfilment sociopathically," Adam alludes. "'Take Your Time' is about people that are stuck in that mindset too, describing the mundane routine you might fall into along the way."
The lyrics hidden behind their raucous flair have stepped up to the mark, as they are pushed to the forefront more than ever before. 'Anechoic Chamber Blues' is a sombre and melancholy break from the trio's usual volume levels, fleshing out the record and exploring a relationship breakdown using a soundproofed room as a metaphor. "It's a fascinating subject; if you spend too much time in those rooms, you can go insane," Adam claims. "That's actually the one song on the album I'm most intrigued to see fans react to."
Anticipating fan reactions is not something the group fret on too much. Tom emphasises that they're "really proud of the album – no matter what happens now, I genuinely believe it is great, and I'm really happy with it." Such sayings are cliché for a reason, after all. "We've found a more mature sound and really have a bit of everything on there, even a trumpet!" exclaims Jack.
Adam expands: "This is a ruthless industry; there's no room for error at all. Sometimes you worry about taking certain risks because you could lose momentum, but we're not looking to replicate successes we've had in the past here; we're always looking forward. Our future as a band is a blank canvas; we're going to keep doing what we want to do; it's important to stay true to yourself and not do things for other people. That keeps us in an artistically happy place. You can try to follow formulas that have worked before, but when you look back, those are never the songs you're most proud of."
Taken from the May issue of Upset. The Pale White's debut album 'Infinite Pleasure' is out 23rd April.
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