Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
Somewhere or sometime there will be a gathering post for any number or all of the following thoughts and people and syllogisms and ideas, where they blur into one dot and are all respected and beheld for their loose, but formative connectivity. What we're talking about is the raggedy discourse that Brooklyn-by-way-of-Missouri band White Rabbits fork out on their copacetic debut album, Fort Nightly, a record that would never tuck its shirt in or worry about its tossled hairdo, but would always be good for a conversation that would knock it out of the ballpark.
It's the young little maverick record that could gather a crowd around it in the back booth of a club, speaking but infrequently between sips of a drink and drags on a shortening cigarette. Those gathered would wait for any words and after they were spoken, they could run for days on them, treating them and their intellectual tributaries (a devil getting drunk, acting with impaired judgment can lead to an endless amount of circumstances; hence energy) as an alternative fuel. Spending the weekend playing and re-playing the band's fascinating disc -- full of characters that gleefully interact with alcoholic reasoning (whiskey as gospel) -- makes one believe in the immortal lives of periods and times as they were, losing not from their figures or any boldness from their enshrined scripts.
The ink refuses to fade of those days that went merrily into the archives. What it might tell us is that the proper way to tell a story has been perfected and the act requires some rather important, yellowed trimmings. Olden via the young or recollections via the young are time-honored methods. Any biographical tome is the gathering of reflections and the analysis of an elder by someone of decades less getting on. White Rabbits - led by the pair of chief lead singers Greg Roberts and Steve Patterson - oddly enough occupy a medium ground between the clippings below - one from an interview and feature about Lil Wayne in Fader magazine and one a new essay from David Sedaris in The New Yorker, where he digs into his lusting for all things the way they used to be.
The important Lil Wayne quotes start with his interesting comments about blowjobs, lifted from something Gene Simmons once said years ago, but the idea is that he's living with no control of the pace or the actual conclusions. He smokes weed, drinks a lot of drink, lays women and then writes commercially viable hip-hop. The really important part of the piece is how it ends, with Wayne saying, "I don't have a vision for it, cause that means you have a goal, which means you have a limit. That question is stupid. Why do he do it? Because he is him. How do he do it? Because he is him. I'm not a psychic, I don't see myself doing anything. I don't expect, I live. I live!"This from Lil Wayne, an extraordinary bit of identification with the powers that be that struck as a distinctive way that White Rabbits handle their own mystery - the way that they get inside these songs of such soulful conviction and verisimilitude is reminiscent of the natural flow of light. Sedaris recalled - autobiographically or fictionally - when he began scouring thrift stores for vintage clothing and dressing in knickers, suspenders and a top hat, to his father's disgust. "The way I saw it," Sedaris wrote, "the problem wasn't my outfit but my context. Sure I looked out of place beside a Scandinavian buffet, but put me in the proper environment and I'd undoubtedly fit right in."
The White Rabbits are the young claiming the old as its own, just as Sedaris did, but they're also imperceptibly usurping the culture of the bygone in a way that conspires with an inventive melodic spirit to make something to sink your teeth into, like the cracked bindings of old, musty books.
The Daytrotter interview:
*What was the biggest change for you when you moved from Missouri (one of the least glamorous states in the US) to New York? What do you miss about the Midwest? What do you like about New York? Do you all live together?*
Greg Roberts: We were all extremely shocked at the amount of horseless carriages we saw when we arrived in New York City, and the buildings here are so tall it looks like they touch the sky! We moved into a loft together in Brooklyn. We're all really happy with the move, we love it here, but we all miss our families and friends back home. And Cardinals baseball.
*Are there things you guys make sure you do once every two weeks (you know, a fortnight)?*
GR: The dishes.
*What distracts you?*
GR: We had kind of a rough week this past week. We went back into the studio to start recording some new stuff, and that day our loft was broken into and a few days later our van caught on fire. That was pretty distracting.
*How did you guys win Europe over already?*
GR: We stormed the beach at Normandy.
*Do you want to say anything to Rolling Stone for calling you "hype"?*
GR: What can you do? Not everyone is going to like you. I think we would have been a lot more upset if Rolling Stone had said those things about us back when they mattered.
*Didn't White Rabbits (I believe I heard this somewhere) used to be a much different band -- screamy types of things?*
GR: No, White Rabbits were never a metal band or anything. A few of us have played together for a long time, long before this band, playing in basements and garages when we were younger. We were all in the same loud punk bands that everyone was in when they were kids.
*Have you ever felt like you had old souls? If you could implant an old soul into your body -- maybe just temporarily -- describe the person or soul you'd want to give a try.*
GR: I'm a big fan of Edward Hopper.