Hot Press caught up with White Lies following the release of their fourth album Friends.
English indie trio White Lies are back with another collection of gloom-tinged arena rockers in new album Friends, a top twenty hit in the UK last year. The album title is certainly intriguing – I wonder what inspired it?
“A lot of the subject matter on the album is to do with how your friendships change as you grow older,” reflects frontman Harry McVeigh in his posh tones, down the line from Milan, where the band are currently on tour. “When you’re a young teenager, you see your friends all the time – you go to school with them every day. As you grow older, the time you spend apart gets longer and longer.
“It’s totally normal for us now, in our late twenties, not to see some of our best friends for three or four months at a time, maybe even a year. But you’re still really close with them. It’s really interesting, and the record deals with a lot of stuff like that – how your relationships change and move forward, and backwards sometimes.”
White Lies have certainly had a steady career arc since their 2009 debut To Lose My Life…, which hit number one in the UK and eventually went gold. They have played some huge shows during that time, including several support dates with stadium kingpins Coldplay and Muse.
“We’ve done Wembley on a few occasions with those groups,” nods McVeigh. “Obviously it’s amazing – it’s an honour to be invited to play in front of that many people. It’s really exhilarating. We actually had one of our best rock and roll moments during those Coldplay shows. We’d been double-booked to play a festival in Brighton and the only way we could get down was in a helicopter!
“So we left the stage at Wembley Stadium, then drove to a local park and got into two helicopters that flew us down to Brighton. We had a duplicate set of gear set up there and we played two shows in a night, which was really cool – a great moment.”
It must be a hell of a buzz playing Wembley.
“It’s always really fun doing those stadium shows,” agrees McVeigh, “particularly when you play with groups like those. I’m quite a big fan of Muse’s work – when we were growing up they were an important band for us. Also with Coldplay, there’s a few of their records that we really like. We’ve hung out with them a few times, although we’ve played more with Muse – we toured Europe with them.
“Also our bassist, Charles, is quite friendly with their drummer, Dom. They’re nice guys. Bands like Muse, they totally deserve it because they’ve worked so hard. It’s taken them years to get into that position and I have a lot of respect for that.”
Do McVeigh and his bandmates themselves harbour ambitions to fill stadiums?
“It would be lovely, of course, but I think we’re realistic,” he replies. “We know where we’re at now. As a band, all you can really hope for is that you can continue to do it, because it’s the best job in the world. To be in that position, and still playing shows across the globe, is really great.”
Well, by forming a successful band and making a living from music, White Lies have realised the ambition of musicians the world over – they’ve won the lottery.
“Exactly,” says McVeigh, “and we’re realistic about it in the sense that when we’re writing, we don’t ever particularly think, ‘Oh, I wonder how I can make this song really successful?’ We always think about the music in terms of what we like. You have to trust yourself.”
Friends is out now on BMG.
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