It’s often said that youth is wasted on the young, and in taking a quick survey of what the kids are listening to these days—from limp orchestrated indie rock to the turgid wave of dubstep cash-ins—future archeologists may determine our cultural well had run dry. Of course, that’s said in jest, not in a curmudgeonly grunt. There truly is a wealth of pure music being made at all times, in all zones, by all ages. But discovering a new band that isn’t mimicking trends barely a decade old or programming the past entirely on their laptops is a rarity in this day in age. A brief encounter with Columbus’ WV White, though, will restore the faith. Not only does the quartet play their instruments well beyond their years, they also write songs that sound dizzyingly out of time, as if they spent the millennial turn coveting bunkers full of cassette tapes and fanzines. Simply put, what WV White does isn’t all that cool, but it is.
The points of reference used by guitarist Tyler Travis, bassist John C. Fisher, keyboardist Caeleigh Featherstone, and drummer Tayler Beck, don’t seem that subversive. There’s the wildly psychedelic American shoegaze of The Swirlies and The Lilys, the slacker-pop quirk and drawl of Pavement and Built to Spill, even the space-age percolations of Stereolab. It’s where they converge, shatter, and form blissful swells of chaos that is the most intriguing and refreshing quality of WV White. They simultaneously sound like a band that rolled out of bed and onto stage, scratching the sleep from their eyes but deciding to wail, and a band that have been trained hours on end by bards of the recent past to preserve the indie rock touchstones of the ’90s. Judging from their debut EP, Enter, which they’ve made available for free, the band has a lot of room to grow. That’s not a slight, but rather a hint that something bigger and better is right around the corner.
How did WV White start? I know you’ve all known each other for some time, so what was it like before WV White?
Tyler Travis: It all kind of started when our band Tracy Films ended. Caeleigh went to California, and everybody was writing their own music. Tayler and I formed a band called Katie and the Baby, and when Caeleigh returned, we formed Caeleigh and the Babies. At first, Caeleigh was the main songwriter before I started writing more and more stuff and Caeleigh took a stronger interest in keyboard rather than guitar and vocals. We started practicing in Columbus. Enter JC. He would come play guitar with us, and then it started to take form from there. We played our first show as a three-piece with Holiday Mary and Rosehips.
How does the music you were making together back then compare to how you write music now?
Tayler Beck: Compared to then, we’re all better players and have expanded our influences considerably.
You guys are all from Delaware originally. Did growing up rurally have an impact on the music or did you take every chance you had to travel down to Columbus?
TT: JC is from Columbus actually, but no, I don’t think growing up in Delaware had much of an impact on our music. We would go down to Columbus sometimes to visit Used Kids or go to shows.
TB: Delaware was great for us. Hanging out at Tyler’s house, which had a home studio and lots of gear laying around, certainly had an impact us.
Caeleigh Featherstone: Ugly Stick is from Delaware
What do think are the advantages and disadvantages of being so young in a band (and having the history you already have)?
TT: I don’t think people know just how young we are. I constantly worry about what my voice is going to sound like when I hit puberty.
TB: The advantage is we get to drink for free.
John C. Fisher: It gives us a lot of room to grow, which is an advantage. A disadvantage is we’re all fucking broke, so it’s kind of a struggle to do things like put out a record or play shows outside of Columbus.
I think your points of influence are quite different than a lot of younger bands these days? How did you acquire tastes for obscure shoegaze and jangle-pop?
JF: Brian Freshour and Nick Schuld
TT: Jangle Pop? Like people dancing with bells around their ankles? Donovan? Is Donovan jangle pop?
What’s with the name? Where did that come from? It doesn’t really fit the music.
CF: It came from a poster in our practice space. West Virginia White is a type of butterfly.
What do you intend your first full-length to sound like in comparison to the EP? Is there a sound you want to achieve that you haven’t found yet?
JF: We haven’t put much thought into making a full-length album yet. We’re heading back into Circa Studios this month to record another EP with Marc DiCenzo. Lately we’ve been more focused on writing really good songs and putting on a good show more than making some sort of epic album statement.
Fill in the blanks:
In 10th grade I was listening to _____ in the _____ with _____ doing _____ wishing I was _____.
CF: In 10th grade I was listening to Elliot Smith in the car with my book bag doing school wishing I was cool.
TB: In 10th grade I was listening to complaints in the ear with some bitch doing not “it” wishing I was growing a mustache.
TT: In 10th grade I was listening to Beck in the 10th grade with Tayler wishing I was making out with Caeleigh.
JF: In 10th grade I was listening to Built To Spill in the Big Room with the hippies wishing I was in a band.