WHITE LIES – In Oslo
- by Therese Egge Belgum
- Posted on 02-02-2014
White Lies finally showed their faces again on a stage in Oslo, Norway 23rd of November and I got to have a chat with the vocalist, Harry McVeigh, and the bassist, Charles Cave.
How are you?
Harry: – Good. A little tired. We had an early start this morning. We had a day off in Berlin yesterday. Everyone else got on the bus, but we flew this morning. It was a very early flight.
So, what do you think of Norway and Oslo?
Charles: – We think…I really like Scandinavia.
Harry: – We had a really great time in a Norwegian festival over the summer actually. Probably the best festival we´ve played.
Which festival was it?
Harry: – Ah…What the hell was it called?
Charles: – No. It was tiny.
Harry: – No. Much smaller than that.
Charles: – Wasn´t it the one that´s called Scandibog(?), was it?
Harry: – No, it was like 1500 people.
Charles: – Oh festivalen, festidalen, something
Harry: – Yeah, festidalen.
Ah yeah, Festidalen!
Charles: – Tiny! In like a island in the south somewhere, but not….We´ve done Hove before and that was so nice, but it was much smaller, way smaller than that.
Harry: – It was on the fjords.
Charles: – We´ll find it.
Harry: – It´s this one. It was very good.
Uskedalen. I´ve no idea where that is, but I´ve heard of the festival.
Harry: – Yeah, it´s totally in the middle of nowhere, but it was really fun, because it was sponsored by a helicopter tour company. We were staying at a really nice hotel in the fjord and we were swimming and stuff and when we went to play the festival we were picked up by a helicopter and chopped off. Really good fun.
Wow, so cool.
Charles: – Yeah. I´m gonna show you. We went on a really nice walk as well, like near where the hotel was and you are probably used to see all of this kind of stuff, but there was just… all of this. Forests. Streams.
Typical Norway. Haha so cool.
Harry: – That was quite exciting for us.
Charles: – It was very very very exciting for us. All of this stuff.
I believe you! Norway is so cold though. Are you a winter or summer person?
Harry: – I was talking about this the other day with some friends of ours in Germany and i was saying…I think I´m probably a winter person, but I was saying cause we went on a trip to LA to play Jay Leno and we were coming back to play a festival in Germany and we were transfering in Heathrow. And we´ve just come from LA where the weather was beautiful. You know, it´s perfect all the year around and when we landed in Heathrow it was really miserable outside. I suddenly hit a pang of like "I feel like I´m home." You know, I could happily go out in this weather and enjoy it. I don´t know, I always want when I have the other I think. But I always feel like when winter finally comes around, that I´m ready for it and I enjoy it.
Charles: – I think I´ve been in a place that´s about as cold as you can get and you can still wear enough clothes to be warm. But I´ve been in places where even if you´re completely naked, it stay way too hot. So I think I would go for winter as well, because you can always warm yourself up.
Harry: – Always wrap up.
That´s true. So am I.
Charles: – But in the middle of the desert in the Middle East, there´s no way to cool down. It doesn´t matter what you´re wearing.
(Photo: Therese Egge Belgum. Oslo, Sentrum Scene – November 23, 2013)
So, do you ski or snowboard?
Harry: – I´ve done in the past, yeah. I would love to, but my girlfriend doesn´t ski. If I said "Alright we´re going on a skiing holiday", she would probably have a few firme words to say. But I do love it! It´s a great holiday. I like snowboarding, but I also like all of like the drinking, the eating. You can go on a nice steam or surner afterwards and all that is just really good fun.
Charles: – I´ve never been. I´ve never been to either, done either.
Harry: – If I was gonna do it, I wouldn´t do it in Norway cause it´s too expensive.
Hahaha, yeah! Everything is expensive here.
Harry: – I mean, skiing is expensive anyway, but Norway is times 10.
Have you heard of the movie Supervention?
Harry: – The what?
The movie, Supervention?
Charles: – No, is that new?
Yeah, it´s a norwegian documentary about skiing and you guys have like 2 songs in it.
Both: – Really!? That´s cool!
Harry: – Oh maybe we get a free skiing trip out of it!
Charles: – Oh yeah!
It´s really cool! The girl I´m living with, she actually became a fan of you after she had seen the movie.
Charles: – Supervention? I´m gonna make a note of this.
It´s in the cinema´s now.
Harry: – Is it about 1 particularly person or?
No. It´s about many different norwegians.
Harry: – Like downhill skiis or?
Yeah. And snowboard.
Harry: – Ah, that sounds cool.
There is a cupfinal here in Oslo this weekend, do you like football?
Harry: – Oh yeah. Those two are watching football right now.
Ah cool. I actually work at a bar for the event, so if I smell beer that´s why.
Both: – Hahahahahah.
Harry: – Is it a big thing or what?
Harry: – Yeah. What is it? Is it like a cup title or something?
Haha i have no idea!
Harry: – Is it the norwegian FA cup final? Oh okay. Haha.
You guys have been to Norway quite few times now, so what do you really know about Norway?
Harry: – Ehhh. I don´t know! We´ve spent quite a lot of time here, but I don´t know. It´s…it´s very..It´s huge. There´s a lot of wast empty spaces, which one day I would love to explore. There´s lots of beautiful people. Uh i don´t know.
Charles: – We like heavy metal, so.
Harry: – Yeah. We like.. I like..again we´re talking about the cold weather. I like the cold weather. I like getting into a little cabin and getting a warm fire going. That´s quite norwegian.
Haha yeah it is!
Charles: – I think as for a british band, we´ve been explored a lot of Norway actually. We´ve played in Bergen a lot. I know that´s a big city as well, but then we´ve also, because of various reasons, been to Tromsø and Kirkenes. We had a night in Kirkenes before.
Even I haven´t been there!
Both: – Yeah, exactly. It really is cold as well.
Charles: – That was really cold up there! Uhm and yeah. I like watching norwegian films. There´s a great film from a couple of years ago, 31st of August. You know, the heroin thing. And the other one, from the same director. What was it called? It came about 1 year later, i think. There was another one . Anyways, I really like these ones.
You were at the EMAs, weren´t you? I remember seeing something about that on your Facebook.
Harry: – Yes! No, like a pre-party thing, in Copenhagen. That was quite a good fun.
Have you heard of Ylvis? They´re norwegian and they played at the Red Carpet.
Charles: – Noooooo.
Harry: – Yeah. I´ve heard the name.
Harry: – Oh yeah! Yeah i know that! Yeah yeah yeah. I don´t really.. Like, one of his songs was quite funny. That one I don´t think is very funny. What was the other one he did before that one though?
Charles: – Who´s this?
Harry: – It´s just this pop star that writes like comedy songs. I remember hearing one that was actually kinda funny. The one that he´s got at the moment is kind of ridicoulous. Not that funny.
Charles: – Oh…
Harry: – But it´s huge!
Harry: – Yeah, like in all kinds of states and everything.
If you could decide the perfect place to play, where would it be and how would it look like?
Harry: – Haha it would probably be somewhere in Norway!
Charles: – I honestly said after playing that festival (Festidalen), if our job was basically to play on this stage at this time every day for 5 days a week for the whole year, I would be happy. Like, honestly, it´s just perfect. Such nice people. The thing is, the people there weren´t really fans of our music because they just live quite close and they just come to the festival to be with their friends, drink and listen to the live music. There´s sort of different bands, so they just, you know, want to be entertained. But they´re so happy to be there. It´s a great feeling of everyone really enjoying themselves.
Harry: – It´s a really local festival. You know, because you have never heard of it.
I think I have heard of it, but I know what you mean.
Harry: – Yeah, but I think that a lot of people that go to it are just people who live around there. So it´s like a lot of farmers and their families. The festival is on a farmers land and he has beneath his house, like a full bar. Like a pub. With a massive fire place. Yeah, it´s really cool! It´s amazing.
Charles: – He was saying, like in the winter it sometimes..you know, him and his friends would like meet there. You go down underneath to get there. So when you´re sitting, there´s like a window here, but the ground outside is about this high. And he was saying that sometimes, if it starts to snow and it snows very quickly, there a time where it´s like "Okay, we could be in here for 3 or 4 days". So they always keep enough beer, food and everything in there because sometimes it´s like "Let´s call home, yeah I´m stuck in snow. We can´t get out so we have to live here for a few days." Sounds amazing.
Harry: – Yeah, just sit and drink infront of the expensive fire. He´s brewing his own beer and everything. It´s amazing. It was an incredible experience.
Wow, perfect life.
Harry: – Yeah. Having said that, I think it would be good to do maybe a nice one on a beach in Australia or something. Totally different, but you know, that would be cool.
Charles: – Or in the Caribbean.
Harry: – Yeah, somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle.
That sounds amazing. And safe. If you could collaberate with whoever you want, who would it be?
Harry: – I said the same answer for this for a quite few interviews now.
Harry: – No! It´s fine. I´m gonna say, there´s a very well known classical composer called Phillip Glass, which is lovely. We love his music. Most people have heard of him, but I think it would be very interesting to collaborate with him. Just to get him to make some, like I don´t know, some nice soundscapes for a past few records, would be amazing. But he would never do it! Ever. But that would be a dream come true. That would be amazing.
I love him! Describe your band with 5 words.
Harry: – Oh. Go, Charles.
Charles: – Why me?
Harry: – You´re the wordsman.
Charles: – 5 words.. Uhm… Ah I don´t know. I think it´s very dramatic.
Harry: – That´s good. Good 1st word.
Charles:- Uhm, very melodic. That´s 2. It´s a good word.
Harry: – Mhm it´s good. It is very melodic.
Charles: – Uhm.. Very… I don´t know.
Harry: – I was gonna say uplifting. I find it uplifting.
Charles: – Yeah, I think so. Euphoric as well. I don´t know. Maybe that´s a bit too much, but yeah uplifting.
Harry: – Yeah, a bit too much. Eh.. fragrance.
Charles: – Hahahah fragrance. Smelly. It smells nice. It does smell nice.
Harry: – It smells nice. We always smell nice as well so. And uhm.
Charles: – Tasty as well. Tasty.
Harry: – Yeah, tasty.
With your style of music, you are kind of a special band. In a good way. What do you think of the "normal" music nowadays?
Harry: – What do you mean about normal music?
Charles: – Pop music.
Harry: – I don´t know. There´s some music in every genre that I really like. And I think that there´s always. One thing that I say that is great about music at the moment is that it seems to be, and I think it will be increasilly increasilly become very diverse. Like, there´s so many different styles of music that people are always making, and that´s great. I think that as I get older, I get much more picky of what I actually like and I think about what I, when I listen to something for the first time I think about whether I really like it almost straight away. I´ve always said that I always gives something a good chance, you know, but I don´t know. Stuff that I like at the moment is like, I think that Lorde record is amazing. I think lyricly and melodicly, I think it´s a really great album. It´s very unic and original, which is something that can´t be said for a lot of pop music at the moment. I think she´s very deservative as well.
Charles: – Exactly! I think it´s very good. I think it´s very good for main stream music. I don´t think if you isolate it as a creative piece of work in the grand sceam of music, it´s amazing. But I´m so happy that she is popular.
Harry: – It´s just really fresh.
Charles: – I think that especially that Royals song, that´s probably the most tasteful song that´s been number 1 in the UK. I don´t know if it´s number 1 here.
I don´t think so, but I´m not sure either.
Harry: – It´s number 1 in the US as well.
Charles: – Yeah. I think that´s the most incredible and artistically accomplished song that´s been number 1 pop song for quite a long time, so I think that for that reason it´s good. I´ve listen to the record and I thought, you know. I think that my feeling is that I´m really glad that people who usally buy all the other pop music in the charts, might buy this album, because I think that this is good for them to hear. I wouldn´t listen to it too much, but that´s because I listen to a lot of music that, of course, is not in the UK pop chart. But I´m really happy that 15 year old girls are listening to that and not, I´m not gonna name anyone, but that are listening to that and not a lot of other things. Let´s just say that.
Agree. And now I was going to ask about your favorite songs at the moment, but it´s obviously Lorde, or?
Harry: – No, no. I´ve got a few others. Let me just have a quick look.
Charles: – Our, oh he´s not in here, our guitarist Rob. Harry and I and Rob are really big fans of the first 3 YES albums. We´re big prog rock fans and especially..
They´re playing here next year, I think.
Charles: – Oh really?! Well, the trouble is that they´ve turned really really shit for a really long time. Like, so many bad albums, and then when they came back with, I always forget, whatever, they got good again. There´s a song that I hadn´t heard which is on a really bad album. It´s called "It Will Be a Good Day" by YES, and it´s a fucking great song! It´s a very very good song, so i´ve listened to that a bit recently.
Harry: – I´ve been listening to, and this is a band that people have compared us to a lot in the past and a band that I´ve never listened to until now. But I´ve been listening to a song called "Tiny Children" by Teardrop Explodes, which I think is amazing. And it´s of a really great album called Wilder. It´s a really lovely record. But new music, I mean, recently new music, I´ve been listening a lot to this album called Woman by Rhye. They´re like an LA band.
Oh, I´m gonna check it out.
Harry: – R h y e. And there is a really great song called "3 Days", but I think the whole album, the album is called Woman, and I think the whole album is really really great.
Charles: – The album that I´ve actually been listening to most over the last few months, is from a Norwegian band, but I´m not sure how popular they are in the grand sceam of things. They´re called Panzerpappa. It´s quite like a jazz band. It´s this.
Haha, never heard of them either, I think.
Charles: – They´re like sort of a jazz progressive thing. I think they´re a band that´s made up of a lot of musicians from a lot of other different bands kinda thing as well, but it´s an absolutely amazing album. All instrumental music. It´s really cool. I´ve really listened to it a lot.
So, you´ve 3 great albums in your backpocket. To Lose My Life… from 2009, Ritual from 2011 and Big TV from 2013, which one do you like the best?
Charles: – I actually do like, I know most bands would say they like the latest one the best. Now having time, by this time after releasing the last album, the last 2, I´m thinking like "Ah yeah, you know, it is ok. I would change this, I would change that", but this one i still think like "It´s really good. I really like it".
Harry: – I think that it´s songs that I really love of all the albums and there is songs from our first 2 albums that we will play forever. Like, that I adore. But I think it´s a whole body of work. I think that the most recent record, it´s probably the best as a whole album. Like from beginning to end. It doesn´t dip as much as the others do.
I actually like the 1st one the best.
Both: – Well, that´s fair enough.
Harry: – A lot of people would agree with you, I think.
But I love the other ones as well, of course. Which songs do you like the best to play then?
Charles: – I love to play the song "Streetlights" from our 2nd album. That´s my favorite.
Harry: – Hmm favorite, is it?
Charles: – Yeah, it is my favorite to play because I think there´s just 3 different parts to the song. There´s an instrumental riff, and then there´s a verse and then the chorus. And each one of those sections are very very different in the field and in the kind of intensity. So I think that song out of the songs that we play has the most dynamics in it in some way and it´s quite open to improvisation as well that song, we know. You can make the verse really kind of quite sexy and relaxed. And then the chorus is really classic White Lies, kind of drama. The riff is a lot of, it´s quite free and really good, it´s not like a jam, but it just feels very kind of led by the musicianment on the stage. It´s not that strict that song I feel, so I really like to play that one.
Harry: – Uhm. I think..I´m gonna say 2 tracks actually. I think "Big TV" of the new album is great. It always ends out really good live and people seem to really enjoy it. And I think "Death" is just always, ever since we played it at first, it has always been an amazing live track. I know it always will be the song that people take away from the show and I´ve got no problem with that. It´s amazing to play a song like that live.
Ah, i love that song. Will you play the same setlist as the one you published on Facebook from Amsterdam?
Harry: – It´s probably a little bit different.
Charles: – It changed a little. And actually, I don´t know if we will play it tonight, but we´re trying to start learning the song "Goldmine", which is the last song on Big TV.
Harry: – We´ll definitely have cracked it at soundcheck.
Charles: – We´re gonna try learning it in sound check today and if it goes okay, we might play it.
Harry: – I don´t think that we will end up playing it tonight. That´s not the best song anyway, so it doesn´t matter.
Charles: – Yeah.
What´s the story behind your name? Are you good at telling white lies?
Charles: – White lieees.
Harry: – Eh.
Charles: – I think I´m a pretty good liar actually.
Harry: – I don´t need to lie really. And to tell a white lie. No, i don´t know. It´s just a couple of words, really. There´s no relevance really to the band and what we´re about. It´s just something that we thought sounded cool.
Fair enough! What would you do for a living if you weren´t in a band then?
Harry: – Eh. I think I would be a mathematical genius.
Charles: – Billionaire.
Harry: – And I would be a chess player and take on your champion.
Yeah, he won yesterday!
Harry: – Yeah, i know. He has done really well.
Charles: – I would like 2 jobs. I would work in a ice cream shop. There´s a ice cream shop that´s like 2 minutes from my house and when it first opened, I was a little bit sceptical. I didn´t think that ice cream was very good, but it have really improved. So I would definitely like to work there. And I would also like to be a personal trainer, because I think that I would be really good at making fat people loose weight. I think I would be very motivational. I´m very convincing, so I would like to do that.
Oh my, that would be so cool.
Charles: – I think that I would get a lot of satisfaction.
Harry: – Oh, would you now?
Charles: – Yeah! From seeing people, you know..
Harry: – Really struggle?
Charles: – Yeah, really struggle, haha.