We sat down with with The Pale White to chat about the past five years, new album Infinite Pleasure and the enduring resilience of guitar music
The global pandemic has been raging on for over 12 months now, and in a lot of ways this newfound way of life has grown to feel almost quite normal and mundane. That doesn’t negate however, that it still feels like a huge shame that Newcastle trio and longtime CLOUT favourites The Pale White aren’t able to spend the time surrounding the release of their debut full length album putting on their signature, raucous live shows up and down the country. The album, titled Infinite Pleasure, has been a long time coming. With five years releasing music under their belts, a slick and cohesive yet blistering sound, and a back catalogue already absolutely stacked full of tunes, The Pale White have finally put together their defining, full length realisation of their sound.
The live aspect however, is something that is still missing for the outfit, for whom the live performance seems very much the foundation of what they do. As we chat with the trio, consisting of brothers Adam (Lead Vocals, Guitar) and Jack Hope (Drums), and Tom Booth (Bass), they seem to itch at the very mention of live music and clamour for its return.
“It’s been really hard.” Adam admits. “It makes me wonder how bands do it when they come off the album cycle and they have two or three years off and they don’t do another gig. That would kill me. It’s been about a year now and I am gagging for it. It’s been such a huge part of us.“
“We’re really looking forward to going out there and actually having something to promote, whereas we’ve just been climbing the ladder for the last few years, which is also great. I love being a support band and playing for other people’s audiences and growing as a performer doing those sort of things, but I just can’t wait for December.”
These circumstances have meant that the priorities of The Pale White have had to shift and the outfit have gone on to explore avenues outside of their routine way of operating and working, having an inward look at the way that they can adapt and continue to thrive in a new, almost completely digital era.
“Primarily we are a live act, usually we would put all of our energy into recording and playing live” Adam states. ”When half of that is taken away, I suppose it has given us the chance to really take a step back and concentrate on things that we wouldn’t usually. Things like having a bit more of a social media presence, putting more effort into music videos, just making it all look better in the virtual world that we’ve all had to live in for the past year. It has made me realise how important that sort of stuff is. There’s only like 1% of your audience that will ever get to see you live, so for the rest it’s really important. For sure this has made us realise that that is something that’s really important to maintain.”
Establishing and maintaining an audience and keeping them engaged, whether through their consistently steady stream of releases or through this newfound appreciation for social media, is something that the outfit have never really had much of a problem doing. Their debut album comes five years on from the first released tracks from The Pale White, and given the swell of support that the band continue to receive and the experiences that they have had while on the ride, they feel that there is no better time than the present to release their debut.
“We tried to start the album in December 2018 I guess. We recorded ‘Medicine’ then, which is the first track that we did with our producer Joleon and then it was ‘Unnatural’ and ‘Swim For Your Life’ and stuff, and those were meant to make the album but just didn’t.” Adam admits. “Time went on and we’d released these tracks and then realised we wanted to go in a different direction. Maybe we were going down that formulaic route of having an album full of singles, you know? We weren’t used to the process of creating an album. By the time we got there I think that it’s a good thing that the album didn’t come out earlier than now, we have a batch of songs now that we’re incredibly proud of and that we’ve been listening to for the best part of a year now and we’re still not sick of them. Releasing stuff in the past we always got sick of stuff quite fast and wanted to drop stuff from the set.”
“It’s almost like you don’t do your first album until you’re ready. We didn’t want to do the album until we felt like we were ready and it finally feels like we are. Right now we feel like the band that we’ve been trying to work towards being over the past five years, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable putting an album out before now to be honest.”
“We’ve done a lot of stuff on here that we’ve wanted to do for a while and haven’t had the chance to, for example the last track is like seven minutes long.” Tom adds. “We’ve got a stripped back ballad, we’ve got the rock songs that people are used to, I guess there’s a bit of everything in there.”
The album thematically, is centred around this idea of the pursuit of happiness or pleasure, of always seeking the next milestone or the next goal in order to feel complete and content, and the reality that as one base is touched, you’re always inevitably going to be looking forward to the next one, rather than enjoying the journey or where you’re at right now. An idea that the outfit feel quite a home with as a touring band.
“You’ll do a gig or a festival and a few years later you’ll look back like “oh fuck, that was actually really good”, maybe we should have appreciated that more, that’s just one example.” Adam elaborates on the bands own experiences with this kind of feeling. “You always think that the next step is going to bring you this infinite amount of happiness that you want, but sometimes it’s either the little things along the way that make it up, or you don’t realise that you’ve already been there.”
Unwittingly, as the band had already formed this concept, the pandemic has provided everybody with more chance for reflection and introspective thinking than ever, and this creates an interesting dynamic within the idea of the pursuit of pleasure and happiness, and a situation where the world has been brought to a standstill, and a lot of the things that you have loved and maybe haven’t appreciated enough have been temporarily taken away. Whether that is live music, or your career, or something else.
“I think as humans we’ve all had things taken away from us recently where we haven’t really realised what it meant to you.” Adam contemplates “When we’re all locked in our houses, allowed to leave once a day to exercise, the thing that you’ve been fucking moaning about for the last few years has actually been the thing that’s been making you happy. I think that we’ve all experienced that in some way, which is weird because the album was written before then.”
A track from the album that feels particularly interesting is the reworked ‘That Dress’, a track that first surfaced around 2016 as one of the first real musical offerings from The Pale White, ‘That Dress’ is attributed by many as one of the embers that really caught fire in terms of The Pale White and the force that they are today, and its inclusion on the album seems to be a nod to that. Although five years have passed, this is still a band releasing their debut record, and they look to want to hone in on their roots and acknowledge them, creating a full circle moment. Regardless of how much time has passed Infinite Pleasure is a body of work that represents The Pale White from its inception to what it is today, and having that moment on the album, albeit reworked and given a new lease of life, provides a really nice and satisfying bridge between the old and the new.
“I think that it’s quite easy to forget that this is our debut album because we have been around for a minute.” Tom says. “That was one of the first songs that really sparked things off for us and we still love that song, so we wanted to include it on what would be our debut album. The first proper body of work from us that people are going to hear.”
“We wanted to do that but sonically change it in a way that it still fits and we’re still excited about it. Adds Adam. “It’s so easy to drop songs and be excited about something and then by the time it’s released not so much. When you have a song like that though that people are still buzzing about and still want to hear there’s obviously a reason for that so we just thought it would be a good idea to give it new legs.”
“We had no qualms dropping it if it didn’t fit on the album sonically. Tom concludes. “We just kind of knocked it around the room one day in the style that we would be approaching some of these other songs with and it just worked, it felt right to put it in there.”
So after five years, boasting millions of plays, hundreds of shows, and thousands of listeners, The Pale White have finally released their debut album and have all eyes looking forward to being able to get out and play live shows again at the end of the year, or whenever they are going to be permitted. The Pale White have been and enduring and all-conquering force within the UK music scene for some time now, and this release looks set to push them onto new heights as they continue to grapple with time as they eagerly await their live return. Before we leave we take a moment to reflect on The Pale White and what the outfit feel like they represent and how they feel coming out of a tough 12 months.
“I would like to think that we represent hope.” Adam earnestly admits. “Hope that new music can still thrive in 2021. It’s incredibly tough to be a rock band, and all we ever hear is that guitar music is dead and that couldn’t be further from the truth. It comes around every year like “it’s definitely dead now” and no, it’s not. Every year you have great guitar bands releasing music, and it can be quite off-putting as a new band. We haven’t rebranded, we haven’t changed our name, hidden away for a year and came back. We’ve stuck to our guns, and here we are releasing our debut album. For me we represent that there is some hope in the black hole that is UK rock music.”
Inflinite Pleasure is out now via AWAL