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White Heat interview with Troy Anderson, Nick Gresens, Zach Smith

In the past year or so I’ve come across a number of bands that I could simply label as good old fashioned rock’n’roll, but I’m not sure any of them typify the sound as much as White Heat does.  There are definite psych elements and there’s no denying that their debut album, the Kill Your Idols cassette, is a DIY garage rock lump of tender loving care and expertly refined composition, but more than anything else there’s a timeless sense of the ideals that personify rock to me; muddy, mid-fi production values and gnarly, reverberating vocal tracks clamoring over the top of fuzzed out guitars along with brain jarring bass and drums.  Hailing from the ever fruitful Chicago music scene, White Heat have something that’s slightly different about their sound to compliment the classic rock influences that they bleed so heavily.  There’s an elephant in the room that most people might not even notice when they hear White Heat the first couple of times; jazz.  The lack out boundaries, rules and that adventures tone of exploration that comes from jazz are as deeply intertwined with the roots of White Heat’s sound as anything else and it makes for an interesting combination.  There aren’t any typical jazz time shifts, irritating horns, or twenty minute long degradations into sound, but there’s a sense of freedom to do whatever feels and sounds right in White Heat’s music, as opposed to following any template laid out before them.  It’s hard to bring so much of your own personal sound to the table and retain as much of the classic rock integrity as White Heat has, a difficult task indeed, but one that White Heat are up for.  On the heels of the release of the killer ten-track Kill Your Idols cassette for Bliss Records, I caught up with the entire band to talk about the band’s influences, history, evolution and just possibly some higher enlightenment through music.  Peep some words below for a full docket of what we discussed and make sure to snag a cassette, limited to only a hundred copies this sucker ain’t gonna be around long – let’s hope we see something on wax from them soon!

I just got into you all and I know you are operating as a three-piece at this point but if I remember correctly you all were just a duo when I originally heard about you.  What’s the lineup in White Heat at this point?  Have you all gone through any changes since the band started?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Troy:  Yeah, well Nick and myself have been homies for a long time, and we started working on some music together after an older band broke up.  We both played guitar, and Nick knew Zach well ‘cause they grew up together, we jammed with him, and have all been best friends since really.  Never any changes in the lineup, just adding to the family, really.

Nick:  White Heat is Troy Anderson on guitar and vocals, Zach Smith on drums, and myself (Nick Gresens) on guitar and vocals (kinda).  The band started with Troy and I just jamming and playing stuff after our previous band, The Spoilers, broke up.  Troy played drums for The Spoilers, but I knew he was a great guitarist and I wanted to be in a group with him where we both played.  So after things got rolling, we decided we needed a drummer and Zach initially said he would drum on our recordings, but he wasn’t sure if he had enough time to be a full-time member.  One thing led to the next and soon enough Zach was officially in the band and we’ve all been happily married ever since.

Zach:  Nick and Troy basically answered it, I originally decided to record an EP for them and after that I decided to join as a member, which they were down with.

Are any of you in any other bands right now or do you have any active side projects going on?

Troy:  We all have side projects, but they’re all completely different, which is what I think is really awesome.  Zach and Nick have a hip-hop/soul group together called Oracle that is probably the coolest thing happening in Chicago right now, and I have some solo stuff as well.

Nick:  Zach and I are in a collective called Oracle with some other people in the Chicago area that we know really well.  Oracle is super hip-hop influenced and has a hot sound to it.  Troy did a solo EP and has a band to play that stuff with also.

Zach:  I have a collective going called Oracle right now, it’s hip-hop but there are a bunch of different sounds, honestly, I wouldn’t even label it as hip-hop it’s so versatile.  Nick plays guitar for us we have a rapper, two singers a trombone player, and a pianist; here’s a link ifyou’re interested.  Troy also has a really amazing side project he did totally by himself with a music video and everything.

Have any of your released any music with anyone else in the past?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about that here?  I try to keep up with what everyone’s up to and what they’ve done but nothing beats getting the answers directly from the source!

Troy:  Nick and I used to be in a band together called The Spoilers, it was like a garage punk band.  It was a ton of fun, but just incredible dysfunctional.  So that kinda self destructed.

Nick:  The Spoilers released one EP in 2013 called Can’t Dance, and then of course Troy’s EP which came out a couple months ago, it’s called Strange Faces In The Flowers.  Oracle should have some more stuff out soon too.

Zach:  I was in a band with Nick a while back.  It was actually pretty cool, but we didn’t do much. We were called Original Knockoffs, creative I know.

How old are you and where are you originally from?

Troy:  I’m eighteen, and from Frankfort.  It’s a suburb of Chicago, so about forty five minutes from the city, and ten minutes from Nick and Zach.

Nick:  I’m eighteen and originally from Homewood-Flossmoor, a suburban area south of Chicago.

Zach:  I’m eighteen from Homewood; suburbs of Chicago

What was your home like growing up?  Was there a lot of music or anything?  Were either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or extremely interested/involved in music?

Troy:  I grew up with my dad being really into a lot of 70’s rock ’n’ roll, and my one brother was really into 77’ punk, which was huge on me.  I loved all that stuff.  And they were all in bands and stuff, so they support what we’re doing.

Nick:  My nana and papa were classical musicians, but that actually didn’t get me into music right away.  My parents never really played music, but I owe my dad for getting me into it more by showing me a ton of great bands.  He got me into bands like the Doors and Zeppelin, but then showed me other random shit too like Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine and the Beastie Boys.  A lot of the stuff I listen to now my parents aren’t as into, or don’t know as much about, and I don’t think my parents quite grasp everything happening, but they’re still really cool about it all.  It’s actually nice being the only one in my whole family, even all my cousins and everything, who does music like this, because I’m not always getting compared to anyone or getting told what to do or anything, it’s all just up to me.  I think my mom still wants me to be Elton John though.

Zach:  I was constantly listening to music as a kid.  One of my influences was the Tarzan soundtrack, specifically the track “Trashin’ The Camp” where different random objects are used as instruments to create a very rhythm induced track.  Looking back I definitely think that was a starting point for me musically ‘cause I realized how versatile drums are and how you can literally beat on anything with a toothbrush or a pencil or something.  So, with that my dad introduced me to Red Hot Chili Peppers, which totally opened up a world of funk and soul and my mom showed me other artists like Michael Jackson and similar artists.  My mom has a really good singing voice and pushed me to sing with a different band I was in and now I sing for Oracle.

What was your local music scene like where you grew up?  Did you see a lot of shows or get very involved in that scene as a kid?  Do you feel like it played a large or important role in shaping your musical tastes or the way you perform at this point?

Troy:  Well Chicago is great, but I didn’t get involved here with shows until somewhat more recently.  In my hometown, where I still live, it’s all hicks and country music, which really blows.  I’m still growing up though, so I can’t have a full answer for this question, but I’m beyond grateful for the scene here in Chicago.  It’s unlike anywhere else.  It’s definitely played a huge role in our music too, ‘cause we listen to a lot of local bands, and are at shows pretty much every weekend watching our friends play.

Nick:  Honestly, the music scene in our suburban area was pretty weak when I was really starting to get into all this stuff.  Most bands just aspired to do a few covers and play a gig here or there, and that was about it.  No one truly wanted more than that, and it was really annoying for a while.  But if anything, it taught me what I did want out of music and what I really wanted to do with myself.  Now, the music scene in Chicago is fucking amazing though.  Everything going on in this great city has definitely had an impact on all of us, just seeing how different artists write and perform and evolve and present themselves.

Zach:  I think the scene kinda started in high school, but really there wasn’t a specific scene because it was a suburban high school, so if you want live music you’ve gotta search pretty hard. Basically, I learned to do it myself.  So I got good at drums and a band with Nick G and that's about it.  Now, I look at Chicago and wish I had the mindset I have towards music that I do, three years earlier because the Chicago music scene is ridiculously huge.

What do you consider your first real exposure to music to be?

Troy:  When I was in third grade my brother showed me The Clash and that’s kinda stuck ever since.  That was the first time I sat there with music and it did something to me, instead of just being in the background or something.

Nick:  My dad showed me the Doors when I was really little, like three or four, and that’s the first real memory I have with music.  The first song I ever heard was “Hello I Love You” and it blew my mind.  The way Jim Morrison sang and the weird instrumentation of the song and everything just completely opened me up.

Zach:  I think my first real exposure is from the Red Hot Chili Peppers because that’s the strongest memory I have.  I really remember jumping off the couch and landing when the beat hit.  But I also listened to like Backstreet Boyz and whatever Disney Kids compilation album was out at the time, ‘cause that shit bumped.

If you were to pick a moment where everything seemed to change for you musically, a moment where your mind was opened to the infinite possibilities that music presents, what would it be?

Troy:  Probably around seventh or eight grade.  I tried playing baseball and shit for a while, and it really wasn’t for me, so I started getting more into music, and learning how to play guitar.  Where I’m from that doesn’t really sit well, so I’d get a lot of shit for like looking different ‘cause no one else was into that stuff.  It wasn’t until high school that I met some friends that liked the same stuff as me. And then once I started writing my own stuff, I realized that music can take you places that no other skill can.

Nick:  I went out to China with my jazz band last year, and one night we played for a crowd of like a thousand people and everyone was going crazy about us afterwards.  And then I kinda took a second and was like, “holy shit, I’m in a foreign ass country right now and people are going crazy over this music, imagine what it would be like if I was out here with one of my own bands..” and that for me was the moment where I realized if something is truly good and has passion in it, people will latch on quickly.  And then I figured out that if I’m just myself with music and always open to ideas then the opportunities are endless.

Zach:  Probably a month ago.  I think it happened during winter break when I was recording a lot of stuff for Oracle with Nick, just working constantly from nine am to six pm.  I realized how much potential can be released and how much easier it was than I had previously thought.  I’ve realized that I can’t do anything else in this life and how my music is literally going to change the world.  I’ve understood that there can be no more “I’ll try’s” and “We’ll sees”.  It’s only “I am” or “it’s going to happen”, because I have to be able to let the world hear my music.  It’s no longer a question, it’s an imperative action, like when you know you move your right and left foot, you’re going to walk.  That’s when I realized my mind was open to infinite possibilities.

What was your first instrument?  When and how did you get that?

Troy:  I tried to drum and play guitar around the same time, and guitar was easier, so I stuck with that, ha-ha.  My dad had a guitar, so I just used his.

Nick:  My first instrument was a guitar.  It was a shitty Fender Squire.  I got it when I was twelve.  I had been playing Guitar Hero and realized what a massive waste of time it was.  So I convinced my mom to take me to Guitar Center to at least look at some shit, and then eventually she folded and bought me this hundred dollar guitar, as long as I promised to actually practice.  I was a pretty lazy kid.  And then once I started learning, I really started to love it.

Zach:  My first instrument was a standard rock Tama rock kit, I believe.  I got it for Christmas in sixth grade. 

When did you decide to start writing and performing your own music, or was that more of just a natural outgrowth of being given an opportunity to create something of your own and express yourself in a new way?

Troy:  It wasn’t until White Heat, or even the band me and Nick were in before this (The Spoilers) that I started writing stuff.  It’s a bitch though.  Writing songs doesn’t come naturally to me, so I usually get really frustrated with every song I work on, ‘cause I don’t know what to do with it.

Nick:  I played music for about a year and just learned a bunch of random songs before I realized I wanted to be like all these people I was listening to and actually create.  For a long time, I wrote really, really, terrible songs, but that’s what it took in order to come up with some better songs that are actually enjoyable to listen to.  I think we’re all addicted to creation and it’s the one thing that I’m always trying to do.

Zach:  When I got in a band right before White Heat called Zen with my brother.  We had some originals that we played live and that was the first time I had actually performed a piece where I contributed a very different part, instead of just drums.  In White Heat I don’t typically write the songs, but if something in my head sounds different than what’s being played, I’ll ask Nick and Troy what they think about it and sometimes we’ll play what I had in my head. 

How did the members of White Heat meet?  When would that have been?

Troy:  Nick and I met through a mutual friend, around sophomore year and started a band with that mutual friend.  I met Zach around then too, ‘cause he was at some of that band’s shows, but it was more just like, hey I know that guy.  Then when White Heat started doing stuff, that’s when Zach and I got really tight.

Nick:  I met Zach through another kid at our high school my freshman year.  Zach and I were actually in a few bands together previously, but they all eventually fell through.  I met Troy through another kid who was in The Spoilers, this was probably about two years ago, and after being in a band with him for about a year we became pretty tight.  I can’t really remember how Troy and Zach met, was it the first time we all jammed together?  I don’t know.

Zach:  I met Nick in a galaxy far, far away and Troy was in this dark forest and I put him on my backpack and we headed to Naboo.

When and what led to the formation of White Heat?

Troy:  Nick and I wanting to have a band, and luckily finding Zach and him being down to play with us.  It was probably about seven or eight months ago.  White Heat’s still pretty new.  We’re not even at a year old yet.

Nick:  The fallout of The Spoilers had Troy and I wanting to do something with both of us on guitar.  After we got together to jam and play a few times we organized it a little bit more, and then once we started playing with Zach it really became more serious.

Zach:  After The Spoilers fell out they did some solo stuff asked if I wanted to play on an EP.  I was like, “Yea sure guyz sounds great”.  Then I said, “Hey guyz, I’ll just stick in the band if that’s cool?”  And they were like, “Oh sweet”.  Boomshockalaka.

What does the name White Heat refer to?  For me it instantly conjures images of the Velvet Underground, but I often read far too much into things.  Who came up with the name and how did you go about choosing it?  Are there any close seconds or runners up that you almost went with you can recall at this point?

Troy:  White Heat is straight up from Velvet Underground.  I came up with it, and it’s cool ‘cause people think of the Velvet Underground when they hear it, but there’s so many other bands with ‘White’ in the name, now I’m kinda kicking myself over it, ha-ha.  But it is who we are and we’re not gonna change it now.  We definitely had some other ideas for names, but they were all pretty bad.  White Heat was just the first one that stuck out to us, so we ran with it.

Nick:  Damn, you know us too well already!  When it was still just me and Troy, we were trying to figure out a name, and we started looking at all of our favorite bands.  We almost picked the name Brixton as a reference to “Guns of Brixton” by the Clash.  But then we heard White Heat and really liked the sound of it, and it was especially important after the much too soon passing of Lou Reed which had occurred earlier that year.

Zach:  Yeah, Nick and Troy made out to a Velvet Underground track and they were like, “Hey, that sounds like a good name for us ‘cause we’re white and we make heat in the bed sheets”.  That’s what I heard.

Is there any sort of shared creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by, spoken or unspoken?

Troy:  There’s definitely some, but not a ton.  We all mess around and joke with each other, but we’ve definitely learned each other soft spots and what not to joke around about.  These guys are my brothers though, so even when we’re kicking the shit, it’s always lighthearted.  So that, and to not limit ourselves sound wise, just to kinda always be as creative as we can, and not feel like we’re this genre or that genre, and we need to always stay just like this or sound just like that.

Nick:  We’re all open minded people and we don’t fuck around with any bullshit.  Troy and I especially, both tend to do this weird thing where we joke about a bunch of weird hypothetical situations.  I think Zach gets annoyed as hell by it, but sometimes he joins in too without meaning to, ha-ha.

Zach:  We crack jokes and have really, really good energy when we practice, which I think is key, but yeah, these fools will go on for a good ten minutes on these like hypothetical situations and they get funny, I’m not gonna lie, but sometimes they get so abstract and strange and go so far from the original point, that it loses it’s humor a little.

Where’s White Heat located at this point?  How would you describe the local music scene where you’re at?

Troy:  Mainly Chicago, but Nick goes to school about four hours away, so shows are kinda hard right now.  But recently he decided to move back to Chicago, so after this semester we’re gonna be playing shows like mad men.  The music scene is great, too many good bands; Yoko and The Oh Nos, The Liqs, Modern Vices, Flesh Panthers (Interview here), Today’s Hits, and so many I’m leaving out.  Great people here, and it’s always very welcoming.

Nick:  Mainly Chicago, but right now I’m at Indiana University in Bloomington.  I come home for shows and we do a lot whenever I’m back for breaks, we’re able to make it work.  There’s a chance I’ll be back in Chicago next year, it’s weird because when I decided to go to school in Bloomington the old band had just broken up and I kind of wanted to get out of town for a while, but now White Heat’s doing so much and I’m just like damn!  The scene in Chicago is fucking incredible, there’re so many good bands and artists and venues and people in general.  It’s a really beautiful thing.

Zach:  I’m in Chicago, Nicks in Indiana, Troy’s in a south suburb but with the amount of effort he puts into White Heat he’s literally always in Chicago going to shows supporting the local bands connecting with artists, etcetera etcetera.  The garage rock scene is pretty wide spread, it’s interesting.  I think the rap scene is a little bit bigger, but they’re both growing because Chicago’s thriving so much right now.

Are you very involved in the local scene in your opinion?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows or anything like that?

Troy:  I am as much as I can be with living in the suburbs.  I go to probably two shows a week and I really do try and support bands as much as I can.  Other bands are doing the same thing we are, just trying to have fun and play shows, so I know how much supporting other bands can help.

Nick:  Whenever I’m in Chicago I try to be as involved as I can be, Troy and Zach both are super involved without a doubt though.

Zach:  Yeah, I’m involved with both the rap and the garage rock scene right now.  Again, Troy goes to the city constantly where the heart of the scene is.  If it wasn’t for Troy we wouldn’t have any of the relationships we have with bands, or the shows we’ve been able to play.  It’s really admirable to me.

Has the local scene played an integral role in the sound, history or evolution of White Heat in your opinion, or do you feel like you all would be doing basically what you are and sound like you do regardless of where you were at or who/what you were surrounded by?

Troy:  It’s definitely a big factor in every part of who we are and what we sound like.  I think we’d all be making music still, but I don’t know if White Heat would exist if it wasn’t for Chicago, and the suburbs we grew up in.

Nick:  I think it has, just from new artists we hear everyday that we may have not heard had we been somewhere else.  We definitely have a ton of originality that you can’t take from us no matter where we’re at, but still the local scene has been important for us, especially concerning our evolution as performers.

Zach:  I think so, but I also don’t think I would be making White Heat music if I didn’t form White Heat with Nick and Troy.  Who knows?

Are you involved in recording or releasing any music or running any labels at all?  If so, can you tell us about that here briefly?

Troy:  I’m trying to get a cassette label started.  That’s kind of a dream of mine.  So, maybe in the spring/summer time that’ll exist, but we haven’t been involved with any other bands with their recordings though.  Not yet at least, but we definitely have some plans to work with other people in the future.

Nick:  I’m not, but we’re buddies with this dude named Ryan Woodlock who runs a little label called Bliss Records, they’re actually the ones who released Kill Your Idols.

Zach:  Just Bliss Records that I know of…

I’m curious how you all would describe your sound to our readers who might not have heard you all before?  You’re obviously rooted in one place, but I feel like you pull from a lot of different places at times. 

Troy:  I would just say it’s straight up Rock ’n’ Roll music.  We love a lot of garage stuff, and some psychedelic stuff, but over all it’s pretty straight forward.  We try to bring in as much as we can, really.

Nick:  We’re old school rock and roll, we get super dirty, and muddy, and greasy, and sexy, and hunky, and oily.  We definitely all have our own personal influences, like I’m super into rock and roll, punk, and psychedelic music, but I really love hip-hop and especially jazz too.  I think it shows in certain songs.  We’re definitely opening up what we have as influences on our newer songs.

Zach:  White Heat is very much rock and roll, our album Kill Your Idols could definitely be described as that, but to be quite honest, there are some things that make White Heat pretty different.  Nick is very rooted in funk and jazz, and our song “Is This What I Really Came For?” is very much a combination of that and rock and roll.  I think our two new songs that haven’t been recorded are very experimental and have a very unique sound to them when compared to previous songs.  It’s cool to see change.

Like I said before, you all seem to draw from a pretty impressive pallet of sound.  Who would you cite as some of your major musical influences?  What about influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?

Troy:  Personally, I grew up listening to the Dolls, and Johnny Thunders’ guitar playing has stuck with me since; a lot of CBGB mid-70’s stuff.  But I also love a lot of new bands, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Froth, and Twin Peaks are my boys.  Black Lips couldn’t be more of an influence on us, and The Pistols are pretty big too.  But as of late, a lot more Foxygen, and like Big Star…

Nick:  Individually, I have some really random influences.  John Frusciante as an artist has been hugely influential on me as a musician ever since I started playing, and Nirvana was one of the first bands I got into once I started playing music so I can never count them out.  But now I’d probably say Deerhunter, FIDLAR, the Doors, still, Kanye, Bowie, 13th Floor Elevators, Coltrane, Black Lips; I could go on forever.  As a band we like a ton of similar shit, but I think the different stuff we like helps bring us together even more as songwriters.  Velvet Underground and Foxygen are two bands that I know we both dig a lot.

Zach:  I grew up learning to play drums from Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers and Radiohead is a huge influence.  Recently, my major influences are Kanye, Chance, Frank Ocean, SBTRKT a little FKA Twigs, even though I don’t know her as well as I’d like to.  There’s a lot more.  I think Deerhunter influences us, as well as Twin Peaks, and the Black Keys.

What’s the songwriting process like for White Heat?  Is there someone who usually comes into to the rest of the band with a riff or more finished idea for a song, or do you all get together and just kind of jam or kick ideas back and forth until you hit on something that you’re interested in working on or refining from that point?

Troy:  For Kill Your Idols, it was mostly me and Nick.  We already had songs that’d we written and played by then, and that was just kind of how it was.  And then when Zach first joined it was still mostly Nick and myself, but now it’s all together.  I’ll come up with a riff, and we’ll mess around with it until it evolves into a song but there’s still a lot of jamming though.  Nick’s actually an incredible jazz guitar player, so we play a lot of slower jazz-y type stuff in our spare time.

Nick:  It depends for each song, like when we first started it was more someone would have everything written out and everyone else would just kind of learn, but now it’s more of one of us coming in with an idea and the rest of us building on it and coming up with some shit.  It’s definitely tightened us up as a group.

Zach:  They bring in a riff and I’ll add some drums to it.  Usually, I’ll get really intricate with my beat to compensate for the lack of bass, which I find is really fucking cool.  In “Silvers” I literally match the second part of the guitar solo, which is something I’ve never heard before.

What about recording?  While I think that most musicians can appreciate the end result of all the time and effort that goes into recording when they’re finally holding that finished product in their hands, getting to that point, getting the music recorded and sounding the way you want it to, even down to little things like getting it properly mixed and mastered can prove to be extremely frustrating to say the least!  What’s it like recording for White Heat?

Troy:  Frustrating, ha-ha.  Beyond frustrating.  We did it ourselves, and it was a long process.  It was worth it, and we learned a lot, but it wasn’t easy to say the least.

Nick:  We did the whole album ourselves, and yeah at certain times it was super frustrating, but I think we also had fun with it, and the next record we’re still discussing how to do it and everything.  It’s such a process, but we’re proud of doing everything on our own.

Zach:  Yeah, I think it was a mix of annoying and fun pretty much.  Basically it forces you to practice, to understand and to get your song down perfectly.

Do you all like to take a DIY approach to recording where you handle most of the technical aspects on your own so that you don’t have to work with or compromise on the sound with anyone else?  Or do you like to head into a studio and let someone else worry about that headache so you can just concentrate on the music and getting things to sound the way you want them to from the start?

Troy:  We did it ourselves for two reasons.  One, so we could have it however we wanted it, and two, because we had/have no money.  We went into a local studio, Treehouse Records, and recorded some live stuff recently, which was a ton of fun, and we didn’t have to do anything but play, but I do prefer doing it ourselves.  It’s hard, but it’s tight.

Nick:  Right now we prefer just to do it ourselves.  It’s more organic sounding, especially for this type of music and we’re broke boys, so it’s cost-efficient.  We’re always down for meeting new people who would be able to help us one way or another, but again, it’s just a process.

Zach:  Just DIY and yeah, we’re broke.

Is there a lot of time and effort that goes into working out exactly how a song’s going to sound before you record it with the arrangement all planned out ahead of time, or do you like to get a good skeletal idea of what a song’s going to sound like while allowing for some change and evolution during the recording process where you feel prudent or necessary?

Troy:  We usually don’t record right when we write a song.  We’ll have played it at shows a few times before we record it so we know what it sounds like.  There are certain things I do add in though, different riffs and stuff, during recording that we don’t do live.  Like, I play bass on all our recordings, yet we don’t have a bass player.  It’s just to give it a fuller sound.

Nick:  I would say it depends, like some times we’re really specific in how everything should sound, but other times we’ll be recording and a cool idea we’ll come up, so we’ll add something in, or take something else out.

Zach:  Sometimes it can be really specific as far as the recording process.  However, I usually try to play very specifically in our live stuff so that we can fill in for the lack of bass, it's a challenge but it's really fun.

Despite the laws around the globe right now people have been tapping into the altered mind states that drugs and alcohol produce for the purposes of creating art for thousands of years at this point.  Do psychoactive or hallucinogenic drugs play a large or important role in the songwriting, recording or performance processes for White Heat?

Troy:  I don’t write too much high or drunk and psychedelics don’t really have that big of a role in our music. I’ve only dabbled with a few psychedelic drugs, nothing serious.  When Nick’s back in Chicago though next year, there might be a little more indulging than there is now.  Sorry if you’re reading this Ma.

Nick:  Naw.

Zach:  No, I stay sober.  That usually has negative effects on me.

You all released you debut album last year (2014) on cassette for the Bliss Records label.  Can you share some of your memories of recording that first material here?  When and where was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Troy:  Like I said before, it was super frustrating.  I’m kind of a perfectionist, and get really pissed when it’s not going right, and Nick and Zach hate to be around me when I’m like that, but they know it’s ‘cause I’m trying to make it sound good, so they understand.  We recorded it at my house in like a week, and we recorded mostly lately at night cause my parents were outta town for a week, so we did it all then.  Not too many goofy stories, I just had a lot of beer and pizza.  I recorded it all onto GarageBand with a 4-track recorder, and some SM57’s.  I have some nicer gear now though that we’ll be using in the future.

Nick:  It was recorded over the summer at Troy’s place, with just a couple mics and an interface.  Troy recorded it, and it was definitely OG with the songs and the style and everything.  His parents were gone for a week, and we would basically get kind of drunk and then go track and then clean everything up once we were sober.  It was actually pretty fun and it was a good experience for all of us.  It got frustrating at times just because everything took so long, but I would never take that experience away.

Zach:  Yeah, it was pretty frustrating, but it wasn’t really that bad looking back.  We had a few songs that we had to back over, a couple of them more than five times and that got annoying, but it wasn’t that bad.  I remember we played “Coming For You” for like the sixth time and it was such an amazing rush when we finally finished it, and then Troy wasn’t really digging it, ha-ha.  That was funny, because it was just like, “Oh well!  Than we need to do another song, ‘cause I don’t have any more energy for that”.

Does White Heat have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a demo or a single that I don’t know about?

Troy:  There’s some stuff that’ll probably just stay on my computer forever.  There used to be some old recordings of the songs on Kill Your Idols, and some songs that we didn’t put on it, but nothing legit.  We’re gonna be working on a new record over the summer though, and really take our time with it.

Nick:  We have some really, really old shitty recordings we did as demos when we first started.  I think some of them are still up on our SoundCloud?

Zach:  We have some unrecorded songs that we play live, a cover of a Floyd song, and I think that's it…

Where’s the best place for our interested readers here in the US to pick up your music?

Troy:  Well, if you’re not in Chicago, online.  I’ll usually ship stuff out that day or the next day from our Bandcamp page.  If you’re in Chicago, Bric-A-Bric (best store in the world), Permanent Records, and Saki Records, all carry it.

Nick:  Bandcamp, Spotify, SoundCloud, iTunes.

Zach:  Bandcamp and Spotify, stuff like that.

With the completely insane international postage I try and provide our readers with as many possible options for picking up imports as I can.  Where’s the best place for our overseas and international readers to score your stuff?

Troy:  Probably our Bandcamp, and like Facebook or something.  We’re on pretty much all the social media outlets, so it’s not too hard to find us.

Nick:  Definitely Bandcamp, because you can order our cassette from there too.

Zach:  Bandcamp.

And where would the best place for our interested readers to keep up with the latest news from White Heat, like upcoming shows and album releases at?

Troy:  Our Facebook page or Bandcamp page, our Twitter Handle is @whiteheatyall, and our Instagram Handle is whiteheatyall.

Does White Heat have any major plans or goals that you’re looking to accomplish in 2015?

Troy:  Record and put out another record, and tour.  We’re playing our first out of state shows next weekend with our homies the Liqs, so touring is already starting to happen.  Writing and recording our next record will be the most challenging thing, but we’ll get it done.

Nick:  Hopefully a tour and another record, getting better known and just consistently improving.

Zach:  A show outside of Illinois will happen soon and we’re hopefully touring soon.

Do you remember what the first song that White Heat ever played live was?  When and where would that have been at?

Troy:  Okay, so our first two shows were house shows at our friend Twiz’s house.  Twiz is the man.  The first night was at his dad’s house, the second night at his mom’s.  I don’t know the first song we played, but the set was pretty much all Kill Your Idols stuff, along with a few other songs.  There were a shit ton of people there the first night, partially for us, but a lot of people were there for our other homie Jon Raggs, who’s a rapper and was playing after us.  Long story short, a bunch of kids got fucking crazy, the cops came, a bunch of my stuff got broken and I was pissed.  But it was so much fun.  The next night at our friend’s mom’s house there were less people, but when the cops came the night before, everyone had ditched all of their weed and pieces, so our friend picked it up after everyone left, and he had a bunch of free weed at our show the next night, so I just got really stoned and played.  That’s probably one of my favorite memories.

Nick:  “I Wanna Get High”?  “Sundance”?  I honestly cannot remember.  It would’ve been at our boy Twiz’s house though; shout out to Twiz!

Zach:  Yeah, I can't remember.  I'm sure it was “Sundance” or “Vulgar” or something.

What, if anything, do you have planned as far as touring goes right now?

Troy:  As much as possible.  Mostly Midwest stuff right now, ‘cause that’s easy.  But this year I think we’d really love to hit up a coast, either east or west, and just play a bunch of house shows; probably hit the road with one of our homies’ bands.

Nick:  We want to do a Midwest tour, like all around Illinois and up north towards Michigan or south towards Nashville, still trying to plan everything out though.  Definitely want to go east and west both at some point too.

Zach:  Yeah, a Midwest tour around Illinois.

Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road touring?  What’s life like out on the road for White Heat?  Do you enjoy touring?

Troy:  We’ll find out next weekend when we hit up Indiana with the Siq Liq boys!!!

Nick:  We haven’t really toured yet, we just mainly play around Chicago.  Touring’s something we all want to do though, and we’re all great friends, so I know it would be a blast.

Zach:  Next weekeenenddddddd!

Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had chance to play with over the past few years?

Troy:  Flesh Panthers (Interview here), The Liqs, Vaguewaves, Pool Holograph, Space Waste, Hank Fuzz, etcetera.  The List goes on and on.

Nick:  FleshPanthers!  I remember I freaked out when I found out we were playing with them, the Liqs, Ungnomes, and Aunteaks; all awesome people and awesome bands.

Zach:  Pool Holograph was crazy, and Flesh Panthers and the Liqs were really awesome as well.  We’ve played with a lot of great bands.

Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent?  Stuff like flyers, posters, short designs, cover artwork and that kind of thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or message you’re attempting to convey with the visual side of the band?  Is there anyone you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to the visual side of the band?  If so, who is that and how did you originally get hooked up with them?

Troy:  We all really love art, especially for bands, and so that’s a big thing for us.  I think this year we’re really going to focus on the art/visual aspect of the band and be more creative with it.  I don’t think we’re trying to convey any sort of meaning or anything, except that we’re just like anyone else, and we just love to play music and have a good time.  As far as artwork goes, we try to keep it local.  Most of our stuff comes from my brother, who also happens to be a super successful graphic designer, and owner of NoPattern, so we’re pretty lucky to have him in that aspect.

Nick:  We have posters that we got made, same with buttons.  One of our buddies made a poster for us that’s super psychedelic looking, so I guess you could say we’re going for that vibe.  Big shout out to NoPattern, he did our album cover and he’s the coolest dude in all of Chicago!

Zach:  We got this dope hand-drawn design t-shirts, buttons, and posters made by this dope artist NoPattern he’s pretty RaDiCAL.

With all of the various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the mediums that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music?  What about when you’re listening to or purchasing music?  If you do have a preference what is it, and can you tell us a little bit about why that is?

Troy:  CDs blow, analog is everything, always has been, and always will be.  Vinyl is ideal for putting our stuff out in the future, but that’s beyond expensive, so we’re just doing cassette releases right now, but I still really love that.  Cassettes are great, and dirt cheap.  Digital is ideal for spreading the word of who you are and what your band sounds like, but buying a physical copy of something is always best.  I’d love to put out some sort of vinyl this year.

Nick:  Right now for us, releasing music online is our favorite just because it’s easier to reach more people, and it helps get more people into us.  I’ve always wanted to do vinyl, but that’s so much money we’ll probably wait on that until we can find someone to press it for us.  When it comes to listening to music, vinyl is definitely my preference.  My dad always listened to vinyl and it’s just really comforting to me, and it sounds way better.

Zach:  I like vinyl ‘cause it just opens up another dimension of music since it has such a different sound.  I do like our cassettes and my favorite is the see-through design on the inside.  Digital is best for getting your music out though, definitely.

I grew up around my dad’s enormous collection of killer music and I was encouraged by both of my parents to listen to just about anything that interested me.  I think it was my dad taking me out to the local shops and picking me up random stuff on the weekend.  I developed this whole ritual for listening to music that I’ve never quite grown out of and has grown into a bit of an obsession for me as an adult.  I would rush home, grab a set of headphones, read the liner notes over and over while I stared at the cover artwork and let the experience transport me off on this kind of trip.  There’s something about having a physical object to hold in my hands that’s connected with what I’m hearing which has always made for a much more complete listening experience for me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Troy:  Physical copies are the way to go, one hundred percent.  I really love different colored and designed vinyl, splatter, translucent, shit like that, that’s not just straight black vinyl.  That usually catches my eye and makes me want to buy something even more, but I don’t really sit down with a record like that.  I usually just toss it on and lie down, or look at stuff on my computer while it’s playing.  Vinyl for me has been more of a background thing, like you put on a record and don’t think about it; unless I’m listening to a 7-inch or something.  Records are the only thing I have that’s a collection.  I probably have about a hundred or so records and over only two or three years, I’d say that’s pretty good.  A lot of them are new, which can get expensive, but buying records is always worth it.

Nick:  Yeah, I’m the same way.  I love having a piece of something to hold and look over while the music’s playing, and my dad is the same way.  I have a huge connection like that with vinyl.

Zach:  Definitely, to have something as abstract as music in a physical form is remarkable.  Growing up, I was hypnotized by the different album art my dad had for his CDs, actually I still am.  That’s why I’m so satisfied with our album art for White Heat, it’s such an eye-catcher, we need some for Oracle now.

Like it or not at this point, digital music is here in a big way right now.  I think that’s just kind of the tip of the iceberg though.  When you combine it with the internet that’s when things get interesting.  And there are always going to be upsides and downsides to any situation, I think it mostly depends on how you look at and deal with things.  I mean on one hand, people are being exposed to all this amazing music that they’re surrounded by.  Not only globally, but even in their own backyards!  In conjunction with the internet digital music has all but eliminated a lot of the geographic boundaries that would have crippled bands a few short years ago and allowed for an unparalleled level of communication between bands and their fans.  On the other hand though, while people are being exposed to all this amazing music they’re not really that interested in paying for it at this point.  I think a lot of people have begun to see music as a sort of disposable form of entertainment, a kind of free soundtrack to their lives that will always be there whether they pay for it or not.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Troy:  Well, for us, it’s nothing but helpful.  I understand why big bands bitch about making no money from Spotify, but at the same time, you’re a millionaire and then some, so shut the fuck up about not making even more money from Spotify.  We have our record on every online outlet we can, iTunes, Spotify, etcetera, and there’s no other way, especially for small bands, to get ourselves out there.  I don’t care about making any money; I just want people to hear us.  I definitely do think people say, “Fuck it, I’m not gonna pay for it when I can listen to it online”, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  I’m not like that, but everyone’s different.  If they’re at least listening, that’s good enough for me.  It really helps a band though to buy a shirt, or a cassette or something.  A lot of people do pick up merch at shows, and that always makes me happy ‘cause it’s helping us, and fueling us to live our dream even more.  So, I have no problem with online digital music and whatnot, and I think overall it’s been positive, because it’s so much free and easy exposure.

Nick:  It’s a messy situation but also a beautiful one.  I’m a broke kid and I’ve definitely been in that spot where you just want to get the damn song for free.  Having the ability to listen to anybody, whether they’re based in Chicago, or California, or Sweden, or whatever, is the coolest thing about music right now.  As an artist, it’s always nice to have money in your pocket, but at this point in my life, all I’m really concerned about is that people are actually listening to my music.   Money isn’t a worry right now.

Zach:  I feel digital music is remarkable because within seconds you can download my music wherever, whenever.  And it’s cool because I can get it out for free and people can download my songs on their phones and use them on their laptop, it’s just so cool to me.  I do want to be able to release physical stuff for free one day; that would be remarkable.

I try to keep up with as many good bands as I possibly can, but it’s hard to even know where to start sometimes.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be checking out I might not have heard of before?

Troy:  Okay, this is gonna be a long list, but all these bands deserve to be heard so here goes:
Flesh Panthers (Interview here), The Liqs, Yoko and the Oh No’s, The Boxers, Modern Vices, Bike Cops, Space Waste, Paul Cherry, Gross Pointe, Uh Bones, Today’s Hits, Slushy (Interview here/Review here), Skip Church, American Breakfast, Negative Scanner, Haki, Hollow Mountain (Interview here/Review here), White Mystery (Interview here), Vaguewaves, The Aunteaks, Joe Bordenaro, Strange Faces, Red Francis, Son of a Gun, The Bingers, Palmflower, The Lemons, Ne-Hi, The Sueves.  All worth checking out.

Nick:  Flesh Panthers (Interview here), the Liqs, Twin Peaks, Modern Vices, The Lemons, Yoko and the Oh No’s, the Aunteaks, Son of a Gun, Hurt Everybody, and Roy French.

Zach:  Yeah, they said everybody pretty much, geez!  I got some guys on SoundCloud in this collective called The Murmur Collective some of the members are creating a collective titled “Join or Die” which will basically be a pathway for artists of all sorts to present their work whether it be dance music or painting or whatever.  They’re on Facebook, but I believe they’re planning on moving to Tumblr and expanding.  Be on the look out, White Heat and Oracle will be directly connected with them.

What about nationally and internationally?

Troy:  King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Santoros, The Grottos, and Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel.

Nick:  The Grottos, out of southern California)

Zach:  The Grottos.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me, I know this wasn’t short and I really appreciate you making it this far.  Before we call it a day I’d like to open the floor up to you for a moment.  Is there anything that I could have possibly missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk to me or the readers about?

Troy:  I just wanna say that I’m grateful for all the people who have helped us.  If it wasn’t for all y’all, we wouldn’t be here!  I’m looking forwards to 2015 being a big year for White Heat, so if you got a party or a basement, we will play it.

Nick:  One time Troy and I sloppily made out on stage during our set.

Zach:  I’m ready; not to make out with them, but for music stuff…

(2014)  White Heat – Kill Your Idols – Digital, Cassette Tape – Bliss Records (Limited to 100 copies)

Review made by Roman Rathert/2015
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