White Like Fire is our local artist spotlight this month. They just released their new EP Lies this past January 29th. The quartet from features brothers Tyler and Blake Clawson along with Evan Cresswell and Joe Killian. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette said this about the EP, "...laser-honed, propulsive power-pop with infectious vocal harmonies and tightly wound guitar riffs, evoking 80's icons Elvis Costello, The Knack, Nick Lowe and Squeeze as much as recent treadmill-runners OK GO." The band was kind enough to answer our normal range of questions about the benefits of being in the area, their goals and obstacles. The EP can be found embedded throughout the interview along with a video. More information about the band can be found at the end links.
How did the band come together?
Describe your sound.
The Post Gazette and City Paper have compared us to late 70's Power Pop and New Wave with "fun.-esque" modern indie-sensibilities. Kids with mustaches have said we sound like the Kings of Leon, Joe's dad likes our Shondells' influences, and our friend Sam said we are "getting better". We would say our music sounds like our lives, living together, sleeping on couches in Oakland, trying to be creative and connect with people through raw emotion and rock 'n' roll.
Are you all originally from Pittsburgh?
None of us are originally from Pittsburgh, Joe is from Philadelphia and the others grew up in Shippensburg, PA. We came here for college.
Do you have full-time or part-time jobs? Day jobs?
Given that 3 of us are in school and the other is working to pay for the project, it is technically a part-time venture. Part of our time goes into music, part of it into school/work, and almost none of it into sleep. So it depends on your definition, if you look at work as enabling the project then at least one of us is on an 18-hour White Like Fire shift daily. We just want it really bad.
How do you create your music? What is your songwriting process?
We rehearse every night. This typically begins by circling up whoever is in the apartment, band-member or not, and performing a prayer ritual. We then chase emotion for 4 to 6 hours trying to find the right combination of melody, harmony, and pace that feels like how we feel. Young, inheriting a trite and manufactured world, yearning to connect with people on a deeper level... Really enjoying knocking stuff over and lighting stuff on fire mostly though. Practice makes perfect!
What are your goals?
First and foremost, we want to tour. Bringing the ruckus is what we love. Therefore, we would absolutely appreciate any opportunity to grow this project with professional help.
What advice would you give to other local artists?
We haven't made it yet, but even to simply get a project off the ground, make sure that you're truly friends with your bandmates. If you don't have that, you won't survive, given the sheer amount of time you have to spend together. We have had to throw down for each other in "altercations", paid for each other, shared sleeping bags, etc. Beyond that, don't be ashamed of getting yourself out there and don't compromise your sound or aesthetic.
Have you toured nationally or stayed regional?
Although we would love to tour nationally, having only weekends and limited resources we have stayed more regionally to Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.
Being in Pgh, do you find it more difficult to succeed?
We have never tried to "make it" headquartered in another scene, but from what we have heard from national bands that we shared the stage with and from the industry during out last campaign is that this is a tough place to make it. They have indicated that not many folks outside of the 'burgh know anything about the scene here, much less have any interest in success stemming from it. We don't think that is totally bad, it just makes you work harder and play harder, a la Wiz.
What are obstacles to gaining success in Pittsburgh?
Mostly being viewed as an unknown scene to the eyes of those with the industry Rolodexes, despite the successes of Girl Talk, Anti-Flag, Wiz, etc. Also, getting people out to shows can be a challenge anywhere, we admittedly have a tendency to over-saturate, but its just cause we love y'all so much.
What are the positive benefits of being in Pittsburgh?
Obviously the cost of living is clutch. But more than that, in light of everything we have said earlier, nobody gets cut any lucky breaks here therefore the community work ethic is inspiring.
Do you have a favorite venue?
For us it is about the audience and if they are getting all trashy and fun with the music. We have had great times in a flooded basement, Garfield Artworks, Shadow Lounge, and the list goes on... Altar Bar usually has a great sound mix and who doesn't like performing in the church of rock 'n' roll?!
You can find more information about the band at these sites: