Follow the White Rabbits!

Posted on January 17, 2008 by


You would think that the White Rabbits have a co-dependency problem — they have two singers, two drummers, and everyone in the six-piece band plays pretty much every instrument available onstage. “Yeah, we’re trying to score a second bassist as we speak,” said Greg Roberts, over the phone laughing. (He sings the catchy-as-hell “The Plot.”)

He was at co-singer and bandmate Steve Patterson place, working on new songs, before they set out on tour. Having multi-taskers in the band set-up as a gimmick, he explained. Rather, it was what the music called for.  When New York City by way of Missouri members, who’ve all been friends since they were kids, started recording their debut “Fort Nightly,” Patterson, who studied drums in school,  was their only drummer. Now-drummer Matthew Clark was initially their keyboardist. While recording however, the band hit a wall and decided to try something new. “We just come up with stuff any way we can. There’s no ownership over the songs. It’s much more conducive for getting ideas out there,” Roberts said.

And because various drummers were involved in their debut’s production, “we kept adding percussions,” Roberts said. “We definitely have world influences, and there are a lot of tropical and soul, RnB genres are really percussive…it was compelling to focus on the rhythms as much as the melody without really coming off as a dance band.”

To be able to pull it their sound off live, however, they needed another person beating the drums. So they asked a friend, Jamie Levinson, who was studying to be a librarian at UW-Madison, to join tha band. “We didn’t know that having two full kits at gigs would make every sound man in the United States hate us,” Roberts laughed.

Last August I saw the White Rabbits open for the Cribs at the Pabst. It was the Thursday before Lollapalooza, a festival that both bands were playing in. There was barely anyone in the audience. It was a shame because while the Cribs were (as usual) stellarly Brit, the White Rabbits blew me away. Watch this video of them on David Letterman:

The six-piece played indie-pop-rock of cacophonous melodies, multitasked with two drum kits, two vocalists, various string instruments, and brought forth an energy that deserved a bigger crowd. Tomorrow Milwaukee can finally redeem itself and see this band in action; this time, more people should come and see them — especially since they’ve been practicing new songs. Which ones should we watch out for? Roberts can’t say, mostly because none of their new songs have names. “We’re really, really bad about naming songs. We’re playing four new songs, and we still haven’t named them.” Having two principal leads begs the question: how do you write lyrics? “It’s communal,” he said. “Someone writes when inspiration strikes.We don’t really have a set formula for writing. We only have a record and some change under our belts, so I don’t think we have a formula.”

What White Rabbits open for The Walkmen

When 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 18

Where Turner Hall Ballroom, 1032 N. 4th St.

How much $12

Posted in: music