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What We Lack Interviews: Whaler

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From their first show up until now, Whaler has been a band that What We Lack loves to work with. As a band, they are doing great things, and have a bright future ahead of them. Check out their bandcamp, and read the interview that they did with us after the jump.

What sets you apart from other local bands?

JF: Were the only band I know of that has played a show for our houseplants. In a set we called “Lamps and Plants.”  We gathered up all the lamps and plants we had in our apartment and arranged them in our practice space and played a set for them. I think they liked it, although my spider plant isn’t faring too well.

EL: We haven’t done it yet, but a stage design featuring plants and lamps is in the works too. So next time you see us it might be ready.

What has influenced to write the music that you do?

EL: Although all the material is originally written by myself, by the time we finish writing it usually sounds really different from the song I brought forward. When we started out most of these songs were never even meant for a full band–they were folkier, moodier solo songs that we just adapted for full instrumentation. I think that’s part of what makes our sound different. On a personal level, all of the songs on “Natural Barriers” are about coping with disconnection and loss–of time, friends, feeling, direction or identity.

We all have pretty diverse influences, so the individuality that we bring in terms of tone and timbre fits together in an unexpected way. Jordan, for example, loves Pink Floyd (and pretty much single-handedly got me into them as well) and that comes across in his keyboard tone color. Jon’s work on the bass is equally funky and melodic and is it’s own driving force in the band. Guy actually learned the drums to play in this band–it’s ridiculously impressive–and that in combination with his harmonies totally fill out the the mood of every song.

JF: I have an obsession with tone color.  I need help actually if you know any tone color therapists I can go to.

It was kind of daunting at first being presented with a mostly complete set of songs by Evan. I remember hearing and playing some of the demos that became “Natural Barriers” and thinking “what can I possibly add to this?”  the songs just sounded so complete even on the 4 track demos that  it took some time playing them to find a nice part to complement them.  

How does a typical show for the band go? what kind of rituals do you have?

JF: Load out always a ritual. We pretty much keep all of our  equipment in our basement practice space. Usually we just keep everything set up in between practice so playing shows is pretty much the only way that it gets cleaned up .  We usually wrap all of the cables in a meditative-like trance  which is helpful before a show.I also like to listen to mood music on the way to a show. I think  I ended up listening  to Sketches of Spain on the way to the last two shows we played in  Fishtown.  Guy usually drives too. What do you listen to in your car on the way to shows Guy?

GG: I try to squeeze in as much “oh yeah, alright!” as I can. Gotta get psyched as early as possible so that by the time we play i’ve already made it through the “psych-up comedown” with enough time to really feel the “oh shit how are we going to follow this band?”. That way I’m relaxed for my pre-show “chill out and have fun” seltzer.

EL: Onstage in between songs, it’s a constant back and forth between my own awkward demeanor and everyone else trying to rectify it with jokes and banter. Sorry/thanks guys.

What is your role in the local scene?

EL: Philly is really a small scene. An incredible one, but one that tends to get saturated with high-quality bands. So it can be difficult to stand out from the pack. We all live in leafy green West Philly, and I think that our location in the neighborhood has molded us as much as we’ve tried to be a “west philly band.” We’re friends with a lot of other great musicians here, so I think we just want to situate ourselves among them and at the same time put out music that’s totally different from what they’re putting out.

What is it like being a new band?

EL: Well, in many ways we’re not exactly a new band, just the latest iteration of a series of bands that go back quite a while. Guy and Jon have been making music together since they were kids, Jordan and I joined in to play in our previous band Gatherings. When that disintegrated for various reasons about two years ago (RIP), Whaler came out of the ashes, so to speak. We had been writing and practicing these songs for a while just for fun, one night in winter we just had a moment when we said, “well, I guess we should just be a new band now!”

What are your plans for growth?

EL: We’re basically incubating right now–working on a bunch of new material that’s veering in a different, less straight-ahead direction than we’ve been on. All of us have solo projects going as well, so we’re putting a lot of time into those (and playing in all of each other’s projects while we’re at it) which is exciting and energizing for Whaler too. We’re going into a professional studio this winter to record a two-song single, and we’ll be using that to promote and play out.

JF: The process for this new material is very different from how “Natural Barriers” came together as well.  Were spending more time on developing each song slowly and individually. Were also doing more jamming which is  an  important exercise in listening to each other which we didn’t  do as much of in the past.

What do you do to promote your band?

GG: Interviews with What We Lack, Basically

JF: We have a lot of fun with instagram. There was a period of time briefly when we were doing sets “Live from Basement Vacation” on periscope. It’s kind of silly and tongue in cheek but the idea of a live basement show on the internet that no one is watching is funny to me.

What are you expecting the end result of this band to be/ what is your overall goal?

JF: I like the mantra of making the kind of music that you would want to listen to.  I   am always interested in exploring something new. I would hope that each release presents an evolution somehow.

EL: Yeah. It’s not necessarily about an end goal. Just constantly writing and working of new projects to keep the momentum going. I really just want people to like our sets as much as our houseplants and plastic luau dancers we’ve got hanging from the wall in the basement. They always dance along.

Why should people listen to your music?
JF: We are the first toadgaze band and I’m hoping the genre catches on. Check it out.

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