White Lies spill on new album ‘Friends’ in exclusive Fault shoot and interview


After three consecutive Top 5 albums, White Lies released their fourth album ‘Friends’ on October 7th. With lead singles ‘Take It Out On Me’ and ‘Come On’ in-keeping with their trademark synth-rock sound, Fault sits down with Harry McVeigh, Charles Cave and Jack Lawrence-Brown and asks them what they have in store for rest of the new album.


Hi guys, how’s it going?

Jack: It’s going very well yeah! Start of a busy week.

Harry: Start of actual proper work. Feels like we haven’t done any proper work for…years! Slowly getting dragged back into it, but it’s nice.



With all the new promo around the new release, you’ve got a show coming up in London?

Jack: Yeah show coming up on Wednesday in Kamio. Its not a secret show but its just a real underplay as we’ve put 200 tickets out to fans, which is obviously not many. I can’t work out if it’s high pressure or low pressure to have less people there but maybe alleviates some of the worry about not playing a show in 2 years. Least there’s not that many people there if it’s a trainwreck.


Does it feel like a long time since you’ve been on stage?

Charles: Yeah!

Harry: Yeah, it did when we started rehearsals, I felt very rusty.


So it feels good to be back into the swing of things again?

Charles: Yes, there is only so much rehearsing you can do really; you’ve got to just play shows. Unfortunately for the early ones!

Harry: I quite like the element of danger; it could all fall apart and go really wrong. It’s quite a nice way to play a show!

Charles: I think I’ll definitely be very nervous before certain songs on Wednesday.

Jack: I don’t think I will be!

Harry: Apart from lyrics, which are a risk [all laugh].

Jack: Famously risky singer.


For the new ones you mean?

Harry: No all of them! [laughs] We’ve been playing a long time but I’ve always been hopeless remembering lyrics. I don’t know, maybe we need to think of a system.

Charles: System which is always like remembering?

Harry: I don’t think that’s an option sometimes. [laughs]. Maybe some sort of autocue or something.

Jack: You need to get onto autocue, everyone’s got autocue these days.

Harry McVeigh

How long ago did you start recording?

Harry: We recorded during last winter so we started in November time, finished just before Christmas, around the time of your birthday actually (looks at Charles), and we did a bit more in January. Almost a year ago now. It’s a long process to get everything together and to pick a good time for release and everything.


Did you start writing on road during the Big TV tour, or did you take a break?

Harry: No we never do that. We enjoy writing so much it seems a shame to do it when you’re doing something else. After we toured Big TV we took 6 months off and we did nothing! Which was another great catalyst for writing again because I think you need to approach writing from a position of really wanting to do it, and being a little bit bored as well. So you look forward to spending your days doing something creative and fun.


Was there a song on the new album that you found most hard to write, or to think about?

 Charles: Well actually not hard to write, but the song Come On that we released a few weeks ago, that was the one we recorded in January because we’d done a load of different versions of it, not very different versions, but trying to get the arrangement right basically. It’s one of the ones that wasn’t together enough to record in Bryan Ferry’s place in November/December. But even though we recorded 13 songs or something in that session, I know that for Jack and I that song was still kind of bugging us. We thought it should be on the record and I think we need to find a way of recording it.

Our old producer Ed Buller who is notoriously honest with his opinions came in to do some recording of synths and a few of Harry’s vocals and stuff like that, I remember playing him that demo, we were playing a bunch of the other ones that didn’t make the cut and he in his typical Ed way just kind of went “why the fuck are you not recording that? You idiots, what are you doing?” You know, you’ve got to record that, and when Ed says something like that it does give you the encouragement usually because he is almost always right.

So we went in with friend Rich Wilkinson to a studio in January just to record that. We did another song too, for a B-side but thank goodness we did to be honest! It’s gone down really, really well and I think that it’s a real bridge between fans of our first album and fans that have been with us for the whole time. We’ve seen a lot of comments like people saying it reminds them a lot of the first record but it sounds really new and kind of dated as well. But it was a pain! It goes to show you that sometimes its worth struggling away over something even though it can be very frustrating.


Do you think because of that struggle, you’re going to find it hard to translate it live?

Charles: It’s actually alright.

Harry: It was difficult.

Charles: A little bit difficult, I mean I still can’t quite remember it when it comes how to play it.

Harry: It’s got about 8 million chords in it, which is always a challenge isn’t it?

Charles: I know, they keep changing.

Harry: That’s the problem isn’t it with songs, remembering the chords.

Jack: [laughs] Not remembering chords, not remembering the lyrics, classic singer

Harry: It was a complicated piece of music though.

Charles: In some ways, my least favourite part of being in a band or the most disappointing time of being in a band is that sometimes when you’re rehearsing after you’ve written an album or when you start to play live shows, there are certain songs that you absolutely love the recordings of, and love playing them, but just kind of fall a bit flat live, and you can’t really explain it other than them being mid-tempo songs like slow ones, or very fast ones are pretty shortfire. Occasionally some of the mid-tempo ones don’t quite work. There have definitely been songs from our records in the past that people loved and had to kind of sacrifice in the live show. You sort of just go “yeah, we love them but do they actually go down really, really well in this way?” and they don’t, so sometimes when you’re rehearsing and you’ve been really looking forward to playing a certain song from the record, you start rehearsing it and you just think “ooh, no! How is this one going to go down on stage?” So we’ll have to wait and see, but Come On is one that feels pretty sturdy, we’ve made fairly a bold move and put it quite late on in the setlist.

Jack Lawrence-Brown

Expanding on that, what can fans expect from the new setlist?

Charles: We actually just posted a picture of it the other day. We’ve learnt more songs than we’ve ever had prepared before, like 25 songs.

Harry: If we played them all from beginning to end, it will probably take over 2 hours. So we’re not playing them all because that’s too much.

Charles: It’s nice being able to chop and change a little bit. In Europe we often have a lot of fans that come to multiple gigs; they actually travel between countries. So I do like the idea of someone forking out cash for two separate tickets, train tickets, hotel or whatever it is, but they get something a bit different.


Keeps you guys on your toes as well I guess?  

Charles: Yeah!

Jack: It keeps us on our toes for sure! I think it’s a really good idea for us to try and work out honestly which songs are working and which songs aren’t, but feel pretty confident about everything we’ve learnt, it’s quite an impressive and good array; a really good mix of a lot of first album, quite a lot of third album and obviously a lot of this album.


Not a lot from Ritual, your second album then?

Jack: Only a tiny bit of Ritual. Just for the really hardcore fans.


You’ve got a massive tour coming up, a bit in the UK and then you travel all the way across Europe, are you all looking forward to it?

Harry: Yeah definitely, I’m excited. We’re playing some amazing venues.

Jack: It’s going to be a real mix, we start off in Paradiso in Amsterdam, which is a big venue and Netherlands have always been really good for us, they sold that show out really quickly. Then we’ll be doing venues like one in Prague called Lucerna, which is amazing but its maybe 500/600 people. It’s a very small club and the audience surrounds the whole stage. Harry is on a little plinth a little bit further forward than usual, it’s a really cool venue. There’s a real mix of venues.


For the fans, that intimate experience will be quite valuable.

Jack: Yeah I always recommend that one as one that people should come out to and to try a new venue out in Europe, it’s amazing.

Harry: It’s going to be fun saying hello to everyone again, definitely.

Charles: All the nutters down the front.

Harry: Yeah, the nutters down the front.


Any meet and greets planned on tour?

Harry: They’re sort of unavoidable to be honest, people sort of hang around until you come out so you meet them then

Charles: We’re always happy to sign stuff.

Harry: Always happy to say hello.

Charles: We’re pretty affable, yeah. Sometimes it gets a bit like, you have to blame social media. Sometimes you literally walk off stage, sweating, get into a dressing room and you just start checking Twitter and you see messages saying ‘we’re waiting for you outside, it’s freezing, it’s raining. And we’re like “go home!” Don’t complain or try and make us feel bad, we’re going to have a shower, have a beer, sit down and just chill for an hour. So please don’t get hypothermia.

Charles Cave

Do you think part of the problem is that you do all your tours in the winter?

Harry: I know yeah, every band does.

Charles: I know! You’ve got to tour October to Christmas or January to April. After that its just festivals and you’ll tread on toes and such on.

Harry: We’re actually playing a show in Liverpool this time around. We haven’t played in Liverpool for ages! Actually its just been upgraded. It’s one of the first shows to sell out.

Jack: It was in the Arts Club which is a lot smaller, but yeah it’s going to be great.

Harry: Yeah it’s going to be really fun I think.

Charles: Last time we played in Liverpool there was one of the most famous heckles that we’ve ever had from anyone, which we’ve enjoyed ever since. In-between a song it went very quiet, bit of mumbling and from out of nowhere a very small voice, from a very small Liverpudlian girl who just said: “Harry! Get your cock out!” [all laugh]. Everyone heard and laughed.

Harry: It was a very quiet moment, it was really wonderful.

Charles: Really brilliant heckle.


I like how you remembered that one.

Charles: Oh you wouldn’t forget that. I’ll remember it, forever.

Harry: I think about it often actually.

Jack: I wonder what would have actually happened, if you got your cock out: “Oh sorry, yeah of course, we’re in Liverpool, sorry chaps.” [all laugh].

Charles: It’s flaccid at the moment.

Harry: Don’t know what is more disappointing.

Charles: Brilliant heckle. I wonder if she’ll be at the gig again, and does it again.


Just want to quickly talk about the concept of the album Friends, you’ve got this labyrinth or maze idea you’ve used for your artwork, is there a juxtaposition around struggling to find your way out of a situation?

Charles: Yes! [laughs] no, I don’t know. To be honest with you, I think we always approach our artwork with a pinch of salt, or at least we try and separate ourselves. You have to start by separately it off because it has to be fucking good looking, really. That’s the number one objective of the artwork and on the previous record, we did so well with finding that image of the spaceman for Big TV and going “yes we really like that” and then when you start to sort of live with it and you look at it and see it on records, it was only then you notice his expression; it’s kind of interesting, I guess he’s thinking about being an astronaut up there, alone, with that kind of loneliness. It really does kind of reflect what the story of the record is about, so luckily it links.

Harry: You can bullshit basically [laughs].

Charles: The same with this record really, we went through a lot of different ideas and options. I think the only thing is that we knew we wanted to stay with something very colourful, we felt that the album was as colourful or more so than Big TV.


In terms of the lyrics or in terms of the vibe?

Charles: The sounds, the sonics and the arrangement of the songs.

Harry: The colour was quite important actually, that was something we went into the design company with. That has been reflected within the final artwork.


So you’re very happy with the final outcome?

 Harry: Oh yeah, I can’t stop picking it up [holds vinyl copy of ‘Friends’ up], as you can probably tell.

Charles: Yeah! I think it’s incredible.

Jack: This is the first day we’ve seen any of this stuff [points at mountains of vinyl stacked for signing].

Harry: It’s awesome, just awesome. I can’t wait to chuck it up onto the wall when I get home.


Are there any B-sides coming out?

Charles: Loads!

Harry: They’re all on here [picks up limited edition cassette tape boxset of ‘Friends’].


What are the songs called?

Charles: Yeah how many are there in total?

Harry: Well there’s probably 16 tracks in total, there are 10 tracks on the album and 6 extra tracks on here.

Charles: Maybe even more!

Jack: It’s got demo versions as well.

Harry: I’ll tell you what they are, the track list on here is in this booklet, lovely booklet I think it’s great. [Holds up landscape ‘Friends’ booklet that accompanies tape version]. Wonderful pictures. Usual album plus we have bonus tracks such as ‘Friends’ – the title track of the album is on there.

Jack: Which is a B-side!

Harry: ‘Give a Sign’, lovely track. ‘What I Need’. [Charles counts them out]

Jack: That’s the fastest track on there. [Referring to bonus track ‘What I Need’]

Harry: ‘Where Do I Go’

Jack: Pretty decent!

Harry: Another version of ‘Take It Out On Me’

Charles: We won’t count that.

Harry: Yeah we can count that; it’s a pretty good song! Also ‘Son of a Gun’.

Charles: That’s five! There are more demos I think.

Harry: Nope, none [reaches the end of the booklet].

Charles: I’m sure I put more demos on there.

Jack: It’s the first time we’ve recorded more songs than required for an album.

Harry: It’s nice that people get to hear them as well.

Charles: I can’t wait for people to start tweeting us going ‘I can’t believe you didn’t put that song on the album! It’s the best song you’ve ever done. You’re such idiots! When are you going to play it live?’

Jack: They’re probably right everytime, but that’s fine if people love the ones that didn’t make the record.

Harry: I think we should probably learn a couple of those songs to play them live.

Charles: I think that is someone expressing their desire to show you that they’re a real fan. If someone picks a B-side as their favourite song what they’re doing is they’re saying I know all of your songs, not just the singles.

Jack: Like the song Taxidermy, which was a good song but people love to mention it.


The first album B-side?

Harry: Yeah, the B-side.

Jack: Yeah, they want to show their point of difference to the other fans. It is quite competitive.

Harry: We’ll probably have to end up playing one live.

Jack: Yeah I think so.

Charles: We should learn ‘What I Need’ I think.

Jack: That song is so fast Charles!

Charles: Would be good fun though, bit of a mosh pit eh? [all laugh]

Harry: A 40 year old mosh pit.



What is your FAULT?

 Harry: I think we were talking about this, I think we’re very self-deprecating. I don’t think we realize what we have; we’re very quick to complain about things. I think most bands are probably like that, a little bit. Self-doubt can creep in very easily into your life.

Jack: It’s a bit neurotic; we’re a bit neurotic.

Charles: We’re a bit neurotic as a band, some would argue that it’s a fault, but we have collectively no desire to be in any way famous, or nothing like that. I mean we want to be a good band, we always have, but I think right back to day one when started getting attention before ‘To Lose My Life…’ came out, if we’d done all the kind of shit we’d have to do if you want to be really, really successful, like making friends with loads of wankers and getting photographed all the time, going to silly parties, all of that nonsense. Sleeping with some pop star or something like that.

Jack: We would have done that if that was an opportunity to be honest.

Charles: Yeah we would have done that if it was an opportunity. [laughs] We always really shied away from that and other bands that do that all tell themselves ‘yeah, Radiohead aren’t famous but look at them!’ but yeah you’re not Radiohead. [all laugh] I’m always impressed, deeply impressed when certain artists or bands seem to have the hours in the day to both do what we do, i.e. write music, record it, tour it, promote it and…

Jack: Play the game.

Charles: Play the game! Like The 1975, they’ve become absolutely massive, they do all the hard work, do all the stuff and they properly play the game. They get their tits out, basically, and they play up to that whole ‘we know that 15 year old girls, super impressionable, slightly depressed, angsty girls fucking love it’. Let’s just play to it. I totally respect that but unfortunately we don’t have the physiques to do that.

Harry: Or big enough penises.

Charles: Or big enough penises. But no I really admire it, that’s probably a fault we can’t undo now, but we’ve never had an interest in it. But maybe it’s a weird British thing, but as soon as people come up to me occasionally and say “I just can’t tell you how much lyrics from the first album meant to me”, and I don’t like that stuff, I immediately feel pretty awkward about it. I can never buy into my own shit basically. We’re all too self-deprecating. When someone says to us “that piece of music moved me”, we’re just like “yeah it’s alright isn’t it”.


‘Friends’ is out now on CD, vinyl and limited edition boxsets. White Lies will be touring the UK and Europe in October and November. You can find all tour dates on their site: http://whitelies.com/


Words Stuart Williams

Photography Laura Coughlan

Grooming Cat Parnell using Elemis and Bumble and Bumble