Austin, Texas’ White Label Analog, which consists of vocalist Chris Didear, guitarist/vocalist James Millican, drummer/vocalist Heath Macintosh, keyboardist/vocalist Alison Pepper and bassist Aaron Herbster, recently debuted their full-length, 11-track album, “Just In Case you Tuned In.” The resulting album has been called “an eclectic group of songs that form a daring alliance between traditional pop rock and today’s indie rock scene.”
Heath Macintosh recently spoke to www.theartofla.com via an email interview to talk about the band’s unique name and how it related to their approach to making music in a more of an organic and traditional way and incorporating that with some digital technology, its first tour as a band and that positive experience, working with Mark Needham in the studio and the Austin scene and how its changed for the musicians themselves and the fans of live music and more.
How did the band come up with the name White Label Analog?
HEATH: Well we went through a bunch of options as bands do when they are trying to all agree on a name that is universally liked by all members. I had the idea to use the term White Label as it refers to promo albums from the vinyl days, when record labels would do a white label pressing that is basically just a cheap promo copy with no frills for radio stations and what not. And as we do embrace the modern technology of music, we are still very much an Analog band, so used that word to bring the whole name together as “White Label Analog”
I read in the band’s bio you all just completed a West Coast tour. How did that go? Did you all experience anything unusual or notable on the tour you wanted to talk about? How was the reaction to the new album?
HEATH: Yeah, we just finished up that Fall Tour a few weeks ago…everything went well, we had a lot of fun and it was if nothing else a great bonding experience for us as a band, having never toured together. Overall the response was great and we won over the audiences that we played to. Being our first tour on our first album, most of the people that we played to were really just hearing us for the first time.
How did the band come together as a unit? Has working on the project White Label Analog very different from anything you have done before in other bands?
HEATH: About a year prior Chris and I had talked about doing a project together, but we both wanted to do something that was removed and different from our past band experiences. Chris met up with James and they started hammering out some ideas and then when he thought it was at a point to be able to reach out to me, he did. The three of us jammed for a while just getting a feel for things and then Chris reached out to Aaron to come check out what we were working on and he dug it as well, so we had the core four of us with a universal style and vibe that we wanted to go for. We went through a few keyboard players as we wanted a female keyboardist that could sing so that we had that female voice in the mix to help round out the sound we were going for. Finally, through James, Alison a friend of his, came into the mix to complete the lineup.
What do you all think makes White Label Analog different or stand out from other bands in a similar genre?
HEATH: I think the main thing that I get from our sound and style when compared to the modern sound on the radio, kinda stems back to the name itself and the term Analog. With so many bands using so much digital technology in recording and live performance, we still rely mainly on the analog instrumentation and the technology kind of stuff is thrown on as icing on the cake rather than the whole cake being made up of it. So, it lends us to being a little more rock/indie sounding with modern flourishes and gives us a little more grit in our style.
What would you all say makes EP “A Little More Time” different from your full-length release, “In Case You Just Tuned in” lyrically and thematically?
HEATH: For me, it’s just a more mature album as it is with most artists doing a follow-up…I think we’ve raised our musical expectations, refined our style and shaped it better as we continue to grow as a band.
What was it like working with Mark Needham in the studio? How did you get to work with him and did he bring to the sessions and what did you learn from working with them in the studio?
HEATH: Mark was actually referred to us by Marc Kordellos over at UNCLE (btw, can’t say enough good things about him, great to work with). We used Needham to remix the song Turn To Dust on this album and in turn used him for a couple of other songs for the album (Echoes and Rainmaker). I run point for most of the studio stuff, mixing, mastering, etc.. so I was the direct pipeline on that. And I can’t say enough good things about the experience….Mark is a great guy and has great ears, extremely adaptable and patient in working out any kinks, makes himself very available and keeps on top of things with quick turnarounds. He’s been in the game for a long time, but as you look at his discography, he has always kept his fingers on the pulse of modern music and really just a pleasure to work with.
How did you choose a Black Sabbath song to record and why?
HEATH: I’ve never been a big fan of doing covers in a band, although I do like it when other bands do it for the most part. I like to say that I am a creator, not a replicator when it comes to music, have never really found much pleasure in playing a song exactly as written by someone else. So, I had pitched the Black Sabbath song “A Hard Road” as something that I thought we could turn on its head and have something musically far removed from the original. I definitely feel like we achieved that, stayed somewhat true to the song so that it can still be recognizable, but for the average listener….a B-side Sabbath tune that they don’t know, comes off more as our own creation, which it is.
Is the Austin scene still as exciting and vibrant as it’s always been?
HEATH: I think that Austin has a huge confluence of musicians and venues. The average local band has to work that much harder to find their niche and fans to develop. There doesn’t seem to be as much local live music love as there has been in the past, I think mainly due to festivals and we see a lot more touring bands now…so people save their hard earned money to go to those type of things or just go have a fun night out at a DJ club. Throw in all the downtown changes over the years and price of parking, definitely seems to scare off some of the local live music fans and has become more of a clubbing, touring band atmosphere downtown at least.
What is next for White Label Analog?
HEATH: Well, we are just staying regional through Q4 and getting our ducks in a row for 2017 as we plan to move on to another single and continue our touring plans in the spring. Hopefully, good things to come and will keep us busy as we try to gain more exposure for our new album. Thanks for taking the time to visit with us and look forward to doing this again sometime down the road.