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Alex White has been must-see since she was a 19-year-old spitfire, jamming on no-frills, high octane rock tunes with her buddy Chris Playboy.
She cranked out two records on the In the Red backed by then-members of the Clone Defects, kicked out some killer singles as the Hot Machines, which also featured the Ponys’ Jered Gummere, and then embarked on her current brother-sister act White Mystery once her younger half, Francis, was ready for the club scene.
The live White Mystery show is a wild rumpus of flying red hair, huge guitar riffs and Francis White’s bumping drum beats. The latest full-length album is 2011’s Blood & Venom, which keeps the vibe fun and the songs focused on the seriousness of snacks, parties and birthdays. Alex plays loose, slightly bluesy, mid-fi guitar blasts while both Alex, with a voice that sounds like she could be Patti Smith’s excitable kid sister, and Francis shout out their vocals.
The duo keep things do-it-yourself, as they book their own tours and self-release their own albums.
“We like the process. We like taking care of business,” Alex says.
And while the band continues to be a self-managed entity, they are partnering with Perpetrator Records in New Zealand on their forthcoming single and plan to do the same in Europe.
So Alex and Francis may handle most of the band business, it’s not just the sibling act that makes this thing a family affair. Their momma Diane, an accomplished visual artist and photographer in her own right, serves as the band’s design guru.
Even while I was speaking with Alex on the phone, her mom was busy in the basement of White Mystery headquarters screenprinting underwear to sell on tour.
“She’s the best free labor money can buy,” Alex enthuses.
Diane has done photography for all three White Mystery releases — two full-lengths and one forthcoming single.
A student of the Bauhaus style of design, Diane made her mark with her photos of the 1979 Disco Demolition near-riot at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Those photos can be seen online on Diane’s website atdawhitephotography.com/disco-demolition.
Diane has also taught her daughter tons about layout and photo design.
The latest single, “People Power”, is due out April 20th, which is the same release date of White Mystery’s other two main releases in 2010 and 2011. Pre-orders will be available ahead of the release date, Alex says.
The three songs for the release were recorded at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio in Chicago and produced by the band.
“We had a sonic vision of how we wanted it to sound,” Alex says.
The songs include piano for the first time ever on a White Mystery release and both siblings sing on each track. Alex says the single shows the band enhancing some parts of their sound, like the shared vocal delivery.
Meanwhile, the band’s name is paying dividends too, as they have been invited to tour the factory of their namesake flavor of taffy — AirHeads factory in Kentucky.
The AirHeads company had posted on the band’s Facebook, telling them to keep up the good work. Alex responded asking the candymaker to send her an email, so they could meet.
Turns out the band had become a favorite at the company. Alex says she hopes more collaboration could be in the future. The tour is set for April 10th, right before the band plays in Cincinnati.
“We’re so freaking excited, we’re like crazy,” Alex says.
White Mystery w/ Snake Island! and the Lupines play Brothers Lounge, 3812 Farnam St. Saturday, March 3rd at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door. The band also plays the Zoo Bar, 136 N. 14th St. in Lincoln, Sunday, March 4th.