“Garage-rock flamethrower,” Metromix

Miss Alex White, the garage-rock flamethrower behind local outfit White Mystery, has had to overcome a staggering amount of adversity in her young life.

The singer/guitarist’s first two duos, Red Lights and Miss Alex White & Chris Playboy, ended in tragedy when her bandmates died abruptly: Red Lights’ Alisa Dymarets of an asthma attack and Chris “Playboy” Saathoff, who also played bass in now-defunct local collective Chin Up Chin Up, in a hit-and-run on Valentine’s Day 2004. “There were a couple moments where I was so depressed that I didn’t think I could continue playing music,” says White, 25, while en route to Atlanta with her younger brother and White Mystery drummer Francis White. “Or not just continue playing music, but do anything.”

Fortunately for everyone, White pressed forward, first with Miss Alex White & the Red Orchestra, and now in full-on attack mode with White Mystery (a name she lifted from a favored flavor of Airheads candy). That said, White approached the new duo, her first since playing with Saathoff, with a certain degree of trepidation. “I’m paranoid, but I feel very positive … a lot more positive than I ever have before,” says the singer. “At this point you just have to accept the chaos of the world, [since] those random acts are the same ones that create really beautiful moments.” And really ferocious moments too, judging by the self-titled, self-released debut (streaming free on the band’s official site) the pair put out earlier this year.

Have you grown tired of comparisons between White Mystery and the White Stripes?

I’m really surprised by them. We were just in Nashville and we stayed with Jack [White’s] nephew; we’re friends with the Detroit punk scene, so it’s something I’ve been around for eight years. I really feel a lot more like Poison Ivy from the Cramps than I do like Jack White. She’s this beautiful, red-curly haired surf-punk guitarist, and I feel like the parallels with her are a lot more obvious than the ones a lot of journalists fall back on. At the same time, our last name really is White and we actually are brother and sister, so I appreciate the humor in it.

Any other sibling musicians floating around?

We have a third sibling, Nick White. He’s 19. He’s White the Younger. He plays bass, which is the irony of it all.

Have you talked about playing as a trio?

No. White Mystery is definitely a 50-50 creative partnership between Francis and I.

Were you ever able to determine the actual flavor of White Mystery Airheads?

I have a pretty solid theory on it. When you’re pressing a vinyl record, you have the option of getting marbleized vinyl—I call it garbage vinyl. So let’s say someone ordered blue vinyl and then they want to switch over to white. In between, you get this blue-white swirly kind of garbage vinyl. When it comes to White Mystery, I’ve noticed almost every time it has a different taste. It can be the blue flavor or the pink flavor. I’m pretty sure with White Mystery they’re extruding the waste flavor, but not including food dye.

Better mystery flavor: Airheads or Dum Dums?

God, definitely Airheads. But I love root beer Dum Dums too.

Do you dread the dentist at this point?

I haven’t been to a dentist in like three years! My mom was like, “You need to go to a dentist before you go on tour!” But I’ve heard from a lot of people that if you get your teeth cleaned after a long time, you get sick from all the horrible germs that have been lurking; they’ve become one with you. I am obsessive about brushing my teeth. I consider it my pre-show good luck ritual. I brush and floss twice daily, so I don’t have any lack of oral hygiene.

Are you a fan of Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka?

Huge fan! I love Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” We just watched the new one with Johnny Depp, and it’s really pretty creepy.

Did you ever dress as Wonka for Halloween? I imagine if you pulled a top hat down over your hair you could pull it off nicely.

[Laughs] I’m a woman! I was always Little Orphan Annie or Shirley Temple. On Halloween, I’d just put on a dress that I’d normally wear and people would honk their horns.

Andy Downing is a Metromix special contributor. Metromix@tribune.com

By submitting a comment here you grant White Mystery a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

Posted in Press