The Review: White Mystery Interview

White Mystery Interview

From Issue 745 (Published April 12th, 2012)
Written By Robert ‘Bo’ White
White Mystery is a brother/sister duo that is favorably compared to the White Stripes and the Black Keys. Led by Miss Alex White and fueled by brother/other Francis Scott White, the band kicks it hot and heavy. They rock loud and proud and will take on any comers. Characterized as garage rockers, they are deep-seated punks who can rock like the Stones and can throw back with some tasty Buddy Guy blues if the occasion calls for twelve bars and a cloud of dust.Alex is a veteran of the Chicago scene despite her tender age. She is a twenty something wunderkind guitarist voted one of the ten best female guitarists by Guitar World Magazine. Not content to just tour the world for free and play music, White also earned a business degree from DePaul University . It’s in the genes. The White Mystery band is a family affair that includes artistic input and loving support from parents who know how to do it.Review: You seem to be on the cusp of a major breakthrough with the MTV endorsements (Top Act, Best Video), accolades from the Chicago Tribune and so on. Do you feel the buzz?

Alex: It’s exciting. We are on our way to play a big festival in Dallas with a lot of other emerging acts and we are performing again at SXSW. We’re on a 2 and ½ month tour with Saginaw being near the home stretch.

Review: I don’t know how you do it. How do you keep your energy up?

Alex: I eat lots of apples. I drink water and when I’m tired I do some jumping jacks

Review: Do you see your fan base/popularity growing?

Alex: You know Facebook is actually a real good measure of it. You van actually quantify how many fans you have. I was feeling pretty excited when we broached 4000. We sold a couple thousand albums in the past few years. There are ways of measuring success and popularity growing – more shows; more press, you know, all that stuff. We also have digital sales that are also measurable. We get a monthly statement on the music downloads and while you may not capturing the entire picture it’s at least something. White Mystery fans are unique in that they do buy vinyl and they do buy shirts, though they might not go to a record store, they will come to our shows. We have 45’s and full length LPs.

Review: How would you describe the music scene in Chicago?

Alex: Chicago has a fantastic music scene powered by a lot of bands and a lot of different clubs. There are a variety of different genres – a smorgasbord of musical styles. There are a lot of emerging scenes. Francis, my brother and I are active in the city. We hang out with Buddy Guy and we are in a documentary with him. So we are connected to the blues scene but we tend to hangout in punk houses and those little buzz clubs listening to a lot of rock & roll and punk – stuff like that. But we’re definitely inspired by the blues.

Review: You are in the midst of this huge tour. Why do you put yourself on such a grueling schedule?

Alex: We are actually going to announce over 70 dates in the states and Canada. I mean why do people go to the office everyday and work from nine to five and sit in front of a computer and get burned out and forget to enjoy their lives  – why not party every night play music in front of thousands of people and travel the country and world for free and get paid doing it? White Mystery is hoping to play Europe this year- it’s definitely a goal.

Review: It is said that the MC5 were an influence. They are from my neck of the woods – even played my high school senior party. I thought they were a great little rock & roll band. I hear the influences – that high-powered blues based ROCK, heavy drums and your soulful vocals. Do you see them as an influence…musically, politically?

Alex: Definitely musically. I share a birthday with Wayne Kramer and they had ambrosia and they liked to party down. But politically they were kind of misogynous. They were very into women’s rights and stuff. They had kind of a commune way of living where I’m a city chick and a punk and so is my brother. We do have a clan we call the Red Panthers which for natural red heads. It’s kind of tongue-in-cheek.

Review: I also hear a heavy punk/garage influence like a cross between Iggy & the Stooges and Suzi Quatro in songs like Birthday and Blood & Venom. Do you feel your music is a link to your sixties heroes?

Alex: Well, I mean… I like rockabilly and Francis likes heavy metal and grunge and rock. We tend to express ourselves in a natural way musically. It’s a reflection of our musical heroes, for sure. Buddy Guy has been a mentor, spent time with him and he’s been giving us advice. He’s a nice dude and I respect him for counseling a number of local musicians. He inspired me to start my own record label and to release our records on our own. He told me that I had what it took to do that and encouraged that business element in the band that made it possible to be a full time job.

Review: I love People Power – the high octane speeded up rhythm and monster guitar riff and Francis’ ferocious drumming is the closest thing to the MC5 and the Stooges I’ve heard since seeing them live onstage in 1970. This is a great song that slugs in you the chest and leaves you beggin’ for more. What kind of response are you getting from the press…your fans?

Alex: People think it rips which is sweet because we did something a little different for that song. We recorded at Electric Audio in Chicago, which is Steve Albini’s studio… we had fun with it and really wanted to have a long cool instrumental solo at the end where a lot of our songs are pretty fast and hard hitting. People Power was a little more than expected jammer, we played it for John Langford @ WXRT in Chicago and he DJ’d on the radio and he was crazy about it. We actually recorded three songs for that single but his reaction to that song specifically convoked us to make it the title track

Review: I know you’ve heard it before but you are often compared with the White Stripes. Do you agree with the comparison?

Alex: Well…it is cool to be compared to them, because they are an enormous internationally recognized band.  Francis and I are flattered with that, but they are also fans of our band. We have many friends in common in Detroit and I’ve been going to Detroit since I was a young teen and I’ve was playing there and learning about the format (White Stripes)  and it’s really a pleasure to play with my brother because we are a really compact, efficient,  and fun duo.

Review: Alex, I’ve read that you’ve been performing since age 13 and even formed the Missile X Record label in 2003 – you are a seasoned professional. How has your  guitar craft and singing changed/developed over the years? Do you have a mentor/teacher?

Alex: Well, Fortunately I got better at it. I play guitar every day, wake up and play guitar, play guitar in the afternoon, play before I go to sleep. My brother has really grown as a drummer.  It’s been awesome that we were able to develop our talents together. We challenge each other and recommend riffs to each other. It’s a mutual thing. Missile X released three records and now I do White Mystery records branded full time. So, it’s a re-branding kind of thing. I started Missile X when I was 17 and we were only putting out vinyl then.  But it wasn’t quite as gorgeous as it is now. I always liked playing 45’s. Somehow it worked out. Francis and I Dee Jay vinyl together in Chicago – DJ dance parties that can go on for hours. I play records that I’ve been collecting since grade school.

Review: The Davies brothers in the Kinks were famously at odds with each other.  Is there any sibling rivalry in your band?

Alex: What you’re describing are two brothers, which is quite a bit different dynamic than a brother and sister. There is no alpha male struggle. It’s more of a lovely, cooperative, supportive relationship. My brother is driving right now and he interjected that he lets me wear the pants. We have a lot fun together and we’ve been playing together since we were little kids. Our parents were nice supportive cool people who raised up to be close and to love each other. It’s always been that way

Review: You come from a creative family – your mom designs your album covers and memorabilia. Has she been your support when times got rough as a professional musician?

Alex: They are very supportive. When I first started to play shows I was too young to drive so they would take me and drop me off. They are both talented people and their love and support made it all a lot more feasible. I never felt like there were any limitations on what I could do or wanted to do. Which is why I’ve seen so many whacked things If you can visualize something and visualize success they would always support my efforts.  We follow our hearts and party down – Francis is the risk taker in the family, he’ll  jump off a cliff into then water, got a tattoo right before a show

Review: Any last comments?

Alex: Go to our website – all of our shows are listed up there including the White’s Bar show and we try to keep it up to date with a daily blog stories; we sell our records and memorabilia online and at our shows  – you can get our music on vinyl and CD formats through mail order or buy them from I Tunes.

White Mystery will perform @ White’s Bar on Tuesday May 1st – Alex’s birthday. Come by for some tasty jams and a piece of cake.

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