WHITE DENIM opening for TAPES ’N TAPES at the Opera House (735 Queen East), Monday (April 14). $17.50. 416-466-0313, www.MySpace/bopenglish. Rating: NNNNN
When Austin freakbeat bashers White Denim were told that their first UK gig was going to be at a bowling alley outside London, they weren’t sure if anyone besides the shoe rental clerk would be there.
But news about South By Southwest buzz bands travels quickly on the Web, and even though the band has no music for sale in stores and did negligible advertising for the gig, the joint was packed with 450 screaming fans White Denim had no idea existed.
“The only UK press we’ve gotten so far was having our 7-inch appear in the year-end top 10 list of a magazine called Art Rocker,” says the power trio’s frontman, James Petralli. “But we’ve been talked about a lot on the blogs, and some MP3s of our demos are circulating, which has probably had a lot to with the attention we’ve been getting.”
White Denim have been hyped by taste-making music sites like Pitchfork (which gave their self-released Let’s Talk About It a 7.3 rating in January) and on Rolling Stone’s blog, which tipped White Denim in its Breaking Artist feature, so it’s hardly shocking that global interest is growing rapidly for a band that few have actually seen.
In fact, they even managed to score a prime opening spot on tour with Tapes ’n Tapes before anyone from that group had been to a single White Denim gig.
Evidently, the White Denim’s demos – recorded in a 1940s-era Airstream trailer – were appealing enough to the Tapes. “I found out about White Denim from reading the blogs,” confesses Tapes top gun Josh Grier. “The guy who runs Gorilla Vs. Bear writes about them constantly, so I decided to check them out, and they sounded amazing. They seem like they’d be pretty crazy onstage. We wanted to have a really exciting band on tour with us, so we invited them out.”
According to Petralli, a former English lit major, popular music blog Gorilla Vs. Bear is ground zero for the explosion of White Denim Internet chatter.
“The guy who runs the site championed us from the beginning and shared a lot of our MP3s with people he knows and who visit his site. I don’t know where we’d be without his, um, ‘discovery’ of what we were doing.”
The group connected with their future manager, Scottie Diablo, the man behind the now defunct Acid Bird music blog and record label, after Diablo read various bloggers gushing about White Denim. He was intrigued enough by the raw rockin’ sound of their MP3 to get in touch with the mysterious band.
“Scottie was working as a music coordinator for MTV’s Pimp My Ride and tried to license one of our tracks for the show. We didn’t know who he was, but we liked the way he looked on his MySpace page, so we sent him some MP3s. We invited him to stay at our place in Austin for two days, and once we got to know him we decided to work with him. I think that was before he’d ever seen us play.”
Diablo helped get the band hooked up with aggressive Internet promotional/publicity operation Tell All Your Friends, which began a White Denim e-mail blast campaign that would make spammers envious. Diablo also helped White Denim hook up with the RCRD LBL blog, which makes exclusive tracks available for free download on their site.
So far, Diablo has resisted the temptation to sneak a White Denim track onto the MTV show for which he’s currently selecting music, The Hills. And that probably won’t happen if Petralli has a say.
“It seems to me that you do those kinds of things to increase your exposure. And it feels like our group might already have too much of that. It makes me nervous.
“We could be in for a backlash, and I don’t know what I’d do if that happenned. This whole thing is getting kinda surreal.”