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Whitehorse | Interview

Infamous Aussies WHITEHORSE have been producing some of the most tortuous doom / sludge to crawl from the underground for ten years now, over a slew of split releases, live recordings, and eps.

With their second LP proper “Raised Into Darkness” about to see the light of day, and their long awaited maiden voyage to Europe about to take place, it seemed like a good time for Jamie Grimes to catch up with vocalist Pete.

Courtesy of the band, you can also stream the new album at the link below.


Pete, congratulations first of all on your tenth your as a band this year. How does it feel to have reached the landmark?

And are there any celebrations planned? How do you feel the Whitehorse of 2014 differs to the Whitehorse of 2013?

Fuckin’ ten years! Feels like I have been drawn and quartered 10 times… a lot of people, “friends” have encouraged me to keep banging on with Whitehorse along the way.

I am the only original member – none of the other lunatics are as stupid as me. I guess in a way it’s an achievement but yeah, it’s had it’s ups and downs but I guess there is worse things to do than tour the world, yelling at people and making them pay for it.

As far as celebrations go, I guess we are heading in to our most ambitious year of plans yet.

We just toured New Zealand which was great, European and USA tours April / May, 50ish dates.

A reissue of our first 12″ with bonus track artwork from Nick Mangan and Brent Stegeman and liner notes from Seldon Hunt, a CD collection of a bunch of material from splitsis in the works, a new 3 song album ‘Raised Into Darkness’ has been sent to press.

With any luck a collaborative record we have been working on will see completion and there maybe even more torture for us all is we survive. Our brains may melt.

Just to start with, Whitehorse has had quite a few line up changes over the years so can you clarify the current line up for us?

Am I correct in thinking that you’re sharing a member or two with Ignivomous? I know most members are involved in other bands as well, so how difficult is it for you all to coordinate your efforts to get Whitehorse active?

Yeah, we have had a lot of members pass through the band. Currently the standard line up is as follows: Pete is our current (and 2nd) bassist , he played about in a bunch of indie bands during the 2000s but more recently did a brief stint with “scrap metal” outfit Black Jesus (with guitarist 6: Adrian) and occasionally does a duo called False Maturity.

Dave is our current (and 2nd) noise guy he used to to a hip hop project called Ivens but left that behind for a total face melter of a project called Hans Harms with the guys from Dead Boomers (inculding original WH noise guy Mark).

Dave also does a project with Scott Moore from Limp Wrist / Needles etc called Concrete Island. Scott Viney joined us on drums after our last US tour (as drummer number 4) he had already been playing with Pete and I in our grindcore band Pneumatic Slaughter (which we will get back to in a minute) he also plays in Infinite Void, does a solo project called Nosebleed Catharsis and a hardcore band called Human Ruins (with original WH guitarist Dase).

Sean (guitarist number 7) is the member we share with Ignivomous who are kinda on the back burner at the moment while he works on WH and Voidchrist.

The most recent addition to the line up is Ben (guitarist number 7) who plays (other) guitar he was also playing with Pete, Scott and I in Pneumatic Slaughter as well as rock band Evil Ways.

Then I guess there is me, I currently play in Pneumatic Slaughter (featuring drummer 4, guitarist 7 and bassist 2 of Whitehorse), neanderthunderous noisecore outfit Occult Blood and have dreams of playing again with Collapsed Toilet Vietnam (which was with noise guy 1, drummer 2 and bassist 1 of WH) but that may not happen.

Obviously everyone being involved in so many other projects there are never, ever any coordination issues… haha … but really, this line up seems pretty functional though we do have to make concessions every now and then.

For example when we come to Europe we will be playing as a 5 piece (as we have for 3 years or so before Ben joined), Ben is unable to come as he can’t leave his family for the whole time we will be away, he had the option of doing up to a month of the tour we have planned and he decided that the US leg would be easier for him.

Pete also couldn’t get leave from work for April so he unfortunately won’t be playing bass with us in Europe, in his place we will have Brent (guitarist 2 / original WH member) from Heirs and Complete filling in on bass and Pete will take over in the US.

Simple right?

After touring the US, Japan and Australia in the last decade, 2014 sees you finally reach Europe – you have sets at both Doomtown and Roadburn festivals and (presumably) a handful of other dates on the mainland.

You’ve worked with a couple of European labels (Vendetta, Blind Date, etc) but surprisingly this is your first time on this side of the world – how did the jaunt finally come about?

Do you have much in the way of expectations for this trip given that there’s obviously quite a bit of interest and support for you in Europe?

Totally stoked to be hitting Europe for the first time. It is pretty crazy that we haven’t made it over yet especially considering that most of our releases have been with European labels, our first vinyl release was on Conspiracy in 2006.

Blind Date and Vendetta have been great to deal with. We have been wanting to come to Europe for such a long time, I’m not even sure what has been holding us back.

At the same time I an not even really sure how it came about, I think after we played a killer fest in Brisbane called Total Attack I was yabbering away to some of the Sortatila people and they mentioned that Kill-town booking do a fest in Copenhagen that we would go down really well on called Heavy Days In Doomtown.

I was aware of the festival as I had been chatting with Nathan from Graves At Sea about their tour in Europe and they had played the festival, after these discussions I thought well .. maybe that’s a good place to start, so I got in touch with Daniel at Kill-town and he was immediately totally down to help us out.

We have about 25 or so dates including Roadburn and HDIDT most of which seem pretty sorted. We are also following this up with about the same amount of dates in the US, including MDF.

So 50ish dates in 2 months! I really have no idea what to expect from our European shows and I guess I really have no clear picture of what the interest in WH is there I guess it seems a little less obvious to us when we are thousands of kilometres away on the other side of the world.

The last time I was in Europe was about 8 or 9 years ago when I tagged along on the first Pisschrist European tour (WH guitarist number 4: Yeap had invited me) and it was awesome.

Hopefully it will be full of meeting awesome people, playing with awesome bands, chucking in a few beers and crumbling so venues with some casual heaviness.

Given all this touring you’ve done, and that a number of your releases have been live recordings, it begs asking if you feel Whitehorse is primarily a live band.

Given the type of music you play, I was wondering if that might be because of the possibilities in terms of both improvisation and volume that the live setting allows in comparison with the more rigid time constraints with studio releases?

Do the live versions of the songs differ much from the recorded ones? And overall as a band do you approach the live/studio environments with a different mindset?

I would say that I feel we are primarily a live band. The recording process over the years has kinda come secondary or even, I might suggest as an after thought.

Hell some of the earlier recordings were lifted off of video recordings of our live shows and at least 3 radio live to air sessions have been utilised as releases.

In general there is really no improvisation in Whitehorse maybe there was a little more openness in the structures in early days with the initial line up.

I do feel that the live presence has a more natural flow than some of the recorded material for the most part.

I feel like we always come at recording in a kinda less relaxed manor, most of the time with a sense of urgency to record material by a deadline that is too close.

Some of the deadlines we don’t quite make it on … hence the 2 new releases will be meeting us a handful of days into the European tour unfortunately.

It’s been a while now since the “Progression” lp. The last thing you released was a split with Negative Standards which was an epic new track.

Splits have been a constant in your repertoire over the years. How do you plan for them? Is it a case of writing for specific formats (eg a 12″ or 7″) or is it a case of splitting already existing recordings over different releases?

And it seems like most if not all of the bands you’ve done splits with are bands you have long standing relationships with through touring or existing friendships – are splits an important thing to you as a band? And are there any more on the horizon this year?

Yeah .. I guess Progression was a bit of a hump record, it was a difficult process for numerous reasons, when the opportunity came after that recording session to do a bunch of splits we decided to roll with it.

The splits have been a little easier for us for the most part and generally we have written for the releases.

I guess for me personally splits are a good way of marking connections we have had with people who in some way connect with us and share an understanding of why the fuck we are doing what we are doing, somewhat.

As I mentioned above we are working on a collaborative record at the moment when we have any spare minutes. But I am sure we will be looking at doing some more splits over 2015, though nothing is arranged at this moment.

The track on the NS split seemed to have some new elements to these ears – the almost death/black metal feel at the start in particular.

You guys are regularly lumped in as sludge or doom but there’s always a little more going on in the music, and obviously one of those facets is the use of electronics/noise.Do genre considerations ever play a factor when writing?

Like do you have any particular rules in your own heads about what Whitehorse should sound like, or any sonic elements you rule out when writing?

Yeah! I think Pete, Dave and I (the old members of the current line up) got a big kick out of working on ‘External Oblivion’ with Sean, Ben and Scotty.

It was immediately a fresher feeling sound to us. I feel like the stuff since then has a good bleak vibe coming off of it too, I am looking forward to seeing what the reaction is to the new album, I am actually going to be uploading it to stream this afternoon I think.

I don’t think we try to pander to any genre considerations, essentially we look to get unsettling, and keep it aggressive and crushing.

The noise element is pretty key to tying it all together from our point of view and we have been luck to work with two pretty solid heads where that is concerned Mark and Dave both do great work in my mind.

Moving away from Whitehorse for a sec – You’ve been heavily involved in Underground music in Australia of all stripes for years Pete, between playing in bands and touring with visiting bands etc.

Can you give us a brief heads up on some Aussie bands currently capturing your attention who perhaps might not be as well known to those of us over on this side of the pond?

And with Whitehorse members having been involved in affiliated bands like Occult Blood and Collapsed Toilet Vietnam over the years are there any current spin offs of The Horse we should look out for?

I guess I covered a bunch of the current spin offs in question number one.

Some of the bands I am digging around Melbourne and beyond at the moment include Split Teeth, Dead, Masses, Doubled Over, Internal Rot, Pissbolt, Asbestosisis, Hordes Of The Black Cross, Holy Boner, Nervous Trend, Havittajatt, Zond, Dead Boomers, Ratsak, Hex On The Beach, Justin Fuller, Tax, Lakes, Nun… hmm there is tons more… but that’s a start ..

Final question, and possibly the big one – is there a new full length coming in 2014? And if there is, what can you tell us about it?

Ok … again addressed earlier but yeah ‘Raised Into Darkness’ should be available mid April hopefully not too long after Roadburn.

It’s a shame it won’t be read for that but that’s us being a bit slow.

I can tell you it has awesome artwork by Jacob Rolfe and it will be streamable by the time this goes live I guess. 3 songs, about 35 or so minutes.. hopefully people like it, but not too many people – we aren’t Beyonce.

Interview by Jamie Grimes ::: 01/04/13
Thanks to Jesse Booher for the live shots

  1. wow I’ve seen Pete round Melbourne (at gigs and in Missing Link records) but didn’t know he was in a band and never heard of Whitehorse..might have to broaden my horizons a bit more!!
    Good interview Jamie..

  2. Interested to catch these lads at Heavy Days now.

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