Charles Cave (bass guitar) from White Lies
Four years ago WHITE LIES published their fifth album ‘Five’. Now they are back with their sixth record ‘As I Try Not To Fall Apart’ (release day: February 18th 2022). The band says about the title track: “It’s about accepting vulnerability as a man, and knowing it’s ok to be broken. There’s never been a more pressing time to spread the message that it’s ok to not be ok”.
The album was recorded at Sleeper and Assault & Battery studios in West London, with long-term collaborator Ed Buller, who has worked on many of their albums including their debut ‘To Lose My Life’ (2009) and with producer Claudius Mittendorfer (WEEZER, PANIC! AT THE DISCO). I was very curious to know more about the long expected new record and how Harry McVeigh (vocals & guitar), Charles Cave (bass guitar) and Jack Lawrence-Brown (drums) have developed over the last four years. So, I took the chance to talk to Charles via Zoom about that - and about the band’s connection to the Goth scene.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: Hello Charles, good to see you! Where are you at the moment?
Charles: Hello, I am at home in London at the moment. We have some time before we start touring again and we got some rehearsals coming up this week.
RoD: We just passed two dark years during the pandemic and the lockdown. Now you are back with the new album, and the lyrics are quite dark for the most part as well. You wrote most of the lyrics - was this difficult and special time an inspiration for it?
Charles: I would say that I sort of wanted to escape from what was going on in the news and so on. Personally, I didn’t have a big fear of the pandemic, but it was more the perspective what happened to all of us - to our friends, to our families and to ourselves. For example, the struggle of being in various points of isolation and all the restrictions. Yes, that was very dark - you realise that you are not able to see your friends. So, I was writing very much, it was an escape. I turned off all news and social media when I started to work. But I definitely didn’t want to write songs about the pandemic, I wanted to get away from it. Yes, it was a dark time.
RoD: What does the title track ‘As I Try Not To Fall Apart’ mean to you personally?
Charles: This song is very much about acceptance and appreciation for talking about vulnerability. It’s good to be open and have a conversation about this. I guess this song shows that it is okay to be vulnerable. But it’s also the narrative in it that it doesn’t necessarily make it much better (laughs). Musically this song is written like a kind of a hymn. There is a kind of churchiness about it. There is a lonely moment, when you think about someone - but I don’t mean it in a religious way.
RoD: There is a song on the album called ‘There´s No Cure For It’. Does it respond to it?
Charles: It absolutely could, but actually it is the part 2 of the story in the first track ‘Am I Really Going To Die’. Those songs were inspired by one of my favourite films called ‘Ivans xtc’. It is a kind of study of someone who at one point realises that his life is not as long as he expected.
RoD: How did you experience the time during the pandemic? Could you use it in a creative way?
Charles: I tried to use this time productively. But I saw that everybody was doing more, like having written a screen play or something like that, and I thought “shit, I should be doing way more, I should be learning a language or so”, (laughs). I did do some stuff. But there were things which just went weird. I didn’t read very much at all, although I always liked to read. Somehow, I had the feeling of being on a long flight when it seems that you have all this time, but you don’t want to do anything. I just felt like “I don’t want to be on this flight anymore”. But I think this time should have spent by making it just as comfortable as possible. And if that means watching trashy tv or sleeping more or just walking or whatever - that’s fine! You don’t have to learn Russian (laughs). But I also have my photography to keep me engaged and productive, and of course that takes me out of the house. That’s what keeps me healthy, I love that.
RoD: Many artists played shows via livestream. You didn’t do that. Why not?
Charles: Before the pandemic we had just finished touring. We needed a break anyway and then we wanted to write a new album. So, it didn’t feel like we needed to do it. If we had released an album in January 2020 and weren’t suddenly be able to go on tour at all, I am sure we would have done something like this. But it was off cycle for us. And we have such an amazing, wonderful fanbase. We know that when we go on tour, they will buy tickets and come to see us and they’ll buy a t-shirt and records. We just didn’t want to ask anything from our fans. We just had a little break and worked on new music. That’s what makes our fans really happy.
RoD: ‘As I Try Not To Fall Apart’ is your sixth album. How did you as musicians develop from the first record to now?
Charles: I think we all are much more confident in being able to experiment and trying new things. I remember Harry didn’t like piano or acoustic guitar in Rock music. Jack and I always were quite keen to have both. Now I wrote most of the songs on the album on piano. On our first album ‘To Lose My Life’ we had big drums, bass guitar, electric guitar, strings - that was basically all we used. Now we are a lot more creative. And we developed skills and intuition. Intuition is something that comes when you are writing songs. I think that’s one of our greatest skills - we know when something is not good enough. That is the best thing you can learn as a musician over the years: Quality control and knowing your standards - and knowing what can be released and what cannot.
RoD: WHITE LIES have many fans in the Goth scene, and you played for example M’era Luna, WGT and Amphi Festival. You have been called “border crossers between the worlds”. Do you have a special connection to the goth scene?
Charles: When I was a teenager, I had a lot of clothing that would fall in that category. But I was more into Heavy Metal, I liked bands like PANTERA and TOOL and a lot of Trash Metal bands. I wore thick black jeans with chains and all that. I always went to Camden Market to buy clothes at the weekends and got a lot of goth-clothes. Yes, I do have a connection to the scene! Whenever we come to play those Goth festivals in Germany the atmosphere is so nice and peaceful! All the bands know each other, the backstage environment is so nice, the fans are amazing. It is such a great vibe. I remember the WGT in Leipzig, all the beautiful and happy people in the whole city wearing their amazing outfits, everyone was happy to be part of it. I think, when you grow up being a goth you and you are not mainstream, you form great friendships and communities with others who are not mainstream as well. That makes it so special. We are always looking forward to it when we play Goth festivals.
RoD: Where do you think does it come from that you have so many fans in the Goth scene?
Charles: I think it is because earlier there was this comparison to bands like THE CURE, DEPECHE MODE and JOY DIVISION. Maybe some Goth fans gave our music a listen because of those comparisons. And also because of Harry’s deep voice.
RoD: What kind of music do you listen to privately?
Charles: It depends on my mood very much. I listen to classical music very often, piano music like Liszt and Chopin. But I still listen to Metal. I also try to give everything a chance. Now I discovered the Belgian singer ANGÈLE and listened to her record, she is very famous in France. And I watched a great documentary about Nina Simone on Netflix which inspired me to listen to much more of her music. The thing is I always have music on when I am walking or working. I use my iPods and often I just put them on “shuffle”.
RoD: Did you grow up with music? Has music always been an important part of your life, already during your childhood?
Charles: Yes! My earliest memories are what we were listening to in the car. My dad had many recorded tapes, that was when I discovered Paul Simon. My dad also used to listen to a lot of Brazilian and Spanish music. And there was a child minder who looked after my brother and me and she was into rap music - so I listened to 2PAC when I was about ten (laughs). When I went to secondary school, I discovered heavier music like RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE and then PANTERA, METALLICA and SEPULTURA.
RoD: Did you play an instrument when you were a child or a teenager?
Charles: Nothing really seriously. I tried a few things like piano and guitar. There were two friends of mine who already played electric guitar and I played the bass guitar. And then it went on.
RoD: What does music mean to you?
Charles: I have a relationship with music which could be called as sibling. I feel like it is completely connected to me and a part of me. I sort of fight with it as well, I have arguments with music. I could not say I love it all the time. There are times when it annoys and frustrates me, but it is healthy. It is always love in it. I am happy with it!
RoD: Thank you very much for the interview!
All Pictures by Charles Cave / https://www.whitelies.com/