Words by Sarah Vasquez. Photo courtesy of the band.
A blogosphere favorite, Brooklyn’s White Rabbits have parlayed their reputation for high-energy performances into airplay on NPR and slots on the Late Show with David Letterman.
The band’s debut, 2007’s Fort Nightly, garnered high praise from tastemakers like Pitchfork and the A.V. Club, which lead to tours with more veteran indie bands (The Walkmen, Kaiser Chiefs). It was a month-long tour with Spoon that motivated the band to ask uber-cool-guy Britt Daniel to produce White Rabbits’ follow up, 2009’s It’s Frightening.
The band is currently on tour with Here We Go Magic. Drummer Matt Clark took a break from the grind to answer some questions about playing live, making a music video and bleeding profusely from the nose.
It’s Frightening came out in May 2009. Are there any plans for a new White Rabbits album any time soon?
Matt: Definitely. We are writing, but time off the road is rare. We would love to have an album ready for 2011.
Most people only know Britt Daniel as the lead singer of Spoon. What was it like working with him as your producer for It’s Frightening?
Matt: It was really fun. He’s an organized worker and we always aren’t. The studio is fun if you’re working with people that are going to listen to the band’s ideas and are willing to experiment while getting the work done. And he did that everyday until it was done.
You have two percussionists in the band. How are you able to utilize these two guys without overpowering the rest of the band, especially in a live setting?
Matt: We write as a group, so a lot of those issues of “overpowering” are addressed during the writing process. It was after touring on Fort Nightly that we really tried to scale back some things and let the riddim and the songwriting get the focus. But sometimes the drums have to overpower. It’s just a fact of life.
You’ve received buzz for the energetic live performances. Has there ever been a time when a performance didn’t go as planned?
Matt: I’ll get these bad nose bleeds sometimes while I’m playing from driving through the desert or going through high altitudes. This requires finding a solution in the time between songs. The solution is always a bandana or hand towel wrapped around my face. At the end of the show, my drums look like a crime scene for a forensic science class. The last time this happened was at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Kids came up after the show and thought it was a costume change or something. Costumes changes are for Beyoncé.
How was the filming process like for the music video “Percussion Gun”?
Matt: It was the most fun I think anybody has ever had while working. Andrew Droz Palermo is a smart and talented man and a good friend. Everybody was working really hard because it was something that we all wanted to do as opposed to something we had to do. Andrew made the “dream raft” on no budget and made that with no resources and him and the crew worked so hard on it. The wrap party was legendary.
What was the one moment that made you realize this band was really starting to take off and people were really starting to appreciate ya?
Matt: Not sure. It was somewhere between the first Letterman performance and Australia. But I feel like we still have a lot to accomplish.
What made you want to be a musician? Was there a certain song, album, musician, etc.?
Matt: My uncle had a guitar, and when I was six, he would let me play it from time to time. I would strum the open strings since I had no idea about chords. I would just strum it like the song. But every strum I played sounded perfect to me. I found out much later that this was “annoying.”
What’s been the most memorable White Rabbits moment so far?
Matt: Having the opportunity to go to Australia was amazing. Had some good times with some good people.
Anything else you would like to add?
Matt: Don’t forget listening to music is supposed to be fun.