Sports have always been a mystery to me. People choose a team for one reason or another and then that’s it. They’re locked in for life. They either pick their favorite because it’s a family favorite, because they love a particular player or it’s all about that hometown pride. Well, imagine you’re in a town like Pittsburgh and you start a band that not only fares well locally, but then has a song that’s associated with the Pirates? The guys of White Like Fire don’t have to imagine, because it’s their reality.
With a track as an official theme, you’d think they’d be done with their career – completely satisfied with life. Not quite. They still have so much more to do and places to play. With that, they have a new album out, and dates scattered throughout the east coast. Now let’s dive deeper into White Life Fire with their very own Blake Clawson.
Kendra: Your songwriting has been called “enlightening.” Is that something that’s in the back of your head when you sit down and write? Like, man – that’s a lot to live up to?
Blake Clawson: When we sit down to write, our goal is to create chords and melodies that resonate with our experiences, art, and relationships. We are always glad to hear it when others relate. That means that we are capturing the raw emotion and realities of those around us. That is when music is most beautiful.
Kendra: Another thing that’s a big deal is that you guys have an official “opening theme” for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Are your guys’ folks more stoked about the music or the fact that you’re associated with a hometown team?
Blake: In Pittsburgh there is a sense of community that dates back to the steel mill days in my grandfather’s time. There is pride. Our professional baseball, football, and hockey teams even share the same colors, black and gold. Partnering with the Pirates’ this year is an acknowledgement that our music is a part of that community and we are happy to be associated with a hometown team, but the music came first. Pittsburgh wouldn’t care if they weren’t already connecting emotively to the music.
Kendra: I’m just kidding. I’m sure they’re proud of both, especially the new album, Wait the Night Out. How long was the process when it came to making this and is there anything you would’ve done different if you could do it all over again?
Blake: After we finished touring in 2014 we began writing the new album. Our goal was to write (and test live) 100 songs, selecting only the best tracks to record. Then, we worked with producer Kyle “Slick” Johnson in Philly (whose resume includes Modest Mouse and The So So Glos), and Jason Shaffer in central PA to track the album. The entire process took around 7 or 8 months. I am happy with what we learned this round, and look forward to applying it again, with experience the next one will go faster.
Kendra: Is there a song that you recorded that didn’t make it on this record that you’re hoping will see the light of day next time?
Blake: Everything we tracked actually made it on the album. But there is a song or two in our live repertoire we would love to release at some point. “Dirty Hands” and “Pretty Face” come to mind.
Kendra: “You Gave Up On Me” is such a great song, but bummed me out a bit. On a lighter note, who is someone you would and could never give up on?
Blake: My brother Tyler. We have spent our entire lives together, and been through every up-and-down, basement show, festival date, disappointment, and party with this band. We are two halves of the same brain at this point.
Kendra: When you first started out, were there any initial hesitancies when it came to playing shows – nerves maybe?
Blake: Logistics stink. Tolls, gas, load in times, staircases, packing the van, figuring out where to sleep, and making sure we don’t forget anything. The performing part is more natural and a lot more fun.
Kendra: It’s a bit early, but any tours planned for the fall?
Blake: Right now we are booking east coast dates for late summer, early fall.
Kendra: Okay, so I’m going on a plane for the first time next week. If you had to make me a mixtape to calm my nerves about it, what five songs would have to be on it?