Indie-rock four-piece returns with home-recorded sophomore album
On WV White's 2014 debut LP, the young, scrappy quartet recorded in the pristine environs of Circa Music in Dublin. For the band's new full-length, House of Spiritual Athletes, singer/guitarist Tyler Travis decided to go the opposite route, recording the majority of the album over a handful of 2015 visits to his dad's home studio in Travis' hometown of Delaware.
“It was cool. We could take our time with it. There's some songs we wrote that day, just sitting there,” Travis said. “There's something about lo-fi recordings — they have some sort of integrity or honesty that's hard to recreate in a studio. All my favorite songs end up being demos. That's what I thought the first album was missing.”
Indeed, some Spiritual Athletes songs could pass for demos; leadoff instrumental track “HOSA I,” for instance, is less than a minute of harmonic clutter that the band recorded in a three-hour session below Skylab Downtown. “I brought some of my gear — random stringed instruments, the banjo, half of a drum set, several guitar amps, synthesizers,” Travis said. “We were just drinking and plugging in and switching instruments.”
In addition to a scruffier sound, WV White also has an altered lineup since its last outing, adding guitarist Alfie Cicone after the departure of keyboardist Caeleigh Featherstone (drummer Tayler Beck and bassist John C. Fisher round out the lineup). The revamped band will play a release show at the Summit on Friday, April 7, which will mark the first time some of the songs on Spiritual Athletes will be performed live.
“Most of the new album we haven't tried to play out live. There's two tracks where it's just me and an acoustic [guitar], plus two instrumental tracks, and on [closing track, ‘Evil'] we played one time to record it and then never played it again.”
While Travis tends toward the abstract in his lyrics, “Evil” is more direct and personal. “The one I love, she'll tell you that I'm evil,” he sings over electric drums, ambient effects and lazily strummed guitars. Travis, though, is generally unconcerned with his lyrics.
“Usually I'll have things I wanna say and things that just come out. I change them over time to make it sound less like nonsense. But I don't sit down like, ‘Oh, I got a great idea,'” he said. “I have one-liners jotted down in a notepad, and I find some that I can use to make a song. If there's a verse that doesn't fit lyrically, that's fine. I take it seriously, but, lyrics don't really mean as much as they used to in songs. ... The music that we're going for, it's not something that I find that important.”