January 18th, 2010 | Interviews

emily ryan

Download: White Denim “I Start To Run”


(from Fits out now on Full Time Hobby)

White Denim has avoided being labeled for several years now, but after a giant tour and the release of their third album, this Austin trio is rocking a little too hard to be ignored. Bassist Steve Terebecki talks about satanic nightmares and names my sister’s baby. This interview by Amber Hollingsworth.

You wrote ‘Sex Prayer’ on the new album, Fits. What’s a sex prayer?

Steve Terebecki (bass): It actually had another name. For an instrumental track it could be anything, you know. So we all just throw names out for our songs, and James threw out ‘Sex Prayer,’ and I thought it fit it really well. It fit it better than the other title, which was ‘Hell Yeah, Nostradamus.’
You guys named your band that same way, right? You just threw funny names out?
Steve Terebecki: Pretty much. We had a band before called Parque Touch, and when the singer moved we had to change our name. We were sitting down and it was the first day we were talking about having to change our name. We talked about Totally Revolution, and we just said, ‘It’d be good if we just picked a really crappy name.’ White Denim is a crappy name I’d been kicking around for a few years, so I said it and they latched on to it and that’s how it ended up being the name of our band. Of course, we didn’t realize we’d actually be touring and have to answer to it.
You don’t regret it, right?
Steve Terebecki: No, we don’t regret it. I think it’s better than having some super-thought-out philosophical name.
My sister lives in Austin and she’s having a baby this spring. Do you think you could name the baby right now using the same technique?
Steve Terebecki: Aw, man—I had some really good baby names recently …
Do you have any advice for babies being born right now?
Steve Terebecki: Um—don’t listen to your parents?
Perfect. Some of your music videos are pretty goofy—in ‘I Start to Run,’ you run off to find an angel who gives you a gun so you can rescue your bandmates who are being held captive by desert pirates or something. Is music funny to you guys?
Steve Terebecki: We like to have a sense of humor about it. I think a lot of people take it too seriously. I don’t think there are enough musicians that are making really cool music and have a sense of humor about it. It’s sort of paying homage to Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa a little bit. Because they were amazing songwriters and composers, but they were ridiculous—way goofier than we are. We’re sort of going down that road. But, you know, Nickelback is pretty funny. Have you heard that song ‘Something In Your Mouth’? They have to have a little bit of a sense of humor or they’re just complete idiots. It could be the latter, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.
Do you have nightmares?
Steve Terebecki: I used to. I used to have these really creepy nightmares/hallucinations where I’d wake up from the nightmare and I’d imagine that I was seeing things while I was awake. And I’d hear a really small sound, like the A/C running, and I would focus in on it and it would get louder and louder and louder and it would consume me.
What were these nightmares?
Steve Terebecki: I’m trying to remember, because they stopped when I was 11, and I haven’t had many since.
You remember when they stopped?
Steve Terebecki: I do, because it happened constantly from as early as I can remember until I was 11. It was all a really weird atmosphere, I can’t even explain it to you. It was pretty satanic, a lot of blood—blood everywhere. I remember my mom dying a lot. So basically the worst things for a kid to dream!
Well, I’m glad that’s over. Otherwise you might be in some other band now, like Nickelback.
Steve Terebecki: Seriously.
In the ‘Shake Shake Shake’ video, who’s the girl washing the car? She’s a total babe.
Steve Terebecki: I talked to her but I actually don’t know who she is. That was filmed in London, and the director—the same guy who directed the ‘I Start to Run’ video—he found everybody on some extras list. She’s great though.
The video totally has this look that it’s just people you guys know.
Steve Terebecki: That’s one reason we got Tom [Haines] to make another video for us—he did such a good job on ‘Shake Shake Shake’ and we just had a blast making it.
So [vocalist/guitarist] James [Petralli] was almost a major league baseball player?
Steve Terebecki:
I guess ‘almost’ as in he was closer than I was! He played baseball in high school, and his dad was a major league baseball player and his brother is. But he didn’t like it as much as music.
What’s your alter-ego career then?
Steve Terebecki: I worked at a museum for four years and I have a degree in sociology. I’d always been into music but I didn’t actually think I’d ever spend a lot of time trying to make a living doing it. So that’s why I got the sociology degree.
Has that come into play in any of your songwriting?
Steve Terebecki: Not in my songwriting—just dorking out with statistics and all that.
What would [drummer] Josh [Block]’s alter-ego career be?
Steve Terebecki: I’d have to say he’s a connoisseur of plants. He used to be in the plant business. He actually got James and I both jobs in the plant business before we started touring. We were all doing that. In the plant business.
Like nurseries?
Steve Terebecki: Yep, nurseries.
You can listen to all of the Let’s Talk About It EP and Exposion album on your website, and when I downloaded Fits off iTunes (for only $7.99!) I got 23 tracks! Why is White Denim so generous?
Steve Terebecki: What happened with Exposion is we released it online only last November with a local Austin company. We were trying to do something different, and it totally backfired. So really as an apology to our fans, we decided to throw in Exposion for free with Fits. There are a lot of people who subscribed to get the vinyl and they never got it, and it was kind of a fiasco and we had to refund their money. Then finally, eleven months later, we got Fits out, so we just gave them and everyone else Exposion for free along with it. As much as we like to be called generous, we were really just trying to redeem ourselves.
Works for the fans! I see the acronym DCWYW appears on all the albums in some form or another—what does that stand for?
Steve Terebecki: ‘Don’t Care What You Want.’ That’s the only lyrics in the song. Back in the day, actually all of our songs were just acronyms like that. There’s one other song that kept the acronym: ‘WDA.’ But other than those two, we gave the rest real titles.
What’s ‘WDA’?
Steve Terebecki: ‘White Denim in A.’ The key of A.
When’s your birthday?
Steve Terebecki: September 27. Libra. It says I’m really fair and balanced, like Fox News. I see both sides of the coin and I’m a good mediator. Since there’s three of us in the band, I do a lot of mediating. It’s good that I’m a Libra, otherwise I don’t know.
There might not be a White Denim!
Steve Terebecki: Exactly.
So name the baby.
Steve Terebecki: The one that popped into my head was Seabass. I really like redneck stuff, and Seabass is just an awesome name.
It’s 2010—do you have any predictions for the future?
Steve Terebecki: 2010 I’m excited about, but I’m really excited about 2012. Well, it’s supposed to be the real Age of Aquarius. All the hippies tried to induce an Age of Aquarius at the end of the ’60s, and obviously you can’t jumpstart an age. It’s ridiculous they tried—I mean it’s cool that they did, but it’s really gonna happen in 2012, you know? And if the world doesn’t end, it’s gonna be a totally awesome, groovy place.