Published on May 9th, 2017 | by TLV News0
Hang Out with Whitney at Proud Larrys’ May 10
Ascendant Chicago band Whitney is riding the critical success of their debut album, Light Upon the Lake, out now on Secretly Canadian. The group has seen a meteoric rise to the spotlight. Having received coverage from every major outlet and headlined countless festivals, these chicago boys are enjoying what most dream of. To say that Whitney is more than the sum of its parts would be a criminal understatement. Formed from the core of guitarist Max Kakacek (ex-Smith Westerns) and singing drummer Julien Ehrlich (ex-Unknown Mortal Orchestra), the band itself is something bigger, something visionary, something neither of them could have accomplished alone.
Whitney was born from a series of laid-back early-morning songwriting sessions during one of the harshest winters in Chicago history, after Ehrlich and Kakacek reconnected—first as roommates splitting rent in a small Chicago apartment and later as musical collaborators passing the guitar and the lyrics sheet back and forth. The duo wrote frankly about the break-ups they were enduring and the breakdowns they were trying to avoid. Each served as the other’s most brutal critic and most sympathetic confessor, a sounding board for the hard truths that were finding their way into new songs like the aforementioned “No Woman.”
In exorcising their demons they conjured something else, something much more benign—a third presence, another personality in the music, which they gave the name Whitney. They left it singular to emphasize its isolation and loneliness. Says Kakacek, “We were both writing as this one character, and whenever we were stuck, we’d ask, ‘What would Whitney do in this situation?’ We personified the band name into this person, and that helped a lot. We wrote the record as though one person were playing everything. We purposefully didn’t add a lot of parts and didn’t bother making everything perfect, because the character we had in mind wouldn’t do that.”
In those imperfections lies the music’s humanity. Whilst they demoed and toured the new songs, they became more aware of the perfect imperfections of the songs, and needing to strike the right balance, they eventually made the trek out to California, where they recorded with Foxygen frontman and longtime friend, Jonathan Rado. They slept in tents in Rado’s backyard, ate the same breakfast every morning at the same diner in the remote, desolate, and completely un-rock n’ roll San Fernando Valley.
These ten songs on Light Upon the Lake sound like they could have been written at any time in the last fifty years. Ehrlich and Kakacek emerge as imaginative and insightful songwriting partners, impressive in their scope and restraint as they mold classic rock lyricism into new and personal shapes without sound revivalist or retro.
Things have exploded for Whitney in a year, and time on the road meant that even Chicago feels different now. But they can still retreat into their songs, snapshots of changing seasons that will always be comforting. “This time last year we were trying to prove ourselves,” says Julien. “Then there was a switch and it got way bigger than we ever thought it would.”
Whitney plays Proud Larry’s stage on Wednesday, May 10. Alex Cameron will open the show. Tickets can be purchased here or at the door the night of the show.