The last time we talked to White Hills, they were fresh off releasing one of our fave local releases of 2010, a self-titled slab we called “a schizophrenic trip through Acid Mothers Temple riff bludgeon, Boris chug, shaggy pseudo-grunge, and tender bursts of formless noise.” With follow-up Hp-1 (Thrill Jockey), the band stretches out both literally (it’s 72 minutes long!) and figuratively. They dip their toes into meaner, uglier waters, filling every song with buzz-harshing, acid-bathed noise, hissing and coiling in flickering agony. Their grooves have gotten moodier and krautier and their textures now boil with rage instead of pot-smoked haze—don’t think floating in space, think dying in space. Guitarist Dave W blames a team-up of corporations and American government for his newly unleashed rage, and lead track “The Condition Of Nothing” lays it all out with a dead-eyed gaze, neon lasers of piercing cosmic goop and one especially demented guitar solo.
What is “The Condition Of Nothing” about?
Everything and nothing. The surreal aspect of life. Why things are the way they are and why can’t they be different.
What inspired it lyrically?
Writings by Jim Carroll, specifically his prose. Carroll’s prose is very surreal yet utterly real. Also life itself. There are so many things that happen in the world that are very surreal yet they are real. I wanted to create lyrics that reflected this in some way… the strangeness and absurdity of it all.
What inspired it musically?
The sound of the garbage truck that comes to pick up the trash every night at 10 p.m. from the hospice next door to my apartment. It’s a repetitive, grinding, industrial clamor. That and [bassist] Ego Sensation’s recent obsession with all things Goth.
Do you remember the recording session?
Sure do! It was the very last song we recorded for the album. At that time it really wasn’t a song. Just a riff that Ego Sensation had brought to the band. We had jammed on it a few times before but the song was nowhere near being fully realized at the time of recording. Seeing that we had some time left we started to jam on it. The guitar part that is on the record I came up with on the spot. It was a moment of inspiration.
How did you create the guitar/noise solo in the middle?
I laid down the solo in one take. Upon listening back to it I wasn’t satisfied with it that much. Instead of doing it over and over again I just reversed the track so it played backwards… then it fit! I then doubled the track and offset the two… I use many different levels and kinds of distortion. On this track I employ all of them at once. The screeching sound comes from smashing my strings up against the pickups.
Why did you use Anika Toro’s stark cover art?
I wanted the image to be barren, stark, and bland so to speak to reflect the void I see in humanity. We live in an era where people have been conditioned to stand in line, not question or think. If we don’t believe what our government tells us then we are as good as committing treason. No one questions, no one really does anything to elicit real change. It reflects the lack of understanding that humanity has of its existence in relation to its environment. Basically everything is black and white these days. If you live in a world of color you are demonized. I also wanted to convey that there is another way to think or be. This is reflected in the color landscape that is on the inside of the gatefold.
The White Hills record release party is July 14 at Union Pool with Man Forever and Weird Owl.