Interview: Leo Condie – 'Leave nothing. Make sure there's nothing left of you.'
The WHITE frontman chats Springsteen, fame in the Netherlands, and the band's biggest headliner yet
As far as stage presence goes, you could do worse than take your cues from Springsteen. It's difficult to articulate that inadvertent energy some artists emanate when you put a guitar in their hands or an audience in their eyeline. Far be it from us to compare anyone to the Boss, far less a plucky wee upstart from Glasgow, but there's a bit of that Springsteen energy in Leo Condie, frontman of disco punks WHITE. These are – of course – our words, not his.
'I'm not comparing myself to him,' he's at pains to stress, 'but if you're going to aspire to anything, he's one of the ones you need to have in your mind.'
Condie is currently reading Springsteen's autobiography, which has prompted an allusion to their similar play-til-you-drop onstage aesthetics. Why, we wonder, do some bands seem like they're phoning it in?
'I've never really understood that,' he says. 'Why did you decide to be in a band if you don't want to get that absolutely visceral thrill from the audience?'
It's a question that makes even more sense once you've experienced WHITE live. A blend of artrock, punk, disco and 80s pomp, their music is meant to be both seen and heard – an audio/visual assault on the senses.
'Focus 100% on the gig. Whether you've had a bad day, or driven eight hours, or had a nightmare getting to get to the gig, just get on the stage and give 100%,' Condie says. 'Leave nothing. Make sure there's nothing left of you.'
If past experience is anything to go by, Condie is dedicated to taking his own advice in this respect, so punters at the band's upcoming gig at Glasgow's O2 ABC – their biggest headliner yet – are in for a treat, and they're pulling out a few more stops than usual.
'We want to put on as big a show as we can. So I'm squirrelling away with lots of video stuff, cos we'll have a silly big projector. You get this very free feeling as though you can do anything at this point and people have to watch it, cos they've paid for tickets.'
People will want to watch it, regardless. WHITE have proven themselves to be worthy of your attention, if the year they've had is anything to go by. They kicked off with their first UK tour in February, quickly bolstering that with another in May. And a European tour saw them cultivate a loyal following in the Netherlands, in fact, they've signed a record deal in Benelux – 'Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Don't you know your 70s geographical regions?' – after a string of banging shows out there.
'They seem receptive to our music for whatever reason, so we're not questioning it. We're just riding that wave and really enjoying it. Whenever we've played out there, the audiences have been mad, in a good way.'
That's all without mentioning their recently-released EP Cuts that Don't Bleed, a record that sees a more umbral side of the band creeping from the shadows of previous singles 'Future Pleasures' and 'Blush'.
'Cuts that Don't Bleed was a chance to get weirder, angrier songs out there,' says Condie. 'With 'Step Up', it felt like I'd tapped into my frustration about everything that was going on in the world at the time. Unfortunately, everything got even more fucking mental than I expected, so it's a shame that was right.'
So, with their big December gig looming, Condie has plans to reclaim the shit show that was 2016. WHITE's O2 ABC gig will be a chance for the group to really throw their more mature sound around and shake the place up a bit.
'We've got quite a few plans for it. If you put it in print, I guess it'll happen, so, for that gig, we're gonna have some strings joining us, as well as having the lights and the bangs and the whistles going off. I'm going to try and give it a bit of a 'Fuck 2016' vibe. I think we can get people on board with that. That's something everyone can relate to.'
WHITE play o2 ABC, Glasgow, Fri 16 Dec.