I’ve been a fan of Jack Long’s since he moved from Providence to Los Angeles. First of his art, as seen in pages of Giant Robot magazine as well as on the walls of its galleries. And now of his music, with the band White Dove. The group’s songs are dreamy, dark, and one-hundred percent Californian–the musical equivalent of Joan Didion’s essay on the Santa Ana winds. Before you stream a song on PopMatters and then buy the debut LP when it drops on Tuesday, July 16th, here’s the scoop from my friend Jack.
MW: “Come On In To Hell” and “The Famous Horseman” could almost be tittles of Metallica songs! Can you talk about the dark themes in your gorgeous, shimmery style of music?
JL: Ha ha, yeah those are totally metal song titles! There’s a lot of James Hetfield impersonations at practice actually! But as far as the dark themes, I don’t know. I think a lot of the imagery in the lyrics is dark, but I don’t think it’s ever really a dark “message” or anything. I’m just always blown away by Alex’s lyrics. They’re just awesome, totally weird, abstract, and evocative.
MW: Can you describe your songwriting process? Collaborating with a band must be interesting for a fine artist who is used to having total control…
JL: It’s a completely different process. And especially with White Dove, it’s really different for me. Alex is the main songwriter. She’ll usually write something on keyboard or guitar, and the structure and lyrics/melody will all be there. Then I’ll take that and come up with guitar parts and, on this album at least, the drums and percussion stuff as well. Then Carl will come up with his bass parts and I’ll ask him what he thinks of the guitar stuff. We’ll make a pretty complete demo of a song early on, and then we’ll start playing it at practice and it will evolve from there. That’s pretty much how we do it now, but Carl and I are always writing stuff, too, so we might mix it up in the future.
MW: In the past, you and I have always talked about bands like Nomeansno and Hot Snakes. Have you always had this more refined side of your musical tastes?
JL: Ha ha, thanks! Refined, that’s a compliment right? But yeah, I definitely have always loved those bands and especially Drive Like Jehu and Fugazi and stuff like that. Maybe I’ll post some stuff from my old bands online soon! As far as the sound of White Dove, yes, it’s definitely more in tune with what I listen to these days. I’ve always been obsessed with The Beach Boys, and that got me into The Zombies and Byrds and all that pop and psychedelic stuff. When I moved out to L.A. about seven years ago, it was awesome to meet Alex and Carl because no one would play this kind of music with me back in the day!
MW: The guitar tone is really cool. Can you tell me about your gear? Unless that’s a secret…
JL: Cool! I’m glad you’re into it! No really big secrets. On the album I mostly played Carl’s Jazzmaster through his Fender Twin Reverb, which is a pretty classic setup. And I also played a bunch of stuff on this Gretsch Silver Jet that William Reid from Jesus and Mary Chain left at the studio, so that was super cool!
MW: Alex’s voice is so amazing. Is that how she always sounds? Like even at the drive-thru at Orean The Health Express?
JL: Yeah, her voice is incredible! You should hear her at karaoke. It’s awesome. I haven’t been to Orean in a while, got kind of burnt out on it, but I think I’m ready to go back. Actually, I heard it just closed!
MW: How long has this lineup been together? Why did the band change its name from Monster?
JL: We’ve been playing together since 2009. We changed the name to White Dove because we really started sounding more like a band, whereas Monster was definitely Alex’s thing long before Carl and I came along. She thought of the name White Dove and we all said, yes, that’s us!
MW: How was the Echo Country Outpost gig on the Fourth of July? Got any more shows coming up?
JL: The show was great! We actually played a new song that we learned that morning, so I was a little stressed, but it ended up turning out really well. It’s my favorite of the new songs, so I was pumped. The next show for us right now is our record release show at El Cid on July 18th. We’re playing with Tomorrows Tulips and Dream Boys who are both awesome, so I’m super stoked. And after that we play at the Del Monte Speakeasy in Venice on August 1st. Then hopefully touring in the fall!
Follow the band at whitedovela.tumblr.com/