When social distancing and self-quarantine became common practice recently, all kinds of cultural phenomena emerged on social media. From virtual happy hours to dance parties to live concerts from musicians’ homes, creative people are doing whatever they can to stay active, stave off boredom and stay connected with others.
When tours were canceled for Austin-based rock quartet White Denim, they decided to give themselves a slightly different task: to write, record, mix and master a full-length album in just 30 days.
— white denim (@whitedenimmusic) March 25, 2020
Frontman James Petralli tells Texas Standard that the band is nearing the halfway point of the project.
“At the moment, we are done with basic tracking, and we’re just kind of working in our home studios,” Petralli says.
White Denim is calling the album “World as a Waiting Room,” and is making it available to fans through preorder that includes behind-the-scenes footage and progress updates as the album is developed. “World as a Waiting Room” is an apt title for these strange times. But the inspiration actually came from a song by the same name that the band wrote in 2006.
Petralli says this new project has many of collaborators –– people from all over the world the band has worked with in the past.
“Pretty much everybody that’s ever played on a White Denim record or helped us write something is in the mix for this record, so it’s a big project,” he says. “I think the tendency in times like these is to reconnect. … I’ve been talking to my family more than I have in my entire adult life. That kind of desire to connect with the people that have been the most important to us over the years has gone into this project as well.”
While making new music at night, by day Petralli is doing simpler things: caring for his family, building little garages for his children’s Hot Wheels cars, eating Nathan’s hot dogs he cooks on the grill.
“I’m kind of taking the more comfort food route right now,” he says.
That goes for what he’s been listening to as well: he’s seeking comfort in the Rolling Stones and T. Rex; John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” has been on the turntable for days.
When it comes to the new album, Petralli says White Denim is also sticking to the basics – focusing on the essential things that bonded the band when it formed nearly 15 years ago. Those elements were “energy and camaraderie and rock ‘n’ roll,” he says.
Stay tuned for Texas Standard’s second interview with James Petralli at the end of White Denim’s 30-day album project, and the release of “World as a Waiting Room.”
Digital story edited by Caroline Covington.