White Wine are due to release their new album ‘Who Cares What the Laser Says’ on March 25th. The group are made up of lead singer Joe Hagae, Fritz Brückner on synthesisers (and everything) and Christian ‘Kirmes’ Kuhr on drums. The album is themed around ideas of digital technology taking over the world. We spoke to singer Joe Hagae to find out more about the upcoming release, the bands’ new studio ‘Haunted Haus’, and their take on live performance.
Who are White Wine?
It’s me and my friend Fritz Brückner. It started out as a solo thing and then ended up being more of a group project about a year and a half ago. I came on tour to Europe with another band and decided I wanted to stay here and tour and visit friends. He became my band and we enjoyed it, so we kept doing it from there. Now we have a drummer too (Christian ‘Kirmes’ Kuhr)
What drew you to work together? What are the collaborative ingredients that make up the current band?
We opened a studio together called ‘Haunted Haus’, so that has brought us together. He (Fritz) was the sound man of one of my own bands Tu Fawning and we just became nerds together, we’d just geek out on recordings in the car and just both realised we loved recording the same way.
When I decided to move here (Leipzig, Germany), we decided to write an album together. I think a huge thing was taking what I do and recording it together, but by the end of it we were writing songs together and that made it more interesting for sure.
You’re an actor and an artist as well as a musician and singer. How does this inform your work with White Wine?
Acting definitely does. The live performance for me is half cheap theatre really. I have this soft spot for old vaudevillian theatre and for my old band 31Knots I had a similar stage presence… I just get fucking bored at boring rock shows. I have to find a way that keeps me interested, if I were the audience, with my critical scissors out, how would I be entertained and kept off guard? I use that as my weird little guiding light. I do a lot of antics. It is theatre in a way, so that’s basically how I started acting.
In your upcoming album Who Cares What the Laser Says? I notice that you play with the relationship between analogue and digital, both musically and lyrically. Could you talk a bit more about that?
It’s very intentional. The title of the record started off as a joke- a friend of Fritz’s was building something, and he had a saw that had a laser guide. He was trying to be really quick and said “Ah, who cares what the laser says?” and I just loved that line. The more I let it sit in my head the more I loved it as a metaphor for technology and everything that goes with that. I’m 40, so I remember very vividly the whole transition into the computer age when it really got going, which I guess would be post Apple2E. Because prior to that it still seemed a novelty that certain people on the block had a computer.
In the last ten years, I think, electronic music has just gotten massive, and also the retro-electronic synthesiser music, with modular synths. For me, I love the balance of it. Something that I have personally felt is there’s a loss in electronic music of the humanity. It’s just grid-life and a wanting to fill an aesthetic that’s been made in a pre-set for you. A lot of modular synth people are going back to taming whatever randomness is occurring. We wanted to smash together writing a conventional song with some sounds that had that spirit, but to put it in a context that came across like half the time it’s electronic music, and half the time it’s a rock band. For me, it’s what we’re both genuinely into, of course it’s a common theme with a lot of musicians.
You start touring later this spring, in May, can you give us a hint of what audiences can expect from your live show?
I don’t stay on stage the whole time, but that’s pretty common for a lot of bands. Being mildly creepy and not taking myself too seriously. I think that’s the most exciting thing about anything, just having a little bit of openness and realising that the world is a giant façade and we are all just little moments in that. All the antics that get purported in bands and modern entertainment often feels like it’s just paint by numbers and I try really hard to avoid that. I try to work with the space I am given. We hold ourselves to the same standards as an old 70s rock band- we try to play tight and we try to play good.
What’s happening, and what do you want to happen at your new studio Haunted Haus?
We’ve just started recording some Leipzig bands-friends of mine. I want to start working on a new record this summer- that would be a lot of fun. We definitely want to get a lot more work in here, just to keep the lights on. But we want to use it as much as we can as our own workspace so we can stay creative. Right now we have about twenty synths and drum machines—we’re conspiring to build this elaborate drawer system so that we can keep them all plugged in and just pull them out and play. Just hone our skills- this is my first attempt at going full-on into recording. Fritz has had a couple of small studio ventures, but this is our first proper one, so it’s a shit ton of work, but it’s fun.
I think that for us, there’s a strong feeling that wherever we go from here it is not going to be a repeat event. I really want to push forward and keep exploring what humans feel.
White Wine’s new album ‘Who Care’s What the Laser Says?’ is out on March 25th via This Charming Man records. The band start touring the UK on May 20th at Bristol O2 Academy
This White Wine article was written by Fraisia Dunn, a GIGsoup contributor