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Go Behind The Scenes Of White Denim's Ambitious New Album Project

White Denim played a live show in KUTX-Austin's Studio 1A in January. Frontman James Petralli is second from the left.
Gabriel C. Pérez/KUTX
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White Denim played a live show in KUTX-Austin's Studio 1A in January. Frontman James Petralli is second from the left.

From Texas Standard:

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.

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.

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Leah Scarpelli joined Texas Standard in September 2015 from NPR’s Morning Edition, where she spent seven years as a producer, director and occasional reporter of music and arts pieces. As Texas Standard director, Leah is responsible for the overall practical and creative interpretation of each day’s program: choosing segue music, managing the prep of show content, and providing explicit directions for the host and technical director during the live broadcast. She graduated from Ithaca College in New York with a Bachelor of Science degree in Television and Radio. She enjoys riding her Triumph motorcycle and getting out for hikes in the Texas countryside. Her late grandfather was from Yoakum.
David D. Brown is executive producer and host of the award-winning cultural journalism program Texas Music Matters at NPR affiliate KUT-FM in Austin. He is former anchor of the award-winning public radio business program Marketplace, and a veteran public radio journalist. He has reported national and international affairs for Monitor Radio from bases in Atlanta, Boston, London, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.
David Brown
David entered radio journalism thanks to a love of storytelling, an obsession with news, and a desire to keep his hair long and play in rock bands. An inveterate political junkie with a passion for pop culture and the romance of radio, David has reported from bases in Washington, London, Los Angeles, and Boston for Monitor Radio and for NPR, and has anchored in-depth public radio documentaries from India, Brazil, and points across the United States and Europe. He is, perhaps, known most widely for his work as host of public radio's Marketplace. Fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to Texas full-time in 2005, Brown joined the staff of KUT, launching the award-winning cultural journalism unit "Texas Music Matters."