RVA is a town of music lovers and we hold a special place in our hearts for all the talented bands and musicians that play every night of the week in our music venues.
RVA is a town of music lovers and we hold a special place in our hearts for all the talented bands and musicians that play every night of the week in our music venues. So when a band decides to break up or move on in pursuit of other ventures, its always a sad day for us.
That day unfortunately came Nov. 2 when beloved RVA band White Laces announced they were calling it quits. For six years, the band has entertained us with their unique, loud and genre-breaking sound and been an inspiration for bands that have followed.
White Laces dazzled crowds from the beginning with their electric live performances, delivered three records and countless EPs, and evolved from an ear-busting shoegaze group in the early days, to an indie rock sensation, and ultimately taking on the electronic pop genre with their latest album, No Floor.
Sharing the disappointing news on their Facebook page, White Laces had this to say about their split:
“Hey all. It’s a bummer to break the news but we have decided to split. First off I want to thank everyone who’s either been a part of the band in the past (Xela French, Dashiell G. M. Lewis, Penn Ward), helped produce the records (Jeff Zeigler, Joe Lunsford, Kevin Emil Micka, John Morand), all the labels that helped us release them, the incredible bands we’ve had the opportunity to play with and everyone who came out to our shows and/or let us sleep on their floor/couch/pile of pillows. If anyone’s interested we still have a few pieces of merch we’re deep discounting to clean house. Our discography is available via Egghunt Records. Infinite thanks for sticking with us over the past six years.”
Shannon Cleary, member of RVA rock outfit Clair Morgan and fellow RVA Mag contributor was a friend and huge fan of the band from the beginning. He took time recently to share his thoughts on the band and their impact in the letter below which you can also read on his Tumblr page here.
White Laces called it a day today. This isn’t an uncommon thing. Several bands that my friends have been a part of have called it and each experience has it’s own unique effect. One solid example could be Hot Dolphin. From the moments where Chris Ramming shouted from behind a bar to my friend Lindsey Spurrier that it looked like she had a band now all the way to the closing moments of the band’s existence at En Su Boca where they tagged on “In Between” as a closing moment to their tale, I was there for it all. It’s crazy to factor in being a part of the story and an observer of the story. White Laces kinda feels like that.
I remember stumbling into Sprout and seeing them for the first time. It was unbelievable and I was forever augmented to want to know everything I could about the band’s music. I started making every effort to see them play and I wanted to figure out how to tell their story. I started doing it by playing their music on WRIR. For a while, “Hands In Mexico” was being played during practically every episode of The Commonwealth of Notions. I couldn’t shake how much I loved this song. And then, I slowly started interspersing tracks from their self-titled EP like “Spirtuals” and “Sick of Summer.” I threw in early versions of “Bastard’s Dead” and eventually “Dissolve Into Color.”
It got to a point where I pitched an idea of writing an article about them for RVA Magazine and they let me do it. After conducting two separate interviews at Avalon and Strange Matter, I submitted a draft that was like 3600 words. My editor at the time probably didn’t care for that, but I didn’t know how else to write the story and not forget any small detail.
Eventually, my radio show transformed from just being that and becoming a contrary to a music festival I was helping coordinate with the support of several volunteers at WRIR. After doing the first edition, I had an idea for the second one. I wanted to take Gallery 5 and transform it. I envisioned something akin to the Patchwork Collective idea of having multiple stages throughout the Gallery. I knew I was going to have to get a pretty solid set of bands together to really sell this idea. One of the first bands I approached was White Laces and they gladly participated. They even played their record Moves in it’s entirety. The day was a swimming success and it charged me to continue seeing where the festival could go. A few years later, the band would return for the fifth volume.
One of my favorite memories regarding the band is when they performed at 9:30 Club. They had just spent the better part of a month traveling the country with The War On Drugs. This tour was remarkable in that halfway through, Pitchfork wrote a review regarding The War On Drugs record that would catapult the tour into selling out nearly every date. Maybe they did sell out every date. All I know is that I got a ticket out of luck on the day of the show and traveled to DC to see my friends play the ultimate stage. This stage and this venue is where my adolescence felt like it took place. I saw everyone play here and it made me fall in love with the possibilities that existed in live music. Now, my friends would be a part of this legacy. As they began to play the first moments of “Ascend” and Landis dedicated the song to me, it was surreal. I know that things like that seem small in the greater context of an experience with a band, but this was different. “Ascend” is easily one of my favorite songs that White Laces ever penned and it remains one that I constantly refer back to when the band occupies a lot of my thoughts. I still would love to make a weird video with that as the soundtrack. Maybe they’ll let me do it someday.
That was just one of several memories I had attached with the band. My band, Clair Morgan, got to share the stage with them and The Awesome Few at Hardywood. It would be the first show that we would play with my long-standing bandmates Adam and Troy. I wish we could have done it again, but I’m glad that we got to do it once. There was the art studio show with Navi, Eternal Summers and Peace Beast that still seems unreal to this day. I don’t think I’d ever seen a show dissolve into utter chaos of drunken, intoxicated debauchery. Yet, it never got too out of hand. That continues to baffle me. How did this show not get shut down? My only reasoning is thinking of divine will and maybe this show needed to happen. It needed to find it’s place in the universe and be a delightful moment of chaos. An extended jam of “Crawl/Collapse” would conclude the night with members of the other bands joining in amongst a sea of empty beer cans and cigarette butts. The smoke never cleared from the room and everyone was sincere and filled with bliss. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
Another crazy memory was in January of 2012, the band performed with The Diamond Center, The Super Vacations and The Snowy Owls at Strange Matter. For some reason, the show was free and it reached capacity almost immediately. It was hands down one of the more epic experiences and felt like a prelude to what would begin bursting within the Richmond music scene. This trio of Richmond bands would play epic sets that would leave the audience that evening in total awe. It commemorated the first live performance for The Snowy Owls with their guitarist James Wingo. It was also the release of the new split vinyl releasing featuring both White Laces and The Snowy Owls. The release would include favorites from both. For Laces, “Hands In Mexico” and “Bastard’s Dead.” For Snowy Owls, “Could” and “Papertooth” come to mind. The show was another one to mark up to being a cold, shitty January night and the venue was a total mess with condensation everywhere. It was absurd, but beautiful.
To celebrate White Laces’ time as a band, I dedicated my entire radio show to them today. I played songs by them, their peers, bands they toured with and so on. It felt nice and bizarrely cathartic. It got me to thinking about how much the band really meant to me. And still will mean to me. I had pipe dreams of bands taking their songs and letting them live on as covers. I had pipe dreams of trying to create a documentary about the band, but start with their friends and fans and eventually talk to the band themselves after there was time to digest White Laces being no more.
All in all, my favorite experience of being able to witness White Laces was to not only be a fan, but feel like I became a part of the story I was chronicling. Being around those songs and those sounds made me want to understand how to creatively achieve something similar. Why was it that when I put on “Skate or Die” that all I could think of is how that song should be the lead-in to the closing credits of an indie flick? Why was it that with every listen of a song I would end up deciphering something new that I never detected before? I’m not sure what the answer is. Does there need to be an answer? I think that’s why we pursue anything creative. Because the answer isn’t important. It’s about the time you spend getting there and the people you bring along with you on that journey.
White Laces are responsible for a lot of reasons for why I still think about music in a passionate way. As a creator. As a journalist. As an admirer. As a fan. As a person. I don’t know if I could ask more from a band.
One thing is for certain. I’ll be sure to keep my amp up a little louder as a tribute to one of my favorite Richmond bands.
You can pickup White Laces’ latest album, No Floor here or check it out in its entirety below: