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Whitey Q&A

An Englishman in SF

Londonís Whitey is coming to town and heís bringing a gang of musicians with him to recreate the solo-produced tunes from his debut dance-friendly album The Light at the End of the Tunnel is a Train and his forthcoming album Great Shakes, which should start to slowly infiltrate the United States near the end of the year. Whitey, who will perform at Mezzanine on April 6th, spoke with SF Station during a phone interview from Los Angeles, where he was getting acclimated to the United States prior to the start of his tour.

SF Station (SFS): Is there anything about the United States that gets on your nerves?

Whitey: I find the United States interesting and I donít mind being here. Iíd be quite fine living here for a year or two. London is a pretty difficult place to live at the moment. Itís very expensive, itís cold and there is a lot of crime. In comparison, the West Coast of America is a very nice place to be. Iím pro California.

SFS: There are reports that you are shifting from being primarily a solo recording artist to incorporating more people into the recording process.

Whitey: No, that is a misconception, actually. Because some people see me with a four-piece live act, they think that it has mutated into a band. That isnít the case. Since the beginning, Iíve always recorded primarily on my own and toured with a four- or five-piece band. If I go in a recording studio, I play, guitar, bass, drums, keyboard and I sing. I obviously canít do that live, so I have to have a group of musicians when Iím on tour. Itís similar to what Beck does. Iím not an octopus, I canít play more than one instrument at once.

SFS: What is the first instrument you learned how to play?

Whitey: I learned how to play the violin really badly as a kid. I was forced to play it and I had a shriveled, old mummy for a music teacher. She made me press my fingers so hard that I thought they were going to break. The first thing that I really got a handle on was the keyboard.

SFS: On your last tour, you slept on beaches, couches and various club floors. Will you have similar accommodations this time around?

Whitey: Yeah, it was a pretty low-budget tour and so is this tour. You go to sleep wherever you can find a bed half of the time. I slept on the beach in Miami once in one of those Baywatch types of towers with a bunch of stoned homeless dudes. They were actually quite friendly. I think itís the magic of the English accent. If I was an American they probably would have mugged me, but I was an English person in a suit that was sitting with them at five in the morning and they became my buddies.

SFS: You gave them some of the English charm?

Whitey: I donít know if I have much English charm. But, it seems like certain Americans find the English accent intrinsically charming and that makes them want to be nice to you and help you. Itís strange and Iím not used to it. We are all so fuckiní rude to each other in England, itís a pretty refreshing change to have people smile and be nice to you.

SFS: Have you behaved yourself in Los Angeles while waiting for your tour to start?

Whitey: Iíve been on the wagon in preparation for this tour, actually. Iíve behaved myself, more than usually.

SFS: So, youíre not one of those English rock stars that comes to America and gets in a bunch of trouble?

Whitey: Well, I got in a mess of trouble the first three days and spent a couple of grand. But, Iíve been a good man ever since. Iíve been eating pizza, watching HBO and behaving like Homer Simpson lately.

Whitey performs at Mezzanine on April 6th with Home Video, Peloton and Sonic Boom. Tickets are $10 and doors open at 9pm