to White Whale is like moving into your first apartment vs. getting
your first driver's license when comparing its musical maturity with
The Get Up Kids -- a band that helped define "emo" in the
early '00s. Consisting of former members of fellow Lawrence bands
Butter Glory and Thee Higher Burning Fire, White Whale washes its
hands of all the greasy kids' stuff to create something that's infinitely
more dynamic, intelligent and, ultimately, more grown up.
on Merge Records, the band's debut, WWI, sounds like a rock-groove
album from the '70s. Songs like the 7-plus-minute head-trip "O'William,
O'Sarah," with its rolling bass and shining, echo-static vocal
effects, the majestic "The Admiral," with its twinkling
keyboard arpeggios, and the strutting rocker "We're Just Temporary,
Ma'am" that dances trippingly atop a rat-a-tat-snare, recall
such modern-day acts as The Arcade Fire and My Morning Jacket as
well as old-timers like The Moody Blues and (especially) The Kinks,
thanks to vocalist Matt Suggs' keen sonic resemblance to Ray Davies
(complete with quivering faux-accent).
Pope loves the
fact that their ambitious debut is headed in no single direction
with no destination in sight, unlike The Get Up Kids' angst-ridden
emo records. "Back then, there was a lot of pressure from people
who wanted us to sound a certain way -- a way that we didn't want
to sound," he said of his former band. "It's great to
be in a band where there's no pressure like that at all."
the fact that WWI is better than anything that The Get Up
Kids ever released, Pope sounds certain that his new band will never
reach his former band's level of notoriety. "I think it would
be great if White Whale became that successful," he said, "but
that kind of shit is like winning a lottery. Then again, who would
have ever thought that TV on the Radio would be as big as they've
For now, Pope,
28, says he's put all the old stuff behind him. He hasn't listened
to a Get Up Kids album in years. "I'm sure I will at some point
for novelty's sake," he said. "The last time I did listen
to it, it took me back to when I was 18, which was cool. I still
appreciate music I listened to when I was that old, but, really,
do you listen to the music you listened to when you were 18?"
Published in The Omaha Reader Sept. 13, 2006.
Copyright © 2006 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
then, there was a lot of pressure from people who wanted us
to sound a certain way -- a way that we didn't want to sound."