After taking a moment to read a few of the newspapers of the Michelberger Hotel’s extensive collection, I received a text from Whitney’s manager, letting me know that Max and Julien should be there any minute. That being, Max Kakacek (previously of Smith Westerns) and Julien Ehrlich (ex-Unknown Mortal Orchestra) – the minds responsible for the creation of Whitney.  Moving on from respective projects, the two merged their talent to create something more personal, something that only could be brewed up by individuals with talent, imagination, and vigour. Whitney started out as a character, a vague embodiment of their project. This is now in addition to the other five members – Malcolm Brown, Tracy Chouteau, Charles Glanders, Josiah Marshall and Will Miller. Their debut album, Light Upon the Lake, is something to be cherished; it’s one of those albums that makes you want to pack up all your things and sleep beside the ocean for a few months, reminiscent of balmy summer nights and harrowing hangovers. Merging 70’s Americana with Jazz, Rock, Country and Soul, the band explores a more expressive realm – something more connected to emotion and aura, rather than to making a hit. That being said, the album has a definite notion of broken dreams, disappointments and trying relationships. Julien’s near-falsetto is a voice that taunts you to sing along, adding hints of melancholic undertones while only emphasising the mood. During their recent press trip, we sat down with Max and Julien for few drinks, and not only do they have captivating personalities, they seem quite humble about their unmistakable ability as artists.

F: How did you find the transition from your previous bands to working together for Whitney?

J: After the first two Whitney songs we were just so excited, we were SO excited. There was one night after we wrote the demo for ‘On My Own’ we just like, walked around Chicago – it was one of the first semi-nice spring nights – we just walked around and listened to it out of our iPhone speakers. Literally non-stop, just walking around with one iPhone speaker up to both of our ears being like, ‘Dude, what did we just do?’ Then we drank molly water and listened to it some more and got kind of wasted with these kids, and just kept sneaking off to listen to it. We were also on a roof at one point just laying back looking at the stars, listening to it.

F: Speaking of friends, Jimmy Whispers had some kind words to say about you guys..

J: Yeah! We all party together in Chicago, so pretty much any late night that we’re having, Jimmy is there. Our first show ever as Whitney was opening for him during his album release for Summer In Pain.

F: What’s the biggest change that you’ve seen in yourselves in the past 5 years, individually?

J: Damn. That’s a good question. Holy shit, that ’s like when I started touring with UMO. Whoa. Five years is a long time, huh? It’s like a whole high school career, plus one year. We’ve learned a lot of the good and the bad. We’ve learned a lot about what we don’t want in a music career. We’ve learned how much work we had to put into this project and how much work we had to put into touring to have chance to grow the project.
M: For me it was more about being humble. Smith Westerns took off when I was like 17, I was thrown in this crazy world with people telling me all these grand statements. I was a little bit of a brat. So after Smith Westerns ended it was really nice to just get a job and go to school and be kind of normal for a bit. It changed my perspective on a lot of things because I didn’t get the chance to do that when I was younger I guess. It was nice to get of go back and live that life for a second.
F: What’s your vice?
J: Shit. I don’t know, we drink a lot. We’ve been travelling a lot.
M: Maybe this  is emabarassing to admit but when you’ve been touring for a minute, and you’ve been around the same people for a while and you get kind of annoyed, kind of smelly and kind of gross and you just go down on a Big Mac.. it fuckin’ feels really good. Seriously, if you get some time to just be by yourself and destroy a McDonald’s cheeseburger it feels really good, and I don’t  even really like eating fast food that much.
J: I hate the classic vice of getting done with a show and walking around and talking to girls, because it effects me and effects everyone in your band too. It’s like you need some sort of girl crush for the night, you know? We all have that vice but I just don’t want to anymore.
M: I think any person with their hair cut just about here (gestures to his shoulders) – boy or girl, if their hair is shoulder length, forget about it.
J: Wait, I like a cute nose. Yeah.
F: If you could personify Whitney what would they be like?
J: They’d have a cute nose and like, shoulder length hair. No, we’ve spent basically this whole press trip trying to talk down the Whitney as a character idea. It was a way to kind of kick the song writing off because Max and I had never really written together, so it was just kind of a way to break any walls that were up between us. So, we just created this weird character that the songs could come out of. It was kind of silly.
M: It was a like a joke – a little bit tongue and cheek. He did have some funny skits..
F: Skits..?
J:  Yeah, like there was one where he had a son named Chester who got bite by a snake in the swamp.. we had a few people in on it.. since this is our last interview I guess we can let you in on it…
M: Do you want to be the son or the dad?
J: Dude.. I’m the fucking Dad!
Chester: Papi, there’s a snake down by the Bayou
Whitney: Well, don’t touch it Chester!
F: How do you cope with being sad?
J: We drink. We drink and we write.
M: Me and Julian used to play a lot of pick up basketball for a bit and some pick up soccer. We’re really good at soccer, we’re not so good at basketball.
J: I guess the way we cope with the crazy weird feelings we had when we were writing is – we have the best friend group of all time in Chicago – it kind of sucks that it’s kind of dispanding because we’re gone for the next year and a half or two years because of touring and stuff.. it felt like a weird send off when we included them all in the album credits. We were just like, damn. We just had the best friends ever during the writing process.
 
F: Did you have any sort of rituals together?
J: Yeah, we just partied together.
M: Nah, we had some dinner parties together. Our friend Emily would throw them. and it would always just evolve into getting absolutely wasted. I don’t know, we took trips. We went to Wisconsin with everyone. We went camping and stuff together too.
 
F: Do you have nicknames for eachother?
J: Jules.
M: The new guituarist, I call him Plain, or Simple. He’s from Jacksonville, Missisippi. In my phone I have him saved as ‘Plain’. One time after a show this girl came up to me and was like, ‘Hey, I was just talking to your friend – the blonde haired guy –  can you send me his number?’ And I was like, ‘Sure I’ll just send it to you’ and once I forwarded it to her she was like,’ ..Who’s Plain?’
 
F: How was SXSW?
J: Busy but fun. It’s really easy to get really fucked up and tired or sick at SX because it’s just such a mess. We all lived, we’re all okay, There was only one ambulance involved..
 
F: What happened?
J: Can’t go into it.
 
F: If you could perform for anyone, live, who would it be?
J: I’d really like Neil Young to see our set. I wouldn’t be ashamed to perform for him for some reason.
I’m very confident in our set, but I think that Neil Young would really vibe with it.
M: The only thing I can think of right now is Donald Trump, cause if it’s only him…
J: We’d like to play at a Sanders rally actually.
M: We always make a point to be like ‘Fuck Donald Trump’. We make a point to say it during our shows. We usually get the audience to put up double middles and scream it. If he was there for that we’d feel pretty good.


Whitney – Golden Days (Official Video) von scdistribution

 
Whitney plays June 20th at about://blank.
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