Absinthe, VR Porn...: An Interview With Whitney

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Absinthe, VR Porn...: An Interview With Whitney
February 7, 2017

We sat down with the Chicagoan band beneath a distinctly outdoor umbrella that'd been erected indoors, and spoke about some pretty weird shit.

 

Last Saturday marked yet another year of St. Jerome's Laneway Festival—a day of vodkas in cans and blow up palm trees and hoards of young men whose bucket hats would inevitably be stuck in trees by nightfall. But all that's a small price to pay to see Tame Impala featuring confetti cannons and Mick Jenkins featuring vodka Red Bulls in the sun. 

 

Among the pretty wild line up were Whitney—the result of Smith Westerns' splintering back in 2014—whose debut record Light Upon The Lake soundtracked late-night whiskeyed Deep & Meaningfuls (and the resulting hungover breakfasts) everywhere after its release last June. 

 

We met them underneath a distinctly indoor umbrella that had been erected indoors, to talk about friendship and the band's inception. Naturally, the interview veered into bar fights and virtual reality porn.

 

How was the show? We didn't get to see it because we got stuck in traffic.
Max Kakacek: It was okay, it was good. 
Julien Ehrlich: You're lying though.

 

No, I'm not! We really did. And our Uber driver made us get out and walk because he didn't want to sit in traffic anymore.
J: Oh, haha, okay then. Yeah our set was okay. I was shit-talking Brisbane—

 

I bet they responded well to that...
J: Yeah, they loved that.

 

Melbourne is a mean girl, it's a bitch. Everyone in Melbourne hates other cities.
J: That's cause Melbourne's kinda the best.

 

Eh… It's actually Sydney though, isn't it? Sydney's the best?
M: Really?

 

No one else is going to tell you that but I want you to know that it's true. 
J: Well we'll be there!
M: I went there once when I was eighteen.

 

Beaches, trees, getting kicked out of clubs at 1am…
M: Oh yeah, what's the called again?

 

The lockout laws.
M: Oh yeah.

 

Trust me, they need it. Those crazy kids. Someone's got to tell them when to go home. 
J: There are lots of bros there, right? I could get in a fight there pretty easy…

 

You should! Just kidding. 
M: What's that fighting juice called?

 

Fighting juice? I have no idea. GHB? 
M: No, no... someone was talking about some kind of fighting juice thing that has rum in it and bros drink it and get into fights?

 

Oh, Bundy and coke or something like that?
M: Yeah! Bundy!
J: What is Bundy? It gets you super jacked?

 

Haha oh my god. It's rum. I don't think it's the rum itself that starts fights. I think it's the people who drink it maybe. Have either of you ever been in a fight?
J: Yeah. I had my wallet stolen in Barcelona, once. Me and the bass player of Unknown Mortal Orchestra were on Absinthe, like the real Absinthe. We did that shit and then like, thirty seconds after that, this dude came up to me and offered me marijuana and put his arm around me, and Jake was like "dude, do you still have your wallet?" and I didn't. So I turned, and in this weird Absinthe rage I pointed him out and I fucking charged at him and dove and tackled him. And I used to play football so—
M: You were a kicker, dude…
J: I learned how to tackle!

 

Oh my god, are you a jock or a hipster?! You have to choose one!
J: We're both jocks! [Max] was a three-sport athlete, I was a two-sport athlete. So anyway, Barcelona. Jake started shaking this dude and being like "give me the fucking wallet, dude!" and all his pickpocket friends totally dispersed. And I'm not like a violent person but I was really drunk. That was fun.

I did what I thought was Absinthe once in high school, like burning the sugar cube over it and everything, but nothing happened. So I ended up taking acid for the first time and woke up in my friend's parents' bedroom and everything was covered in the stuff inside glow sticks. 
J: Oh my god... People do a lot of acid here, don't they?

 

Yeah, I guess so. I don't think we really know what we're doing with all that. I guess it's because the other drugs are so watered down and so bad—like there's no good cocaine or anything—that we just kind of moved into that stuff. It's pretty heavy though. 
J: Totally.

 

So are you gonna get on it today? Are you going to get "on one?"
J: Yeah, I think so. We have… opportunities… all sorted out.

 

Oh, you do?
J: Yep. We have the necessary supplies.

 

Okay. That sounds good. So how long have you guys known each other?
J: Almost, six years?
M: Eighteen, nineteen?

 

What? You need to get your story straight. 
M: No, no, no, no! Since we were eighteen!
J: I was eighteen, you were nineteen.

 

Where did you meet?
J: In Portland. We were both on tour and we went to this weird party at the Auditorium, it was a Dandy Warhols' studio, do you know that band?

 

Yeah, I think I've heard of them. 
J: Oh, that's right, they're big over here!

 

Yeah they're pretty big. 
J: Holy shit, I forgot about that. Fathead [Brent DeBoer] their drummer married like, royalty over here.

 

Is that true? [I looked into this and found nothing. Stay tuned]
J: Yeah! And I saw him at the airport one time. He really lucked out, he basically doesn't have to do anything ever again for the rest of his life.

 

Marry up. 
J: Yeah exactly. So we basically met at that party.

 

Was it love at first sight or did you think he was kind of a dick?
M: We were just chillin'. 
J: Yeah, it wasn't like, "Yo in five years let's hang out and make a band and play Laneway."

 

Oh, really? That's weird because I was like, "In five years, I'll be in music writing, and I'm gonna interview Whitney at Laneway." 
J: Oh you did?

 

Yeah, pretty incredible. How's it going?
J: It's good. One of the best interviews we've ever done was—

 

Oh, I see...
M: No, this is good! It's good. But this one guy from Beat Magazine found the interview that they did with Whitney Houston in 1993 and asked us all the same questions.

 

Whoa, that is really smart and funny...
J: Yeah it was sick. Some questions made sense like "How are you dealing with the success of your album?" and stuff and then other ones were like "Tell us about the time that Bobby did this thing." It was so good. 

 

That's really good. I'm so stupid for not thinking of that. So what's the best TV show you've seen lately?
J: Black Mirror's pretty good. Pretty fucked up.

 

Oh, yeah, so fucked up. I think it's the first episode ever that's like, the widow who gets her dead husband made into a robot? I love that.
J: Oh, the ending on that one is terrible but the concept was great.

 

I would definitely do that.
J: It's just a sex robot.

 

Yeah! Which is just already a thing, it's not even surrealism. There's this event that happens here once a year called Sexpo and this year's, like, theme was sex and technology and it was called Feel The Future, and the poster was a lady kissing a sex robot. And they gave you a VR headset on they way in.
J: Whoa.
M: I feel like I've talked to someone who did VR porn and they just said it was too much. Too intense.
J: Dude, think about the way you watch porn anyway, you're like backing away, like "I'm just doing this because it makes it faster!"
M: Oh, man. Jesus...
J: But it's true! And you cancel out of it immediately like "Fuck."

 

Wow. 
M: Yeah…

 

Whitney's debut album Light Upon the Lake is out now via Secretly Canadian

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