A forcible 'ahem' clears his throat; "they've had me doing back to back interviews this morning" admits James Petralli, singer-songwriter and guitarist with Austin's outfit White Denim, "I'm so sorry, my voice is a bit hoarse". Before we've even begun chatting about their new album Corsicana Lemonade, we're both already apologizing with a slew of 'shame's' 'don't stresses' and the odd 'it's really okay's'.

We're talking whilst the band are in Madison, Wisconsin, more notably between an indie-rock and a hard-psychedelica place in the middle of their US tour with Tame Impala & Flaming Lips. "We've been following their stuff for a while, we're really big fans of theirs," a significantly sycophantic testament to touring with two bands who are critically and commercially befitting to the sounds of White Denim- a Venn diagram centrifugal to their new refined and mature sound.

The task for musicians, who've surpassed even their second album, is to adopt new ways of prying open our eyes and ears to the tiresomely familiar. Petralli's most important point is then the intent behind their music, "I wanted to be more direct and clear about what I was saying," he explains, "having more of an overall narrative that's really different to our first record." Comparatively they've started working against their usual habit: "our first record was a mess, abstract and crazy" - they are now inviting the listener to recalibrate what they love and admire about the band.

Admittedly, it was more of a studious process for them this time around. This 'age' is demanding, with our fluid selves experiencing these whirl-life-winds of constant change, we're tormented by contradictions and confused with popular music dictating our social rhythm. "We're not political, we're not fashion focused, we're focused on the music" reasons James, "and that frees us from the level of personal reflection." They want to make music and just keep on making it, and if you think Psychedelic rock is dead, you're dead wrong.

Around late March of this year, the band headed out to a studio by the lake. "Two of the guys were living there and we would come out to them everyday." He describes the main tracking room as a 'sound blanket' where the 25ft ceiling high studio they built morphed into a tent like structure that allowed light to reflect off of the drums quite beautifully. "We spent a lot of time together on the patio during the recording session" says James. According to the interpersonal relationship between writing and the environment one deems productively conducive toward doing so, the band's biggest goal was to really just work together as a band.

These Southern hells-bells tip their broad-rimmed nods sentimentally to the album's name in that three of the band's members grew up in Corsicana, he divulges that "half the band just started wearing cowboy boots recently" to which he agrees is perhaps a renewed Texas pride thing, "our guitarist and drummer are getting back that Texas grit! But we couldn't really call it towns could we."

They're strutting through some serious blues-oozing country-funk strides, kicking the dust over previous releases fuelled by fiery acid-garage-rocked clangs and punk-rock urges. As smooth as sip of good whiskey, James even surmises in the track 'Pretty Green', "We're moving up, moving out." Optimistic, rather than a failure of intellectual musicality they're at the peak of their technical adeptness.

"One of the things that the rhythm section has now allowed is that we have the ability to play on stage most our recorded songs, almost identically the same" laments James, "it's a bit different for songs like 'A Place To Start', I've pushed in more synths for the live performance there, but 90% of it is the same." He continues on by giving reference of Ambrosia, a Southern rock group from the 70's who experimented with vocal harmonies and transitory arrangements.

How opportune, it isn't dissimilar to how I would imagine people making music during that time and as Petralli engages in notions about their emerging sound-volution stemming from an overall maturation of experiences, there's a clear commonality. "This is an inclusive representation of our band" he agrees, "there's a really important unanimous and collaborative way we write and compose now, the band as a whole feels really together and clear."

Dripping in melodic harmonies, you can hear their togetherness on songs like 'Come Back', 'At night In Dreams' and 'Distant Relative Salute'. A palatable step toward expanding boundaries within a realm of unapologetic, unhinged and intentional odd-ball charm. The intent he so genuinely conveyed earlier on in is bolstered from the sheer enjoyment of making records. As we share a good cackle about him being a producer's dream, he shoots off, "I would love to make another record, even now!"

Perhaps the shift was featuring an outsider, and not just any humdrum producer but Mr Wilco himself, Jeff Tweedy. This outrageously talented artist is technically the first foreign hand to touch their artistry. "He encouraged us to relax and just left us to our own devises," recalls James, "It really was a great honour we all have a lot of respect for him and his music over the years," he laughs, "what no one really knows is that he's actually a really funny guy!"

Thematically, it's about maturation and strength in numbers, with Tweedy sparking their desperate dive for growth, "we tend to overcook things sometimes if we're under stress we tend to overcook each other!" They began cultivating their ability to conform to different styles within one composition by relaxing and shifting their trajectory. James admits, "there was a lightness to Tweedy's engagement and, to take that attitude back with us and finish the album, we were just excited from that point onward."

I lift the proverbial bonnet and poke around. When they're on the road, everyone respects what each other is listening to and how they wouldn't be embarrassed to leave ipods-a-plenty just laying around ripe for some fresh mocking. He laughs, "Yesterday was really interesting actually, we do themes for the long drives and we got really into Bessie Smith, which then led to 90s alternative music." As he recounts methodically the likes of Soundgarden and Silverchair, he purrs about that leading them down the road of 90s bands like Fuel. As I excitedly remember the song called 'Hemorrhage', he testifies, "it made us listen to aggressive 90's rap after that"

Oh, but course there's no pretence here. "It depends on whose in the front seat," after I ask what the theme of the day is to which he replies "I was in the front yesterday, by the way." They seem detached and unaffected. Inspired, but unaffected. "We kinda hope that people see that - see that we don't really care what people think," after we loosely define how to avoid an album critic.

What with all the open letters being recklessly written from/to/at musicians, they share a song title with Liam Gallagher's clothing label, "I've never even seen a jacket of his I really had no idea, guess I should have googled that before we went ahead" he snarky states, "but then I would have to google every single thing wouldn't I." With the possibility of a sharp-tooth penned memoir from Gallagher I imaginatively cook up, James agrees, "I'd love an open letter from him, bring it on."

When life hands you Corsicana Lemonade, you glug the whole barrel down in one sitting, sigh and slap your thigh from satisfaction.


Corsicana Lemonade is out now via Downtown. You can catch them at the following dates this November:

  • Sun 17 November Brighton The Haunt
  • Mon 18 November Bristol Fleece & Firkin
  • Tues 19 November Manchester Gorilla
  • Wed 20 November London Village Underground
  • Thurs 21 November London Village Underground
  • Sun 24 November Glasgow Broadcast