From the depths of The White Room came the Beatles most infamous work ? The White Album. The very record that spoke to Charles Manson of the impending Helter Skelter. The record that in turn spelled a bloody death to the hippie dream. Like a blank canvas offers limitless possibilities, the Beatles could never have conceived the way in which their work would inspire mania and madness. Sometimes the emptiness is more alluring, the starkness most inspiring. The nothingness is limitless.
Melbourne band The White Room understand the magic that can be discovered within this concept, and have offered it up as their name sake. At times their music pays homage to The Beatles, though tracks like ?All There Is? will never simply be a pastiche to one of rock?s most legendary acts. While the harmonious sensibilities present in the Beatles? work is apparent in many of The White Room?s orchestrations, the desire to do as they will, irrespective of what has gone before, undoubtedly radiates throughout their as-yet-untitled debut album.
It would be mundane and predictable to boast the White Room?s musical output as ?eclectic? or ?diverse?. A listener can find that in pretty much any band should they look hard enough. The White Room?s excellence comes from the raw purity of their music, the pain radiated from singer Marc Collis? life experience ? his life and his art intertwined in a manner that few can truly boast. Marc has no choice but to play music, and his struggles in life are transformed into triumphs in music. His life and his art share a symbiotic relationship that no amount of designer haircuts and posturing can ever emulate.
?It?s called Osteo Genesis Imperfecta,? says Marc of the condition more commonly known as brittle bone disease. An affliction that keeps the songwriter bound to a wheelchair, despite possessing the ability to move his legs. ?A few years back, I was breaking my bones two to three times a year. I wasn?t just breaking bones and getting plaster and going home though, I was staying in hospital up to three months at a time and it was taking away too much of my life. ?So I made a choice. I wanted to have the quality of life where I could do stuff I wanted to do,? he continues relating how he came to accept life in a wheelchair. ?I just knew if I kept walking I would keep breaking bones and going into hospital. I find the more I don?t give a shit about my situation, the more people round me don?t care. I just cruise along, roll over people?s feet and crash into them,? he concludes with a laugh.
This is not to suggest that this was the end of Marc?s difficulties. A recent pair or residencies in Sydney and Melbourne saw him play guitar with a broken arm, which was also followed by an operation, but Marc is not about the ?tale of woe?. ?I?m not that fragile,? says Collis, emphasizing the ?that?, ?but if I stood up my body weight would probably crush my legs. You shouldn?t think ?I?m being brave?; that?s just how it is and I?ve dealt with it forever. Sometimes I hear some bands crapping on about meaningless nonsense and it makes you wonder if the people writing it have actually experienced it or if they are writing it because they know kids feel the same and it?s going to sell records.?
Part of The White Room?s strategy for their debut album was to release a number of singles prior to the full length itself, and while taking the conventional ?paper and plastic? route for the first single ?Enemies Closer?, it was decided that the follow up, ?Vicious Girl? should take a more ?with the times? approach by existing as a digital release. Complete with printable art, labels and three exclusive tracks, ?Vicious Girl? is another portal into the songwriter?s life. ?No matter how equal you feel in your relationship, you always feel like you are hardly done by sometimes,? says Collis about ?Vicious Girl?. ?My girlfriend and I had a massive fight, and moments like that are perfect because that?s where the realness and emotion comes from, and that?s when it comes out best in our music.?
It would be misleading to say that it was Marc?s influence alone that makes The White Room the band they have become. Marc is joined by sister Steph Collis, who like Karen Carpenter commands the drums, though is not averse to taking charge with the microphone also, and along with brother Marc, responsible for the resounding vocal harmonies that have become synonymous with the quartets sound. Ben Jarvis is on lead guitar and backing vocals, and the band is completed by bass player Barry Brauer.
Steph came into the picture quite early on. Essentially at Marc?s insistence, as children Marc would perform songs he had written and encourage Steph to take on a percussive role to give his material life. If you believe Jack and Meg White are brother and sister, I guess this is the kind of purity and bond that people wish to believe that pair possess? Only on this occasion it?s actually real. Oh, and Steph is as commanding behind the drums as she is when taking the lead vocals for tracks such as ?Nerve?, which is one of two cuts she composed lyrics for on the August slated full length album. ?Nerve? is most aptly described as raw and caustic, and while Steph is not the first to pen a song about a relationship that went sour, this scenario resulted in not one, but two passionate offerings. ?I had that emotion and anger in me,? says Marc when reflecting on the events that caused Steph to write ?Nerve? and his reaction which in turn fueled ?Enemies Closer?. ?The raw emotion when I was singing. It was so real and current,? he reflects. ?You can almost hear it when I?m clenching my teeth because I really felt passionately about what I was singing.?
The White Room?s debut was produced by Phil Mckellar (Grinspoon, Silverchair), who pulled from them a sound as rich as the music and lyrics themselves. ?He stripped away the ?over production?,? says Marc says of working with the famed producer. ?The beauty is that everyone we have played this to says this is what we sound like live. That?s what we?ve been trying to find all these years. He encouraged us not to complicate things; to do it from the heart and write it as you see as it. Phil bought out the no bullshit realness in us. It?s all about performance it?s not about perfection.?