White Denim’s ‘Stiff’ forges new sound with new lineup

Over the years, the band has incorporated prog, jazz and blues into its music.

For a decade, Austin’s White Denim has combined top-notch musicianship with a wealth of classic rock influences to create a sound that is instantly familiar but also its own.

Over the years, the band has incorporated prog, jazz and blues into its music and has toured with Wilco, Tame Impala and Arctic Monkeys.

The band’s latest album, “Stiff,” boils it’s sound down to its essence — one part southern rock, one part classic soul. That simplicity is partly because singer/guitarist James Petralli and bassist Steve Terebecki made “Stiff” while integrating two new members into the band.

amNewYork spoke with Petralli about the group’s new start.

Did you write differently for this album as a result of having a new lineup?

Yes. We made this record in a super old school way. We did it on a 16-track tape machine with very few overdubs, if any. With the new guys not having many shows under their belt, I wrote songs that I thought would suit them and would make the process a little less daunting. I tried to write tunes I thought were a little more elemental, more basic rock tunes.

Were you surprised that drummer Josh Block and guitarist Austin Jenkins left the band after discovering Leon Bridges?

Yeah, it was pretty shocking. I didn’t expect it at all. I don’t think anybody did. They found that kid Leon and made that record for him and it just went crazy. It was hard to keep them. They had a top 10 international hit with that record.

Was there a time you thought White Denim might be done?

I knew we would make another record. … White Denim has been all that [Steve and I have] done for the past decade of our lives. It has been our jobs. I knew we were going to make this record. I didn’t know if it was going to be good or not. … I was optimistic, but it was in the back of our minds that this could be a thing that ends after this record. But it feels good. It feels like we kept this thing happening and connected to our previous work. It feels natural.

What do you hope fans take away from the album? Is it just a good time record?

That’s always been the band’s greatest ambition and success – to make kind of funny rock and roll songs. It’s approachable music that people who are serious about music can dig and people who are not so serious can tap their feet to it and get a laugh out of it.

If you go

White Denim is performing at Bowery Ballroom tonight and tomorrow night at 9, 6 Delancey St., 800-745-3000, sold out.

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