Who: White Lies, a trio of young London post-punks who just topped the U.K. charts with their debut album To Lose My Life and grabbed some unlikely ears for their broody rock with a cover of Kanye West's "Love Lockdown." The band got American crowds buzzing at the SXSW Festival in Austin last month, where they DJ'ed "a full-on Stifler-style frat party," as bassist Charles Cave describes it and made friends with ex-Kool & the Gang member Sir Earl Toon.
Sounds Like: A less tightly wound Interpol. White Lies' darkly atmospheric aesthetic captures the spirit of Echo and the Bunnymen and Joy Division, with singer-guitarist Harry McVeigh's stately croon soaring over plodding basslines, bright drumming and moody synths.
• First single "To Lose My Life" features the lyric "Let's grow old together and die at the same time," but the band isn't rushing to the grave. "A lot of journalist before have put the angle on it like, 'Are you really depressed people?' " Cave says. "I think we're very in tune with our emotions and that's not just negative emotions, you know, it can be the whole spectrum."
• An early version of the band went by the name Fear of Flying, and their sound is what Cave describes now as "Piss out my ass." "We were heavily influenced by other music in the U.K. and a lot of that was kind of indie-pop," McVeigh adds. "We're now making music that is a pretty accurate depiction of our three personalities combined and that's about it," Cave says. Talking Heads were the first band the trio bonded over, and they count Queens of the Stone Age and the Secret Machines as favorites.
• Before being in a band turned into "a proper job," McVeigh says, the three worked jobs like street busker (Cave), toy-shop salesman (drummer Jack Lawrence-Brown) and unqualified guitar teacher (McVeigh). They also took advantage of what we in the States call unemployment insurance. "I used to go in and they'd say, 'What work are you looking for' and I'd say, 'I want to be a front of house engineer. Monitors. Maybe just assistants to monitors,' " Cave says. "And they go, 'Just take the money and go.' It was brilliant."
Hear It Now: To Lose My Life is available in stores and on digital music services now. Check out some footage of the band from SXSW above.