Music

White Summer: local Chill Island heroes

Phillip Island’s White Summer are feeling pretty chuffed right now. Not only will their hometown host one of the summer’s most unique festivals, Chill Island, the band will open proceedings to a sell-out crowd.

The three piece has been trekking the highways between Phillip Island and Melbourne for a couple of years now, gradually building a solid live reputation and a sound that blends blues and rock to produce an earthly, ramping style. FasterLouder spoke with guitarist Michael Barnsley about the band’s rise on the live scene in Melbourne and the excitement surrounding their addition to Chill Island’s bill.

From humble beginnings at school and playing in other bands, the trio has established a coaxing sound that draws on blues -inspired smarts with enough rocking tempo to give the band a layered sheen. You just need to turn to the band’s name to discover how their sound has evolved. ”[White Summer] is a Led Zeppelin song. They’re one of our major influences, more so back then when we started. [Our sound] is kind of a hard rock blues mix with a lot of roots, a bit like The Fumes, Black Keys; bands like that. High energy blues.”

Yet, what makes White Summer deviate from the pack is their individualistic approach to band dynamics. Drummer Jimmy Stanfield doubles up as the band’s lead vocalist which, partnered with bass strings courtesy of Kane Rowlingson, adds an intriguing element to the band’s personality. “There’s always something to do for each of us and there’s always something going on, Barnsley admits. “I think it’s a bit of a surprise and it’s a bit different, but interesting in that way.”

One limitation which has threatened the band’s development is the lack of live venues in their hometown to host their sound. While more popular genres get a look-in, there’s limited space for blues inspired bands. “There’s not much down here really, Barnsley laments. “There are a few gigs but it’s all really the same music. If people want you to do a gig, they’re looking for punk or emo styles or whatever. You can’t just go to a bar and play blues.” The only way for White Summer to take a good shot at their craft is to travel to the city constantly. Ultimately, fatigue can set in. However, clicking up the kilometres has only elevated the band’s creative output. “We’ve been pretty much doing gigs in the city and then travel back after. As we’ve gotten older, the other two have moved up there – it’s become a bit easier that way.

“You get used to it but, yeah, it took a while. It is tiring for us – it does take it out of you. But I think it adds to [our creative output] and gives us more inspiration to write; more to write about I guess.”

White Summer’s self-titled EP, released last year, is testament to the band’s journey both geographically and creatively. “It’s a sample of, mainly, what we try and create – there’s no story or anything like that. It-  “s about what we create and shows pretty much each element of what we do.” While White Summer have plans to channel their energies into a debut long-player this year, Chill Island is the band’s ultimate focus right now. Playing alongside John Butler Trio, The Waifs and Archie Roach, White Summer are gearing up for a very valuable live experience. “Playing with John Butler, the whole thing about Chill Island being down our way and getting it here is a bit of a luxury. And to actually play on it – it’ll bring up the local aspect.”

So what can the punters expect from White Summer? “A really nice way to kick off the day – there’ll be a lot to watch on the day and we’ll be an exciting way to kick it off!”

Be sure to check out White Summer alongside John Butler Trio, The Waifs, Archie Roach and Shane Howard, San Lazaro, Dan Sultan and Brother B at Chill Island at Churchill Island, Phillip Island on February 3

Please note that Chill Island is now sold out. Lucky punters with tickets can head to http://www.chillisland.org for all news, updates and info for the day