Premiere • White Mystery Continues To Evolve, Kick Ass with New Album, 'Fuck Your Mouth Shut'

It took about twenty minutes into their set for Francis White to stand up and tear off his Thrasher sweatshirt, revealing a sweaty and taut torso accented from behind by his bright red frock of hair. Now standing, throwing his top stage left, he smashed down hard on a cymbal with a drumstick clutched in his right hand and looked into the crowd with a vengeance. A sly smile crossing her face, his sister Alex White stood in a prepared stance, her guitar perched on her hip. "We're White Mystery, and this is song is called "Fuck Your Mouth Shut" she said before tearing into a series of riveting guitar riffs that moved Francis quickly back to the kit.

Together, Alex and Francis make up two halves of a whole that is Chicago's do-everything rock band White Mystery. Since embarking on their multi-faceted project together seven years ago, the brother-sister duo promised to not cut their hair or get in a relationship. Nearly a decade later, the release of the eighth studio album, Fuck Your Mouth Shut, which gets its debut today here on These Days, finds the Whites once again familiarly on the road, crisscrossing the country together in a van as they have for much of their lives. While many of us dreaded long road trips with our siblings as kids, this pair have turned it into a successful lifestyle that has yet to get redundant.

With their latest full-length, the Whites continue to flex on an ability to seamlessly transition through a litany of sounds that come alive tenfold in live settings. Owing somewhat to the state of the environment in the country currently, Fuck Your Mouth Shut aims to channel a certain amount of left-leaning angst that has become commonplace in the age of a Trump America. Having released a project on April 20 for the last eight years, this latest record finds the duo in somewhat of a transitionary role.

"Even before the election, even a year ago you sort of felt things boiling and bubbling, a lot of opinions rising and people wanting to express themselves," said Francis White of the ideas that were channeled to the project. "Instead of just going on the internet and just trying to yell into the void all the things I felt in my head, I figured I’d write an album about it also."

The result is a ten-track album tackling the kind of subject matter that would make most siblings blush in one another's presence. It's that innate, truthful understanding of one another that appears to drive both the creation and on-stage performance of the music, the two embodying one in a way that's rooted in shared DNA. Appropriately in-your-face, as any project titled Fuck Your Mouth Shut would probably insinuate, it operates as a cross-pollinating release that speaks to sensibilities across genres without preaching too much from the punk pulpit. Oftentimes, ingenuity in the rock word can be hard to achieve. While it may be a lofty ideal to many guitar-wielding young adults, its a facet of White Mystery that is as natural and iconic as their flowing locks of thick red hair. 

To put it another way, White Mystery is a Chicago band through and through. Fiercely independent, the Whites employ a small army of willing interns from around the city to help facilitate the sort of advantages offered by labels and book and travel to their own tours, one of which they'll be wrapping up this weekend in Los Angeles. DIY in the most literal of definitions, the Whites were creating a fully independent lane to themselves when Chance The Rapper was still working on that high school suspension and in the time since have parlayed that success into using music as a full-time job and sharing stages with the likes of Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Mavis Staples and many more. Throughout their journeys, the constant has remained their enduring relationship which has grown beyond a simple sibling rivalry.

"While it was super artistic and creative, our mom was a disciplinarian. I think we were raised with just a lot of discipline. Both of our parents are self-employed, our mom was at the Field Museum, she was the head photographer for 25 years before she left to do freelance," Alex explained. "So, the concept of being independent was very natural to us. We knew that you couldn’t really rely on anybody to create your paycheck at a very young age. That you had to hustle. We learned how to hustle at a really young age."

That hustle is embodied in just about everything the pair do. Hardly a moment is spared in a day, whether it be Alex tie-dying t-shirts for tour, Francis working on lyrics for a new single or the both of them coming up with a movie treatment (which they later shot) during the long hours spent together in their van, hopping from state to state on and endless escapade of gigs and shows. At a time when independence in music is being valued as a premium, White Mystery has been able to realize the full spectrum of it's artistic ideology while making music that stays true to the both of them and the mission they originally embarked on. 

"We have a support system in place. We’re privileged enough to know what we want to do with our lives and we can do what we love and what we’re passionate about," said Francis as he looked straight ahead in reverent thought.  "It’s a responsibility to stay healthy and take care of yourself so you can do it as well as you can for as long as you can. That’s a constant struggle because it’s not always easy to have enough inside of you to just pour your essence into a third party and make it a reality. Turn your artistic vision into a real world sort of thing, to make it physical. You have to sacrifice a bit of yourself, so, always being able to do so requires concentration."

That concentration isn't hard to come by. Alex and Francis share a two-flat with their parents, occupying different units but still united under a singular roof. Their world is music and the pair spend just about every moment channeling energy into the nexus of the band itself. Working from a truly independent position without the money and ease of service that a label can provide, Alex and Francis have utilized a wide array of creative penchants to create things like tour merchandise, promotional materials and angling the music as well as booking shows, driving the van and dealing with show organizers. Their mom shoots their press photos and they pass the time by listening to audiobooks and discussing their next movie ideas between rocking the faces off citizens of greater America. In all honesty, the pair embody the wildest dreams of most any siblings raised on chords and heavy-handed drum lines. 

"I think there’s something to be said about sharing genetic material with other people and having a telepathic bond. That creates really good music. It’s also kind of like monkey see monkey do," said Alex.  "It’s like, 'Hey my sister is playing guitar, maybe I’ll try drums.' And our youngest brother started playing bass. It’s kind of like, 'Oh that looks really fun, I’d like to try that.'"

"And also you learn how to speak the words of your language together. You learn it from your mom and your dad and your brothers and sisters," added Francis. "You learn how to speak so you annunciate and sing and harmonize in a way nobody else on the planet can because you grew up learning language together."

The band's eighth project arrives as the pair are beginning to realize the staying power of a project that began when the pair was just entering their twenties. Finding themselves on the other end of that decade, plans for the future seem at once more understood and open then they ever have before. Regardless of what happens with the pair from here, having released eight albums in eights years on the same day is a lesson in consistency and a spirit that should certainly keep the Whites in our periphery for some time. 

"Technically April 20, 2018, is our ten year anniversary. We first set out we said, 'Okay we’re not cutting out hair. We’re not getting married. We’re not going to be in other bands for ten years.' So that we could like, focus focus focus on White Mystery," Alex White said from the green room couch. "So technically we could get married if we wanted. We’re going to renegotiate our contract. Either we will continue to exist in a different form or we might pull the plug. That’s the mystery."


Jake Krez

Side By Side PR, 2248 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL, 60616, United States