In 2014, Richmond’s White Laces had returned from a first nationwide tour, opening for the War on Drugs. Members were also close to releasing a second full-length, “Trance.”
But the band, then composed of Landis Wine on vocals and guitar, Jay Ward on bass and vocals and Jimmy Held on drums, was ready for something different.
Held was “over rock music,” and Wine quickly realized that his writing was going in an unexpected direction.
“We never go into a recording with the thought that we should write a better version of the last record,” Wine says. “That just isn’t going to happen.”
It’s led to White Laces’ new album, “No Floor,” — due Sept. 30 on EggHunt — the result of two years of fine-tuning the band’s sound and personnel.
The group’s third full-length features a strong adoration for ’80s electronic music blended with digital landscapes full of lush harmonies, intricate sampling and unforgettable hooks. Upbeat songs such as “Cheese” and “Dots” immediately engage listeners, while the pensive, contemplative “Dream Sabbath” takes an unexpected turn with only hand claps and call-and-response vocals. This isn’t the same band once known for enormous walls of sound.
On each of the eight songs, White Laces make a strong statement about why their continued instrumental growth has kept audiences paying attention for the last six years.
“We first looked at this release as just being a quick tour EP,” says Wine, who splits his time between freelance writing and operations at a local food distributor. “Once we continued to write more songs, we started to see it as more than that.”
The demos were recorded all over Richmond. At times, members ventured to Garber’s in Shockoe Bottom. Other times they wrote at home. But right before they were set to release the record, they decided they needed to expand the band.
First, they brought on Tori Hovater on vocals and keyboards. On the haunting track, “Sleepy,” Hovater’s entrancing voice navigates a cacophony of slow-tempo waves of noise that patiently venture into the more abstract areas of electronic-fused rock.
While the musicians were readying “No Floor” with added sessions at Spacebomb Records, they started to consider how to release it. Having worked with Egghunt Records on “Trance,” the local label seemed like the obvious choice to absorb the group’s back catalog and release the current record. Also, they collaborated on a tape release, “Sick of Summer,” which chronicles the louder music the band wrote before its debut, “Moves.”
“[Those songs] are definitely in a world that I don’t think we’ll ever return to,” Wine says. “But it’s something that we don’t want to turn our back on entirely.”
After finishing “No Floor,” they realized that they might need another member to flesh out the songs live. The search didn’t take long. Guitarist Jeff Boone had played with Held in post-hardcore outfit Flechette years back and recently had moved back to town.
With the record finished and a Northeast tour booked for October, Wine notes that this has been the longest time they’ve spent recording, and the results are there. “No Floor” is the perfect example of how a band remains relevant by embracing change. Wine says he’s at a point where any idea of success “isn’t predicated on expectation anymore.”
“You hope people will dig it, but we made the record that felt like the right move for us,” he says. “And now all we can do is put it out there and see what happens.” S
White Laces will be appearing at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery on Saturday, Oct. 8, with Lady God, Ttotals and Pete Curry.