Interview with The White Noise vocalist Shawn Walker and guitarist Josh “KJ” Strock | By Natasha Van Duser

Listening to Los Angeles’ The White Noise is like putting your favorite rock playlist on shuffle and simply getting lost in the variety of sounds. One minute, you’re listening to catchy beach rock with a song like “I Lost My Mind (in California).” The next, you’re headbanging to the thrasher, “Innocent Until Birth.” It’s this eclectic modernization of throwback genres that makes The White Noise’s debut full-length, AM/PM, so unforgettable.

Released on June 23 through Fearless Records, AM/PM is an amalgamation of the band’s last three years together. “Originally, when we wrote our [2016] EP [Aren’t You Glad?], it was a full-length record,” vocalist Shawn Walker explains. “‘Montreal,’ which is on the new record; ’24 Hour Revenge Therapy,’ which is on the new record; ‘Bite Marks’ is on the new record; and ‘All Drugs Go to Heaven’—we wrote that all the way back when we did the EP back in 2014. So, for this record, […] we would just jump to California, try to write a few songs and try to fit [them] with the songs we already had. That was kind of the biggest challenge on this: how do we have the same mindset from two years ago, but still make everything sound cohesive and grown up?”

The band jumped back in the studio with their EP’s producer, Drew “WZRD BLD” Fulk, to revitalize and reimagine their diverse sound. “[Fulk] just understands music to the point where he challenges you to be better,” guitarist Josh “KJ” Strock says. “I was a terrible songwriter before, obviously, and so were the rest of us. But he’s very patient, and he’s got a great work ethic. He really drives to get the best out of you.”

“Literally, I would not be able to sing without him,” adds Walker, who only did screaming vocals prior to working with Fulk. “I did not know that I could sing, and one day, I was just warming up, and [he] was like, ‘I have an idea.’ And then, we wrote ‘Bite Marks.’ He can definitely pull things out of you that you never thought you could do.”

It’s hard to assign The White Noise a genre, though they self-identify as simply “aggressive rock.” There’s a punk mentality coupled with a California attitude wrapped up in hardcore guitar riffs and metalcore screaming. While it might seem a little all over the place, it’s a sincere tribute to every band who have inspired the five-piece.

“A lot of the songs on the album are references to bands that we like,” Strock notes. “AM/PM is from a band called Give Up The Ghost; it’s one of their songs. We just wanted to reference a band that we grew up loving.” The band cite Jawbreaker, Converge, The Used, and AFI as other major influences. “‘Sunspots’ is one of my favorite [tracks], instrumentally and lyrically,” Strock continues. “I worked really hard on that one and made sure everything musically made sense on it. It’s got the most influence, and that’s the closest I would say to how I think the band is going to sound on any upcoming album: it’s like Brand New with Nine Inch Nails.”

“We’re a little bit of everything!” Walker remarks. “We don’t want to kind of just be one thing. We love the punk ethos and everything it did for the culture of music.”

“One thing, as a band, that we want to say once we establish ourselves more is that we do have a purpose of what we’re saying,” Strock adds. “There is some type of message. Our songs are about the human condition and our personal struggles. These songs are for anyone that feels like they’re kind of out of place or they don’t belong or they need something to get away from the everyday shit that they deal with.”

This all-inclusive attitude shines through brightest at The White Noise’s live shows, where there’s a better chance of the band’s members playing in the audience than onstage, and vice versa. “Even when we’re worn out, we try to give 110 percent,” Strock says.

“It sounds cheesy,” Walker continues, “but you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, so we play every single show like it’s our last. I could be throwing up before a set, but KJ and I go in there like we’re about to conquer the world.”

Purchase AM/PM here: Physical | Digital

Photo by Jen Cray

1 Comment

  1. Happy to know they dig Brand New as well. Will have to look up some of their other references. Never heard of Give Up the Ghost. Already looked up Rancid because of Shawn. Their music is making me so happy right now. Went to Warped Tour August 4th in Mountain View, CA, with my brother and a couple of our younger cousins. Never heard of them. My brother did though, and as he was mentioning being excited to see them while we were waiting out in line, they just happened to be walking towards us selling their cd. Thought it was funny Shawn talked to my brother like he knew him, ‘oh, how’ve you been?’ Lol. My brother has seizures and was having some shakes prior to their show, so we had to take it easy and sit up in the chairs instead of being down with everyone. I’m so glad we saw them. They were full of energy. My new fav band. My brother and I immediately went to their booth afterwards. I bought a tank from them, and my brother got a shirt, and we waited for them to come do autographs. They were so sweet. They took some time to actually talk to us. Lucky for us we’ll be seeing them again on the 31st in SF. I’ve been listening to AM/PM nonstop since Warped Tour. With Chester Bennington’s death, we’ve both been pretty depressed. These guys’ music has been making me so happy. Fun having a new band to bond with my brother ovee, and it’s cool feeling like we’re catching them early. I hope to see them get huge. They’re awesome.

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