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The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss - Whitehorse
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RELEASE INFO

LABEL: Six Shooter Records
RELEASE DATE: 01.15.2013
FORMATS: Physical, Digital

Band Members

Luke Doucet: Guitars, Vocals, Percussion, Keys, Telephone
Melissa McClelland: Guitars, Vocals, Percussion, Keys, Telephone

BIOGRAPHY

You could call the musical marriage of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland a star-crossed creative partnership. The husband and wife duo behind Whitehorse defies the math of one plus one with their inventive, expansive new album The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss and a live show that beats the band with its chemistry and complexity.

With The Fate of the World, Whitehorse makes good on the promise of the their self-titled debut, which officially brought their solo careers together. They made their entrance as a band in August 2011, with an 8-song collection that played to their strengths with equal parts blues-stomp and ballad, seedy tale and sweet nothing. The album “freewheels between blues, folk and rockabilly with audible enthusiasm for experimenting with new sonic directions” with “addictively tuneful” results (Toronto Star).

Their new album, The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss, out on January 8, 2013, showcases their fusion of blistering guitar work and perfectly matched vocals, as well the expanding range of creative possibility that comes as Whitehorse develops and focuses their sound. From the opening track, the psychedelic-meets-Spaghetti Western scorch of “Achilles’ Desire” to the sunset-on-water acoustic sparkler “Mismatched Eyes (Boat Song),” the clever pop of “Out Like A Lion,” and the pulp influenced suspense of "Devil’s Got A Gun,” the album covers impressive ground without compromising its artistic coherence. Whitehorse’s willingness to take risks while staying true to their “futuristic roots” vision makes for captivating listening (Now Magazine).

The album title comes from a Wonder Woman comic glued to the table in a diner in Vancouver, BC. “We loved the drama of it, and it’s almost taken on this personal meaning: our marriage, our career, our home, the road, everything is wrapped up in one,” McClelland explains. Beyond this, the title also conveys a sense of urgency about the world today, Doucet notes. “It is both romantic and intimate, but at the same time it carries a more foreboding social subtext.”

The songwriting process is collaborative without erasing their individual styles; imaginative narratives bear McClelland's fingerprint, while the intimate personal stories tend to come from Doucet. “The studio process is fairly organic,” Doucet says. “We pull in one of a handful of drummers we admire and play him some songs until his eyes light up. Then the three of us build a song. Often the main vocals, guitars & drums all go down together. Then we add bass, keys, pedal steel, extra guitars & percussion… banjos if needed. Whatever is lying around the studio is fair game. We'll bash on anything if we can get a sound from it.”

It’s one thing to show innovative production on a record; it’s another to bring it to the stage. Whitehorse’s live show wrests complex layers of percussion, keyboard and telephone receiver amplification with looping pedals, adding complicated (and risky) elements into their mesmerizing guitar work and smoldering vocal chemistry. "We have a pretty complicated setup on stage," McClelland says. "We're looping rhythms. Luke has a kick drum and I have a stomp box, and we have seven guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, tons of percussion. So for a lot of the songs, we're building pretty complicated loops and playing along to that. We're building it very organically on stage so anything can happen. It's gone very wrong, and very right.”

Since their debut last year, Whitehorse has been on a tear, with a sold out tour across Canada and a packed house at Toronto’s Winter Garden Theatre last February. On the strength of that showing, the band was booked to make their headline debut at Massey Hall, Canada’s Carnegie, on March 2, 2013. With The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss, Whitehorse continues to build the story, with emphatic enthusiasm in early press and critical approval. “We are feeling like people are listening to this record. It is secondary to us whether or not they claim to like it, love it or loathe it--the point is, they are listening to it,” Doucet comments.

McClelland is known for bringing bloody-knuckled tales of bad apples to life. She often shares the stage with Sarah McLachlan as touring partner and backing vocalist. Victoria Day, Melissa’s latest solo album, cemented her status as an “uncommonly talented” artist in Canada, says national daily newspaper, The Globe and Mail. Luke Doucet is known for his scorching work on his signature Gretsch White Falcon. As noted in Guitar Player Magazine, “whenever and wherever Luke Doucet hits the stage, he wrestles every last ounce of Neil Young-battles-Brian Setzer twang out of his gleaming cream-and-gold companion.” Doucet’s most recent solo release, Steel City Trawler, attracted four-star reviews across the board, as well as a Juno Nomination.

Individually, they have been recognized with awards and nominations from the Juno Awards, Polaris, Canadian Folk Music and Independent Music Awards. So with two strong solo careers, why Whitehorse? The theme of tempting fate appears again when considering how much the stakes have been raised: “We’re kind of breaking one of the cardinal rules. We’re getting away with murder. This isn’t supposed to work. It’s supposed to end in a hail of bullets and tears,” Doucet has said.

On The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss, Whitehorse plays both lion and lamb. The simultaneously savage and sinuous album will be released January 15, 2013 on Six Shooter Records.

PRESS QUOTES

"An album that slaloms between angelic harmonies and bluesy hellfires." - American Songwriter

“...for all the band’s versatility. Whitehorse’s strength lies in its grandiose, weighty dramatics. The minute any one song feels too breezy and saccharine, a menacing minor chord sweeps in and pulls us back to the dark side.” - Bust Magazine

“Their assurance is sexy; the songcraft, nimble. Whitehorse is the Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway of Canadian roots rock” - The Globe & Mail

Review

January 24, 2013, Nick Patch for The Chronicle Herald

TORONTO — Since married duo Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet joined forces as Whitehorse in 2011, their spine-tingling chemistry and intimate interplay onstage has become an essential element in their appeal.

They perform together, alone. Their voices harmonize beautifully. And they coo into the same microphone, stealing glances at one another, while rapt audience members optimistically read romance in each of the pair’s shared stares.

Even when it’s not necessarily romance that’s in the air.

“We do have funny moments onstage — everything from actually feeling this incredible connection and love, or we’re giggling because Luke just burped and we’re sharing a single mike,” a laughing McClelland said in a recent interview, seated next to her husband.

“And it’s funny, because people afterwards will be like: ‘I saw that sweet little moment.’ I’m like, oh, when he burped in my face?”

Well, that’s an extreme example. But it’s clear that this talented duo is a bit uneasy trading on their undeniable chemistry.

Initially, however, the magnetic musical connection between Doucet and McClelland was a principal reason they both decided to put thriving solo careers on indefinite hold to pursue a partnership.

It wasn’t an easy decision. The Halifax-born Manitoba-raised Doucet had courted acclaim (and a Juno nomination) for his deft guitar work and inspired songwriting, which blossomed over the course of five solo records between 2001 and 2010. McClelland’s own solo career followed a surprisingly parallel arc, with the Hamilton-raised singer garnering praise for her eclectic range of blues and Americana influences and her robust vocals.

They married in 2006. They talked for a long time about merging their careers, but were understandably apprehensive.

“We worked so hard to develop our fanbase and to find people who like our music,” Doucet said. “You know, I’d been trying to be Luke Doucet for a long time. Why would I want to throw all that away and call myself, you know, the Wheels or Whitehorse?”

At first, they thought they each might contribute songs separately and take turns singing live. McClelland acknowledges that she might then have been in the mindset to “save” a wonderful song she’d written for her next solo record. And, mutually used to calling the shots, both artists worried about the loss of autonomy that would come from a collaboration.

So, the fledgling partnership seemed in danger of landing in that dreaded musical zone of ill-conceived one-offs and hastily executed throwaways: the side project.

But then they became more comfortable. The flow of ideas became smoother. And they started to recognize the myriad advantages to joining forces.

“The upside is, hey, wait a minute, it’s not all on my back,” Doucet said. “When you’re onstage (alone) and you have to be for 90 minutes, you have to be charming and witty and banter or whatever. If there’s two of us, I can just step back, tune my guitar, have a drink and have a breath and Melissa’s got a story to tell.”

And, as the duo figured out how to complement each other’s songwriting, the compromising became easier.

“We know that good things can come from being loose about it and experimenting with it, and letting it meander and letting each song find its place,” McClelland said. “So I think that helps us work together in a studio and not tear each other’s hair out.”

Added Doucet: “Certainly as time goes by, we’ve become less and less precious.”

Meantime, their collaborations have only become more valuable.

In the fall, Whitehorse released its sophomore album, The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss, a simmering melange of blues, folk, country, Americana and rock. While it came out only a year after their self-titled debut, the band’s second record showcased the rapid growth of a partnership that was previously only personal.

“I feel like this band has a lot more to offer now that there’s two chefs instead of one,” Doucet agreed.

Their live show has gained a sterling reputation too, and as they prepare to begin a lengthy cross-continent trek on Saturday in Vancouver, they’re aware that part of that rep is based in their charming interactions.

Which is, in many ways, a tall order for a couple who spends almost all its time together on the road. How many married people could commit to standing in front of an audience each night and publicly basking their spouse in a moony-eyed gaze?

“If we’re on each other’s cases, sometimes we’re on the road and the last thing I want to do is be close to you. ‘Get away from me!“’ Doucet says, his wife smiling in agreement.

“Just before we go onstage, there’s a moment of: ‘We’re good, right? Let’s go do this!’ And we’ve managed to leave whatever baggage we might be carrying at that particular moment backstage.”

Fortunately, this isn’t generally something that requires work.

“I think 90 per cent of what is perceived as chemistry is us just doing our jobs,” Doucet said. “We just sing the songs the way we do and we happen to share a microphone and therefore, our faces are close together. And that reads as chemistry.

“The other 10 per cent — we connect on a lot of things. There’s certain lyrics where we can’t look at each other when we sing them because we’re both going to burst into tears. Because a lot of the stuff hits close to home.”

Which is why they’re simultaneously a bit uncomfortable with being known for their onstage spark.

Both seem to have a deep aversion to anything that could be perceived as cutesy.





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