FLYER Q&A: Strong start turns to sidelined year for locals White Mansion

White Mansion / Photo: Mac Murphy

At the beginning of the year, locals White Mansion released their debut record Human and were on the verge of big things.

The band (Dusty Domino, Travis Keymer, Andy Wade, Eli Barrett, Seth Hudspeth) is a rare beast: capable of crushing a powerhouse hook, running you over with a wall of sound, or lulling you into a false sense of security. Their songs are made to be blasted into large rooms. “Low Hum” and “Faded” are perfectly constructed, the visuals building themselves while you listen.

Hopefully, White Mansion can pick up where they left off when live shows are safe again. I’d love to see them at a packed George’s show whenever that’s possible. In the meantime, I recommend cranking Human on a drive to get take-out. Support the band and buy it on bandcamp.

I talked to vocalist Dusty Domino and here it goes…

How are you all doing?

We are doing pretty well. As far as I know none of the guys have gotten sick. We hope everybody out there is wearing their mask and staying safe.

COVID caught us all off guard – What were your plans for 2020? What have you been working on in quarantine?

It really did. We had big plans for 2020. We released our debut album “Human” on the Cold Transmission Label back in January, so the year started off strong with a lot of excitement and promotion. The album was doing really well and we were stoked on how it was received. We were really excited to get out and play shows to support the album. We had shows booked but we had to cancel. The only show we played was in February at The Revolution Ballroom in Little Rock. If we were only going to play one show it was a good one. The crowd really showed up for us and it was a great night. Little Rock has given us a lot of support and we are very appreciative.

How has COVID changed the way you write and feel about music?

COVID actually had an influence on the lyrics to “Alone.” I wrote that song back in June and July. There are many people who find themselves alone without the distractions of daily life – you can get into your head. There’s a certain amount of paranoia that can come as a result of these times. Also you might find yourself spending more time with a significant other, and being in close proximity for long stretches of time might bring out some anxiety as well.

What have you been listening to lately? Anything that’s inspired you to write?

I can’t speak for everybody but I know Travis and I listen to a lot of different music all the time. We are constantly sharing new finds with each other. He would probably have a long list but I know he’s listening to Ovlov and Greet Death. Health and John Maus have been in heavy rotation for me. I can’t say how they specifically influence us, but we just really dig that music.

What are your favorite Arkansas venues? What do you miss the most about playing live shows?

Smoke and Barrel, The Rev Room, George’s, Stickyz, Vino’s, Maxine’s in Hot Springs, Low Key Arts, Whitewater, Meteor Guitar Gallery are all great spots. I can’t tell you how much I miss playing live. You get to be totally in the moment and block everything else out while you are on stage. Time stands still. The chemistry between the guys, and getting lost in the sound just can’t be duplicated. As a fan of live music I really miss being able to go see shows as well. I hope it will come back soon. We need to step up when we can and support our venues. They are taking a huge hit right now.

What have you been reading and watching lately?

I’m a big architecture fan so the last book I read was a biography of minimalist architect Philip Johnson. I’m kind of boring when it comes to watching shows, mainy I just watch documentaries. I just finished rewatching Vice Principals. I need the funny right now.

Is there a local business that has kept you sane and comfortable during the last nine months? What have they done differently, and why do you support them?

Block Street Records is my go-to for sanity. Wade (Ogle) always has a diverse selection of music . I like to go graze and see what I can come home with. You never know what you might find. I listen to alot of records at the house, probably more than watching TV, listening to an album from start to finish is usually just as good to me.

Are you able to plan ahead as a band? What are your hopes for 2021 – as a band and as Arkansans?

2021 is a big mystery. I think like everybody, people just want to get back to some kind of normalcy. Hopefully the day-to-day political drama will be less so people can relax a bit as well. As for White Mansion I hope that we will be able to get out and play again, but for now we are going to continue writing new music and put out new singles. We would love to play in Europe. We have a good following over there and our label is in Germany so maybe that could be in the cards for 2021.