‘It’s all gone by in a flash’: White Lies reflect on 10 years of To Lose My Life

Nothing makes music fans feel old like the rolling round of a big anniversary – so indie kids will really be feeling it when White Lies play To Lose My Life… in its entirety for its 10th anniversary.

The group’s debut album hit number one back in 2009, and in honour of the milestone, White Lies will be playing it in its entirety at a special show this December at Brixton Academy.

And don’t worry if you’re freaking out about where the years have gone, because so are they.

Singer and guitarist Harry McVeigh, who makes up the band with drummer Jack Lawrence-Bowen and bassist Charles Cave, told ‘It feels like it’s gone by in a flash. We all turned 30 last year, Jack turned 31, and even that seems strange, to still be doing it in our thirties. I remember saying at the time, if [To Lose My Life…] does alright, and we can two years of work out of it, then we’ll be happy – then we can go off and do a proper job and go to university or whatever. And that never happened, and we were able to keep going. It’s amazing for us that we’re still here, to be honest.’

The idea for an anniversary show was a long time in the works for the group, with Harry telling us that as well as the debut album played ‘in its entirety, in the right track order’, the setlist will hopefully include some hits, rarities and B-sides they’ve never played live.

And the show is as much for them as a band as it is for the fans.

‘It’s an album that we really love and that we probably love even more now than when it was released. It’s a bit of a nostalgia trip for us as well, and it harks back to a time where we were so busy and so young that we were caught up in the craziness of it all. We were 19 when that album came out and we didn’t really know how the music industry works, what touring would be like, what it would be like to make an album – luckily we had a lot of good guidance. It was kind of a mad experience for us. So it’s a nice thing to look back on, now that we know what we’re doing.

‘It gave us our career. We wouldn’t be here without that record, and that’s another reason for us to play these show – this record genuinely means a lot to us, it’s our whole lives pretty much. What will be interesting is that we’re much better musicians now, so it’ll be fun to really do those songs justice, and being able to perform without being completely terrified all the time.’

Harry, Jack and Charles were just teenagers when To Lose My Life… dropped, topping the albums charts and producing the hit singles To Lose My Life and Fairwell To The Fairground. A decade on, and the group have just released their fifth album, aptly titled Five, and have a string of live dates lined up over the summer, including a slot at Y Not Festival this July.

White Lies are celebrating 10 years since their debut (Picture: PR)

But while they’re still going strong, the music landscape has undoubtedly changed since their debut. Over the last 10 years, streaming has toppled actual album sales as the main mode of listening to music, with record sales in a steady decline.

However, the groundwork White Lies put in in the beginning of their career has helped them ride the wave.

Harry explained: ‘It’s changed how musicians earn money. We were on the front end as that, but there were rumblings of [streaming] on the horizon when we signed our first album. Sales have steadily decreased ever since then. So our business is more focused on playing as many shows as possible, and that album set that all up for us.

‘At that time we were signed to a major label and there was still quite a lot of money flying around, because people were still selling records, so we were given a bunch of money and told to tour the world. We still feel the benefits of that now, if we hadn’t laid that groundwork we couldn’t do the touring we do now. Bands don’t always get that support anymore, it’s hard for bands to journey off and crack Europe when they don’t have the money to do it.

‘Now our relationship with our label is totally different. We have to do so much more as a band, I think, in terms of merch and visuals and artwork and how we’re going to sell our records – we sell most of our records through our website, for example, and that’s something a lot of bands are looking at now, because it’s more profitable. A lot has changed, but now we’re more in control of our product, and we have to be.’

White Lies play the Brixton Academy on 6 December, tickets on sale now.

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