Together, Miss Alex White and Francis Scott Key White are more than just a rip-roarin', red-headed, retro-stylin' garage-punk band called White Mystery.
The Chicago-based siblings are also a bottomless fount of fun and creative ideas. It's a quality they were born with. The road brings it out of 'em.
"On these long tours it's like, 'What are we gonna talk about for the next seven hours?'" Alex White, 30, says in a telephone interview from the Chicago apartment she shares with her brother. "And you get creative. Coming up with creative projects keeps us awake and keeps us engaged. It can become a theme throughout a tour, discussing a concept."
That's how a band ends up releasing new music on the same day (April 20) every year for a half-dozen years in a row. It's how a Chicago band holds album-release shows in Amsterdam and San Francisco and New York City. And it's how White Mystery ended up playing a Beatles song on a moving vehicle last month as famed businessman Richard Branson danced behind them to celebrate the opening of his new hotel.
"We've always had a wild imagination," says Francis White, 27. "We very much play off each other and brainstorm together, and can take our ideas one step further."
Now, the Whites are pushing themselves into a new realm with the release of That Was Awesome, their 50-minute feature film. The format was inspired by a desire to stay ahead of the curve ("We've been releasing vinyl for years," Alex says. "If that's commonplace now, let's do something else!"), and the title is White Mystery's mantra.
"That Was Awesome is this feeling that we have after we've completed something extraordinary," Alex says. "It comes in a lot of different forms, like relief or excitement or whatever. We turned that concept into an indie flick."
White Mystery made the movie with five different filmmakers around the country. Alex calls it a "psychedelic dark comedy" inspired by cinema's greatest duos: Wayne and Garth, Bill and Ted, Cheech and Chong. The band also composed the entire soundtrack in its own likeable style, where gritty garage-punk collides with modern pop melodies and old-school soul.
The film is just the latest bold step for the Whites, who started playing music together well before Alex was 10 and went on to found White Mystery in 2008. They've been doing exactly what they want — and looking out for each other — ever since.
"We're definitely marching to the beat of our own drummer," Alex says. "We don't necessarily do what's super hip and en vogue. We do what we feel inspired by and what feels right." ♦
White Mystery plays Volume on Sat, May 30, just after midnight (12:10 am) • Red Room Lounge • 521 W. Sprague • 21+ • That Was Awesome, the film, shows Fri, May 29 and Sat, May 30 at 5 pm • The Bartlett • 228 W. Sprague • All-ages