Lazy Catcher: An Interview with Whitehall

Photo courtesy of Mia Naome Photography

When South Carolina indie-rock outfit Whitehall released their second album, Swordfish Catcher, last month, they knew that all their hard work finally paid off.

This time around, the band spent more time in the pre-production process. By the time they went to record at Rialto Row (now The Space) in Charleston, they had really workshopped the songs and in turn made the recording process a lot smoother.

“Most of the songs were fully formed, but we left room for a few of them to come into their own while we were in the process of recording, which was really fun,” the band said. “‘Swordfish’ and ‘Tuesday’ are good examples of those, and they ended up being a couple of our favorites.”

They spent two weeks in the studio, using inspiration from the last two years of touring to complete the 11 tracks. The album title, inspired by the song “Swordfish”, came about while the song still needed lyrics.

“[Vocalist Paddy Mckiernan] arbitrarily called [the song] ‘Swordfish Catcher’, but there was something we always liked about how that sounded and felt aesthetically,” they said. “[Guitarist Avery Greeson] decided to take a stab at writing some lyrics inspired by the name and came up with what would eventually become the lyrics we recorded for the song. We liked the way the name sounded so much we decided to name the album after it and shorten the song's title to just ‘Swordfish’.”

The cover art was decided around the same time that “Swordfish” was being written. Originally they had intended on using an old photo of bassist Brennan Clark’s grandfather standing next to a prize swordfish that he caught, but the artist behind the artwork had bigger ideas.

Although everything seemed to be falling into place nicely, there were moments during the creation process that challenged them. While working on “Automated”, they spent two hours trying to piece together drummer Davis Rowe’s bongo part but eventually had to cut it. They said it was a demoralizing moment for them, but taught them a very important lesson: that a bongo probably doesn’t need to be on a rock song.

Swordfish Catcher shares emotions of optimism, wariness and everything in between to bring the listener to a time where the band began to explore an entirely new territory.

“The album has a lot of peaks and valleys in terms of energy and intensity,” they said. “There are moments of chaos where you’re like ‘what the fuck is going on’ and there’s moments of reassurance and relief. Hopefully people will feel those things and the transitions between them. We want them to know that they’re not alone in their nervousness of navigating through their own emotions.”