The White Crowleys: shoegazey and psychedelic rock



By the time you are reading this, The White Crowleys will have had one of their biggest weekends ever. They will have opened up for The Growlers, a well know surf-psychedelic rock band from California, as well as headlined the Head of the Trent concert stage. The White Crowleys have a unique sound consisting of My Bloody Valentine-esque shoegaze soundscapes, mixed with Tame Impala-style psychedelia, and just a hint of surf-punk. A few days prior to this big weekend, I sat down with guitarist Justyn Horlick and drummer Stuart Downie for a chat about the band, to sound, and where they are going next.

How did the band get formed?

J: Okay, so, me and my brother are in the band, so that’s important to know. And then me and Cohen met in probably grade seven or eight. And then we met Stuart in grade ten. That was when we starting jamming together. At first we had, like, no gear. Stuart was really the only one that could actually play, like he was solid at drums. Everyone else was pretty sketchy. For years, we would just play in his basement – his parent’s basement. And then we finally starting playing shows [together] 2 or 3 years ago.

What is the dynamic of the brothers in the band? Do you guys get on each other’s nerves?

S: I think Fudge (Justyn’s brother, Kaulin) gets on everybody’s nerves.  He’s the little brother of the band.

J: Yeah, well, we’re all brothers. We get on each other’s nerves. We all get along really well. I love having Fudge in the band.

All bands have influences, is there any bands that you can nail down as being your main influences?

J: Then you would know our secrets…

What, you don’t want to have White Crowley copiers out there? People listening to these 10 bands you like, and…

S: Oh, you don’t wanna sound like us.

J: Uh, well you know all the classics, obviously. Led Zeppelin and The Beatles and all that. Stereotypical stuff.

S: A big one is Tame Impala…

Like that soundscape sort of psychedelic style vibe? Your Bandcamp says that your music takes you from one place to another. Is that what you look for when you are writing music or does that just happen?

J: Yeah, well, we’ve always wanted to be a psychedelic rock band and now psychedelic rock is cool again, so it kinda just worked out for us.

Is there a town that you prefer? Like Hamilton versus Peterborough?

J: Yeah, Hamilton. We’re probably gonna catch a lot of flack for that.

S: We’re born and raised. Saying that in the Arthur though might get some hate.

J: Our first ever real show was at The Spill. It was wild actually, like, for whatever reason, the bar was packed. I was so nervous that I was, like, “I’m never doing this again, fuck this. I don’t know why we ever left the basement.” But then we did it and it was awesome and we’ve been doing as much as we can ever since.

S: Yeah, that show raised the bar too high because it was packed already. Usually, it’s just like the other bands and their parents, but for some reason it was especially busy that night.

What would you consider your greatest accomplishment?

J: Well, [probably] doing a record. We have a 7” single and going through all the processes of that – but really, this weekend is probably the biggest weekend we’re about to have. We are playing a show at the Horseshoe Tavern with the Growlers, and Babe Rainbow, so like L.A. and Australia. That’s, like, the biggest thing that’s happened to us.

If there was one song that you could play to show everyone what you are all about, what song would that be?

J: There’s probably not one that we can all agree on. I’m gonna say, uh, “L.A. Sunset”.

S: I like “Zodiac Goodbyes”.

J: Yeah, “L.A. Sunset” is pretty funky for the most part and then at the end, there’s a big psychedelic build-up and breakdown. So, that’s why I think it encompasses us pretty well. But “Zodiac” is, like…

S: It’s heavier than most.

Do you have any idea what the other two would say?

S: Fuck, that’s a hard question.

J: I don’t know, maybe “Fane Jonda”, which is the A-Side off of our single.

What’s the story behind that song? Like, I know who Jane Fonda is, but why her?

S: So, me and the singer Cohen, [we] were getting drunk and we had nothing to do that one night but sit in my basement. We heard about this one movie – I don’t know how, I think Cohen heard about it or something – called Barberella. We tossed that on and it just inspired us. Just because of all the visuals and [the] storyline, it’s just ridiculous. It’s hilarious; it’s not supposed to be. It’s just visually stunning. We wrote a few songs based on that movie.

What songs were those?

S: We don’t play the other ones.

J: We did play them but then we kinda stopped. Sometimes, you write songs and throw them away. Also, like, we bring them back into the garage and we kinda work on that. Cohen wasn’t happy with it anymore and he wanted to change the vibe.

S:  Sometimes things become overworked.

What does the Peterborough scene have to offer that’s different than other places you’ve played?

S: You always have people coming out that would never see your band. They’re not coming to see you, but like, so many people just come out to see music. There’s so many good bars for that: The Spill, Red Dog… there’s always people in there, or just, like, regulars as well. Even Pig’s on Saturday nights, people just go there.

J: It’s also less cutthroat than other cities, like Toronto or somewhere, where there’s this friendliness… but underlying competitiveness.

That was one of my questions actually. I saw you guys at the Battle of the Bands for the first time last year. Is there competitiveness in Peterborough’s music scene or music scenes in general? Does it change from city to city?

J: It does a bit but we’re guilty of it, too. Like, we wanna be the best, no doubt. And whenever we see a band, we wanna go on [right] after. We wanna be just as good. We wanna be better and, uh, I think everyone wants that. We’re not cutthroat. There’s always a competitiveness; it’s a business. We’re trying to get paid. That’s what it comes down to.

S: In Peterborough, there’s less of that . . .
For some people, it’s just like a thing to do. Their friends are in other bands and you just kinda wanna ride the wave…

You guys are giving really good answers. I can’t get any dirt off you. *laughs*

S & J: You can say we slept with most members of the band Revolver, which was previously mentioned in the Watershed Hour article. It’s pretty much true. Revolver’s a fake name that they made up for a band that we know very well. Very, very well.

Do you have a favourite venue?

J: In Peterborough? Pig’s Ear.

S: We’re gonna get hated for that.

J: Why? Because it’s not actually a music venue?

S: Yeah, well, that and The Spill and shit. People love that place. You’re almost obligated to say The Spill but Pig’s definitely for us.

J: When we book a show at Pig’s, we book it, like, six months in advance because everyone wants to play Pig’s. They have the one night a week. We’ve always had such good, rowdy, rambunctious crowds. We have that at The Spill, too, but there’s something about Pig’s. The people there, Andrea and John, are awesome.

Okay, last question, what is your favourite beer?

J: Old Milwaukee Ice.

Blue or Red Label?

J: Blue. Blue has an extra 0.5% of alcohol for the same price, which is why we drink it.

S: The other two would hate on us if we didn’t say that beer, especially Cohen.

J: Yeah, we’ve endorsed it in past

About Tyler Majer 70 Articles
Tyler works out of Peterborough, Ontario, and reluctantly attends Trent University. He loathes deeply, while drinking often. The cigarettes will soon consume his life. Read his poetry while you still can at while reading his journalistic work at this very site. I would say that he would be appreciative, but that may not be the truth.