INTERVIEW: Whiteout's Eric Lindsay speaks!

INTERVIEW: Whiteout’s Eric Lindsay speaks!

Whiteout were the band that co-headlined a tour with Oasis back in the early 1990’s, signed to The Stone Roses record label Silvertone and had some of the best tracks of the period. There have been years of fans crying out of re-releases of their material, now the kind people at Demon Music Group have reissued the bands classic album Bite It plus the previously Japanese only CD release Young Tribe Rule both on vinyl, plus for the first time available on digital formats.

To celebrate these releases Gigslutz has spoken to guitarist Eric Lindsay about his time in the band and what he’s up to now:

Hi Eric. Can you please tell me a bit about your upbringing?

I was third of four kids in a traditional working-class family, living in the a high flat (tower block) in Greenock, overlooking the River Clyde, the shipyards and the mountains of Argyll. I was a creative kid who loved drawing, acting, sci-fi and fantasy- a bit different from the average! In my teenage years I got into football as a way to fit in, then around the age of 16 started to get seriously into music.

What was the first music you can remember hearing?

My mum was always singing in the kitchen and my gran used to sing us songs in Gaelic, while my big sister loved lots of glam rock then new romantic bands, and my brother was a big fan of the Beatles (and Meat Loaf!). My dad was a big country music fan, and my most evocative musical memory is listening to “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash at probably age 5 while being entranced by the swirling album cover, feeling I was really failing into that ring of fire! (I still have that album…) So there was lots of music around in my family.

What was the first serious music you can remember hearing?

I guess the Beatles albums of my brother would count, but I also went through lots of musical phases from about ten onwards- Adam Ant, Mod, Madness, Heavy Metal, I dipped in and out of them all depending on who I was looking to impress at the time I suppose. The one thing that probably got me into music seriously was seeing the Wonder Stuff on TV doing “Give give give” in 1987. Something about the Beatlesy melodies/harmonies and jagged guitars captured my attention. From there I started reading the NME etc and discovered (posthumously unfortunately) the Smiths and I was really hooked- on collecting all the vinyl, fanzines etc.

Who influenced you to play the guitar?

My dad got me and him a guitar when I was eight. We went along to a church group for a few weeks and learned all the basic chords and a few tunes. I then forgot about it for 8 years or so but he kept at it and would disappear into his room to play Buddy Holly, Don Williams or Johnny Cash songs. I think his love of country had a real influence on my guitar playing. In my teenage years firstly it would have been Johnny Marr at first and then of course when I began my all-consuming love affair with the Stone Roses in 1989 John Squire loomed large in my style and motivation to play for ten hours a day. Another big influence was Dean Wareham of Galaxie 500 (who I’m going to see on Saturday night!)

Were The Stone Roses a big influence on you?

Yes. Massive. I bought Made of Stone in the Spring of 1989 after seeing their picture in the NME. I liked it of course, but it was only after getting the album a few months later I became besotted. The icing on the cake was in June of that year when the guy who would become our manager (the legend that is McDee) organised a bus to see them play The Venue in Edinburgh. That was the night my life changed forever I guess. They kept the crowd waiting for hours, building up such an expectation and atmosphere, and then when they came on it was absolutely fantastic, the best show I have ever seen. I was hooked.

How about singing, who influenced you to start signing?

Andrew leaving the band and being unable to find a singer was what influenced me! I have always really just been a guitarist at heart.

Before Whiteout were you in any bands?

Yes. My first band was Swerve, formed in 1990 with my fellow Stone Roses obsessive and best pal Kev. We then became a more generally psychedelic outfit named Afterglow, supporting the early incarnation of Ocean Colour Scene back in 1991 (they were great then). Then a brief but electrifying sting in a band called The States. I guess that’s when my guitar playing had improved, I found a great singer (Sami Cushnagan) and we wrote some great songs together, playing a legendary (well, in Greenock anyway!) gig in the Glasgow Apollo in August 1992 (30 years ago this month…)

Did you write your own songs from a young age?

No, drawing was my creative output.

How did Whiteout form?

Whiteout started a year or two before I joined. A group of local guys from various schools discovered their shared love of 60s psychedelia and 70’s punk, formed Whiteout, looked great and had a big local following, including me. The States show I mentioned above was actually a support slot for Whiteout, but it’s fair to say we stole the show, and my guitar playing impressed the boys in the band. Things hadn’t been going well between Andrew, Paul and Mark (the original drummer) and their then guitarist and band leader, so they asked him to leave and me to join. I remained in both The States and Whiteout for a good while after but it wasn’t long before it was obvious we had something special as Whiteout and things were going to start happening for us.

What was it like being around Andrew, Paul and Stuart when the band formed?

Andrew and Paul were already a tight unit when I joined but as we knew each other from the local scene I slotted in with no problem. It was an intense first few months and we spent a lot of time in each others’ company, but I loved every minute. Stuart followed me from The States after we had recorded our first demos, which actually went on to become the best stuff we ever recorded and included all four singles.

Were you eager to write your own material?

I was happy to have the song writing pressure off for a while, as the band already had so many great tracks either finished or needing arranged. The latter was where my strengths came in.

How about playing live, did this just fall into place or did you have a manager in the early stages who promoted the band?

McDee our legendary manager was there right from the start. He was putting on gigs locally and further afield, and developing all the local bands, and a network of venues and contacts. My first show with the band was at Galashiels College of Textiles, which was great.

It didn’t seem like a long period from the band forming to being signed up by Silvertone. Was this true?

Well the band had been going for a couple of years before I joined but it was maybe 6 months or so after I joined that we signed to Silvertone, in the autumn of ’93 I believe.

Why did you sign to Silvertone?

We very nearly signed for Heavenly instead as they had shown the most initial interest. Obviously we loved the record company, and they put us on our first tour with The Rockingbirds, a showcase at the Haçienda during Sound City, and showed us the bright lights of London! In the end we went for Silvertone because it appeared they had a better organization for getting our records out in the UK and around the world- and they offered more money…

How did the tour with Oasis occur? It was a joint headline tour wasn’t it? Any memories you can share from the tour?

We met Oasis at the Haçienda night I mentioned above and got on well. From there our paths crossed often, including them doing an impromptu Shakermaker before we played one night at the Camden Falcon. Jeff Barrett from Heavenly and Alan McGee I believe proposed the co-headline tour, but it still went ahead despite us signing the Silvertone. We had a great time on the tour! It was pretty funny that we had a massive tour bus for the shows but they were being driven around by Bonehead in a transit-van (oh the irony). My abiding memory is that at the start of the tour both bands were level-pegging and we really believed we were heading for better things than them. By the last gig at the Duchess of York in Leeds, however, it was clear we were very mistaken there…

Whiteout appeared on the hallow John Peel show. Did you meet the great man? Any memories of recording the session?

Backstage at the Phoenix festival in ’95 I was sitting down to eat when a gentleman asked if I was the guitar player from Whiteout… I nearly fell off the chair when I realized it was John Peel! He was incredibly sweet and it was probably one of my most precious moments with the band. After the event I managed to get his address and wrote asking if we could do a session, and he replied with a lovely postcard saying yes. Lovely man.

How did Bite It come to fruition? Was it a natural progression from playing live and then the record label wanted you to record an album?

Really Bite It is a bit of a Frankenstein’s Monster of tracks culled from a variety of recording sessions in different studios with different engineers and two different drummers. It was a long drawn-out process and we should probably have cut to the chase a year previously.

Some absolute classic tracks are on the album. Are you able to share some details about some of the tracks and what they are about?I tend to find that everyone’s personal interpretation of their favourite songs are the best interpretations- so there can be an infinite number of things that a song can be about! However… the most obvious one that can be explained is Jackie’s Racing, culled from a Daily Record headline about BBC presenter Jackie Bird, but ultimately about a girl who loves to party, much like many of the guys and gals we met in those glory early 90s days.

You made some pretty iconic looking videos for the singles, did you have much of a say in the concept of the videos?

We were so lucky to have Douglas Hart, formerly of the Jesus and Mary Chain, to direct and produce our videos, and we trusted him enough to come up with the concepts.

How about the bands appearance on The Word. How did this come to fruition?

By that time the press machine of Silvertone had kicked in and in advance of the first single we managed to secure a slot on it. The best thing about it was that we took a bus load of our pals from Inverclyde down to London for the show (and a big party)- including the infamous banglemouth…

There’s footage of the band playing what looks and sounds like a blinding set at Pheonix festival. Did you play many festivals?

The most notable festival performance we did was at the first Tin the Park, pretty high up the bill in the King Tut’s tent. That was a cracker.

When the band travelled to Japan you were mobbed aka The Beatles. Do you know why you received this reaction over there?

No idea!!!

I think I read somewhere that the bands time in Japan was the happiest, would you concur with that statement?

Without a shadow of a doubt. It was two weeks in heaven.

When Andrew left I can imagine it pretty much crippled the band. What are you memories of this period?

Yeah it was tough. We tried our best to stay positive and move forward, but it led to us being dropped and me having to take over singing. Ironically the very last line-up of the band featuring myself, Paul, original drummer Fudge and Big Eric on keyboards was probably our best ever live incarnation. But it was not to be.

Fast forward to 2022 the kind folk at Demon Music Group are reissuing Bite It and the previously limited edition Japanese only release Young Tribe Rule. How did these reissues come to fruition?

To be honest, out of nowhere! Demon contacted our manager McDee to say they had licensed the recordings from Sony and planned to release them on quality vinyl. There must be a Whiteout fan somewhere important at Demon!

Young Tribe Rule is particularly interesting as it features a bunch of rarely released tracks. Do you have any favourite tracks that feature on this set?

I really like a lot of those tracks- Rocks Off is fun, it was our only recorded cover, done in one take and featuring Smit the drummer on backing vocals for the only time! But I love the acoustic tracks, especially Shine on You, one of my favourite Whiteout songs,

and Sleep Talking which was I think the first of my songs we recorded.

Do you think we’ll ever see a Whiteout reformation?

99% no!

Are you pleased with how the band sounds 30 odd years on from the materials original releases?

I think the original recordings we did in early ’93 are perfect. There was something about the excitement of being in a proper studio for the first time, and the great sound of the recording room in Park Lane.

Will you be playing any solo gigs to promote the releases?

Not sure yet!

What are you up to musically at present? Are Eli going to be releasing any new material?

Hopefully Lynnie and I can get it together to record the second Eli album sometime soon. We have some great songs which have been around for quite a while…

Finally, whats on your turntable at present?  

Pictish Trail, Galaxie 500 and the Pixies!

Order Whiteout vinyl and digital releases via the following links. Whiteout can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Matt Mead

Matt Mead

Freelance writer who likes anything with heart and soul