Whitehall may be a group of young 20-somethings from Charleston, but their wisdom when it comes to music transpires in every riff they write. Though that same knowledge is not as present in their own minds that are instead full of chaos.
Today they mix that writing prowess with anxiety driven lyrics for their newest single, “Good Guy.” The song may be structured on simplistic riffs and power chords that were fostered during humble beginnings in their college dorm rooms, but the groove and instantly perpetuated nonchalant attitude that comes with the same minimalism cannot be topped.
“’Good Guy’ is a bit of a patchwork of scenes in my life, so it sat on the shelf for a couple months while things unfolded,” vocalist/guitarist Paddy Mckiernan told American Songwriter. “I brought the song to the band half-done and it was really simple and a bit slower but the band heard the frustration I relayed and turned it into this tune of chaotic noise, hard stops, and really gave it the emotions it needed.”
The chorus lyrics that miserably chant; I want to be the good guy, some things happen, some things don’t, instantly offer a deflated perspective that comes when you have to accept life as it comes, shrugging your shoulders and brushing it off.
“The lyrics take on a defeated tone and show how frustration and messing things up can impact your thoughts,” Mckiernan said. “Small things like driving and painting poorly spiraled into these huge questions. I struggled with the idea of being a good person in these scenarios and the fear of screwing things up on a large scale. The last lines of the chorus ‘some things happen, some things don’t’ show that for me, there’s an equal amount of hope and doubt when you find yourself there.”
Though the lyrics were derived from individual life experiences, the music and attitudes were instinctive and the band inserted appropriate instrumentation and techniques to achieve the hectic tone of the song.
“Avery (Greeson) took over the second verse on lead guitar, making wild noises and releasing a lot of that tension,” Mckiernan explained. “Brennan (on bass) and Dave (on drums) came up with the rockin’ bridge that fuels the energy for the last half of the song. The song has a really traditional structure to it, but you might not notice because of how it’s played and shaped.”
Whitehall’s motivation to write about these ideas also stems from their desire as artists to provide a connection to their listeners. And presenting themselves with mortal flaws and gaffe was the best way they knew how to portray that objective.
“I’m most excited for people to hear us and to feel heard themselves,” Mckiernan said. “I think these feelings of anxiety and existentialism are things that a lot of people go through, and I hope people feel validated in their own experiences. I hope people find a bond with it like we have – it’s always fun to play and enjoy but it’s also earnest and true to things we feel.”
“Good Guy” is just the first of many more songs to come from Whitehall ahead of their next release and follow up to their debut Ocean Fiction. All of which will dip into the similar concepts and perspectives paired with their perpetual humor and sarcasm.
“We cooked up a bunch of new songs that deal with similar themes, adding things like sinking ships for fun, forgetting your name, and being impossibly bored. They are almost ready to be heard, stay tuned!
Catch the premiere of “Good Guy” here today on American Songwriter and pre-save it here so you can listen again on its official release day, October 30. Also check out Whitehall’s debut LP Ocean Fiction here.