received a present — a gimmicky plastic dispenser loaded with M&Ms to add to the growing pile ofgifts. Mostly it's trivial stuff like cuddly toys and sweeties. but there were a couple of swanky designer T-shirts (Agnes B. label-watchers).
The guys were linally adjusting to this fan hysteria which started earlier in the week when they arrived in Sapporo to kick off the tour. About twenty young women. some who followed the hand on every date of their Japanese tour. were at the airport to greet them. By the time the band had reached Tokyo early one morning. the lobby. phone boxes and corridors of their hotel were mobbed. A few Whiteout fans had even checked in to the same hotel to ensure maximum access to their heroes.
All this ego-massaging can be inconvenient. though. On the day of the Quattro gig the band had been forced to switch hotels after the management complained that pop hysteria was bad for business. After checking into a new ‘secret’ hotel. Whiteout plus entourage headed for a bite to eat in a nearby fast food chain (the Greenock palate hadn‘t yet acquired a taste for sushi!) which they assumed would be safe. Not a bit of it; the now familiar gang of besotted girls was soon spotted in the hotel. alter following the band in taxis. 'We don’t mind them coming around btit when they shout ottt the band’s names the hotel aren’t too happy — I know they‘re looking forward to our departure.‘ says Whiteout manager Andrew McDermaid.
More used to playing to impoverished indie kids around Scotland. Whiteout were amazed by the amount of money the fans dished out: plane and shinkansen (bullet train) fares. concert tickets (around £30). hotel bills and. of course. gifts. This is a country infamous for its massively inflated cost of living and only Japanese youth can dole out this kind of cash. Today‘s post-war parents are inclined to give their kids what they or their parents couldn‘t have. bankrolling them with huge allowances by Western standards. The money flows provided the kids persevere with their demanding school schedule. continuing until after college graduation when the harsh reality of working life kicks in.
Japan is still a largely homogenous. crimeless society. High school and college students are far more innocent than their European and American counterparts. In the end. the band described their fans as ‘rather sweet. really.’ Like many pop-conquerers of Japan before them. Whiteout had discovered that female fans have nothing to do with the British groupie who is an essential part of the rock ’n‘ roll myth. These nice Japanese girls were only interested in
‘It's been fantastic. We’ve been treated royally, and our shows have been selling out. The other night the club even let in an extra hundred people. It was absolutely mad!’
exchanging small talk with the band. coyly handing over presents. and maybe posing together for photos. In short. no hanky panky. ln Osaka. one of the band‘s roadies recounted how he was tip all night in his hotel room with two girls — chatting — before they dashed off at 7am to high school and exams!
On Whiteout‘s last day in Tokyo. the band were busy with the last in a lengthy series of magazine and radio interviews. Like kids at the end of a birthday party. everyone was a little tired and depressed. but still looking forward to returning — possibly in December. ‘Our dream is to come back and till the Budokan [the huge venue where The Beatles performed in 1966]. says manager McDermaid. And. on the evidence of Whiteout's first visit. its possible. 'J After reent'ering from jet-lag and (‘u/tare-shoek, Whiteout will be playing a series of Scottish gigs including the Musie Box. [Edinburgh 0n [7 June and The Garage, (I/asgmt' (m [8 June. Many thanks to Ten/tents Live/fur their help with this feature.
Moptops of pop
he Kids have decreed that Whiteout are a band worthy of loyalty and adoration. no matter what fashion and critical thought dictate. The enthusiasm of the quartet‘s Japanese fans might make for an intriguing cultural phenomenon but it’s not half as quaint and curious as the posse of raging Greenock youths who have followed the band from their origins. mirroring their bowicut/denim/Adidas tops look and taking over entire communities when they travel to the group’s away fixtures.
Whiteout’s much-delayed debut album Bite It finally comes out this month. To many. the band are a new experience. Another young group releases their first long-player. But for those closer to the nucleus. it feels like a long time coming.
Whiteout formed in I990 in Greenock. an lnverclyde town with a large youth population and nothing for them to do. Not surprisingly. other local bands came in Whiteout’s wake. but it was our moptop heroes who garnered the devotions of their peers. The Madchester thing was in its final throes and Whiteout rode brieﬂy in the sidecar.
Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley professed an interest and promised a single. It eventually appeared after the band had undergone several line-up changes. Now ‘Orange Overdrive’/‘Next Big Thing’ sounds twee and throwaway. a bit spineless even. but by that time the band were garnering interest as their sound took on country and R & B inﬂuences and generally acquired ﬂesh on its bones.
Heavenly Records (home of Saint Etienne) showed interest. Whiteout even made it onto the Heavenly bill at Manchester’s Hacienda during 1993’s In The City festival (another celebratory awayday for the Whiteout supporters' bus). However. Silvertone stepped in with a solid deal while Heavenly were still stroking their chins.
In the past year Whiteout have released four singles. including the upfront ‘No Time’. the jaunty ‘Starrclub’ and the impish ‘Jackie’s Racing’. The band notched up an attitude- charged performance of ‘No Time’ on The Word which advertised their national arrival with a bang. Then Whiteout embarked on a double-header tour with Oasis and watched as their one-time peers went through the roof. while they gradually consolidated. This is a frustrating experience for a band with a lust for rock 'n’ roll. Whiteout were never meant to go halfway -— it’s stardom or nothing.
This band are a complete package - melodies, guitars, attitude. image are all intertwined, and enshrine the gang mentality that has characterised many of the most feverishly-followed groups from The Monkees to Blur. Whiteout are built to last and. even in these accelerated times when you can form after breakfast and be the biggest new sensation by lunch. they’ve only just begun. (Fiona Shepherd) 0 ‘Bite [1' is released on Silvertone on 12 June. The single ‘No Time’ is out now.
The List 2-15 Jun I995 11