Let the Cats Out of the Bag

Whale House prepares to release debut album

Parker Reed, photos by Kyle Lehman

FEELING BLUE, GUYS? A LITTLE STRUNG OUT? FORMING A SPLINTER GROUP? Whale House (aka indie rockers Clayton Brice and Caleb Price) will release their debut album at Brewery Nønic in Menomonie on Sept. 14.
FEELING BLUE, GUYS? A LITTLE STRUNG OUT? FORMING A SPLINTER GROUP? Whale House (aka indie rockers Clayton Brice and Caleb Price) will release their debut album at Brewery Nønic in Menomonie on Sept. 14.

A decade-long musical brotherhood is ready to take the next step in its musical journey by offering up its largest collection of songs to date. 

Whale House is the local musical pairing of Caleb Price and Clayton Brice, whose blend of half hook/half experimental indie rock has blossomed and evolved since their humble beginnings after meeting at UW-Eau Claire in 2009. Initially a two-piece group playing ambient synth-laden music, the pair have released multiple EPs and singles and played across the Midwest over Whale House’s lifespan. The experience they’ve gathered has informed the next step in their career: a full-length album. 

“The one continual aspect of our time writing together is whenever we sit down to write a song we try and take it somewhere else we haven’t gone before.” – Clayton Brice, Whale House

The indie-rockers are set to release their debut 11-song album Clowder digitally on Saturday, Sept. 7, and on vinyl and CD at their record release show at Brewery Nønic in Menomonie on Saturday, Sept. 14. 

Price said a full-length album is something the band has always wanted to pursue, but a few things needed to come together to see the record realized to its full potential. 

“It’s always been the goal to do a full-length record, it’s just been a question of time and money,” Price said. “The resources all came together at once in terms of the people involved, the engineer, the producer, the space to record, and the drummer. The stars just aligned at the right time.” 

A “clowder” is a group or herd of cats, and the unique word is something Brice said the band feels encapsulates its unique approach to writing and recording. The first single from the album, “Milk,” offers a brief glimpse of what listeners can expect from the record, hooks that’ll stick in your head and lyrical/musical experimentation that’ll have you scratching it at the same time. 

“The one continual aspect of our time writing together is whenever we sit down to write a song we try and take it somewhere else we haven’t gone before,” Brice said. “With this record we tried to consciously write more concise tunes. And we write very literally about things and also try and being imaginative as well. There is something for everyone on this new record.” 

Clowder was recorded in part at Drum Farm Studios in Menomonie and Creation Audio in Minneapolis with Tom Herbers (Low, Why?, Charlie Parr, Dark Dark Dark, etc.) manning the helm as producer. The album art was done by Anthony Ausgang, who did the cover  sfor MGMT’s Congratulations, (and yes, the album cover features enough cats to give you your feline fix). The album features songs where Price sings and plays guitar solo, songs with screaming, a string quartet, keyboards, and a plethora of other offerings. And in a world of digital recordings, Whale House decided to record the majority of their debut record live to tape. 

“We wanted to capture and instill a certain energy you sometimes can’t get across digitally,” Price said. “There are a lot of interesting things you can do digitally, but there is a certain energy you capture when you play the songs live. It changes how you work.” 

Brice said the next steps for Whale House include making a second music video, getting the word out about their new album, and writing and recording together as they have for much of their adult lives. 

“We like to keep people guessing,” Brice said. “We like to try unexpected things with either the arrangement or the lyrics or different formal parts about how the song is put together. Going forward we’ll keep experimenting and finding new sounds.” 

Find Whale House music and show dates or download the new album at whalehousemusic.com.