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We’re looking forward to releasing a teaser for our new album tomorrow. You’ll wake up on Monday to a brand new video, plus a limited free download of a new recording of ‘Perfect 10′. And you can get it even earlier if you sign up for the White City mailing list. Here’s the story of the song…
One summer’s day a rock band decide to get on their motorbikes, drive out to the desert and film a music video. There’s only a few issues – one of them has never driven a motorcycle, one of them is riding a Soviet Ural relic from the 1960s that keeps breaking down and…they’re in Afghanistan
‘Perfect 10′ is the first video from White City’s debut album, ‘Landlocked’. It’s a wild trip through the dusty roads of Afghanistan. No security, no weapons, no plan except to ride to the soundtrack of their driving new single.
A motley mix of British journalist, Australian videographer and Swedish humanitarian worker came together in Kabul during the fall of 2009 in the shape of Ruth “Ru” Owen (vox, bass), Travis “Travka” Beard (guitar, FX) and Andreas “Andronik” Stefansson (drums, percussion).
Since their formation, White City have travelled all over Afghanistan and toured in ever country ending in ‘stan, setting up to play wherever they can, whether that be in bunkers, embassies or in the middle of nowhere.
Says drummer, Andreas “Andronik” Steffanson of the shoot, heading out of kabul into the wilderness in an old soviet-era ural bike with (singer) Ru attracted quite some attention and felt risky considering the conservative views that prevail in some rural areas to what women can and can´t do. But we were met with truck-drivers smiling and waiving their hands, kids clapping hands and dancing by the side of the dusty roads, farmers getting off their donkeys and inviting us home for lunch and tea.”
As a woman and a novice bike rider, lead singer Ruth “Ru” Owen had an interesting experience. Riding around without a headscarf, flame-red hair blowing in the wind, she got a lot of attention from passing trucks. But it wasn’t what you might have thought.
“Most people were cheering me on and clapping as I raced up and down the freeway. It was my first time on a motorbike and with that many people watching, it really encouraged me not to fall off.”
She also found that Afghans had mixed reactions to the shoot
“As we were sitting round drinking tea with a local farmer and his sons, one of them asked how the male members of the band could ‘allow’ me to sing and dance in public like that. But then his brother countered by asking how it was different to the Bollywood videos he liked to watch.”
Guitarist Travis “Travka” Beard says the love of bikes really captures the imagination of Afghans. “They couldn’t get enough of this old Ural bike with a sidecar, even though it broke down maybe fifteen times during the shoot. Many of the older guys remembered the model from the days of the Soviet invasion and kept offering to buy it!”
With its insistent beat and chugging guitars, “Perfect 10” is a song made for the open road – motorbikes, dust in your teeth and speed on the brain. In this conservative land of covered women, a man would never dare elegise the perfect female curves. But what if it were a woman?
“Perfect 10, small and round, curved like the moon to the earth,” sings Ruth “Ru” Owen, as she joins her bandmates on a motorbike ride through the unforgiving Afghan desert.
“It’s not just men who wonder what’s beneath the flowing robes of Afghan women,” says Ru. I wanted to put myself in the mind of an onlooker to a beautiful female form. I want to celebrate what’s so often considered taboo.” Why? “Afghan women are as beautiful and wonderful as any in the world. I’ve always tried to show Afghan girls through our stage show that they don’t need to flaunt their bodies on stage like so many modern pop stars, but that’s doesn’t mean they don’t have them and shouldn’t be proud of them.”
The crest of the song breaks into a middle section of floating guitars, tribal drums and choral vocals, which, says drummer Andreas “Andronik” Steffanson, is about “taking off your fears and prejudice, getting out there and letting go, cruise uphill and float downstream, embrace the adventure and beauty, and discover that the world holds natural perfection and bliss – it´s just waiting there for you.”
“Afghanistan is still a truly beautiful country, despite 30 years of war,” adds Travka, “we want to let everyone know how much potential it still has to inspire.”
The band have been invited to showcase at SXSW in March and will kick off their first US tour in late February.
Perfect 10 is released on the 27 January 2014
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