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White Rabbits, Here We Go Magic hop into town

Patrick Caldwell
On tour to promote its second album, the White Rabbits makes a pit stop at Austin's The Independent Wednesday.

In 2005, Jamie Levinson found himself disenchanted with his life, as he pursued a graduate degree in library science at the University of Wisconsin. He was bored, and he had drifted far from music, his muse of several years. So when childhood friend Gregory Roberts proposed Levinson pack his bags for New York to join the then-five piece band Roberts had formed while attending the University of Missouri, Levinson had one reaction: "Sure, why not?"

Half a decade later, he's one of the two — count 'em, two — drummers for the Brooklyn-based White Rabbits, a propulsive sextet that blends pop lyricism with world music-inspired percussion and a heaping helping of old-fashioned, head-banging, guitar-shredding rock 'n' roll. The band's second album, 2009's "It's Frightening," was produced by hometown hero Britt Daniel of Spoon, who met the band on tour and took a liking to their Walkmen-by-way-of-the-Specials vibe. Levinson spoke by phone in advance of Wednesday's show at the Independent with Here We Go Magic, discussing Daniel's strengths as a producer, the beauty of working in a record store and what it's like to live in a loft in Brooklyn with five other dudes.

American-Statesman: One of the bands the White Rabbits has most name-dropped in interviews is the Specials, who also had a famous musician produce one of its albums — in the Specials' case, Elvis Costello on the self-titled debut. Were you influenced by bands like that in tapping an artist producer instead of a career producer?

Levinson: Yeah, I think that's largely why we made the decision to work with Britt. We hit it off and stayed in touch and he's always somebody we've respected musically and sonically, which was something we were really looking for. Even aside from the songwriting, Spoon records always just sound great. And having a musician as the producer went a long way when we were trying to make a decision about a performance or a sound. When he said "That's good," or "That's bad," there was a lot of weight behind it. Making decisions was a lot easier when we were recording because of that.

You worked for a while at the Dusty Groove in Chicago, which is a pretty famous world music record store. I assume that's an influence that you've brought to the band, with things like the Burundi beat on 'Percussion Gun.' Was that more something the band was already experimenting with or something you brought to the table?

I definitely was exposed to a lot of things that I probably wouldn't have found otherwise, especially Ethiopian and Brazilian music. Stuff that's kind of outside just what David Byrne has brought to the masses in popular music. Some of the stuff that I got into while I was working at the Dusty Groove definitely filtered its way in, but we're all pretty voracious listeners. Myself and Steve (Patterson, vocals and piano) and Greg (Roberts, vocals and guitar) have all worked in record stores as a job, and you get exposed to a lot of stuff when you just sit around and play records for eight hours a day. So I think for all of us, and not just myself, that's had a significant impact on how open we are to new sounds.

The White Rabbits got some publicity in the era of debut album 'Fort Nightly' for all living together in a loft in Brooklyn, which I've heard you've since moved out of.

Yes, thank God.

Do you miss that lifestyle at all? It seems like the kind of thing that you could regard as a childhood dream — living in a loft and making music.

That's true, but I think all of us were kind of over it. I mean, I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. You get to live with your best friends, doing stuff you love to do. We could make music all the time and not bother anybody. And it really helped acclimate us to touring, too. Being stuck with a band for so long in really close quarters can suck if you're used to being by yourself all the time, but we lived on top of each other. So that helped being in a van all the time and made touring less of a shock to the system. But I think it's healthier for us now to have our own space. Now when we come home we don't have to go right back to the loft and be all up in each others' faces.

White Rabbits with Here We Go Magic

When: Doors at 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 14

Where: The Independent, 501 N. Interstate 35

Cost: $13

Information:www.nd venue.com