The White Stripes
Detroit minimalist rock duo (specifically, southwest Detroit minimalist rock duo) the White Stripes -- Jack White, guitar and vocals, Meg White, drums -- formed in 1997 (Bastille Day, to be precise) with the idea of making simple rock & roll music. From the red and white peppermint candy motif of their debut singles, self-titled album, and stage show to their on-the-surface rudimentary style, they succeeded wildly and immediately with that mission. Their first recordings were a mix of garage rock, blues, and the occasional show tune. In frontman Jack (a former drummer for Detroit country outfit Goober & the Peas), the White Stripes have a formidable songwriter, guitar player, and vocalist capable of both morphing between styles and changing the musical styles themselves; ranging from the folk blues of Blind Willie McTell to soaring Kinks-esque pop and narrative pop tunes worthy of Cole Porter and into deepest Captain Beefheart territory within the span of 15 minutes is not an uncommon listening experience with either the White Stripes live show or on record. In drummer Meg, the White Stripes have a minimalist percussionist who seems to sense intuitively exactly when to not play. The White Stripes are grounded in punk and blues, but the undercurrent to all of their work has been the aforementioned striving for simplicity, a love of American folk music, and a careful approach to intriguing, emotional, and evocative lyrics not found anywhere else in the modern punk, or garage rock (or amongst post-modern "blues" practitioners such as Jon Spencer, for that matter).
While they may have sprung from the Detroit rock scene (and they remain regular fixtures on the Detroit club circuit with Jack producing or working with many Detroit-area bands), the White Stripes quickly gained a national following after two successive tours with indie rockers Pavement and Sleater-Kinney in 1999 and 2000. The White Stripes released their second LP, De Stijl, in 2000 and it further spread the group's reputation. They followed its release with successful tours of Japan and Australia and entered the Memphis studio of renowned producer Doug Easley for 2001's White Blood Cells. The album was a critical smash and the White Stripes soon found themselves, along with the Strokes and the Hives, at the forefront of the new wave of rock & roll bands poised to take over the world. The band certainly did their best to acheive world domination, appearing on Late Night with David Lettterman, being written about in Time, the New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly, playing the MTV Movie Awards and having their video for "Fell in Love with a Girl" in heavy rotation on MTV. They also made the tough decision to jump to a major label; White Blood Cells was reissued on V2 in January of 2002 and their first two records followed suit in June. The White Stripes truly became big time rock stars when their "Fell in Love with a Girl" clip was nominated for four MTV Video Awards including Best Video of the Year (alongside Eminem and *NSYNC!), Breakthrough Video, Best Special Effects in a Video and Best Editing in a Video. That summer the group also played four triumphant shows with the Strokes, two apiece in the bands' respective hometowns. In spring 2003 their fourth full-length Elephant -- recorded in two weeks at London's Toerag Studio and dedicated to "the death of the sweetheart" -- arrived to nearly unanimous critical acclaim. In 2005, the Stripes returned with Get Behind Me Satan, a dizzyingly diverse album that spanned disco-metal and light, marimba-driven pop and was written and recorded in two weeks that spring.
This is part of an interesting interview they gave to filmmaker Jim Jarmusch after they appeared in his film Coffee and Cigarettes: (below is the link to the full interview)
Article from http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1285/is_4_33/ai_100572738
JIM JARMUSCH: Hey, Jack and Meg.
MEG WHITE: Hi.
JACK WHITE: Hey, Jimmy James. What's happening?
JJ: I'm in the editing room. How are you guys?
JW: Good. I'm watching Rosemary's Baby --for the third time in two days.
JJ: Well, I'm going to start off by saying congratulations on a great rock 'n' roll record. I love it so much.
MW: Oh, thank you.
JJ: And I love having it on vinyl--I got the promotional copy.
JW: Yeah, we didn't want any journalists who didn't own a record player writing about us.
JJ: I don't want to ask you questions like. "What does the title Elephant mean?" But I just read that the oldest living elephant on earth died last week, at the age of 86. And I have a friend who lives in Africa, and she's been studying a group of elephants for 12 years. I have a recording of the elephants from her that I'm going to send to you guys, because it's really beautiful.
JW: Oh, excellent.
JJ: Jack, you were also in Romania for a long time last year, working on the movie ColdMountain. Did you record something with [bluegrass legend) Ralph Stanley?
JW: He was there. He recorded some things for the soundtrack, and there was one song, where it was a call and response with about 50 people in the room. He was calling out phrases, and people would sing them back to him, sort of like a gospel number. I was part of that.
JJ: Wow. Meg, while lack was gone all that time, what were you up to?
MW: I was mostly being a hermit. [laughs] Then I went on tour with some friends for a little while.
JJ: You see, while Jack was doing that, we should've been making a silent film biography of someone like Pola Negri.
MW: Yes. [laughs]
JJ: Really. I have this dream that maybe we'll do something like that sometime. You both have this thing: You look like silent-film stars to me. [Jack and Meg laugh) I'd love to do something in that style together.
JW: That'd be great. Silent films are also about stripping things back. There were no special effects or budgets, and they were doing such amazing things. You had to have talent; you had to be like Buster Keaton.
JJ: Since we're talking about film ... you've made some really innovative, interesting videos and done a bit of film work--but I understand it's not something you sought out. People came to you, right?
JW: Yeah, it's really odd. Something clicked in the last year--people were having so many different takes on us and what we put out there. Like T-Bone Burnett and Anthony Minghella [musical director and director, respectively, of ColdMountain), who associated me with a love of American folk music, I guess. And they wanted that to be portrayed in their film. And Michel Gondry [who directed the White Stripes video "Fell in Love With a Girl"] latched onto the childishness of the band and used visuals like Lego. It's really flattering that all those people are asking [to work with us].
JJ: Now, Meg, I recently found a beautiful quote, where you said, "We've created our own little world. When you do that, nothing can get you." [Tack and Meg laugh] And that really moves me. I mean, I'm a lot older than you guys, but I've been trying for years to build a little world around myself, where the things that I don't want to affect my work get closed out. And it's hard. It must be very hard for you to do that with the amount of attention you have been getting since White Blood Cells.
MW: I've always kind of lived in my own world. Everything else outside me seems far, far away.
JW: When do I get a copy of the key to your world, Meg? [Meg laughs]
JJ: It's invisible. [Jack laughs]
MW: We never really cared about all the things that other people cared about, you know? Like, people recognizing me on the street never interested me. I've always been kind of suspicious of the world, anyway, so it's pretty easy for me to live in my own little world.
JW: Well, Meg, I disagree, because I know you love cotton candy. [Meg laughs] Yet you don't know how to make cotton candy yourself. So you do need the rest of the world. [laughs]
MW: That's true. I have to have the cotton candy shipped in.
JJ: [laughs] One thing I have to say, Meg, is that there are themes in the White Stripes' songs--of innocence, of childhood, as well as a lot of other things--and your style as a drummer is beautifully integrated into what the songs are saying. I always felt that the Beatles would never have had their sound without Ringo. I mean, obviously, you can't stack him up against people like Max Roach, technically, but it's so beautifully integrated--like your work.
MW: Ringo knew what was needed, and he did what was right for the band, down to every little tiny thing needed for that song. And as much as I love all of the great drummers, there is that thing where it's about what the band needs. You know, when I hear music, I just hear the whole thing. I've never been much into picking things apart. It's the emotion of it that hits me, more than anything technical.
JW: I get jealous of Meg that way. I can be emotionally involved in the music, too, but then that sort of male thing comes out of me where I have to figure out how it works, why it sounds good, why the guitar tone is interesting. I have to mechanically pick things apart sometimes. Maybe that's what's good, though--the idea of the male and the female onstage and nothing else. It's two different sides of looking at the same thing. It feels like you can see that. I can feel it onstage.
JJ: Did you fight for control from the start?
JW: Yes. It's hard for me, because I'm constantly battling what's good and bad about ego. But because Orson Welles is such a big idol of mine, I love that whole auteur aspect. He was given complete control to do Citizen Kane . With us, being a two-piece band and because the songs are generated from me, it seems wrong to get a producer involved. Some bands can write amazing songs but they don't know how to record them, so they have to have a producer. But I was always hacking away at recording other bands 45s in my attic. I'm not very good at recording: I don't know where to put mikes; I don't know what the right frequencies are for things. I just try to do what sounds right. But if we can keep everything in this big box and keep people away from us, at least we can be proud of it. Like, if someone says it's a good live show or it's a good album, we know it wasn't because it was the producer's idea or the record label's marketing plan. We have a manager now, but all of the decisions have to come through us--which gets to be a lot of work. But it's better, because I like to be able to defend everything we do.
JJ: You mentioned the de Stijl movement, but are there other artists who really strike you?
JW: The only other person I've always thought about was Michelangelo. The perfection of what he did ... I just love his sculptures. He chiseled everything down but left just enough to show a vein. That's so insane! [laughs] That's a far cry from do Stijl; he's going to the extremes of human beauty and perfection ...
JJ: Well, I could relate your work to Michelangelo or da Vinci, in that they weren't afraid of any form. They never said, "I'm a painter, not a sculptor or an inventor." You seem the same, like you could do a show tune or a rural blues tune and not be afraid of it. You wouldn't say, "Oh, I'm supposed to be a neo-garage rocker." And that openness is, in a way, contrary to stripping everything down, but somehow that contradiction is really valuable.
JW: That's a relief. When you're onstage at a sold-out venue, you kind of feel that there are a couple of different attitudes coming at you. One is that people don't know much about what's happening; they want to witness something. And the other is that people think they know everything about you, and they want to experience it in a different way. So the goal is to share with people, but you can sort of manipulate what they experience. If we can trick 15-year-old girls into singing the lyrics to a Son House song, we've really achieved something.
JJ: Oh, man, that's so refreshing, your attitude and approach. Jack, you have said you thought maybe the greatest rock 'n' roll record ever was Fun House, by Iggy and the Stooges.
JW: Fun House, yeah.
JJ: I've been asked that question a few times and have always responded: "Hands down: Fun House."
MW: Of course.
JJ: OK, I should let you go, but I hope I'll see you soon. And I just want to tell you to take good care of yourselves, because you're very valuable--and I mean that partly as a selfish music fanatic. [all laugh]
Last edited by flick; 23-08-2005 at 08:45 AM.
Interview with Humo (belgian music magazine)
a part I translated ...
*Humo : you're 27 Jack.A lot of artists died at 27...What do you want on your grave stone?
Jack(takes a long time to think) 'Nobody cared for his opinion,untill he started to sing'.
And you ,Meg?
Meg 'I'm not a robot' ( laughs)
Last edited by fugfashion; 23-08-2005 at 05:12 PM.
my loves a pony.
I love thier scene in Coffee and Cigarettes. So quirky those two...
And we liked to party
and we kept it live
and we had a three volume tome of contemporary slang
to keep a handle on all this jive.
Ítre ton cygne noir
I simply adore them... Every album I like for a different reason, and I don't think any record is weaker than another. It's a rare quality.