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MTV News' Kurt Loder hung with the Detroit duo at New York's Central Park Zoo, where they talked about sweethearts, fake punks, dinner at country legend Loretta Lynn's house, and Justin Timberlake.


Kurt Loder: Did somebody one day just hand you a Howlin' Wolf record or something?

  Photos From The Zoo
Jack White: Yeah. When I was a teenager I had a cassette tape of some Howlin' Wolf songs and Willie Dixon. But [the blues] really didn't snap with me until later on — somehow Robert Johnson really snapped something in my brain. I really felt like I had to find a way that I could play this music that felt so real and so cathartic for me, and figure out how I could attack that and share it with other people without getting this "white-boy blues" thing labeled on me. Once [Meg and I] started playing rock and roll together, we sort of figured out this way of boxing ourselves in, so tight and so limited that you weren't really thinking about the notions behind it, it just felt more emotional. The whole goal was to get down to wearing the uniform, as in school, where you're just forced to concentrate because you're not distracted by anything else.

Loder: Do you get to observe Jack writing the songs, or do you have to leave the room?

Meg White: No, the songs just magically appear. Sometimes at sound checks they'll suddenly appear out of nowhere or usually in the middle of a show.

Loder: In the liner notes to Elephant, it says, "This album is dedicated to, and is for, and about the death of the sweetheart." What's that about?

  The White Stripes
"Seven Nation Army"
Jack: I wanted to get people to think about how they relate to one another — how the males and females relate, how the parents and sons and daughters relate, and bring up some ideas to see if they still mean something. What does the word "sweetheart" or "gentleman" mean nowadays? Has it changed in the last 50 years? Should we reevaluate these words?

Some people have said [about the liner notes], "I totally agree, I just wish you wouldn't have said that." It's funny to shock people with normality. I mean, it's becoming an age of punk for the sake of punk, angst for the sake of angst. What are we rebelling against?

Loder: It used to be different. Would you say that?

Jack: Yeah, there was a time where it was really necessary that these things were coming out and now it's just like everybody's got spiky hair and 50 piercings in their face. Is there any meaning behind it? A beef I have is image for the sake of image, cool for the sake of cool. If things don't have meaning behind it with you then all art falls apart at that point.

Loder: Is it a strain on you, sitting up there onstage trying to fill in all the spaces? Do you sometimes think, "I wish there was a bass player"?

Meg: Actually I don't. I've never played with a bass player before, so I wouldn't even know. It wouldn't feel like it's missing, I just think it's normal ... I prefer it that way so I only have to concentrate on Jack.

Loder: Loretta Lynn opened for you in New York recently. How did that come about?

Jack: We just called her and said that we had dedicated our last album, White Blood Cells, to her and just wanted to say hello and see if there's a chance we could ever play a show together. I guess her daughter was a [White Stripes] fan. We ended up going and having dinner with [Loretta] down in Nashville where she lives, and it was a great time. She made us chicken and dumplings and we heard some great stories. She said, "I was sitting around the house and I was doin' my hair and I heard the White Stripes come on, and it sounded like someone was breaking into a bank."

Loder: For the past five or six years, have you been sort of sitting around mumbling to yourself about what's going on in music, or did you understand what this teen pop thing was?

Jack: I think it's fine. I think it's great. Pop music has always been that way. There's different angles to it all the time. What's that last Justin Timberlake song, the one with that guitar? ["Rock Your Body"] — I like that one, I think that's really good.

Loder: So there's nothing that makes you angry when you hear it on the radio?

Jack: No, no, you can't be angry about that, people are just making music, I mean, you know, it's all supply and demand, if there wasn't a demand for certain kinds of music, we wouldn't be hearing about it.

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