Aside from the fact that he was born in Detroit and used to run an upholstery store, White Stripes frontman Jack White is pretty close to a modern-day Delta bluesman. He already has the chops and the swagger, and he’s got the whole “seventh son” shtick down pat, too.
But in the video for “Blue Orchid,” the first single from the Stripes’ upcoming Get Behind Me Satan, he models himself after the baddest bluesman of them all, the guy responsible for giving Delta legend Robert Johnson his supernatural guitar skills: the Devil himself.
In the video, directed by moody auteur Floria Sigismondi (Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People,” Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter”), Jack’s decked out in black, maniacally stroking his now-infamous Grammy mustache, while Meg White lurks in the background and white snakes, apples and horses mill about. It’s a scene straight out of the Garden of Eden … but with much better music.
“Jack kept his mustache just for this video, because it’s very apropos for the character he’s playing,” Sigismondi said. “The band is dressed primarily in black — with elements of red and white added in — and the whole video has a very dark, textured look to it. And there’s a whole Adam and Eve storyline running through the video, represented by all the white elements. It’s very stark and much darker than anything they’ve done before.”
Sigismondi shot the video in one day inside a burned-out Los Angeles mansion and is currently in the final editing stages. From original concept to final cut, the process took less than two weeks, which not only mirrors the breakneck pace at which the Stripes recorded Satan (see “White Stripes Album Preview: Confounding Satan Both Loud And Subtle” ) but also “Blue Orchid” itself, which clocks in at a brisk 2:37.
“Normally, this whole process takes up to a month. But the song was just so urgent, and since we only shot for one day, I didn’t really have time to think about it,” Sigismondi laughed. “The real challenge is going to be trying to fit all these images into such a short, urgent song.”
Those images include Jack plucking the strings of a charred grand piano instead of his guitar, and Meg smashing her modified drum kit, made entirely of plates, with a hammer. There’s also a “mystery” female character who’s lurking in the rafters of the mansion. The feel of the video is eerily reminiscent of the promo art for Satan — which featured black, Eve-like apples — but Sigismondi said she had never seen any of the art … she just connected with the dangerous, careening feel of the song.
“The song naturally builds tension, and the video will make the viewer think that something is coming to get them,” she said. “It was funny. I guess I tapped into the same consciousness Jack had when he was writing the song, because he kept looking around at the sets and the costumes and all the burnt stuff, and he’d turn to me and ask, ’Floria, did you get into my head?’ ”