Apparently no one informed White Stripes/ Raconteurs frontman Jack White that the country is facing dire jobless rates, because White just added a third band to his résumé. Not content to front just two bands at once, White has just unveiled his latest creation, the Dead Weather, a death-rattle blues quartet featuring White on drums and vocals, the Kills’ Alison Mosshart on vocals, the Raconteurs’ Jack Lawrence on bass and Queens of the Stone Age’s Dean Fertita on guitar.
White debuted the band Wednesday night at a private party in Nashville, Tennessee, in front of 150 invited guests, according to a recap of the event on the Web site of White’s Third Man Records, using the show to unveil the label’s new offices/ record store/ photo studio/ performance stage in Music City.
The first public performance by the band included songs from its upcoming debut, Horehound, which was produced by White and is due out in June. The album was recorded over the course of three weeks earlier this year at the new Third Man Studio, which was, of course, designed “from the ground up” by White as well.
Attendees at Wednesday’s shindig — which, according to The Associated Press, included Sheryl Crow, Martina McBride and the White Stripes’ Meg White — exchanged their letter-pressed invitations for a limited-edition seven-inch vinyl pressing of the Dead Weather’s debut single, “Hang You From the Heavens,” which also features a cover of the new-wave classic “Are ’Friends’ Electric?” originally by Gary Numan’s 1970s band Tubeway Army.
In keeping with White’s love of home-crafted musical curios, the bandmates hand-painted each of the 150 singles, which also included photo-booth pictures of the bandmembers. Both songs are currently available exclusively through iTunes.
“The idea was to do a seven-inch single and be done with it, but we started writing songs and something happened,” White said, according to the AP, which also reported that the band plans to tour this year.
“Hang You From the Heavens” mixes the Stripes’ signature fuzzed-out garage sound with some dinosaur-rock drumming from White and Mosshart’s punchy blues singing. Over skuzzy, blown-speaker rock, Mosshart yelps, “I wanna grab you from the hair/ And hang you up from the heavens.” The noisy Numan cover adds a 1960s psychedelic sheen to the robotic original, with watery vocals and woozy keyboards that have a vintage vibe but render the song almost unrecognizable.
The White Stripes have not toured since late 2007, when they canceled a string of dates following Meg White’s bout of acute anxiety. It’s unclear how the formation of this new band will impact the Grammy-winning duo’s future. The normally prolific group, which has reportedly been working on new material, has not released a new album since 2007’s Icky Thump, though they did give a wobbly performance on the February finale of “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.” A spokesperson for White could not be reached for comment at press time.