Jack White doesn’t understand all the fuss surrounding the Dead Weather , his latest bit of extracurricular activity. To him, this is just the way things are done.
“I don’t know, I mean, I’ve been in bands a lot. When the White Stripes started, I was already in three bands and, uh, I don’t like to sit still for long. It doesn’t do anybody any good … it’s just … if it’s not working, it’s time to move on,” White told MTV News on Wednesday. “Or even if it is working, it’s time to move on to something else and see what else you can make work. I think the easy way out is to find one thing that works and just bludgeon it to death and do it over and over again … I can’t live like that, I can’t work like that. It’s not inspiring to me. I have to move forward even if that means moving sideways, you know?”
And Dead Weather are perhaps the most logical sideways move White could’ve made. Comprised of his Raconteur mate “Little Jack” Lawrence, Racs touring member Dean Ferita and Kills frontwoman (and Raconteurs’ touring partner) Alison Mosshart, the Weather were put together on the quick and have made an album — Horehound, due June 9 — that sounds exactly like you’d expect a White/Mosshart collaboration to sound: fast, loose and, most of all, dark.
“We started off as just one day at the end of the Raconteurs and Kills tour that we had to work on something together. The three of us were going to do a 7-inch [record], but Dean was staying at my house too, and he sort of wandered in while we were recording and we ended up writing songs together and that turned into an album — turned into a band,” White explained. “We recorded at Third Man Studios that I designed … I Just built an entire studio out of an old candy factory. I was trying out different acoustical techniques, various panels. A lot of secret things … it’s the reason the record sounds the way it does.”
Most certainly, Horehound is the most, well, noir thing White has ever played on: full of scuzzed-out guitars, bleak, windswept organs and muffled, smothered feedback. There’s plenty of mentions of sun-bleached bones, whiskey and bullets, plus a fair amount of sweaty, smutty sex. It sounds claustrophobic, angry, bloody and downright horny, all of which begs the question: Just what was going on down in Third Man Studios?
“I don’t know, it just seemed like this was what was coming out of all of us. Maybe we were just really tired at the end of touring. I had a slipped disc in my neck, I was in therapy for months from that after that tour,” White smiled. “I lost my voice, [Alison’s] voice was scratchy when we first started. Just on and on. I don’t know, we kept pushing and pushing to see what else could happen.”
White says the plan is to take the Dead Weather on the road this summer, but after that, who knows? Pretty much everyone involved has other things on his or her plate — White especially — so the future is rather cloudy. Then again, given how he operates, White wouldn’t have things any other way.
“There’s a lot of ways to do it. You can choose to go through the mill and do everything that everybody else does and just do it, because that’s what everybody else does, because that’s what you’re supposed to do — go do some Internet live sessions, some MySpace page, etc., etc., etc. — but that’s not how I work,” he said. “If you sit down and write on paper, ’OK, you do this, you do that and this is the kind of band we’re going to be and it’s going to look like this and sound like this,’ I mean, forget it, man. That premeditated stuff doesn’t work very much.”