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Episode 41 – The John Peel Sessions

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Topic details:

  • To uncover the history of John Peel, how he made himself into such an influential musical tastemaker in England, and how he got to know Jack White. The discussion will culminate in the “John Peel Sessions” album released in 2016 for record store day and heavily bootlegged prior to that.

John Peel’s history:

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  • Early Life:
    • John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, AKA John Peel, was born on August 30th 1939 in Heswall, England
      • Near liverpool, Peel grew up in the village of Burton – Peel’s father was a well to do cotton merchant and Peel was sent away to get a fancy education at the Shrewbury school – was described by the headmaster as both “extraordinarily eccentric” and “amazingly perceptive”
      • He kept to himself in school and got into record collecting at an early age. This blossomed into a desire to host his own radio show, so that he could play music “he wanted others to hear”
      • He served for a time in the royal artillery in the 50’s
    • Dallas
      • He moved to Texas at 21 to work in the family trade of cotton production
      • He also worked for an insurance company in Dallas, where he met JFK and later snuck into the arraignment of Lee Harvey Oswald disguised as a Liverpool Echo reporter. He then actually relayed that story TO the echo
      • He started his radio career here on WRR (AM) in Dallas — while this was unpaid, he was able to use this to jump to paid gigs, including becoming KLIF’s official Beatles correspondent when Beatlemania hit the US. (i’m sure the liverpool background and accent helped)
      • He met his first wife here and married her. Shirley Anne Milburn was 15 when they were married.
      • Throughout the 60’s bounced around to a few stations, from KOMA in Oklahoma City to KMEN in San Bernadino, CA (under the name John Ravencroft)
    • “John Peel”:
      • In 1967 Peel came back to the UK with his new wife and began broadcasting for Radio London, which was an offshore “pirate radio” station – the show was called The Perfumed Garden.
        • Pirate radio was launched in order to dodge english “needle time” restrictions
      • While working here a Radio London Secretary suggested he go by the name “John Peel”
      • His station emphasized blues, folk and psychedelic rock
      • The “Peel” way of broadcasting was sorta the template for a Marc Maron — hyper personal with a strong emphasis on audience participation — where issues of the day were talked about in an open and intelligent way.
      • Radio London closed down later that year, but Peel moved his show to a column in the underground newspaper “International Times”.
  • BBC1:
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    • When Radio London closed down, the BBC was starting its own pop music station titled BBC Radio 1 — of which it needed experienced radio personalities to get off the ground. Peel was an early hire.
    • While Peel started at Radio 1 in September of 1967, by early 1968 he was hosting solo show and only a year later was making national headlines for his frank hosting style (telling stuffing british households about his STD suffering — not only was he a proto-maron, he was the proto-stern in a way too)
    • The Night Ride
      • This show picked up where his original “perfumed garden” show left off
      • The show featured interviews from Marc Bolan, The Byrds, The Rolling Stones and John and Yoko
      • 18 months after it began, Peel’s underground leanings and shocking approach finally lead the BBC to shut it down.
      • While the show was short lived, its format of recorded music plus live recordings turned into a hallmark of his programs for the rest of his BBC career
    • Peel was one of the first broadcasters to play psychedelic and prog rock on British radio
    • He promoted artists of a variety of different genres including pop, reggae, indie pop, indie rock, alternative rock, punk, hardcore punk, breakcore, grindcore, death metal, British hip hop, electronic music, jungle and dance music.
    • A regular part of his program was known as “the peel sessions”
      • Via Ken Garner’s 2010 biography: the peel sessions usually consisted of four songs recorded by an artist live in the BBC’s studios, and which often provided the first major national coverage to bands that would later achieve great fame. Another popular feature of his shows was the annual Festive Fifty countdown of his listeners’ favourite records of the year.
    • He married his second wife Sheila in 1974 whom he called “the pig” on air. Rod Stewart was at the wedding
    • Punk Rock:
      • Peel famously butted heads with station controller Derek Chinnery over punk rock. Derek had read about punk in the papers and was surprised to find out Peel was playing pretty much exclusively punk for some time.
      • Peel described hearing the Ramones for the first time to hear Little Richard for the first time
    • The great discoverer:
      • He had a rep for breaking new bands, which lead to mountains of solicitations
      • There’s a funny story where the representation for Billy Bragg showed up at Peel’s office after hearing him say he was hungry on air, and the exchange wound up launching Billy BRagg’s career
    • Festival 50 was Peel annual “best of” countdown show”

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Via the John Peel wiki: The duo had a total of eight FF entries. Three songs came from White Blood Cells and two from Elephant, and two of the tracks from Cells charted again when re-released as singles. Also an eight entered Dandelion’s Radio Festive Fifty in 2007 with the track Icky Thump.

  • Other Media:
    • Peel’s career didn’t stop at the BBC, he had shows on air throughout his career in the netherlands, finland, germany, austria and elsewhere earling him the title of “top dj in europe”
    • Peel was an occasional presenter on the popular english music show Top of the Pops.
      • He was also seen as a performer, miming mandolin alongside rod stewart as he played his hit song maggie may
    • He also dabbled in voiceover acting for the BBC and had a variety of shows ranging a broad swatch of topics
    • Peel owned a record label called Dandelion Records, and later a label called Strange Fruit records to release his various Peel Sessions recordings

Getting to know Jack White:

  • Discovering the Stripes
    • Via the John Peel Fan Wiki:
      • Peel became aware of the band’s sound in 2000 following an early LP purchase:
      • “I first heard the White Stripes when we went to an event in Groningen in the Netherlands called Noorderslag and Eurosonic, and there’s a wonderful record shop, very small, not much bigger than this studio, it’s just a great record shop, and I went in there and the first White Stripes LP was in there as an import from the States. And I just liked the look of it and I looked at the titles – you develop an instinct, d’you know what I mean? And it looked like the sort of record I would like, so I took it out and I did like it, and started playing it.” [2]
      • Peel and the band obviously shared a mutual admiration. On John Peel’s Record Box, Jack White said of him:
      • “He always wants to uncover the underdog, he’s doing the DJ’s job…finding the little cracks in the cement around the world. John Peel’s the most important DJ of all time, I think.”
      • JP regarded them as revivalists of a sound he was old enough to remember from the era of Jimi Hendrix and the Stooges:
      • “That sort of proper, over-the-top guitar playing has always been something I’ve enjoyed very much. It was just good to hear that kind of sound again. (2001) was an extraordinary time. The thing is, it wasn’t hype. The NME has an obligation to find a new sensation every week, because that’s what sells. But I think people were relieved at the simplicity and the directness of The White Stripes, and the fact that they were making a noise they could identify with.”
  • Jack and Meg were invited by Peel to record a Peel session on the Stripes first visit to the UK in July 2001
    • Via MOJO:
      • “It was mind-boggling to us, because we thought the only people who liked us were a few hundred people in America,” he explains in an exclusive interview in the latest issue of MOJO. “When he started playing our songs we were, like, ‘That’s unbelievable!’”
      • “When I walked into [the studio] I saw him in the hallway, crying,” he tells MOJO’s Pat Gilbert. “It was because his football team had just won! I thought, ‘This guy’s amazing.’”
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    • Via the john peel wiki:
      • The first White Stripes session was three sets of three songs live from Maida Vale 4 which went out on the 25 July 2001 show, the day before they appeared at the 100 Club, and was, unusually for a live set and at popular request, repeated on 09 October 2001. Before the set, the band went with Peel to a Thai restaurant and talked about the blues and JP seeing Gene Vincent in concert. Sheila relates that one of the three encores, requested by Anita Kamath, was a cover of Vincent’s ‘Baby Blues’.
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      • “John just welled up. You couldn’t have prised the smile from his face with a crowbar.'” (Margrave Of The Marshes, Corgi, p. 444.)
    • Suffolk session
    • ec29e2b0e667c14e6bc090854241ee15--the-white-stripes-jack-white
      • The two men immediately bonded over their shared love for Gene Vincent, Captain Beefheart and old blues records, and The White Stripes were invited to record another session at Peel’s home in Suffolk just four months later. “Having us in his home showed just how much he loved music,”
      • White also reveals that, as a parting gift at ‘Peel Acres’, the DJ gave him a copy of the Sex Pistols’ über-rare God Save The Queen on A&M.
  • Elephant controversy:
    • On 29 January 2003, John announced that, though the new Stripes LP would not be due out until April, he would play three tracks from it that night, and possibly three more the next and the following Tuesday “and just carry on like that, possibly forever.” He duly broadcast six over two nights.
    • However, when Tuesday arrived, he said:
    • “I promised that I was going to play you more tracks from the new LP by the White Stripes, having played five or six at the end of last week. Now, it’s an interesting thing, because when bands first start out, both they and their record labels are usually quite keen that you should play their stuff on the radio….but then there comes a point….I’m not blaming the bands for this at all….the record labels really, and their universal marketing plans and this kind of thing….what they want you to do is NOT to play the record, at least not until they say it’s alright to play the record. And somebody gave me a copy of the new White Stripes record last week, and I thought, the record exists, therefore I play it, which seems to me to make perfect sense. But it seems not, so we can’t play you any more tracks from it, although they did say that we could play two of the tracks that we’d already played. Now this is what we doctors call bollocks, so instead I’m going to play you some other things.”

Death:

  • Peel died on October 25th, 2004 at the age of 65 from a heart attack in Peru
  • Throughout his lifetime he was the longest serving original BBC1 radio DJ broadcasting from 1967-2004 (a 37 year career)
  • Lyrics from his favorite song Teenage Kicks by the Undertones are written on his tombstone
  • After Peel’s death, the contents of the wooden box that contained Peel’s most favorite music was opened. Out of 130 vinyl singles in the box, 11 of them were by the White Stripes. More than any other band in the box
    • Via the john peel wiki:

There were also a number of records somehow related to the band. Those by the White Stripes were as follows:

  • Lafayette Blues / Sugar Never Tasted So Good (Italy Records) 1998
  • Party of Special Things To Do / China Pig /Ashtray Heart (Sub Pop) 2000
  • Merry Christmas From The White Stripes: Candy Cane Children / The Reading Of The Story Of The Magi, The Singing Of Silent Night (XL Recordings) 2002
  • It Takes Two, Baby / Fell In Love With A Girl (Sympathy for the Record Industry) 2001
  • Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground /Stop Breaking Down (XL Recordings) 2002
  • Hotel Yorba (Live at the Hotel Yorba) / Rated X (XL Recordings) 2001
        • Hotel Yorba was The highest charting FF entry that also found its way into the Record Box
  • Lord, Send Me An Angel / You’re Pretty Good Looking (Trendy American Remix) (Sympathy for the Record Industry) 2002 (two copies)
  • Hello Operator / Jolene (Sympathy for the Record Industry) 2000
  • The Big Three Killed My Baby / Red Rolling Ball Ruth (Sympathy for the Record Industry) 1999 (two copies)
  • White Stripes / Dirtbombs: Hand Springs / Cedar Pointe ’76 (Extra-Ball Records) 1999
  • White Stripes / Rocket 455 / Blowtops: (EP – Surprise Package Vol 2) Candy Cane Children / Santa Ain’t Coming For Christmas / Sidewalk Santa (Flying Bomb Records) 1998

The following had a close White Stripes connection:

  • Greenhornes: Shadow Of Grief / Stayed Up Last Night (Italy Records) 2000
    • featuring Jack White
  • Soledad Brothers: Sugar & Spice / Johnny’s Death Letter (Italy Records) 1998
    • with Jack White
  • Upholsterers: Makers Of High Grade Suites / I Ain’t Superstitious / Pain (Sympathy for the Record Industry) 2000
    • featuring Jack White
  • Hentchmen: Some Other Guy / Psycho Daisies (Italy Records) 1997
    • featuring Jack White
  • 2 Star Tabernacle featuring Andre Williams: Lily White Mama And Jet Black Daddy / Ramblin’ man (Bloodshot Records) 1998
    • cover photo by Jack White
  • Wildbunch: Danger (High Voltage) / Neurocameraman / She’s Guatemala (Flying Bomb Records) 2001
    • Jack White backing vocals
  • When Peel died Jack flew in from America to attend the funeral
  • In 2014 Jack called Peel “the most important DJ who has ever lived”

The Peel Sessions LP:

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  • As we discussed, the Peel sessions were a longtime feature of the John Peel radio programs, which typically consisted of  4 pieces of pre-recorded music recorded at the BBC’s studios.
    • They came about because of english restrictions on “needle time”, or the idea that people shouldn’t have access to free music on radio airwaves as it would in theory detract from record sales.
    • If the music was live and not from a record, this was Peel’s way of dodging that restrictions
    • Over 4000 sessions were recorded by over 2000 artists
  • Via the peel fan wiki:
  • Two sessions, both released on *The Complete John Peel Sessions 2xLP, 2016 (Third Man TMR-375). A third session listed on the BBC site as recorded 2001-11-07 (the day before the band played live at Peel Acres) appears to have been for the Evening Session rather than Peel. Jack White also had a solo Peel session, which was broadcast on 03 February 2004.
  1. 25 July 2001 live at Maida Vale. Repeated: 09 October 2001.
  • Let’s Shake Hands / When I Hear My Name / Jolene / Death Letter / Cannon / Astro / Jack The Ripper / Hotel Yorba / I’m Finding It Harder To Be A Gentleman / Screwdriver / We’re Going To Be Friends / You’re Pretty Good Looking / Bollweavil / Hello Operator / Baby Blue
  1. 08 November 2001 live at Peel Acres.
  • Lord Send Me An Angel / Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground / I Think I Smell A Rat / Goin’ Back To Memphis / Little Room / The Union Forever / The Same Boy You’ve Always Known / Look Me Over Closely / Looking At You / St James Infirmary Blues / Apple Blossom / Do / Rated X / Little Girl That Says
  • These sessions were widely bootlegged in the years following their recording and broadcasting
    • One such later release from 2014 was called “the 2001 John Peel Show”
      • Included the quote from jack on the back: “he always wants to uncover the underdog. He’s doing the DJ’s job…finding…” quote from after PEEL died
  • The White Stripes – The Complete John Peel Sessions double LP was released on April 16th, 2016 in conjunction with Record Store day
    • Official third man press release:
      • At both our Nashville and Detroit locations as well as a record store near you, we present the first-ever official release of The White Stripes Peel Sessions on 2 stuffed-to-the-brim discs, one red, one white. Capturing Jack and Meg at the precipice of international renown in the hubbub of “White Blood Cells,” their two live sessions with famed BBC DJ John Peel are arguably the best document of the White Stripes at that time. Having been widely bootlegged since their initial broadcast in 2001, these recordings are enjoying their first authorized release in celebration of their 15 year anniversary. The standard black vinyl version of this release will be available later this year.
    • Via theaudiophileman.com:
      • Presented on two vinyl discs: one red, the other white (but of course), this collection covers two live sessions with the legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ, John Peel. This suite of songs has been heavily bootlegged since their initial broadcast in 2001 which makes this double album the first authorised release in celebration of the duo’s 15 year anniversary.
      • Let’s Shake Hands is an ideal example of where the band was in style terms and shows Jack White in almost psychological torment, mentally ripped to pieces as he yearns for physical contact. It’s quite a shocking vocal delivery, god only knows what Peel’s neighbours made of it. But the distress and anguish doesn’t end there. When I Hear My Name almost overwhelms the band in terms of emotion and sheer aggression. Fancy hearing the Stripes self combust like a Spinal Tap drummer? Check out this track.
      • Even the band’s covers are worthy of attention. Their approach to Jolene, the Dolly Parton hit, is a blues rock miscreation that is twisted and mutated. And so it goes, from one brilliant live cut to another. Sound quality is superb for a live session…in someone’s front room. Now you can dump those boots, eh?
    • The released split publishing across many different organizations, including White’s peppermint stripe music
    • LP artwork was done by Nathanio Strimpopulos
        • Nathanio also did album artwork for tons of third man releases, including vault releases, the Lazaretto LP, Margo Price’s Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, the American Epic releases and many many more
    • Photography and liner notes by John Baker — whom we’ll remember from our interview with Bruce Brand who talked about how Baker (aka “mr pasty”) was their tour manager at the time
    • Mastered by WG
        • This guy does a lot for bob dylan’s back catalogue, as well as over 650 credits from groups such as the black keys, tool and thom yorke
    • Via discogs:
        • Limited edition colored vinyl 2-LP set in gatefold cover for Record Store Day 2016.
        • Comes with printed inner sleeves.
        • Download card included.
        • Released by arrangement with BBC Music.
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Episode 40 – Jack White in Space

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Carl Sagan: A Glorious Dawn

  • This release was timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Carl Sagan’s birth. November 9th, 2009
    • As wikipedia puts it: Carl “was an American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences.”
    • He’s a revered scientist who has worked on everything from the science of Extraterrestrial life to the planetary sciences. He’s as close to a Star Trek Xenobiologist that we get in real life
    • He famously hosted the television series COSMOS which was a huge success and cultural phenomenon
    • He helped popularize science to the mainstream and sparked the interest of non-science-minded people.
    • He died in 1996 of pneumonia after battling an illness called MDS
    • “White is a huge fan of Sagan, who died in 1996. He told Sagan’s widow and collaborator, Ann Druyan, that the Dead Weather’s European tour bus had a Sagan room where the band watched old episodes of “Cosmos.”” – Washington Post
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  • Also happening on the day of release day: “a reception in United States’ Congress with speeches by senators, NASA officials and assorted scientists, all hosted by the Planetary Society, which was co-founded by Sagan.”
  • Which, White would attend, but we’ll get into that a little later.
  • “I thought it was a brilliant hymn to reality,” Druyan (Sagan’s widow) told us. “For me, science is just as spiritual as any organized form of religion. It’s just that we don’t have any good music.” White, she said, is a perfect partner: “He’s obviously a brilliant guy.” -Washington Post
  • Side A: A Glorious Dawn
    • Features Stephen Hawking
    • TMR: ““A Glorious Dawn” is a moving arrangement of Carl Sagan’s sagacious words culled from his magnificent Cosmos series. The piece initially gained recognition when composer John Boswell uploaded to YouTube his remixed Sagan dialogue edited, Auto-Tuned and put to a beat and coupled with a guest appearance by Stephen Hawking.”
    • The song is quotes remixed from sources like the show COSMOS hosted by Carl Sagan.
    • It was remixed by John Boswell of ColorPulse Music and originally uploaded to Youtube.
    • John has worked with PBS remixing assorted hosts and shows like Mr. Rogers
    • The song is a single from the album Symphony of Science by John’s Melodysheep project. It’s all available at MelodySheep.BandCamp.com
    • Etched into the matrix is: “TO THE MAKERS OF MUSIC – ALL WORLDS, ALL TIMES”
  • The Side B etching copies the etching included with the Voyager Golden Record, set off into space in 1977.
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  • About the Voyager Probe
    • Launched by NASA September 5, 1977, 16 days after it’s twin probe Voyager 2
    • The probe’s primary mission objectives included flybys of Jupiter, Saturn, and Saturn’s large moon, Titan.
    • The probe is still out there and is the first Earth object to enter  the beginnings of interstellar space flying further away from Earth and will most likely being wandering the milky way for millennia.
    • The probe carried a golden record designed to give a sampling of Earth culture to any possible alien life it encounters and contained instructions for any extraterrestrials who might encounter the probe at some point to build a record player to listen to it
    • The original Voyager Gold Record, which was curated by a committee chaired by Sagan, also included photos of the Earth and its lifeforms, a range of scientific information, spoken greetings in 55 languages from people including the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the United States, various “sounds of Earth” (like wind, crickets, frogs, a dog, a heartbeat, laughter), etchings of Earth images, an hour long recording of Ann Druyan’s brainwaves as well as
    • 27 samples of music were included on the probe including Mozart, Bach, Chuck Berry, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Animal Collective and….
  • Blind Willie Johnson included on the Voyager probe
    • Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground
      • Originally recorded December 3, 1927
      • Was the B-Side to the 78 “It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine”
      • Johnson plays the slide guitar in a haunting melody with murmurs and mumblings that have been theorized to be about the crucifixion of Jesus
      • Has a gospel quality to it, and for such a simple  bare-bones song has a real impact
      • Title originates from an 18th century hymn titled “Gethsemane” which begins “Dark was the night, cold was the ground / on which my Lord was laid.”
      • According to Sagan, this was including because “Johnson’s song concerns a situation he faced many times: nightfall with no place to sleep. Since humans appeared on Earth, the shroud of night has yet to fall without touching a man or woman in the same plight.”
      • Steve Martin joked not long after the Voyager probe had been launched that Earth had received a message back from another world: “Send more Blind Willie Johnson.”
        • Steve Martin would later record songs with Jack during the American Epic Sessions with Edie Brickell playing “Cuckoo” and English folk song also covered by Jack White favorites Townes Van Zandt and Bob Dylan
  • Special Editions
    • Standard Black 7”
    • 12” version
    • 150 “Cosmos-colored” 7” variant with 50 of those being randomly inserted into mail orders
    • 75 “Texas Sized” 8″ versions were available at the Third Man Records pop-up store in Austin, Texas, during SXSW 2010.


Buzz Aldrin

  • In 2012 Interview magazine was to interview Jack White and called on former astronaut and moon-walker (billy jean sound effect) Buzz Aldrin to interview him.
  • http://www.interviewmagazine.com/music/jack-white/#_
    • ALDRIN:You’re in Memphis?
    • WHITE: Yeah, we’re playing here tonight. Where are you, Buzz?
    • ALDRIN: I’m in Los Angeles, in Century City. We’re occupying a temporary residence . . . I filed for divorce back in June. You don’t know about things like that, do you?
  • Another snippet
    • ALDRIN: I grew up in New Jersey, but it turns out I’ve been in California half of my life now.
    • WHITE: Really? You can’t resist the weather out there.
    • ALDRIN: It’s pretty good. But I travel quite a bit.
  • Another
    • WHITE: Carl Sagan once said something similar: that it’s a beautiful moment in human history when we’re actually talking about visiting other worlds.
    • ALDRIN: I noticed that you did something with Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking, is that right?
    • WHITE: Yeah. We put out a record on Third Man [a seven-inch of composer John Boswell’s “A Glorious Dawn,” which features spoken-word portions by both Sagan and Hawking]. That’s one of the records that I’m proudest of having released. Carl Sagan was a huge influence . . . We have a secret project at Third Man where we want to have the first vinyl record played in outer space. We want to launch a balloon that carries a vinyl record player, and possibly that Carl Sagan record, and figure out a way to drop the needle with all that turbulence up there and ensure that it will still play.
  • Another
    • ALDRIN: I have to tell you, before this interview, not very. The closest I ever came to a Jack White was a Jack Waite I used to know who was a rep for North American Aviation. He was married to a gorgeous gal. I also used to know a Ralph White—he died recently, but he dove down to the Titanic in Russian submersibles. I had lunch with him once, and he said that he spent more time on the Titanic than the captain did. [Ehrlich and White laugh] That’s a joke. [Aldrin laughs] But Jack, now that I am familiar with your work, I do have some questions for you. I know that your new album is called Blunderbuss. Tell me about that a little bit.
    • WHITE: Well, I’ve always loved the word blunderbuss. I’ve always thought that it was a beautiful word and that it could mean several different things.
    • ALDRIN: A blunderbuss is a kind of gun—the kind that can blow your head off.
    • WHITE: [laughs] Exactly. I was hoping maybe that some of these songs might blow people’s minds, too.
  • They bond over Karen Carpenter music
  • Buzz seems generally confused about Jack’s endeveurs but has a sense of humor about it all
    • ALDRIN: You know what’s interesting? You musician guys count up, “One, two, three . . . ,” but we rocket guys count down, “Three, two, one . . .”
    • WHITE: You and I should go on tour together, Buzz. We should do a two-man act.
  • Jack
    • WHITE: Well, I’ve always been fascinated by what you’ve done for humanity. I also write a lot about the moon—I even wrote a song about it on this new record. So it was important for me to speak to somebody who has actually been there.
      • Jack also wrote White Moon which appears on the GBMS album
  • Ending
    • ALDRIN: Well, there were a lot of lights. It was a beautiful night. When you come out to Los Angeles, we’ll have a full-moon party—whether it’s a full moon or not.
    • WHITE: That would be amazing.
    • EHRLICH: Buzz, you said you were going to take a Bentley to West Point, but you’re not driving the Bentley from California, are you?
    • ALDRIN: No, I’m going to borrow a Bentley from a car dealer in New Jersey and drive up from there. What do you drive, Jack?
    • WHITE: I have a 1960 Thunderbird that I dusted off and a Mercedes S-55. It’s got about 500 horsepower.
    • ALDRIN: I had a Mercedes 560 SL.
    • WHITE: Those are nice.
    • ALDRIN: Yeah, it was nice. Red. Unfortunately, though, it’s in the condominium that my ex-wife is in now.
    • WHITE: If you want me to help you sneak in there and repossess it, I’d be in for that.
    • ALDRIN: You’re on, Jack. You’re on.
  • RAG AND BONE
    • Jack White is also the name of a famous conspiracy theorist whom, among many things, disputes the moon landing.
    • According to rational wiki . com: “Jack White (1927-2012) was a self-proclaimed expert in photographic analysis with a conspiratorial bent. Based on his “analysis” of some photographs, he came to believe in some JFK assassination conspiracies and testified to that effect in front of the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the 1970s. “ and later on “He became one of the less famous proponents of the Moon landing conspiracy theories. The people who knew shit about the Apollo program were not impressed by his arguments, either.”
    • Some of his photo analysis “theories” included but not limited to
      • Why does the spacesuit have a fly (like on a pair of pants)
      • Photo Removed from Apollo Image Gallery after revealed sun was just a giant lightbulb
      • Dust proves fakery of ‘jump salute’ photo
      • Computer shows that earth is pasted into photo


Icarus

  • In 2012 longtime friend and TMR electronics consultant Kevin Carrico and Jack White saw a video in which a father and son in upstate New York launch a weather balloon with a camera attached ““I sent that to Jack, and like three seconds later he came back with: ‘Why didn’t we think of this?’” – Kevin Carrico “We realized that some of the same technologies we were using on the [record players] might actually help us during a flight.”
  • Jack White asked Kevin to design and engineer a spacecraft that could launch a phonograph into space. It would be done to inspire, to innovate, and to celebrate the 7ths anniversary of TMR.
  • Kevin Carrico
    • He also worked on the Wax-O-Matic and Recording booths at TMR
    • His father was Dr. John P. Carrico, PhD, a physicist that worked on the Mars-Viking missions
      • I looked him up and found a series of space-based patents he has filed for including:
        • Method and apparatus for sequentially profiling and solving problems in space mission analysis
    • Carrico’s brother John is an astrophysicist, and Tim, who works in the aerospace analytics industry. His sister-in-law is a rocket scientist.
    • Kevin was the director of photography on the Hotel Yorba music video as well as editor on the Black Belles “Lies” video and has worked on several Blanche videos as well.
  • By 2013 Kevin had designed the Icarus craft, which was a self-calibrating phonograph player that could be lifted into the atmosphere.
  • Named after the Greek mythical character Icarus who, with his father attempted to escape the island of Crete with was and feather wings. Icarus, consumed by hubris, flew too close to the sun and melted the wax in the wings causing him to fall into the sea.
  • The craft was 25 pounds of lightweight aluminum, and was shaped like an isosceles triangular prism (of course a shape with 3 sides) with a record visible in the center. The needle and phono cartridge were sourced from discontinued Rock-Ola jukeboxes, The drive belt was made from kevlar and spun the quarter inch copper record platter. Carrico custom-made brackets and a tone arm for the craft.  It contains a switch from an Apollo training modular and acted as the start switch for Icarus
  • They loaded the craft with a gold plated 12” version of the Glorious Dawn record which was apparently spinning Third Man’s THREE MILLIONTH record pressed.
  • The craft was “space-proof” and was to be lifted with a high-altitude balloon
  • According to Carrico, “As you rise higher and higher into the thinning atmosphere, temperature and increasing vacuum (lack of air) can cause issues. Vinyl has a rather low melting point (160°F), and without air to keep things cool, you could wind-up with a lump of melted plastic on your hands if a record is exposed to the sun for too long. Without air, things in direct sunlight can get very hot while things in shade can get very cold. This constant expansion and contraction can physically distort a vinyl record rendering it unplayable. so our turntable platter also served as a heat-sink in order to keep the vinyl cool in direct sunlight.”
  • goodsell_space_15
  • Consulting experts on the project included Neil deGrasse Tyson and, like we talked about earlier, Buzz Aldrin.
    • “Buzz Aldrin gave some information as to what to expect, and was joking we’d have a harder time in the atmosphere than in orbit,” Mr. Carrico said.
    • Aldrin recommended that White talk to the CEO of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, because Branson is “always interested in doing unusual things,” he said.
    • As for Neil, the two had met in DC at the planetary society’s celebration of Carl Sagan’s birthday which we talked about earlier.
    • Also in attendance: Bill Nye the Science Guy and Al Gore (via video). “Not your usual group for a Jack White event,” said Planetary Society co-founder Lou Friedman.
    • Late Monday, White became the group’s newest member. Said Friedman: “He said he’s highly motivated to keep in touch, so we’re very excited.”
    • It’s apparently not the first time the duo have met. The last time Tyson was in Nashville, about five years ago, he met a then-newcomer to town.
    • “I visited Jack White’s recording studio … he’s a big fan of the universe, so he found me, really,” Tyson said. “There are songs he’s composed that have been inspired by the universe; it’s the artist invoking science as their muse.” -The Tennessean
      • The gold-plating on the record protected the shape and playability of the record. The craft was also wrapped in gold-mylar like a space blanket to the same effect.
      • Their destination was to be “near-space”, which is just like it sounds. “Actually where we flew we only had one percent atmosphere. It’s an area called near space that NASA uses all the time. But it’s also space. Because if you are 99 percent out of the atmosphere, what are you in?” – Carrico
      • and the craft needed to withstand the pressure drop, the cold, the heat, and the movement. A lot of these challenges were hard to overcome, unprotected, unfiltered sunlight would melt the vinyl into a puck of wax. They also needed to have enough battery power for the whole journey and cameras to capture it as well.
      • They needed to have approval by the FAA, FCC, low winds and clear skies
      • It was launched with the help of SATINS (Students and Teachers in Near Space.)
        • They’re an organization designed to help students, teachers, scientists and educators experiment and launch into near-space
      • David Jankowski heads SATINS and was present for the launch
      • They used a 3,000-gram Kaymont weather balloon filled with 647 cubic feet of hydrogen.
        • Method reminiscent of the song Baby Brother: Well, I bought my baby brother a toy balloon, He let it get away and it floated toward the moon.
        • Although you’re out in outer space, I can still see your face. It’s baby brother.
      • To track the craft upon landing, he installed two homemade radio-based tracking devices that could operate above 60,000 feet. “If one failed, it’s always nice to be able to find your stuff,” he explains.
      • Air Force Veteran L. Paul Verhage was on site to help as well
        • He often works in near space helping facilitate space experiments
        • In his blog, he talks briefly about the launch and explains that the craft was also set up with a thermal imaging camera: “One thing that made this flight unique is that it carried a thermal imager into near space, which I believe to be the first time a thermal imager has been to near space.”
        • http://nearsys.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-most-recent-near-space-flight-of.html
      • On July 2nd 2016,  8:40 a.m. the craft was let loose near Marsing Idaho
      • 4 go-pro cameras (with custom sound and fog-proofing adjustments) filmed the whole ascent and descent. In the launch video they get almost hit a drone
      • The craft reached a peak altitude of 94,413 feet at 1:21:20 flight time (roughly 1000/feet/minute) when the balloon burst, the whole time playing the record
      • At it’s peak, the surrounding temperature was -60 degrees F
      • A parachute carried the craft down about 4x as fast as it rose at about 22.5 miles per hour
      • On its descent, the phonograph went into “turbulence mode” where the record would continue spinning but the tone arm was locked in place to keep the record safe from scratches.
      • It landed two miles away in a vineyard with the record still spinning. “We all just looked at each other, and no one really said anything,” Carrico says. “I know we did it, and I keep watching the footage, but it still hasn’t sunk in yet.”
      • “Carrico had calculated that the turntable had more than a ninety-per-cent chance of landing on a farm. Some guys working on a utility pole in a vineyard near Nampa saw something on a parachute coming toward them. When Carrico and his crew arrived, having followed a G.P.S. signal, the workers pointed to where the parachute had landed.”- The New Yorker
      • On July 19th, TMR released a teaser of the project in a video that simply said “On July 30th Third Man Records will make vinyl history again” (play the dramatic music used in the video in the episode under this)
      • About the ICARUS CRAFT launch, Jack White said, “Our main goal from inception to completion of this project was to inject imagination and inspiration into the daily discourse of music and vinyl lovers. Combining our creative impulses with those of discovery and science is our passion, and even on the scale that we are working with here, it was exhilarating to decide to do something that hasn’t been done before and to work towards its completion. And, it brings us great fulfillment to pay tribute to the incredible scientist and dreamer that Carl Sagan was. We hope that in meeting our goal we inspire others to dream big and start their own missions, whatever they may be.“
      • “It’s kind a pointless thing at the same time and a beautiful and deep thing to spur people’s imagination….All I care about is that the 15 year old kid over there thinking something is interesting and he gets into music and gets him involved in his imagination,” White said.
      • “It ended up being a beautiful, beautiful thing. The first lyrics ‘If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch you must first invent the universe,’ ” White said. “That kind of sums up what we are trying to do here…the frivolity of playing a record in space, but also the technology and science of doing that is incredibly complicated and deep.”
      • Launch parties were held at the Detroit and Nashville Third Man Record stores. On the 30th

      https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/04/arts/music/third-man-records-space.html

      https://www.outsideonline.com/2110656/record-player-built-for-space

      http://www.detroitnews.com/story/entertainment/2016/07/30/third-man-records-send-vinyl-space/87773008/

      https://soundcloud.com/detroitnews/jack-white-interview-at-third-man-records

      http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/13/jack-whites-infinite-imagination

      http://voices.washingtonpost.com/reliable-source/2009/11/jack_white_carl_sagans_biggest.html

      http://www.tennessean.com/story/entertainment/2015/11/15/5-things-neil-degrasse-tysons-universal-appeal/75641010/

Episode 39 – Dominic Davis: Extended Interview

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When did you first pick up the bass?

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Who were your musical influences growing up?

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I had heard you were in a band with Jack early on that was dubbed “The Fuck-ups”, who coined that? What kind of gigs did you play (if any)?

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What kind of upright bass do you typically play? I’ve seen the chrome one, any story behind that or is it just aesthetic?

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Did you talk much to Brian Muldoon? Did Jack ever try to rope you into doing upholstery?

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How does the atmosphere while playing in the Buzzards differ from the Lazaretto tour band? ● How does it differ from other bands, buddy Miller, north mississippi allstars or your wife rachael davis ?

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What was it like playing at the Chateau De Fontainebleau?

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You moved to Nashville in 2013, what was behind your decision to relocate from you home city of Detroit?

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We’ve seen solo albums now from Lillie Mae Rische, Olivia Jean and Ruby Amanfu — would you ever consider a solo release?

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American Epic has been fantastic, and you’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with some amazing musicians during those sessions. Any standouts or stories from the American Epic experience you can share?

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Tell us a little bit about City Lights – how did that come about? Was it daunting to add to the White Stripes legacy or did it feel like a natural fit?

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Your wife Rachael is an accomplished musician as well – what’s it like performing with her on stage?

Episode 38 – Five on the Live: Covers

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Topic details:

  • Five on the Live is when we pick five favorite Live cuts from throughout Jack’s career: it could be from The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, Solo and/or Collaborations. This episode we’re picking a favorite or interesting live cover song and discussing how it came about, what the significance is to Jack, and the original song’ history.

JK Pick 1:

 

  • Song: Mother Nature’s Son
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  • Cover Version: The Paul McCartney Gershwin Prize concert at the White House on June 2nd, 2010
    • Key musicians: Jack White
    • Release: never released on record, but was aired on PBS on July 28th, 2010
    • Via feelnumb:
      • Many artist attended and performed at the grand event.  Foo Fighters played “Band On The Run“, Elvis Costello performed “Penny Lane” and even The Jonas Brothers performed “Drive My Car” with McCartney’s band.
      • My favorite performance was from Jack White who covered The Beatles song “Mother Natures Son” but he mashed it up with “That Would Be Something” a McCartney solo song from his first post Beatle release the self title album “McCartney”.
      • Jack played his “Claudette” for the performance’
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    • Via billboard:
      • Playing in front of an audience that included President Obama, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello and McCartney, White captured the song’s somber feeling while performing with an acoustic guitar and no backing band.
    • Should also be noted, Jack gets on stage with everyone at the end, including President Obama and Jerry Seinfeld and McCartney himself to sing Hey Jude. Jack looks kinda stiff and uncomfortable with the crowd of people, but looked at home during his solo song.
  • Original recording:
    • Written by: Lennon/McCartney (though let’s be real it’s Paul)
    • Made famous by: The Beatles
    • Background:
      • Released on the Beatles 1968 double LP The White Album – November 22nd 1968
      • Recorded on August 9th and 20th, 1968
      • Written in Rishikesh north india during the beatles’ retreat there with the Maharishi Maheshyogi
        • Inspired by a lecture that also inspired Lennon’s “child of nature” which later morphed into “Jealous Guy”, released on the Imagine LP
      • It’s one in a series of macca’s acoustic guitar, stripped-down songs notably kicked off with “yesterday” and a tradition that continues on his solo albums to this day (see also: “glory days” from “New”)
      • McCartney reportedly took 25 takes of the song, before settling on take 24 for the final.
      • Also covered by Harry Nilsson, John Denver, Sheryl Crow and Dangermouse to name but a few
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JK Pick 2:

 

  • Song: Isis
  • JackWhiteBobDylan-920x584

 

  • Cover Version: Roskilde Festival, Denmark 2002
    • Key musicians: The White Stripes
    • Release: broadcast on radio at the time, often bootlegged since then
      • Recorded June 30th, 2002
    • Via ultimate classic rock:
      • Bob Dylan’s original version of ‘Isis’ (from 1976’s ‘Desire’) is seven minutes of unraveling storytelling, chaotic band shuffling and words that are more spit than sung. The White Stripes (who covered it in concert in 2002) strip it to less than four minutes and pull back on the unwieldiness that makes Dylan’s version seem like a tightrope walk. White’s guitar stabs are mighty piercing, though.
    • Via Rock the Body Electric.com:
      • Jack White and Bob Dylan are kindred spirits, artists and lovers of music-deception-wimmin’s and life; they seem melted from the same block of ice with fire.  Jack can instantly fall into Dylan’s world while keeping his own artistic sensibilities and crushing riffs and Dylan paid the ultimate compliment by playing the White Stripes tune “Ball and a Biscuit” with White in Detroit as an encore a few years back.   The two are kin, and needless to say White enlivens this Western tale of greed and backstabbing with power as Meg stomps along.
      • Jack eliminates the 3 cadaver stealing verses from the song, but by doing so surprisingly tightens the narrative to jewels and fleeting love.  Shortening the story has made it simpler and yet does nothing to illuminate the mystery; which is part of the charm.  This live version from London in 01 is representative of the versions the band did when they played together.  Simple.  Driving.  Electric.   
    • Jack covered this song quite a bit in the 2001-2002 era of the stripes’ career
    • Isis-The-White-Stripes-whitestripesroskilde2002front
  • Original recording:
    • Written by: Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy (produced by Don Devito)
    • Made famous by: Bob Dylan
    • Background:
      • Released on Dylan’s LP Desire, released on January 5th, 1976
      • The song was recorded on July 31st, 1975
      • Dylan on vocals, piano and harmonica, Scarley Rivera on Violin, Rob Stoner on Bass and Howie Wyeth on Drums
      • Writing the song:
        • Via wikipedia:
        • The song was written and recorded during a time of separation and reunion in Dylan’s own marriage; consequently, for fans and critics the temptation to interpret it as an allegory of Dylan’s own marital difficulties is irresistible, especially since the Desire album contains the song “Sara” which is openly about their marriage and separation. Dylan was known to include autobiographical hints in his previous songs. “Isis” draws upon mythological themes of a male hero separating from his wife, going on adventures, and returning to the marriage, going back to the Odyssey.
      • The song’s construction:
        • This song is in a moderately fast 3/4 time, in the key of B-flat major. The arrangement is based on rhythm chords played on acoustic piano, accompanied by bass guitar, drums, and violin. The harmonic progression consists of an ostinato using the following chords throughout:
        • Ⅰ–ⅤⅠⅠ♭–Ⅳ–Ⅰ
        • B♭–A♭–E♭–B♭
        • The lyrics are all verses; there is no chorus. The melody is in the style of a modal folk song, emphasizing the tonic and dominant notes in the scale, with leaps of a fifth in between them. The mode is Mixolydian with a major third in the harmony, but Dylan’s delivery of the melody and Rivera’s violin accompaniment use a flatted third as in the blues.
      • It’s a story song
        • Via wikipedia: “Isis” tells the tale of a man (the narrator) who married an enigmatic woman (“a mystical child”) named Isis. The story covers his separation from her, his subsequent adventure and, ultimately, his return. The marriage took place “on the fifth day of May,” (an allusion to Cinco de Mayo, one of several Mexican themes found in Dylan’s songs during the 1970s). After the wedding, he “could not hold on to her very long”, so he “cut off his hair and rode straight away for the wild unknown country…” He reaches a “high place” divided by a line “through the center of town” into “darkness and light.” He hitches his pony and enters a laundry, as though to wash himself of his past. He meets and falls in with a shady character who promises “something easy to catch.” They ride “to the pyramids all embedded in ice”. They carry on in freezing conditions until the bounty-hunting companion dies. The narrator breaks into the empty tomb (“the casket was empty”), finds no treasure, and realizes the adventure had been a fool’s errand. He leaves his dead companion in the tomb, says a quick prayer, and rides back to Isis, whom he still loves. He sees Isis in a meadow and when she asks him if he is going to stay this time, he replies, “If you want me to, yes!”
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PK Pick 1:

 

  • Song: Keep it Clean
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  • Cover Version:
    • Key musicians: The raconteurs
    • Performance: Hove Fest, June 26, 2008.
    • Release (Y/N): not the version i’m citing here, but it was released on the Live at Montreux DVD Recorded live on July 7th, 2008 at the Miles Davis Hall, Montreux Jazz Festival™ Switzerland.
  • Original recording:
    • Written by: Charley Jordan
    • Made famous by: Charley Jordan
    • Background:
      • Charley Jordan was a bluesman from St. Luis, a singer, songwriter and talent scout.
      • He recorded for both the Voacalion and Decca labels in the 1930’s and toured extensively over a twenty year period starting in the 1920’s.
      • His biggest hit was “keep it clean”, recorded in mid-June 1930 (of note – the rac’s version i pulled is from mid-june as well)
        • I’ve also seen it credited alongside “big four blues” as the first recordings of his ever released on the vocalion label
      • Via mikeballantyne:
        • Charley Jordan’s Keep It Clean has been recorded by a number of people including Dave Van Ronk and Colin Linden.
        • New words were added by Dave Van Ronk, for his performances, and Al Dodge and Robert Armstrong wrote completely new and modernized lyrics
        • for a reworking of the song under the title Get a Load of This.
        • Get a Load of This was included in the repertoire of the 1974 line-up of Robert Crumb and his Cheap Suit Serenaders
        • (Robert Crumb together with Richard Oxtot, and Dodge and Armstrong).
        • The chorus of Get a Load of This is:
        • Bring a load-a, RC Cola,
          TV dinner, plate-a Twinkies,
          Takes a pink burrito,
          for to keep me clean.
        • Charley begins the original chorus with “rode him over”, then changes it to “ride him over” on subsequent choruses.
        • Charley was also known as “uncle skipper”
      • Lyrics:
        • I went to the river, couldn’t get across,
              Jumped on your poppa ’cause I thought he was a hoss,
          Cho: An’ I rode ’im over, give him a Coca-Cola,
                 Lemon soda, saucer of ice cream,
                 It takes soap and water for to keep it clean.
          Up she jumped, down she fell,
              Her mouth flew open like a mussel shell,
          Your sister was a teddy, your daddy was a bear,
              Put the muzzle on your mama ’cause she had bad hair,
          If you want to hear that elephant laugh,
              Take him down to the river and wash his yas, yas, yas,
          If you want to go to heaven when you D-I-E,
              You got to put on your collar and your T-I-E,
          If you want to get the rabbits out of the L-O-G
              You got to put on the stump like a D-O-G,
          Run here doctor, run here fast,
              See what’s the matter with his yas yas yas,
      • There’s actually a second version of the song recorded on March 17th 1931, nearly a year later, with completely different lyrics:
        • I runned to the river : runned so fast
        • And you couldn’t see nothing : but that yas yas yas
        • If you want to hear : that elephant grunt
        • You take him down to the river : and then wash his trunk
        • Up he jumped : down he fell
        • His trap flew open : like a mussel shell
        • If you keep it dirty : and I keep it clean
        • You don’t know : what keeping it dirty means
        • I will tell you one thing : and I mean it
        • It sure will take soap and water : for to keep it clean
        • The terriblest sight : that I ever seen
        • Was a cook cooking victuals : and his hands wasn’t clean
        • You got a head like a mouse : mouth like a goat
        • Every time you see me : you looking for some soap
      • He was a frequent collaborator with Big Joe Williams in the 1940’s.
      • Charley had a second career as a bootlegger during prohibition, and was shot in the leg during an altercation in 1928. He needed crutches from that point on.
        • His career as a bootlegger was chronicled by his song “bootlegger’s blues”
      • Via Mudcat.org:
        • Jordan was born in 1890 in Mabelville, Arkansas, served in WWI and later hoboed and worked the medicine shows until a bullet in the leg, occasioned by an argument over his manufacture of illegal liquor, confined his activities to St Louis.
      • He died of pnuemonia in 1954 in St. Luis
      • Other covers: Willie Watson (this guy does a sorta cleaned-up traditional version of the song)
  • Why we love it:
    • Jack continues the fine tradition of putting his name in old bluesman songs
    • It’s a high-energy, guitar-rock realization of what is a very playful, lyrically bouncy song. It sounds like a song tailor-made for Jack, or maybe its the other way around.
    • You have to wonder if things like “little cream soda” has its origins in this song and bluesman songs like it. It’s slice of life stuff, but it’s also real frisky. The lyrics sound dirty, and said with the kind of inflection Jack gives it especially, you get the impression of just how sexual the tune is.
    • Via Paul Oliver’s book “songsters and saints”:
      • Oliver comments that Jordan’s line ‘We don’t know what keepin’ it dirty means’, embracing himself and the record listeners, emphasises his identification with the audience and their familiarity with a body of bawdy songs that were widely known – ‘Dirty Mother Fuyer’, ‘The Dozens’, ‘Sweet Petuni’, ‘Shave ‘Em Dry’, ‘The Ma Grinder’, ‘Just a Spoonful’, ‘Shake It and Break It’ etc.
    • I think Jack’s music has an inherent sexuality to it, and an inherent playfulness, AND a bite, so this song kinda fits all those different criteria. When he performs it, he talks to the audience, it’s almost like a rap — reminds me of how he talks to the audience between songs on stage a bit. He’s preaching, but more preaching an attitude than a belief, if that makes any sense.

PK Pick 2:

 

  • Song: Loving Cup
  • Shine A Light

 

  • Cover Version:
    • Recorded: The Beacon Theatre, New York City November 1st, 2006
    • Key musicians:
    • Release:
      • The Rolling Stones concert movie soundtrack Shine a Light
      • Released on April 7th, 2008 – the tune is track 5 on disc 1
      • The film was directed by Martin Scorsese, and was recorded over two nights at the Beacon. There were also guest appearances by Buddy Guy and Christina Aguilera
      • Via rolling stone:
        • White did not see the Stones live until the White Stripes opened two shows for them in 2002. But the two guitarists quickly bonded over their mutual love of the blues and the spontaneous joys of live performance. “It’s like describing the Pyramids to someone who has never been there,” White says, when asked what he feels in the middle of a hot guitar solo. “A man after my own heart,” Richards agrees, smiling.
        • Jack, what did you learn about the Stones when you opened for them?
        • White: How good they were. You could see the comfort level between them, in Keith’s guitar playing and Ron’s slide playing. It’s impressive, man, when that confidence is exuded. Someone once told me when I first started playing – you get a lot more respect if you act like you own the joint. If you fumble around, you don’t gain respect.
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        • Jack, how did you and Mick choose “Loving Cup” as your duet?
        • White: Mick called me. I offered up six or seven songs, which were all shot down [laughs]. “Factory Girl” [on Beggars Banquet] was talked about. Another one was “Shake Your Hips” [the Slim Harpo cover on Exile on Main Street]. Then he said “Loving Cup.” That was great – for years at White Stripes shows, we played “Loving Cup” [over the PA] as the crowd was leaving. I just wanted to harmonize with Mick. I didn’t necessarily want my own verse. But he said, “Take one.”
        • Was Exile on Main Street an important album for you?
        • White: I didn’t know much about Exile until Meg and I did the first White Stripes album [The White Stripes, 1999]. We covered “Stop Breaking Down,” but we did it from Robert Johnson. I didn’t know it was on Exile. Aftermath and Beggars Banquet were the Stones albums I listened to. Then someone told me, “The Stones do ‘Stop Breaking Down,’ too.” My roommate at the time – Exile was his favorite album. He played it for me.
  • Original recording:
    • Written by: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and produced by Jimmy Miller
    • Made famous by: The Rolling Stones
    • Background:
      • Released on the Stone 1972 album Exile on Mainstreet (though originated as an outtake from Let it Bleed — my favorite stones album)
      • Recorded in December 1971 at Los Angeles’ Sunset Sound Studios
      • The Allen Klein Lawsuit:
        • After the release of Exile on Main St., Allen Klein sued the Rolling Stones for breach of settlement because “Loving Cup” and four other songs on the album were composed while Jagger and Richards were under contract with his company, ABKCO. ABKCO acquired publishing rights to the songs, giving it a share of the royalties from Exile on Main St., and was able to publish another album of previously released Rolling Stones songs, More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies).[1]
      • Via Rolling Stone:
        • “Loving Cup” closes the first half of Exile, punctuating a tumultuous, ragged half-hour of rock & roll with a shot of mountain-climbing redemption and lyrical warmth. Originally attempted at London’s Olympic Studios during the Let It Bleed sessions, then revived and finished in early 1972 in Los Angeles, it’s one of several gospel-steeped Exile songs that didn’t come out of the band’s hazy time at Nellcôte. This may account for its very un-basement-y maximalism: Nicky Hopkins’ majestic piano comes on like clouds parting, and the song seems to gather momentum and emotional power as it gathers influences. Jagger goes from self-deprecating come-ons (“I am nitty-gritty and my shirt’s all torn/But I would love to spill the beans with you till the dawn”) to innocent elation (“Feel your mouth kissing me again/What a beautiful buzz”) in a country drawl. The bright soul horns and a backing choir (which probably included an uncredited Gram Parsons) enhance the song’s sense of deeply spiritual gratitude.
      • Via song facts:
        • A “Loving Cup” is a kind of trophy. It’s one of those big ones that’s shaped like a heart with handles on the sides, and it usually given out for big wins at sporting events. This ballad uses the cup to represent a loving relationship.
      • Phish reportedly also covers this song
  • Why we love it:
    • I get that i’m bending some of my own rules by including this in the list, but Jack’s presence on it is so prominent it has all the hallmarks of a cover, even though the stones actually play on it.
    • This was actually the first time i had ever heard this song, when i picked up the soundtrack to Shine A Light in 2008 during my 2008 deep-dive into the stones. I came out the other side loving a lot of albums, but this song in particular was a stand-out to me.
    • It made a big impression on me not only because of Jack’s presence on the song, but because it was oddly tender for the stones. It’s still got that “bad boy” thing stones music tends to have, but with a gentleness to it that Jack actually compliments well in this live cut of it.
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PK Pick 3:

 

  • Song: A Child of A Few Hours is Burning To Death

 

  • Cover Version:
    • Recorded:  live concert prive 2009
    • Key musicians:
      • Jack White, Dean Fertita, Alison Mosshart, Jack Lawrence
    • The performance:
      • For the french Concert Prive on September 17th, 2009
        • Prive in french means “private” – so this translated to “a private concert”
        • Looks like a small theater, shot mostly in black and white, but a tiny hint of desaturated color in there.
        • Couldn’t have been more than a hundred, two hundred people in that room
        • Set list:
        • The Dead Weather Concert Prive Setlist: 1. 60 Feet Tall (00:32) 2. Treat Me Like Your Mother (06:31) 3. So Far From Your Weapon (10:58) 4. A Child Of A Few Hours Is Burning To Death (16:01) 5. Forever My Queen (21:10) 6. Hang You From The Heavens (23:40) 7. No Hassle Night (27:35) 8. New Pony (30:43) 9. Will There Be Enough Water (34:34) 10. Interview (43:00) All…
      • Cool interview after the show!
        • At the end of the interview, Jack is making fun of allison for being so young, saying that he quit playing drums live before allison was born. He then started saying they were gonna play her graduation next week. Alison says “can i bring all my friends?” LJ saying, “not that bobbie. I don’t trust him” to which jack says “he likes to watch fire”
    • Release:
      • There’s a studio version of this — B-side of I Cut like A Buffalo single
      • October 26th, 2009
      • Mastered by Andrew Mendelson (common face in Jack mastering)
  • Original recording:
    • Written by: Bob Markley and Ron Morgan
    • Made famous by: The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
    • Release:
      • The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band vol.3: A Child’s Guide to Good & Evil
      • Date of Release: July 1968
      • Credits:
        • Bob Markley on backing vocals, spoken word, tambourine, percussion and the majority of the songwriting
        • Shaun Harris on Lead Vocals and bass guitar
        • Ron Morgan on Lead Guitar, sitar and backing vocals
        • Hal Blaine on Drums
        • Produced by Bob Markley and Jimmy Bowen
    • Background:
      • The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band formed in LA in 1965, riffing on Bryds-esp folk but infusing it with even more psychadellic acid-rock experimentation. Classified as avante-gard rock by most.
      • They released their first record in 1966 and gained notoriety for elaborate acid-fueled light shows.
      • Their rep and first album lead to a signing by Reprise records, which they released 3 albums with – culminating in the album at hand here, “vol.3: A Child’s Guide to Good & Evil” — which is considered to be their most realized album.
        • Via this album’s re-release CD booklet: Biographer Tim Forster described the album as ““bizarre fusion of innocence and malice” heavily affected by the “exuberance of the British Invasion, folk rock, and flower power-era” being “swept away in a tide of bad drugs, paranoia, and protest”
        • Via therisingstorm.net:
          • Then Ron Morgan’s crackling electric sitar turns up on the two otherwise-unrelated “Ritual” numbers as the band explores such intriguing topics as flowers, beads and babies. Morgan really does seem to have been the band’s secret weapon at this point; his spidery guitar lines – such as those dancing behind the twisted black humor of Markley’s “A Child of A Few Hours Is Burning To Death” – help turn these songs into psychedelic classics. In this last song we also find the Experimental Band’s often-inscrutable lyrics at their most unnerving and most pointed: “we all are nothing but soft moist people, with soft moist hands folded over our buttons,” Markley intones cheerfully before dropping his psychopathic chorus. The Mamas and Papas these guys were not.
        • Recording:
          • Recording sessions for Volume 3 commenced in early 1968, with Markley and Jimmy Bowen producing and Joe Sidore serving as the audio engineer.[4] Morgan was instrumental in creating the psychedelic sound effects that adorned much of the album’s tracks. In an interview, Morgan’s younger brother Robert recalled how Morgan provided his contributions to the album: “Ron could really put on his guitar antics! He would use some very unusual effects. He had a Magnatone which Seers Roebuck made for accordions and it had a wild organ-type of sound. He would also use a Lesley speaker and a lot of Vox equipment – amps and 12-strings – because the group were sponsored by them for a while”
        • The album bombed and reprise dropped them
      • The band broke up in 1970, a mere 5 years after getting together
      • Tidbits:
        • features something called “tricolour reprise steamboat labels”
        • Volume 3′s front cover design showcased the “butterfly mind” artwork of John Van Hamersveld, who also is credited with the covers of Crown of Creation, Exile on Main St., and Magical Mystery Tour.
        • Sean Lennon, writing for Rolling Stone magazine, placed Volume 3 in his list of lost psychedelic albums classics, and has described it as “really out there. They almost make Frank Zappa seem mainstream”
        • A bizarre end for Markley: “He [Stallings] told me that Bob had been sitting in this rowing boat on a lake near Las Vegas – he was like a recluse. It got loose from its moorings and he drifted off alone for a day and a half. He was already pretty messed up, but he got very badly dehydrated. When they eventually found him he was taken to some hospital and placed on a life-support system, unable to speak or think”.[33] Markley died on September 9, 2003 in a hospital in Gardena, California; he was 68
  • Why we love it:
    • I had never heard of The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band before hearing the dead weather do it, so they opened up this whole new avenue for me musically just with this one cover. That’s kind of the magic of a good cover song, it will inspire you to find out more about where it came from, and why your favorite artists chose it for themselves.
    • Though there is a studio take, i first heard the song live while watching this extended concert. It was when dodge & burn came out and i was on a heavy dead weather kick (they’re normally not 100% my favorite, but when i’m in the mood i won’t let them go). In the end i think the live cut, particularly from this show, has a lot more energy than the studio take.
    • The dead weather give this song a much needed injection of aggression. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band has a lot of that in their music, but it’s usually in an undercurrent. More of a bubbling under the surface. The Dead Weather don’t bubble under the surface, they’re a volcano erupting – so it’s cool to hear the song taken to its logical end by a band particularly suited for the task.

Episode 37 – Bruce Brand: Extended Interview

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Topics/questions we were hoping to cover:

    • How did you get involved in album art design?
    • Where did the name “Arthole” come from and can you tell us a little bit about your studio?
    • Holly Golightly is a frequent collaborator, how did that come about and what’s it like working with Holly?

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    • How did you first meet the White Stripes?
    • White-Stripes-Dirty-Water-Club
    • You’re credited with “layout” on the Elephant LP, what did this entail?
      • Was this your first collaboration with the White Stripes?
      • Where did the idea for the Saul Bass-style cover for Hardest Button to Button come from? Did he just do layout and design work or did he contribute to the art?
      • Did Jack have specific font instructions or were you able to go nuts on it if you wanted to?
      • You mentioned that Jack bought you a computer, what’s that about?
    • At the very tail end of the song “It’s True That We Love One Another” off the White Stripes Elephant LP, Holly Golightly makes reference to a Bruce – is that you? And if so, can you tell us a bit about that session?

 

  • Background: recorded in the winter at toerag studios 166A Glyn Road London, United Kingdom

 

    • I’ve read that you’re also a drummer, do you have a musical background as well as an artistic one?
    • What went into the design work on Get Behind Me Satan and its subsequent singles?
      • Follow-up question – were there any design parameters Jack White requested during the development process? If so, what kinds of things was he looking for?
      • Any weird requests from Jack about the art?

 

 

  • In addition to the White Stripes and Holly Golightly, you’ve also done album art and design for Anne Briggs, The Masonics (!), Thee Headcoatees, Armitage Shanks, Hipbone Slim, the Milkshakes, Miss Ludela Black and many more. That’s quite a long resume — What do you think it is about your approach that keeps so many artists coming and coming back to you for design?
    • How do you manage and exceed the expectations of artistic people — especially musicians?

Episode 36 – The Go

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Formation/Before Jack

  • Bobby Harlow attended Kimball High School in Royal Oak, Michigan where he learned to love music
    • “Like so many teenage kids, I was into a bit of everything. It was all modern, aggressive, goofy stuff. The big groups of that time were Metallica, Danzig, Public Enemy, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Nirvana, Ministry and Primus. Some of my friends were into Joy Division and others were into the Grateful Dead as well. I liked heavy metal.” – Harlow
    • Beatles play a HUGE role in Bobby’s musical tastes and it shows
      • For his part, Bobby remembers being “trapped” and bored in a summer vacation cabin in Caseville and picking up his mother’s guitar, which he had yet to master.
      • “I thought it would be a good project. Could I write a song? I don’t even know what my point of reference was back then. I was a teenager so I was listening to modern music — the Police, Metallica, Ice T. all came into play. I’d loved all my mom’s Beatles records when I was a kid but they’d been put aside for newer stuff. But then, shortly after that, through some hazy experience very late one night, I revisited Abbey Road. And it struck such a chord with me. I heard it in such a way that I made a strange distinction.
      • “I may have taken something,” he laughs. “But the lights were red, and the room was smoky, and I put on Abbey Road and just decided, ‘This is better than everything I’ve ever listened to!’ It may seem strange but I completely abandoned all modern music after that. For a whole year, I listened to nothing but the Beatles. Literally. For a year. I wouldn’t even let people play me anything else; I was so touchy about it. People would be like, ‘Oh, if you love the Beatles, man, you’ve gotta hear this Donovan track.’ And I’d be like, ‘No! I’m not ready.’ Sure, people thought it was strange. But I’d suddenly realized that the heavy music of Metallica or Ministry or whoever I’d been listening to wasn’t really heavy at all. The Beatles were heavy. These guys were conceptually heavy, which was infinitely more heavy than a heavy song. And it literally changed my life.”
      • “I think back to an interview that McCartney gave in which he said, ‘Looking back at the Beatles’ career, I’m proud that most of the songs are about love and that they’re positive,'” Bobby says. “And as an artist, I think that’s important. All those other stupid rock clichés just play dumb these days. It’s like, c’mon, are you an artist or not? Have you got talent? Because we’re in desperate need of that right now. Let’s worry about and concentrate on the music. It’s even like Eminem. He can say he’s not responsible for some guy killing his girlfriend after hearing his song. He’s had nothing to do with it. But it’s also like, well, yeah, maybe. But you are putting a lot of negativity out there. You’ve got talent, for sure. But can’t you focus it in a positive way? An artist does have to accept a certain amount of responsibility.”
      • Bobby looks up to Beatles’ engineer Geoff Emerick and producer George Martin
  • He started playing guitar at the early age of 15 and took a dive into recording music at 17 when he got his first 4 track tape recorder.
    • “Before I met John & Marc (guitar player & drummer for The Go) I was obsessed with recording. I would lock myself away, for hours, all night and record songs alone.” which was similar to Jack in some respects
  • He didn’t go to University
    • “I dropped out of school when I was 16 years-old. I was interested in music and nothing else. I was tired of the musicians in my circle. I wanted to go to a place where things were entirely different so I moved to Phoenix, Arizona in order to experience something new. I lived there for one month and was depressed because it was winter and all of the palm trees were limp. I explored the college in Tempe but the students seemed too content in their cave and I didn’t think they wanted to be interrupted. Also, I was being haunted by aggressive-ghosts, that’s true, so I had to leave. I moved to Grand Rapids to take an opportunity with the college kids and their desire to create music. I could also use the university piano rooms for recording. I’d walk in like I owned the place and set up shop. Nobody would question me. I was able to develop quickly there.”
    • “School was boring. Music is exciting. That’s how I had felt. I’ve now set my path. If a person’s ambition is to become a surgeon, they attend medical school. If a person’s ambition is to become a musician, they would have to attend music school. And if a person’s ambition is to somehow psychologically emancipate from those preconceived notions, good luck with that. There is always sacrifice. My friends who have become lawyers could not seriously pursue a musical career, even if they wanted to, unless they jumped ship. Even then, they would not have the experience to make certain crucial judgments that are detrimental to an artist’s struggle for a unique, individual voice that speaks of the common, human conditions. It would be next to impossible for them.”
    • “I rarely think of anything other than music. I’ve never allowed anyone’s will or determined views to be imposed upon my creativity. The sacrifice is, it seems that there is no financial security in the business of music. The artists always sit on the doorsteps of the rich. Charles Bukowski told me that in one of his books. I’ve been fortunate enough to set my own pace, believe my own idealistic dream and remain a stubborn character. I don’t take the virtues for granted. I have a sound in my imagination, anything that deviates from my minds song is wrong. Anyone who has ever worked along side of me knows that what I want is very specific. I don’t like to work with people who don’t know what they’re doing. I know what I’m doing… it may not be to everybody’s liking, but I’m doing it one way or another.”
  • He moved to Grand Rapids when he was 20 and produced an entire 12-song album. Apparently he spent his 21st birthday in the studio. The album is under lock and key and doesnt seem to be coming out anytime soon
    • “Very few people have heard it and I don’t care. There are plenty of interesting sounds on it but I don’t plan to let anybody in. There were actually two records, the other was 30 minutes long and was supposed to be the soundtrack for a cartoon feature.”
    • “I believe I was 19 or 20 years-old (when I recorded) the cartoon soundtrack called ‘Dr. Puerco Drinks the Ooze.’ It had its roots in classic rock-n-roll, but wasn’t restricted from venturing into other territories. The more traditional rock album (I recorded) sounded like a hybrid Pink Floyd, Stooges, Velvet Underground influenced imitation. The recordings from when I was 17 and 18-years-old are all very pot-headed and Beatles driven … surprise. Now, I’m full circle but without the pot, I’m merely headed.”
  • The Go formed in 1996 in Detroit Michigan with members Bobby Harlow, John Krautner, and Marc Fellis
  • “John & Marc were in a band called ‘The Rail Face Wonder Wheel.’ We had a mutual friend who told them that I could record groups. They hopped in a car and drove up to Grand Rapids. We hit it off and I thought that they were excellent musicians. We recorded our first song called ‘Send Me Down Love’ which is a Doo-wop number. I moved down to Royal Oak (Michigan) and we started The Go.”
  • John learned how to write from Bobby
    • “When I first met Bobby, I wanted to know how to write a song,” John recalls, “and I asked him in a very general way.”
    • “But you were already writing songs before that time,” Bobby counters
    • “But not actually writing them out on paper and structuring them like a recipe,” John says.
    • “He’s so humble!” Bobby rolls his eyes.
    • “So he gave me a book of the Beatles chords,” John continues. “He said, ‘Oh, just learn these and you’ll be able to write songs.'” He laughs. “So I was in college [at Eastern], learning those songs. And I ended up recording a T. Rex cover, ‘Hot Love,’ for a project with some friends. I suddenly realized that those Beatles chords were the same ones that Marc Bolan used to write that song! It was also the first time I actually learned how to play a song from beginning to end. It was a moment of pride because I realized how easy it was. And I thought, ‘Well, if it’s that easy, it can’t be that hard to write something like that or at least half as good as ‘Hot Love.’ Or a quarter as good as ‘Hot Love.’ I really like ‘Hot Love,'” he deadpans. “And after that, it was a slow process, actually. But sometimes I don’t think I’ve evolved at all as a songwriter.” He laughs.
  • “John and I write the songs. When we first began, as a group we would write together. John would play the guitar and we would both sing. I would write the words down as we made them up. Now we write independent of each other. John calls me and says, ‘I’ve got a song named ‘Invisible Friends’, then we record it.”
  • They played their first show in Hamtramck
    • Go producer Matthew Smith: “From the first 10 seconds of the first time I saw them, standing on a Polish banquet hall stage in Hamtramck, looking like dazed juvenile delinquents who just stepped out of a time machine, I knew instantly that they were the best rock ‘n’ roll band I’d ever heard,” he says. “They looked like all the cultural and musical events of the last 20 years had gone unnoticed by them, like they’d never even heard of Nirvana, but were still excited about the Guess Who, War, Traffic, Soft Machine, Lou Reed, the Fugs, Kim Fowley and Frank Zappa. And they were determined to produce music that would meet the standards of their musical heroes.”

During Jack

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  • Jack joins the group on guitar along with Dave Buick on bass (founder of Italy records and current head of TMR pressing plant)
  • Gang is also introduced to Ben Blackwell
    • “I first met Bobby Harlow in fall of 1998 while The Go were recording demos in southwest Detroit,” Blackwell said. “I had a copy of the MC5 Saginaw Civic Center bootleg LP with me. The cover photo is a striking color shot of the band live with Rob Tyner laying prostrate. When I showed it to Bobby he said, ‘I wonder how Rob Tyner ended up in that position?’ It’s something I never would have thought of myself and seemed to almost establish a higher form of thinking that I’ve come to expect from the man,” Blackwell recalled.
  • Sat 5/16/1998 The Go play their first show at the Gold Dollar
    • “We were Gold Dollar regulars. Our first Detroit show was a secret gig at Paycheck’s Lounge in Hamtramck. We were afraid to let people see us so we booked it under the name ‘Blackula.’ Just so happens that Zack Schipps, who’s now in the Electric Six, stopped in for a beer that night. He was the only person to see The Go’s first show. He says he liked it. The Gold Dollar had a real communal vibe. Most everybody knew each other and we had a great time there. The Gold Dollar houses my best memories of Detroit.”
    • “Before the Magic Stick, though, we played a lot of shows at the Gold Dollar in front of, like, [Detroit Cobras co-founder] Steve Shaw,” Bobby laughs. “There’d be Steve, holding a beer, standing at the bar. And Amy Abbott bartending. And nobody else. We did a lot of those kind of shows.”
    • “The sound on a stage, with monitors, was just so impressive to us, so we really enjoyed that,” Bobby recalls. “And we’d just discovered beer, which helped. The other guys had just turned 21. I’m a little older, but when I was 21, I never partied or went to bars or even had much of a social life. I just played music for myself in my room or whatever. So the Gold Dollar was like … well, broadening our horizons is an understatement. It was more like tearing down the foundations!”
  • Sat 6/13/1998 – It’s spring again and Gold Dollar High is proud to present “Purple Reign Prom.” This special night, hosted by Vice Principal Potter, will live long in your memories. Freshman class standouts The Go will perform, as will Junior honor students The Hentchmen. To top off the evening, supergroups comprised of this years graduating Seniors will tickle your collective fancies! Creative dress a must!
  • They play their first “official” show in Detroit in 1998 at the Magic Stick

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  • 1998 Sub-Pop signs them for an album Whatcha Doin
    • the label’s A&R rep Dan Trager — home in Detroit for Thanksgiving to visit his family — caught a set. Matt Smith just happened to have a demo tape in his car of songs the Go recorded for producer-raconteur Kim Fowley, who was soliciting songs for the Detroit Rock City KISS movie soundtrack.
  • Whatcha Doin’s was released on September 7, 1999
  • Jack co-wrote “Keep on Trash” and “Time for Moon”, the only two songs that were written by anyone other than Bobby Harlow and John Krautner
  • Album has a song Suzy don’t leave which we can consider a tangential Suzy Lee
  • Sub Pop demanded “that crummy, hissy, raw demo” as Bobby and John put it — “Meet Me at the Movies,” “You Can Get High” and “Get You Off” — are the demo versions instead of the new versions of the songs the band had produced in the studio.
  • “Even Sub Pop thought rock ‘n’ roll didn’t stand a fat chance in hell of becoming successful or selling a lot of records again,” Bobby says, “and they didn’t want to hear about any of our friends in Detroit”
  • “Jack played on our first record. Jack and I wrote a song together and he wrote with the entire group as well.”

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Post Jack

  • The Go play the night before the Stripes now. Things are changing.
    • Fri 2/05/1999 – Mt. McKinleys, The Go – From Pittsburgh with a vengence, these sharp dressers are here to rock your garage. The Go opens with sharp songs, and their own version of smart fashion sense.
    • Sat 2/06/1999 – White Stripes w/ They Come in Threes – Southwest Detroit’s finest 2 piece? Stripped down to voice, guitar and drums, the White Stripes basic and minimalist approach has made them a unique favorite. They Come in Threes is hot. That’s all there is.
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  • Jack leaves the band
    • “There’s no friction between the Go and Jack,” says Bobby when questioned about White’s recent claims in the press that his Detroit friends have turned their backs on the Stripes. “Which is funny because if there should be any friction in Detroit rock, it should be between the Go and Jack. But there isn’t.”
    • “He was important to us but we were on a path that couldn’t be interrupted. Jack, I believe, really enjoyed his time in The Go. We were the only rock band that he ever officially joined. Unfortunately, it just couldn’t work out. I miss Jack, a bit. He’s a very talented guy, as you know.” – Harlow
  • After touring the band immediately went into Jim Diamond’s Detroit studio and recorded a second LP, without really getting Sub Pop’s approval. The label was far from amused when receiving the $9,000 tab.
  • Sub Pop turns down a second record deal
    • “The [new] A&R man told us, ‘It sounds like shit,'” Bobby says, “and we said, ‘No, you sound like shit”
    • “They certainly didn’t reject it because it was ‘too noisy.’ Wikipedia is full of shit. It’s a useless website. Sub Pop definitely didn’t agree with the type of noise coming from their speakers. Artists should be able to do whatever they want. If they’re not doing it for money, I say it should be completely untouched by all outside parties. Sub Pop did not comply. What did they want? Who knows?
    • They provided The Go with it’s first record and from there we’ve never looked back. I couldn’t be more grateful for Sub Pop. They really drew a lot of attention to the band.”
    • “I think their second album not coming out on Sub Pop threw their career into a state of chaos,” Jasper Smith, fan, member of the Ramrods, and “Spiritual Advisor” to the band
    • “After being dropped by Sub Pop, there was a period of waiting and wondering what to do,” Smith says. “Meanwhile, the Strokes and White Stripes went out and sold a lot of records.”
    • “From the bottom of our hearts, we wanted them to like the album. We were very proud of it.” -John
  • Dave leaves the band and John took up bass full-time. The guitar was the supplemented with Jimmy McConnell
  • They never quite get the recognition they probably deserve
    • “I don’t think we’ve ever drawn a thousand people in Detroit,” admits Bobby Harlow, the Go’s 32-year-old lead singer and co-songwriter. “That’s just never happened. It’s approximately 300 people every time we play.”
  • They co-headline in november
    • Fri 11/26/1999 – White Stripes & The Go – SubPop’s new Detroit darlings are back from tour and ready to rock. Sympathy’s White Stripes duo burns it up!
  • Thu 6/22/2000 – Royal Trux, The Go – Trux guitarist Neil Hagerty and anti-diva Jennifer Herrema have spent nearly a decade alternately killing rock and returning it to its nasty, dirty roots. THIS SHOW WILL BE EARLY! Royal Trux was very specific about an early start time, so The Go will be hittin’ it first at 10:15!! We really mean it, cuz we think they really mean it!
  • The last time they would grace the stage of The Gold Dollar was
    • Sat 10/28 – The GO, Octopus, Kepler – Several tours later, The Go returns to the local stage with their take on Detroit garage energy and chaos. The debut of Octopus – ‘and it sounds like Hawkwind/Black Sabbath/late 60s Detroit but with a shot of estrogen and exotica and a James-Bond-villain kind of vibe. The songs are about evil and whatnot. File under Subverted Stoner Rock.’ The lead singer is Sirhan Sirhan’s cousin! From Ottawa, Kepler brings mellow downer rock & pop. This evening will start softly for you, and then start pounding.
    • Other acts that October:
      • The Greenhornes, The Buzzards, White Stripes (twice), The Whirlwind Heat, The Hentchmen, Von Bondies, and a whole bunch more.
  • The next official album came in 2003 with their self titled
  • It was released under Lizard King and was marketed almost exclusively in England and Europe, which proved problematic
  • Rag and Bone? Apparently though the leader of Mungo Jerry popped his head in the studio one afternoon, excitedly proclaiming: “Now, that’s real rock ‘n’ roll, man!”
  • The Go were able to open for the Stripes during their Elephant tour however. And also opened up for the Libertines.
  • The sound of the band changed from album to album after Whatcha Doin, but still remained loyal to it’s 60s influences.
    • “If I hadn’t noticed a change in The Go’s sound, I’d be deaf,” Blackwell said. “As a band, it seems like they’ve never stopped evolving while still maintaining a consistent feel or vibe that so many other acts just can’t get their arms around.”
    • “They’ve never made the same record twice,” Blackwell added, “and yet it still always sounds like The Go,”
    • “We’ve changed musically by growing as individuals,” Krautner said. “The great thing about being in The Go is that change is always welcome. Changing stuff up all the time makes recording a fun experience.”

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  • They also changed line-ups from album to album
    • “John, Marc and I have played together for over 10 years. Marc and John have been playing together since they were both 16 years-old. We’ve always enjoyed changing the sound and experimenting. That’s why, I believe, we’ve been through so many lineups. We just enjoy making music and creating new identities through sound. It’s kind of like acting. We can become different people, play new roles with each new song. I’ve never liked to be the same person for too long.”
  • We make money by having our songs placed in movies and television. There is no extra benefit from having a song in a show unless you’ve written the theme for Taxi or are featured in a Michel Gondry film. Actually, there is one exception… we have two songs in the remake of ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ and the art-damage-punk-rockers loved it; more horror please.”
  • How long will The Go keep playing music? Is there any end in sight?
    • “Not sure. As long as the songs sound good, I suppose we’ll continue to release albums. A band like Guided By Voices or The Flaming Lips have been around for twenty some years. The Go have really only made it to eight years.I guess we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. That’s really, ultimately, the deciding factor… if The Go keeps it’s members busy then we won’t have much time to think about quitting. It’s kind of like war; if a soldier focuses on killing his enemies then he won’t have time to think about killing himself. Just thought I’d add that bit of inspirational insight. Har har. Oh, all of this and it’s not even 9 a.m. yet. Sometimes I wonder…”

Discography

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  • 1999 Whatcha Doin’
    • 4 out of 5 stars on all music
    • “The Go’s debut album Whatcha Doin’ introduces the Detroit group’s aggressive, authentic update of late-’60s garage rock. Songs like the snarling “Meet Me at the Movies” and the blissed-out “Summer Sun Blues” display the group’s fuzzy, driving guitars, half-shouted, half-sung vocals, and swaggering beats, while the poppier “It Might Be Good” and the “Get Off of My Cloud”-esque “You Can Get High” add another dimension to the Go’s straight-up rock sound. Whatcha Doin’s final song “Time for Moon” is one of the album’s best, combining a primal beat with dashes of backwards guitar and raw vocals. Though the occasionally muddy sound of the album takes the Go’s quest for ’60s-style authenticity a bit too far and fails to capture the group’s live energy, Whatcha Doin’ is a good introduction to one of the Motor City’s most explosive bands.”
  • 2001 Free Electricity
  • 2003 The Go
  • 2003 Supercuts
  • 2007 Howl On The Haunted Beat You Ride
    • Album art: “Thank you. A very good friend of ours has been working with the group. Michael Wartella is a cartoonist. I like his personality so much that I just asked him if he could design our album art and direct our videos. He’s extremely talented and has brought so much more life to the band’s identity, in my opinion. Not only has he designed our album art but he’s also completely responsible for the ‘You Go Bangin On’ music video. He’s just finished the art on our holiday single called ‘Christmas on the Moon’ as well.”
    • On being released by Cass and Italy records: “Ben Blackwell, head of Cass Records, is a friend of mine. I’ve known Ben since he was knee high to a grasshopper, which is still taller than me. I think we’ve got, ‘we’ meaning Detroit music groups, we’ve got all the advantages to create, record and release great music. Dave Buick (head of Italy Records) and Ben Blackwell both have record labels because they love music. They’re not looking to make a profit, just break even, hopefully. They’re genuine music fans who make certain that good music is available to people who want to hear it.”
  • 2008 Tracking The Trail Of The Haunted Beat
  • 2010 Conspiracy Of Owls
  • 2013 Fiesta

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LINKS

http://turnit-down.blogspot.com/2007/12/bobby-harlow-of-go-interview.html

https://books.google.com/books?id=EyL_DAAAQBAJ&pg=PT68&lpg=PT68&dq=1996+%22the+go%22+detroit+band&source=bl&ots=VaCK8Jmz2M&sig=5WbdmcjwH16w_30J2JZJpD-CQXA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi93LPmr_XTAhXJWSYKHVoQAYMQ6AEITjAJ#v=onepage&q=1996%20%22the%20go%22%20detroit%20band&f=false

http://exclaim.ca/music/article/jack_whites_former_band_go_receive_five-cassette_unreleased_compilation

http://www.metrotimes.com/city-slang/archives/2012/12/21/jumblejumble-amy-gore-the-go-unreleased

http://www.metrotimes.com/detroit/goin-to-a-go-go/Content?oid=2189856

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Episode 35 – Broken Boy Soldiers: Album Analysis & Review pt2

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    • 2) Hands
      • This is another track Jack was quoted as saying Brendan had a line or two written of when the two sat down to write the album
      • Via UNCUT UK:
        • The harmonies on “Hands” are straight off Revolver.
        • JW: When we started the band, I knew that one thing I definitely wanted to do was two- or three- part harmonies, which I’d never been able to do. Meg had done a little bit here and there, with “Little Ghost” and stuff like that, but we almost kind of kept it just for our country songs.
      • Via the aquarian: The album tracks exert a tone reminiscent of a psychedelically enlightened Beatles with “Hands,””
      • THE_RACONTEURS_HANDS-367623

 

  • Year of Single release: August 2006

 

      • The Racs #4 biggest hit

 

  • Chart position: :

 

        • UK Hot 100: #29
          • One week in the top40, and another 2 in the top #100 before dropping off
        • #15 in Canada
      • performed live, the outro to this song does bear a striking resemblance to AC/DC’s Back in Black.
      • Hands” is the second single from The Raconteurs‘ debut album Broken Boy Soldiers, released in the UK on July 31, 2006.
      • One of the B-side tracks is a live rendition of “It Ain’t Easy“, a cover version of [Ron Davies (songwriter)|Ron Davies’s]] song.
      • The music video was shot at the Dikemark psychiatric hospital in Asker (outside Oslo), Norway on July 4, 2006.
        • It involves a magician breaking the band out of a mental hospital, where they infiltrate a school compound for deaf girls and free their instruments from the sleeping headmistress’ quarters. Then everyone has a party. It’s real weird
    • 3) Broken Boy Soldier
      • The somewhat eponymous title-ish track (which they changed to plural and made the album’s title inspired by the cover photo shoot)
      • This was another song demo’d by Jack and Brendan during that first meeting.
      • Via empire from the blues: He sings about putting childish things away, which it should be noted, he specifically championed in the the white stripes as a concept.

 

  • Year of Single release: April 2006

 

      • The Racs #2 biggest hit

 

  • Chart position:

 

        • UK Hot 100: #22
          • Just the one week in top40 and another in the top 100
      • This is the second song Jack and Brendan worked on and demo’d together in that first get together
      • Jack White (from Uncut magazine): “I guess it was about breaking out, like it’s time for everybody to grow up, kind of thing. There’s a feeling when all your friends are musicians and nobody has a real job, you wonder how long this is going to last and how long it’s going to be before people start – not getting a real job necessarily, but treating people with respect and acting more responsibly. That was the second song we wrote, and that’s when I knew things were going to get interesting.”

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    • 4) Intimate Secretary
      • Tough to find into on this one, though it’s clear this is a song jack and brendan co-wrote largely together.
      • Kakistocracy”, as mentioned in one of jack’s sung verses, is a state or country run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens. The word was coined by english author thomas love peacock in 1829.
        • This is likely a reference to Jack’s feelings toward detroit at the time — a town’s music scene run by whom he perceived to be the worst, most bitter and inhospitably contemptuous people on the planet.
      • Ecclesiarchy is defined as:
      • You could interpret this as jack saying “then on rubble of scummest malarchy, down with luck we’ll see ecclesiarchy” — so being beaten up by detroit, jack finds a union. “Our fellow’s craft if just not for sharing” referring to the songwriting collaboration.
      • The little room discussion board on the meaning behind this song was dwelling on the masaonic links in the lyrics, which could very well be true as well.
    • 5) Together
    • 08325_104507_Raconteurs2006AW_01
      • Brendan had been working on this song for his next solo album
      • Jack via UNCUT UK: I think “Together” was a song that he had one line for
      • The aquarian compared with track to John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band
    • 6) Level

 

  • Year of Single release: September 2006

 

      • The Racs #5 biggest hit

 

  • Chart position:  

 

      • U.S. “Modern Rock”: #7
    • Weirdly this song didn’t chart in the UK, which seems to be fairly anomalous in Jack’s career. This is because the band only released it as a US Radio single. What the logic there was, i couldn’t tell you, but whatever the case may be, it marked the band’s return to the top 10 in that chart – duplicated only one more time after this.
    • The video:
    • Jack used his Gretsch Triple Green Machine  with two cutaways, a built-in retractable microphone, and an optical theremin next to the Bigsby. Usually used for “Level”
    • 00408ed9
  • 7) Store Bought Bones
    • Via UNCUT magazine, this song originated from an outtake of The White Stripes Get Behind Me Satan Album
      • You can kinda tell – it’s got the fury of satan, and the experimental disjointedness of that album but in a more refined, arena-rock sorta way.
    • Via the AV Club: JW: (the song) tells you where it wants to be. You just let the song tell you. “Store Bought Bones” on this album, that was a riff I was playing with Meg, and I just knew it wasn’t a White Stripes song. You just go with it.
    • Via UNCUT UK:
      • What inspired the organ sound for “Store Bought Bones”?
      • JW: I’m a big Jon Lord fan, and you don’t hear organs with that grunt and that crunchy sound anymore.
      • JW: But we’re also learning that people think something sounds like Brendan or sounds like me, and in fact it turns out it was the other way round. On “Store Bought Bones” Brendan played slide, which is always the first thing I would normally go to.
    • From pitchfork’s review:
      • “Store Bought Bones” might be the best merger of the assembled talents, featuring a distorted organ and manic slide-guitar that would be tired amidst a White Stripes record, but retains its zang here alongside a nimble rhythm section and Benson’s understated vocals.
  • 8) Yellow Sun
  • 9) Call it a Day
    • Brendan had been working on this song for his next solo album
    • When performed live, the band speeds this one up a great deal – which you can hear on the Zane Lowe EP
  • 10) Blue Veins
    • Pitchfork compared this song upon the album’s release to “i want you she’s so heavy”
    • Came in #9 on a rolling stone readers poll of the bet jack white songs of all time
    • Rag’n’bone”
      • Blue Veins is also the name of a women’s health advocacy group in pakistan, and a 2016 Hong Kong vampire television series
      • The fictional show is about nine immortal humans who fight against vampires.
        • 500 years ago, ten members of Kam-Yi-Wai took an order to kill a group of vampires of unknown origins. All except one were killed by vampires. After the vampires left, the nine Kam-Yi-Wai’s dead bodies were struck by lightning and turned into super powered immortals.
        • In the present, the nine immortal humans hide amongst the people, seeking and killing vampires. They believe that they could be mortal again if they kill all the vampires.
        • Lam Mung-Nam is a vampire that has been trying to be a human for a decade. She hides in the Lam family, residing with her human sister, Lam Mung-Yiu, whose parents were killed by vampires, causing her not to speak anymore, and her grandmother, Wong Chi-Hung.
        • The grandmother, Wong Chi-hung, rescues three youths who are searching for vampires in the Netherlands. One of them, Ghost Yau Ling-mui, steals a ring from the vampiress Xenia’s tomb. While they are back in Hong Kong, some supernatural things happen. Ghost gains a mind reading ability, and a stomachache. Xenia wants them to return the magic ring and claims that it is a family heirloom, and she is responsible for its safekeeping.
        • Ghost’s best friends, Ho Nin and Ho Yuet, are students from a martial art school, Ceoi-Yi School. Its creator and founder Kam Kin learned martial art skills from one of the nine undead-humans, Ying Wut-Zoek (who at the time was calling himself Ying Zoi-sang). Kam Kim also has a student called C Kwan who works with Mung-Lam as a forensic medical doctor.
        • After Kam Kin dies, he passes his students to Ying Wut-zoek, asking him to take care of them. Ying Wut-zoek then trains them to be vampire hunters.

JAPANESE EDITION

  • 11) The Bane Rendition

Reception:

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  • Chart position:
    • #2 in the UK Top 100
    • #7 in the US Top 100
    • #29 on Rolling Stone’s 2006 Year End critic’s list
    • #19 on SPIN magazine’s 2006 year end top 40 albums
  • Nominated for Best Rock Album at the 49th Grammy Awards
  • Named album of the year by MOJO Magazine
  • As of 2008 the album had sold 425,000 copies
  • Rolling Stone said of the album “Expectations were sky-high, but the Raconteurs exceed them all.”
  • People magazine gave the album three-and-a-half stars, making the album the Critic’s Choice of the week; they commented “Broken Boy Soldiers incorporates just enough weirdness to show that he (White) hasn’t completely changed his stripes.”

Reflection:

  • Via MOJO Magazine: Brendan says this album feels more like a demo to him after refining the songs whilst spending a year on tour together.
  • Via Uncut
    • (jack): I have to honestly say that I’m divided totally 50/50 between The Raconteurs and The White Stripes. My brain now has two options for songs that I write, and it’s a really nice luxury to have as a songwriter. I have so many songs now for another White Stripes record: Meg and I are working on songs during the breaks from touring with The Raconteurs. But this band is making me a much better guitar player. I’ve taken a 10-year-leap in terms of guitar playing, because in the White Stripes I didn’t have time to explore – I had to keep going back to rhythm guitar to keep the show going.
    • (brendan): I look at us like black sheep. I look at us next to what’s happening on the charts and it doesn’t look like it fits. At one point we were right behind the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the charts and I thought, ‘How can that be?’ I’m having a hard time figuring it out!
  • Via the AV Club:
    • AVC: How do your other bandmates feel about the time you’re committing to The Raconteurs? Is there any tension?
    • JW: Last night, it looked like Meg White was staring at Little Jack for like 10 minutes, and it wasn’t a good stare.
    • PK: It was awkward. [General laughter.] Like [Greenhornes singer-guitarist] Craig Fox, for instance, we had worked really hard the last, you know, 10 years, and he likes the record a lot, and he was just happy for us. He’s working on stuff, and I think it was a way for him to just lay low for a little bit and maybe try out some other avenues for his music. ‘Cause our band is kind of one-directional, but not in a bad way. I love it.
  • Via the aquarian:
    • “But if you were to ask me what I thought the record sounds like, I don’t really know,” states White. “I haven’t gotten my head around it yet. Even live, the songs are changing so much every night we play that it is turning into a whole different band than when we first started playing.
    • “What I can tell you is that nobody said, ‘Let’s make the band sound like this’ or ‘We should sound like that.’ It has all been off the tops of our heads and it’s changing,” concludes White. “It is constantly changing.”
    • 44b85f3f
  • Move to Nashville:
    • Via interview magazine:
      • JD: Jack, you were the first to move down there. What was behind your decision to leave Detroit?
      • JW: It’s hard to talk about. I’ve answered the question a lot of times, and I just don’t know what to say. I don’t think people have understood my answer; I don’t think Detroit has understood my answer. I’d make comments about the scene I was coming from not being very positive anymore for me, and people would take that as me saying that about the entire metropolitan area of Detroit. I grew up in that city, you know, and I was sort of forced to leave my hometown. I didn’t grow up in the suburbs and move into the city and slum it-I lived there my whole life, and that made it very difficult to go, but I couldn’t stay anymore.
    • Via the AV CLUB:
      • AVC: You’re all living in Nashville now—was moving there a band decision?
      • JW: No—we all trickled down there one by one somehow.
      • BB: It’s definitely convenient, but for me, there were bigger things at play. I really didn’t like where I was living. I got robbed a couple times. I was visiting Jack down in Nashville quite a bit, and I really started to like it. Sort of fell in love with it—
      • JW: Neither of us could function in the Detroit music scene any more. It was just not healthy.
      • BB: The music or any other scene. It’s really negative in so many ways.
      • AVC: So are you guys gone for good? JW: Oh yeah. Because of our involvement, even The Greenhornes’ involvement in the Detroit garage-rock scene—or whatever you want to call it—I don’t think we want to be involved in any more scenes ever again. We’ve had that experience, and it was a good one, and we’ve learned a lot from it, and I don’t have any need to join into that ever again. It’s too counterproductive to writing music and performing to the best of your abilities. It’s okay when you’re 20 years old—you’re getting out there and you’re learning—but not when you’re 30 years old
      • JW: In Nashville, self-sabotage is not on the menu, and in hipster culture, self-sabotage is definitely one of the entrées..
  • Via newsweek:
    • It must be a lot fun to be in the Raconteurs.
    • It’s a blast. The toughest part is being constantly referred to as “Jack and company” or “Jack and his band” or “Jack and friends,” that sort of thing, which I didn’t mind on the first record but …
    • But because you wrote all the songs with him …
    • Yeah. It’s just like, you feel a little slighted.
  • Via consequence of sound:
    • Brendan: “You know, of course, Jack was the most publicized thing about The Raconteurs. And I think, unfortunately, he sort of eclipsed the other guys in the band. And that’s not him personally. I think the press did that. The press sort of said, ‘Jack White and company’ or ‘Jack White and his band,’ rarely mentioning the other people who had a huge, major part in the music. I’m really proud of my contributions to that band. And it’s just a little sad to not be acknowledged for that.”

Episode 34 – Broken Boy Soldiers: Album Analysis & Review pt1

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Topic details:

  • We discover all the details from inception to reception of the Raconteurs debut album Broken Boy Soldiers!

A songwriting partnership – Brendan and Jack:

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  • A long history:
    • Brendan has known and collaborated with Jack since the mid to late nineties, performing alongside him in the band Jack White and the Bricks as released last year in the TMR Vault.
    • Via interview magazine:
      • Interviewer: How did you all first meet?
      • PK: We all met each other around the same time. LJ and I knew each other, but we met Brendan and Jack in ’98.
      • JW: It was at the Gold Dollar, a bar in Detroit. That’s where all the bands were playing.
      • PK: It was like, “Wow, I want to know that guy.” It just clicked. Jack had us over his house, and we hung out from then on.
      • BB: I was a superfan. I loved the Greenhornes. I loved the White Stripes.
      • LJL: I actually knew Jack and Brendan before I’d even heard their music.
      • JW: Oh, really? That’s hilarious. So you’re the last real person I met.
    • Jack Via the Aquarian:
      • “We were all running in the same circles back in Detroit,” says Jack White. “We have been friends for so long and we have all played together in different ways over the years. Brendan produced The Greenhorns’ seven-inch EP and we all worked on Loretta Lynn’s album together.”
      • “All of these things just sort of trickled into the band,” explains White. “We ended up playing a bunch of shows together in Detroit and from there, we all talked about making a record.”
  • We’ll get into their friendship on a full episode, but Brendan and Jack knew each other for a long while, and Brendan was a regular support act for the stripes in 2002 on the blood cells tour.
  • Where they’re at:
    • Jack: just married, about to have his first child (scarlett would be born in may of 2006)
    • Brendan’s just getting some traction in his career, his song “what i’m looking for”would catch the attention of apple computers and make its way into an ad a few years later.
  • Their friendship blossomed more once Jack’s rift with the rest of Detroit solidified. Brendan was a like mind, and represented to Jack a kindred spirit that represented someone unspoiled by the music business like he thought he was starting to be.
  • Jack and Brendan collaborated on released material several times, including the “live at the hotel yorba” recordings of hotel yorba and rated x, as well as  during Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose album in 2004, specifically on the song “Little Red Shoes” where Jack wrote and recorded the music and Brendan engineered the session.
  • Via empire from the blues: In May of 2004, on what was one of many visits Jack made to brendan’s home in detroit’s east side, Brendan played Jack the demo for “steady as she goes”.
    • The house itself was nice but in a very bad area — in fact some crackheads broke into his home one night and when Brendan chased them out into the street he got stabbed in the process. He was also jumped and robbed at a gas station as he was pumping gas.
  • Steady as she goes::
    • Via UNCUT:
      • Brendan Benson (vocals, guitar): I remember writing the main part of “Steady As She Goes” and recording a little demo on a little tape recorder. All it was, was “Find yourself a girl, find yourself a girl…”, just the same line over and over again. And then Jack came by the house and I played it for him. He liked it and we just started writing, as he does. He’s good at that, and he just finished the lyric.
      • Jack White (vocals, guitar): Brendan only lived three blocks away from me, so I would stop by quite often just to say hey and what’s going on. Brendan said, “Jack, please help me write some lyrics, ’coz I’m all tapped out!” He played me the demo of “Steady As She Goes” that he’d done, which he’d played all the instruments on. It was like a slow reggae version, a lot slower, and he only had one line, “Find yourself a girl and settle down…” So I just took his book and started writing.
      • The song changed identity when Patrick [Keeler, drummer] and Little Jack [Lawrence, bassist] showed up a few days later. They happened to be in town, so we said, “You guys should come over and play on this.”
    • Via the aquarian:
      • “Me and Jack never really had to share songwriting responsibilities with anyone before,” explains Benson, “so we decided to try every different option. Every song was different, no two songs seemed alike and it has carried over to the constantly changing nature of our live shows.”
    • Via jambands.com, Brendan was asked what it was like pitching songs for the racs:
      • When I proposed something it would always be like, “Yeah, cool, perfect.” And then there were songs that I kept for myself that I didn’t want to give up.

Forming a group:

  • Calling the greenhornes:
    • After Jack and Brendan wrote and demo’d Steady as she goes and broken boy soldier, they called in Van Lear Rose collaborators and greenhornes rhythm section Jack “LJ” Lawrence and Patrick Keeler.
  • They were in town already to record some demos with brendan, and Jack was driving them to brendan’s place. He played them the “Steady” demo that he and brendan had done together to LJ and keeler in the car on the way to Brendan’s place.
  • Via UNCUT: Patrick Keeler (drums): Brendan and Jack just wrote the song to write it – they weren’t trying to make an album or anything. I heard it in Jack’s car when he played it for me, like, “Check out what me and Brendan made.” Little Jack and I were coming up anyway to record some demos with Brendan, so we all four happened to be in town at the same time. So we recorded that song. We kind of changed it up a little bit, making it more rocking. It probably took five or six songs before we realised we were making a record. So we started naming songs and then started naming our band. We stopped around 10 songs because we figured we could’ve just gone on and on.
  • Via the AV Club: why do you think The Raconteurs happened now?
    • JW: We talked about it for years: “We should make a record together,” or “Wouldn’t it be great if we were in a band?” But with all our other bands, and how busy we’ve all been over the years, the only way for it to actually happen is by accident. It never would have been a planned thing—like, “In September, we will all get together and we will start this band.” You can’t do that. It was by accident, ’cause “Steady As She Goes” happened by accident, and [Keeler and Lawrence] happened to be coming to Detroit around that time.
  • Recording for the first time:
    • Via uncut (jack): The best part of “Steady” is that it was the first time the four of us ever recorded together. People always say, ‘God, my demos sounded so much better than my album.’ I mean, it was great to be in Brendan’s attic, where it was 120 degrees and we wanted to get the hell out of there. Most of The White Stripes’ albums are recorded in really harsh conditions in the dead of winter, and that’s the best way to record, because when you get comfortable you start messing it up.
  • Final Roster:
    • Jack White – vocals, guitar, keyboards, production, mixing
    • Brendan Benson – vocals, guitar, keyboards, production
    • Jack Lawrence – bass guitar, backing vocals
    • Patrick Keeler – drums
  • Via UNCUT: (brendan) – The cool thing about The Raconteurs is that there are two approaches to the music. It’s like the duality of man, yin and yang, devil and angel. And I think this song is like that, too. I don’t always understand Jack’s part in it and he probably doesn’t always understand my part in it. What I like most about songwriting is sneaking an idea in where it doesn’t belong. A bunch of kids jumping up and down singing ‘Steady, as she goes!’ – if you think about it, it’s kind of ironic.
  • AVC: How does playing with The Raconteurs compare to your other projects?
    • Brendan Benson: It’s completely different for me, since I’m a solo artist, and now I’m part of a band, which I always wanted to do. It’s easier to brainstorm, and it’s fun—you’re encouraged and inspired by the others. In this band, it’s especially that way for me, because they’re my favorite musicians—they’ve been my favorite musicians for so long, and I get to play with them now.
  • Via UNCUT UK:
    • Is it a holiday?
    • JW: It is, yeah. When we worked on Loretta Lynn’s album it was enjoyable but it wasn’t necessarily fun time. I mean, we had to go to work, there was a job to be done. Whereas when we started this band, there was no, ‘This is gonna be a soul band or this is gonna be a big rock band’. Nobody said anything about anything we were gonna be.
  • Via NME: jACK, “This record happened because I was passionate about doing it, and it’s very much long-term for me. Besides, I could never shoot the bass player in The White Stripes – this band gives me the opportunity.”

Recording the album:

  • In some accounts, the stripes were recording “satan” between raconteurs sessions — at the very least around the same time.
  • The group recorded the album at Le Grande Studios in Detroit, MI
    • Which only really has two credits to its name, this album and its single, and brendan’s album The Alternative to Love released the year prior
    • Via empire from the blues: This is brendan Benson’s attic, essentially. He had a studio in the attic of his home on East Grand Boulevard. The home itself was nice but resting outside “indian village amidst the east side’s disrepair”
  • Via UNCUT
    • (Brendan): It’s debatable when the birth of The Raconteurs was. We wrote “Steady” but then we wrote “Broken Boy Soldier”, I think, on the same day. It all happened without talking, almost – screwing around, having fun. Everything was done so fast. “Steady As She Goes” is an early take, if not the first take. Jack was like, “Okay, cool, I thought that was great.” I was like, “Wait, were we recording?”
  • Broken boy soldiers was recorded and mixed in three weeks
  • Via the aquarian:
    • “The sessions for the record were really fast,” explains the ex-White Stripes’ mojo-worker. “We did all 10 songs in just a few days. We really didn’t realize we were a band until halfway through the recording process. To us, we all just had some time off.”
    • “The next thing we knew, we were turning into a band and making a record,” explains White. “So instead of taking additional time and trying to make Sgt. Pepper’s, we decided to just try and get a snapshot of what the band was when we first got together. So we stuck to those 10 songs and set them all to live tracks. Brendan did a lot of the engineering, but we also hired The White Stripes’ live engineer, Matthew Kettle. He also did Get Behind Me Satan. We wanted to add a live engineer to the equation, just to see what would happen, and we got some cool tones that way,” White excitedly expresses.
  • Via the AV Club:
    • JW: Given our history, I suppose you could have thrown us all onstage a year ago and something interesting might have happened, just off the cuff. We didn’t rehearse for the album—we just went in and wrote songs and recorded immediately. The whole album is just a time capsule of that first week.
  • Engineered by Patrick Hutchinson, aka “hutch” — who is a member of Queens of the Stone Age
    • He also worked as the engineer on Them Crooked Vultures and worked with Ricky Skaggs, Dolly Parton and more
    • Hutch was the one that recorded that first Racs show at Irving Plaza just released on the Vault
    • Dean fertita spoke a bit about this to a website called “under the radar”:
      • In 2006 I was playing with The Raconteurs. Hutch, who does sound for Queens of The Stone Age was doing sound for us on that tour. When that ended Queens was getting ready to release and tour Era Vulgaris. I was brought into the band through Hutch. I might have been the first person brought into the band through Hutch. It was a very good decision getting Hutch to do sound for The Raconteurs. My life changed completely after that.”
  • Mastered by Vlado Meller
  • AVC: Did the adverse recording conditions affect Broken Boy Soldiers?
    • BB: Very much.
    • JW: Every album I’ve done pretty much has been not in a pleasant, quote-unquote, environment—it’s freezing cold, or it was somebody’s house with not-that-great equipment. It’s always something that spurs on to get the job done. At ToeRag, we did Elephant—you couldn’t even stand up, and it was freezing cold. And this one, blistering hot. We had to turn the fans off between takes to record. [Laughs.]
    • BB: There’s something about working in adverse conditions. It keeps it interesting. I always notice if I ever sit down with a pen and piece of paper and a guitar, and I have a beverage and an ashtray and I’m comfortable on the couch, I fall asleep.
  • Patrick Keeler via the AV Club:
    • we’re nine songs in and it’s like, “Shit, we’re making a record.” We didn’t even really think about it—we didn’t have a band name or song titles.
  • Gear (via stripespedia):
  • Jack:
    • Gretsch Triple Jet
      • Jack’s primary electric, made by luthier Randy Parsons. Copper-top, double-cutaway, Duo Jet-style. Gretsch logo from 1912.
    • Gretsch Duo Jet
      • Jack’s other main custom Duo Jet.
    • Gretsch Anniversary Jr.
      • Bigsby vibrato tailpiece, three Filtertrons. Used mainly on the first tour.
    • Gretsch Triple Green Machine
      • Custom Anniversary Jr., modified with two cutaways, a built-in retractable microphone, and an optical theremin next to the Bigsby. Usually used for “Level”.
    • Gretsch Rancher (“Claudette“)
    • Airline Town & Country
  • Brendan:
    • 1959 Guild Aristocrat
      • Primary electric for the BBS tour.
    • Fender Telecaster
      • Primary electric for the Consolers tour.
    • Gibson Flying V (w/ Vibrola)
    • Gibson Hummingbird
  • LJ:
    • Rickenbacker 4003 (or/and 4001)
    • Epiphone Rivoli
    • Fender Jazz Bass
  • PK:
    • 2006: Ludwig kit (in Gold Sparkle finish): 28″ kick, 18×14″ kick, 13″ tom, Ludwig Black Beauty snare

The Release:

  • Released on May 15th, 2006 ub the UK and the 16th in the US
    • Oddly enough it was released first on March 12th in Germany by XL
  • Labels:
    • UK, Germany, Spain, New Zealand: XL
    • US, CANADA: WB
    • France: Beggars
      • Their a company that owns or distributes other labels’ releases including XL’s
    • China and Mexico: Hal Leonard (a year later, btw)
    • Aregntina: Sum Records
    • Also released on cassette tape in indonesia a la Satan
  • Looks like Jack and Brendan split then publishing between their respective Third String Tunes and Chrysalis Music
  • Co-produced by Jack and Brendan, mixed by Jack
    • Mixed at Ardent studios in Memphis, a common Jack and Jack-related haunt
  • Mastered by Vlado Meller and engineered by John hampton and Adam Hill
    • John Hampton: A musician, producer and tech guy. Performed with Todd Rundgren and was the main producer for the band Gin Blossoms (including their hit “hey jealousy”)
    • Adam Hill produced power-pop icons Big Star and worked tech stuff for Jack in the White Stripes during the Get Behind Me Satan album
    • Mastered at Sony Music Studios in NY, similar to Satan
  • The Title:
    • Via the AV Club:  Jack – We had a song, “Broken Boy Soldier,” so we just made it plural, Broken Boy Soldiers, and that seemed to—we’ve been on the road with our other bands forever, and you can put in whatever metaphors you want, or we’ve all beaten each other up.

The Cover:

  • Photographed by Autumn de Wilde
  • Designed by Patrick Keeler and Aleksey Shirokov
    • Aleksey is responsible for the calligraphy and logo
  • Via the AV Club:
    • AVC: It looks like you guys have been beaten up on the album artwork. What does that signify?
    • JW: It was that photographer Autumn de Wilde’s idea. We did about 30 shoots that day—it was one of those things where, “Let’s take as many photos as we can today, and as many different setups and situations.” When we got the photo back, it just seemed to fit. The one thing I like about it is, it looks like we’re all on the same page. We’re together, whatever the situation and circumstances—it looks like these four guys are in the same spot right now.
    • PK: I like the idea, too, you always see old portraits of families or something, and maybe before, they were all wrestling around in the yard. It’s kind of like the four brothers or something.

Track-by-Track:

    • 1) Steady, as She Goes
      • The first song Jack and Brendan co-wrote and demo’d together
      • Via uncut:
        • (Jack) At first I thought it was funny, because Brendan’s always trying to find the beauty in the clichéd phrases and sometimes he catches flak for that. So I was trying to do my best, Brendan! I think the big notion in my head was we’re all getting older now and enough of goofing around. All our friends are musicians, so it was like, ‘How much of this world can we stay a part of and how much do we reject?’
        • (brendan) The theme of settling down is kind of an ongoing discussion with myself. I haven’t really figured it out or come to any conclusions. It’s kind of an age-old topic. Jack’s approach was a little different, and I didn’t quite understand it at first. He came up with the phrase “Steady, as she goes” and I thought, “Yeah, that’s cool.” I never questioned the phrase ‘kink in the single life’ and I didn’t think about it too much because I guess I was so preoccupied with other things – just the fact that we were writing together.
      • The Single:
        • Several versions were released:
          • A limited edition, 7-inch, 45 rpm vinyl record, was released in Europe on January 30, 2006, and in North America on March 7, 2006. It was a double A-sided single, with the relatively unpromoted “Store Bought Bones” as the flipside. A CD version of “Steady, As She Goes” was released on April 24 with the B-side “Bane Rendition”. Two further vinyl releases were produced: the first (marked ‘B’) with “Store Bought Bones” as the B-side; the second (marked ‘C’) an acoustic rendition of “Steady, As She Goes” with “Call It a Day” as the B-side.

 

  • Year of Single release: April 2006

 

        • The Racs all time biggest hit (no surprise)
        • Jack’s 2nd biggest hit as a songwriter

 

  • Chart position:

 

        • U.S. Hot 100: 54
        • U.S. “Modern Rock”: #1
        • US Mainstream Rock: #30
        • Adult pop songs: #19
        • Digital Songs: #37
        • UK Hot 100: #4
          • A nice lengthy run, one of Jack’s longest and highest performing in Britain. 2 weeks in the top 10, another 2 in the top 20, another 4 in the top 40 followed by another 13 in the top 100
          • Re-charted in the UK 2 years later in july of 2008
      • This is a major hit for not only the band, but Jack in general. As far as chart performance, easily in his top 3
      • An advance of the single was release in britain in january, and in march in the US to coincide with the start of their live performances.
      • Via uncut: We thought it was a good blessing for the band to start off on vinyl (referring to the “steady” single that was released in january of 2006 ONLY on vinyl in the UK). The song sounded so immediate that it just felt right. Life since the single came out has been amazing. The band has changed so much since then and it hasn’t even been that long.
    • There were a total of 2 music videos for this song
      • Brendan was said to say to jack in the process of recordng a go kart sequence for the second video “did you ever think it would leave to this?” referring to the day the pair got together to record
      • Two videos were made for this song, including one starring Paul Reubens, known for his character Pee-Wee Herman.
      • Via wikipedia: There are two music videos for “Steady, As She Goes”. The first music video was directed by Jim Jarmusch, and focuses on the band performing the song. It premiered on MTV2 on March 10, 2006, and was also available for streaming on the band’s website. In the second music video, The Raconteurs teamed up with Paul Reubens, best known for his work as Pee-Wee Herman. In this video, each band member plays an imaginary speed-racing hero in an old-fashioned soap box race, following the heroes on their cut-throat chase for first place. Reubens plays an unscrupulous pit boss, stooping to low levels to ensure a win for his racer, Jack Lawrence. Lawrence and Reubens (wearing standard melodrama-villain handlebar moustaches) cheat many times throughout the race, to make sure that Lawrence wins. Patrick falls off a cliff, Brendan crashes, and Reubens shoots White (“the Copper Kid”) with a blow gun. Lawrence wins. The latter video premiered exclusively on Yahoo! Music on June 19, 2006.
    • Cover versions of the song began pouring in from a variety of artists, including Corinne Bailey Rae, Fitz and the Tantrums and Adele (whom would later cover “many shades of black”)
    • Nominated for a grammy for best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal
    • Also showed up in:

Episode 33 – The Big 3

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Topic details:

  • Jack White has a fascination with the number 3, and this episode we detail it and all the uses he’s put the third number to over the years!

Why the number three?:

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  • Origins:
    • Boiling it down to the basics:
      • “What’s always been a question for us is: If we’re breaking things down, how simple could they be? It seems to revolved around the number three — songwriting is storytelling, melody, and rhythm, those three components. If you break it down but you keep the three components, then you have what songwriting really is, without excess and over thinking.”
      • “The first time it hit me, I was working in an upholstery shop. There was a piece of fabric over part of a couch. The guy I was working for put in three staples. You couldn’t have one or two, but three was the minimum way to upholster something. And it seemed things kept revolving around that. Like, you only need to have three legs on a table. After two, three meant many, and that was it, you don’t have to go any further than that: the three components of songwriting, the three chords of rock’n’roll or the blues – that always seemed to be the number.”
      • Via the guardian: “It was a Vladimir Kagancouch, the fabric was pink with silver threads,” he remembers. “I had three staples tamping the fabric down, left, right and centre, and I just stared at it for 10 minutes, it became hypnotic.
      • Via “empire from the blues: “jack also decided that this smallest possible band-unit, despite having two members, perfectly met his mystic obsession with the number three. It exemplifies “the almost iconic, mysterious perfection that cannot be obtained” he informed the guardian’s alexis petridis. Invisibility present like the messages he his in furniture, the figure was spectral, decodable, universal DNA. “there are three elements to everything, and if you can discover what those three are as your structure, then you’re on the right path.”
      • Via the new yorker:  “the blues were taking music down to three chords, twelve bars, three lines,” White said. “The simplest components.
    • MTV BRazil interview: why #3? “It’s perfect. It’s the start of more”
    • Religious significance: The father, the son and the holy ghost
      • Jack had a heavily catholic upbringing, so this terminology would have been surrounding him from a very young age.
      • He goes into this more with terri gross – he calls it “perfection that maybe god has”
  • jack_white_number_3_III_obsession
    • Movie: The Third Man
      • Orson Welles’ famous character Harry Lime
    • Musical origins
      • As White details in the upcoming “American epic” documentary, the number 3 as it is associated with popular music (most pop songs tend to be about 3 minutes) has it’s origins in the 1920’s, at the dawn of electrical recording. For the new film soundtrack:
        • Via thirdmanrecords.com: Engineer Nicholas Bergh has reassembled this recording system from original parts and it is now the only one left in the world. The system consists of a single microphone, a towering six-foot amplifier rack, and a live record-cutting lathe, powered by a weight-driven pulley system of clockwork gears. The musicians have roughly three minutes to record their song direct to disc before the weight hits the floor. In the 1920s, they called this “catching lightning in a bottle.” All the musical performances in this film are live. The audio you hear on the soundtrack is taken directly from the discs they were recorded to, with no editing or enhancements.
      • A side-note to this, traditional blues songs have three lines per verse, which The White Stripes obviously exemplify in many songs.
      • Jack: It’s actually all based around the number three, even though there’s two of us.It’s vocals, guitar and drums, and then rhythm, melody and storytelling.
      • White-Stripes-Guitar-Plectrum-369574
  • Signing his name:
    • Via feelnumb.com: He often goes by Jack White III and usually signs his name as such or simply “III.”  He even changed his name to “Three Quid” during a 2005 tour.
  • Other iconography:
    • His guitar amps and picks tend have the III symbol
  • The simplest explanation? John Gillis was the third man in his detroit neighborhood to become an upholsterer
    • Via “empire”: “Muldoon though, recalling the local lineage started by W.E. Klomp, remembered a simpler reason. “That’s where the third man thing came from,” he told metro-times “he was the third man in our neighborhood to become an upholsterer.”

Oddball “3”’s:

    • Childhood home: Via stripespedia:  The house he grew up in is “a wooden house, three floors, I think it was built in 1911 – my whole life I grew up here.”
    • Via rollingstone: I have three dads: my biological father, God and Bob Dylan.
    • Trout Mask Replica’s “moonlight on vermont” – he heard it on a VHS he and krautner sat watching in 1999, which snagged his attention. “I have to hear it three times every time i hear it” white told des barres. The obsessive-compulsive power of three again helped draw white in.

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  • RAG’N’BONE:

 

    • Jack “Three fingered” White was a gangster in the 1920’s, which i learned about via “myalcaponemuseum.com”:
    • Alias  Henry J. Cerny, “Three fingers ” His nickname comes from his missing two fingers on his hand.When wearing gloves, White stuffs cotton in the missing digits.
  • William J. White starts his career as follows;
    • December 29,1919 -Sent to Joliet penitentiary for one year to life for robbery.
    • October 28,1921 – Transferred to Chester state hospital for criminal insane.
    • August 18,1923 – Returned to Joliet penitentiary.
    • October 3,1924 – Paroled
    • April 1,1925 – Special discharge from parole board.
    • June 22,1925 – Arrested in Kansas City for robbery. Disposition of case unknown.
    • March 23,1926 Jack White is arrested in a road house in Evergreen Park.He is suspected of being the leader of eight bandits who held up the tractor plant of the International Harvester company on March 5 and escaped with $80,000. Three witnesses also point him out as being the one who shot a motorcycle policeman in a Mannheim roadhouse. The treasurer of the McVicker’s theater asserted he was robbed of $10,000 by Jack White referring him as the gloved bandit. Another witness claims Jack White was one of four who robbed the McHenry State bank of $18,000.
    • June 19,1926 White is acquitted of the Harvester robbery.Other charges are still against him.More importantly killing a policeman.
    • October of 1926.
    • When arrested Jack White is a walking armoury.Two loaded .45’s, two .38’s and a sawed off shotgun are in his possession.
    • January 21, 1927- Found guilty of murder in Judge Philip Sullivan’s court. Sentenced to Joliet for life

Numerology:

  • Via purple revolver:
    • Numerology is the study of the purported divine, mystical or other special relationship between a count or measurement and observed or perceived events.
    • It would be easy to get obsessive about the number 3. We could examine the clock we all live our daily life by and travel back to the days of around 3500–3200 BC to the days of the Sumerian Babylonian astronomers.
    • The Sumerians first used the idea of 18 year cycles to predict lunar eclipses and invented the modern practice of dividing a day into a 360 degrees circle, of 60 minutes each…

Three Bands:

  • The White Stripes
    • Color scheme is red, white and black
    • Three albums made with “sympathy”
  • The Raconteurs:
    • Jack and brendan lived three blocks from each other when Brendan asked Jack to help write “steady as she goes”
  • The Dead Weather:

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Third Man Records:

  • Jack named his record label Third Man Records
  • “First Three Years” of blue series celebration:
    • Via NME: In a move both frustrating and enchanting, Third Man released all 56 of their Blues Series singles on one side of vinyl to celebrate their third anniversary. This means that the record has to be played at 3RPM, chosen due to Jack’s obsession with the number three. It’s basically impossible to play, as the slowest turntable ever made is 8RPM.
  • Third Man innovated the triple decker record
  • The Third man Records Vault subscription service is released three times a year
  • “Three Sided Vinyl”:
    • Via NME: BP Fallon, ‘Fame #9’ – three-sided vinyl: Having worked as a publicist and manager for Led Zeppelin, T Rex and Johnny Thunders, BP Fallon has a whole lot of great stories to tell. Which is why Third Man gave him a spoken word record, released rather uniquely on ‘three-sided’ vinyl – meaning that one side of the record has a pair of grooves with different recordings on each.
  • Other triple merch: White Stripes Triple Inchophone + 3″ Records: Supposedly the rarest of all White Stripes creations, the Triple Inchophone is a Japanese record player that plays 3″ records. Only 400 players exist and the records rarely, if ever, appear on Ebay. Reading this, you know you want one just because you can’t have one.
  • Elvis’s demo:
    • Elvis Presley’s first record, a demo that he made in 1953, when he was eighteen. White bought it for three hundred thousand dollars at an auction, and loaned it to the Country Music Hall of Fame, where for a while it was on display. H
  • The icarus launch was to commemorate the company’s 3 millionth record

Songs:

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  • The White Stripes:
    • The big three killed my baby
      • “The Big Three” refers to the three major automakers in the 1950s and 1960s: Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.
      • “Three can be translated in so many ways. There’s the trinity in Christianity, and objects in the world: a traffic light. A table can have only three legs and stand up. Or a wheel on a car can have only three nuts to hold it on. There’s a definition about that.” The biggest occurrence is in The Big 3 Killed My Baby, “it’s three chords and three verses, and we accent threes together all through that. It was a number I always thought of as perfect, or our attempt at being perfect. Like on a traffic light, you couldn’t just have a red and a green. I work on sculptures too, and I always use three colors. I don’t know. It has that feel to it, everything we do. It just seems like the perfect connection. There’s vocals, drums and guitar.”
      • Via the Metro-Times: “It’s three chords and three verses, and we accent threes together all through it.”
    • White blood cells was recorded in three days
    • Ball & Biscuit
      • “It’s quite possible that i’m your third man, but it’s a fact that i’m the seventh son”
    • The elephant lp:
      • The Liner notes of Elephant also have every three highlighted in red instead of the normal white font.
    • Get Behind me Satan LP – The minimalism is still there: vocals, marimba and drums or vocals, grand piano and drums. Or I play piano, Meg plays timpani and she sings. It’s all in threes.
    • Blue Orchid – the stripes stumbled on the lick for this song three days before recording ended
    • 300 mile per hour outpour blues
      • “There’s three people in the mirror and i’m wondering which one of them i should choose”
  • The Raconteurs:
    • Broken boy soldiers was recorded and mixed in three weeks
  • The Dead Weather:
    • 3 birds – Horehound
    • Three Dollar Hat – Dodge & Burn
    • Dracula’s three brides are on jack’s drum kit
  • Solo:
    • Blunderbuss tour –
      • Kicked off on SNL on 3/3/12
      • took the bands 3 minutes to switch
    • Lazaretto Album:
      • via bantamu: From this need to capture the magic built up from playing together every day, Lazaretto was born, the full length album previewed by the “World’s Fastest Record”.
        • The recording sessions, carried out at Third Man Studio (owned by Jack White), lasted three days for the male band, and three days for the female band.
      • The special edition record: via NME: A veritable vinyl Rubix Cube of hidden treats and treasures, featuring – deep breath – two hidden tracks beneath the labels, three different speeds, a Side A that plays from the inside out, dual-groove technology meaning there’s alternate intros, a matte finish, zero compression used during mastering and a hand-edged hologram.
    • Three Women – Lazaretto
      • Via songfacts: This song is a cheeky refashioning of Blind Willie McTell’s 1928 “Three Women Blues.” White explained to Uncut magazine why he recorded his own version. “A friend of mine had heard ‘Three Women Blues’ at a party and I thought it was an interesting song,” he said. “I had covered Blind Willie McTell songs in the past and I came up with that first line – ‘I’ve got three women, red, blonde and brunette’ – just as a starting point for myself. I thought, ‘I’m gonna do a completely modern version of this song.’ It doesn’t really have much to do with Blind Willie McTell’s song at all beyond the first line.”
      • “I also think his song is a lesson in how it’s all false to begin with, how you shouldn’t believe these are all real events for the songwriter or the person singing,” he continued. “It’s like when Elvis was singing his songs – he didn’t write the songs so they’re not about him. That’s one thing people really get wrong about all the old blues musicians – that every song they were singing was from the heart and about their own specific problems. I highly doubt that Blind Willie McTell had three girlfriends at the same time – it’s hard to pull off for anyone, especially someone who’s blind.”
      • The song finds White hollering: “I got three women, red blonde and brunette. It took a digital photograph to pick which one I liked.”
      • A digital photograph is the sort of modern technology that the famously techno-phobe singer wouldn’t normally take to. White told Rolling Stone that there’s a difference between the narrators of his songs and his own beliefs. “If you know anything about me, do you think I like digital photography? No. I don’t,” he said. “So obviously this song is not about f—ing Jack White.”
      • White was taking out his frustrations on those who criticize his songs without understanding them.
      • Much of this song was recorded live in the studio, but Cory Younts’ harmonica solo and White’s vocals was overdubbed later.
    • Jack contributed to three songs on tube called quest’s “we got it from here…thank you 4 your service” album
  • Other:
    • Jack’s house
      • in Nashville, White lives in a big house with a porch and columns, behind a tall iron gate. In back of the house is a screened hutch, like a chicken coop, with three white peacocks that are being trained to walk the property. Beyond are a few outbuildings. In one, White has an upholstery shop. In another, he has a three-lane bowling alley, where he keeps racks of balls for friends. Each dedicated ball has a name tag, and some of the balls are painted fancifully—Bob Dylan’s has a portrait of John Wayne.
    • Robert Johnson was poisoned at a bar called “three forks”

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Episode 32 – Van Lear Rose

Background

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  • Loretta is one of the most lauded country stars of all time.
  • “She married Oliver Lynn when she was 13, and had four children by the time she was 18. Her husband bought her a guitar, and soon after she landed a record deal. She entered a partnership with the late, legendary producer Owen Bradley and a long string of hits followed.” – NPR
  • The album came about in New York when Jack and Loretta met.
  • Jack was 29 and Loretta was 69
  • The White Stripes dedicated White Blood Cells to her
  • They wrote me a letter and sent me the record. Well, I have to say I never heard of them. But I loved the CD. My manager at the time, Nancy Russell, called and set up a day for Jack and Meg to come see me at my ranch in Hurricane Mills. I made them dinner—chicken and dumplings and my homemade bread. Jack still says that it was the best bread he ever ate. I gave little Meg one of my old stage dresses to wear. Bless her heart, she just cried. Meg is so sweet. I had been telling Patsy I wanted to start recording and make another record soon. So I had all my songs out, trying to get them together and sort through them, when Nancy called and asked if I would plan a show in New York with Jack and Meg. I said, “Sure.”
  • they invited her to open a show for them at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. In 2003 . She told Jack she was getting ready to record a new album, and he offered to produce it.
  • “The first time I met him in Manhattan, N.Y., and we worked together, I was telling him I was getting ready to go in and do an album myself,” Lynn told CMT News. “He said, ‘Well, could I go in and produce it?’ I said, ‘Why not?’”
  • Jack had been itching to work with her on an album for a long time, much like his other idols such as the flat duo jets, and the stooges (which ultimately he never did even though him and Iggy had plans for a long time).
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  • “I’d play tambourine on this record, if that’s it,” White added. “I don’t care. I just want to be in the same room with her and to be able to work on this.”
  • She handed Jack a stack of songs and he picked the first ten off the top and recorded them in a day or so
  • They recorded 13 (15?) songs in 12 days, more than a song a day.
  • Jack only wanted to do songs that she had written, a feat she hasn’t done since her very first album.
  • They found a house in Nashville to record in, engineer Eric McConnels house on boscobel st.
  • “We recorded in this old house in east Nashville. I swear I thought that house was going to fall in around us.” – lynn
  • I didnt want to get a country band because youd done that before, you were the country you could put a punk rock band behind you and itd be country so I got the greenhornes – Jack
    Is that what you call em? – Lynn
  • The backing band consisted of David Feeny, Dan John Miller, Dirk Powell, Patrick Keeler, Jack Lawrence, and Jack White. Loretta named them the “Do-Whaters” “because they got in there and did whatever we needed them to.”
  • After that jack formed the racs “you were using me as a guinea pig.” – lynn
  • This album set the tone for everything the Racs would become
  • “He didn’t want a real polished sound,” Lynn said. She added with a laugh, “He didn’t get it either.”
  • “I didn’t want to overthink it,” White explained. “I didn’t want to push it and try to perfect it. She sounds brilliant right off the bat. Her voice is gorgeous.”
  • Fully formed country album which shocked even Loretta
  • “I didn’t know it was going to be this country, but it’s country,” Lynn said. “It’s as country as I am.”
  • “It’s so country, it’s more country than anything I’ve ever recorded,” says Lynn, “If I’d-a went in to record it (alone), I probably wouldn’t have done it like that. But since (White) was doing it, I stayed out of it. I thought, ‘This is the best thing to do, to give him the right of way.’ And he took it.”
  • Jack wanted to do the songs all in one take when possible
  • “I think Jack thought he’d work me to death,” Lynn said. “He don’t know that I work all the time.”
  • “I wanted to present each song the best way possible and bring out the character of each song,” White said of his approach in the studio. “If it was subtle, it needed to be subtle. If she was belting it out, we needed to get intense with it.”
  • I only got to sing the songs one or two times. Every time I would sing something, Jack would say, “I love it.”  – lynn
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  • “It wasn’t doctored, like they do today,” she says. “They doctor everything up — if you miss one little thing in a line, they go back and get that one little thing. I sang them songs one time. I thought surely to God he was going to let me sing them more than once, ’cause Owen (her longtime producer Owen Bradley) would say, ‘Get in there and sing it three or four times, to get your voice opened up.’ But not Jack. The first time I sang it, we took it.”
  • When asked about comparisons to Johnny Cash’s revival career “Somebody said, ‘Are you going to do this like the Johnny Cash record?’ And I said, ‘I don’t understand what you’re asking me,’ because I didn’t know about Johnny’s record. I’m on the road workin’ all the time, so you’re the last to know.”
  • Released on Interscope Records April 27th 2004
  • Mixed by Stuart Sikes, whom we talked about in detail in Ep 2 White Blood Cells
  • “We cut seven songs in one day. There’s one song that has us laughing and I says, ‘Come on, Jack, let’s get the heck outta here.’ He kept that on the record. It’s so funny. It’s just like being in the front room singing. It’s countrier than anything I’ve ever cut.”


Jack and Loretta

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  • During her session work with producer Jack White of the rock duo, the White Stripes, Lynn would hold his hand and say, “This is really gonna shake ’em up.”
  • “I’m impressed but not surprised that she sings better now than she ever has,” Jack White says. “She proved to me again and again that she was the greatest female singer-songwriter of the twentieth century, and she’s got more to say and an amazing way to say it than most people nowadays. Her stories are cuttingly acute and witty — she’s a clever angel. Her songwriting is impeccable, She’s so real I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”
  • “He’s got a lot of energy,” Lynn says. “He’s still a kid, you know, so he feels like he can jump the river and turn around and jump back over. He don’t think that nobody’s any older than him.”
  • Sometimes people come into your life that you would never expect. That’s what Jack White did. Who would have ever thought I would have a record with a rock and roller from Detroit? Not me. But I sure am glad I did.
  • I thought Jack was like a young Owen Bradley. He wants you to just be who you are and do what you do. I am telling you he is great. I love him so much. We are really great friends now.

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Track by Track

 

  • Van Lear Rose

 

      • About her mother
      • “Mommy was the van lear rose” she came out of van lear kentucky
      • Van Lear was the local coal mine where Daddy worked, and Mama the rose.
      • “Its almost like part two to coal miners daughter” – Jack

 

  • Portland, Oregon(duet with Jack White)

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      • About a drunken one night stand
      • “She insisted we do a duet,” White recalled. “I said, ‘All right, let’s do ‘Portland Oregon’ together, and we’ll talk to each other at the bar.’”
      • He and her daughter patsy tested it out and loretta came back the next morning
      • She says she didn’t know he was going to do that and that the next day she showed up to the studio playing it back with his vocals on there too (interview from NPR) I said who is that, and he says Its me i said it sounds great
      • Really great video with Jack and the future racs.

 

  • Trouble on the Line(Loretta Lynn, Oliver Lynn)

 

      • Co-written by her and her late husband
      • It’s a song she wrote years ago about a communication breakdown with Doo.
      • They had a big fight and lynn didnt call him for 3 weeks while she was on the road
      • She was pretty angry when she wrote it

 

  • Family Tree

 

      • Harkens back to songs like “fist city” and “Woman Enough” but takes a different approach as the aggrieved wife going after the woman who’s seducing her husband

 

  • Have Mercy

 

      • Originally written for Elvis
      • The DVD has a fun acoustic performance where loretta forgets some of the lyrics.

 

  • High on a Mountain Top
  • Little Red Shoes(Loretta Lynn (lyrics), Jack White (music))

 

      • About her mom stealing red shoes for her when she was a little girl
      • Brendan Benson engineered
      • Co-written with Jack White
      • Me and jack were just talking and he sat and asked me about those little red shoes.
      • She didn’t know he was recording.
      • I don’t remember any pain at all but i remember the quilt they carried me in everyday.

 

  • God Makes No Mistakes
  • Women’s Prison

 

      • Loretta is particularly proud of this one
      • “I thought that was the most different song on that whole album, because nobody’s ever (written) anything about a women’s prison,” she says.
      • “You know, I go to the men’s prison and entertain them, but nobody has ever asked me to go to the women’s prison. When I put the song together, I was thinking, ‘Why don’t they do something for the women, too?’ I mean, we’re in jail, and the ones that ain’t, it feels like it, now and then.” She lets out a big laugh, then adds, “I know I’ve felt that way many times.”
      • There was a chorus of Amazing Grace at the end and it was Jack singing as softly as he could. They talked about possibly ringing in a gospel chorus but kept White’s singing.

 

  • This Old House
  • Mrs. Leroy Brown
  • Miss Being Mrs.

 

      • Reflections on her late husband, Oliver Lynn
      • They had a troubled marriage to say the least
      • Fed up with his drinking and bullying early on, Lynn says, she decked him one night and “sent his teeth a-scatterin’.”
      • “You know really that’s what makes me feel good about things,” Lynn said. “If I’m feeling something, I’ll put it in a song, and it helps.”
      • Jack plays acoustic on this and appears in the music video.
      • On Her Husband Doo’s Death In 1996:
        “I miss him so much. He kind of kept things going, like me recording. He’d always tell me how good I was, and that always helped a lot. He would say, ‘You know, we need to get a new record out,’ or whatever. He always kept me moving. And if it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t have been singing, period. Because he thought I could sing and he put me to work.”

 

  • Story of My Life
  • Just to Have You Back (2015 Third Man Vault Edition Bonus Track)

 

    • 2015 TMR released a vault version of this Jack and Loretta duet on Whispering sea on it, which was loretta’s first song


Reception

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  • Loretta hosted her first ever album release party at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville. The Hermitage Hotel’s bathroom is where the Steady as she Goes single cover was taken.
  • peaked at No. 2 on Billboard magazine’s country chart. It was also No. 24 on Billboard’s pop chart.
  • Apparently modern country radio wouldnt play the album. “Maybe they were afraid i’d gone rock and roll on them” – Lynn
  • “We’re chewing Big Red, remeber the last time we chewed big red we were on our way to the grammys” – Jack in the Loretta Lynn DVD
  • Nominated for 5 Grammys and won two
    • Van Lear Rose – Best Country Album
    • Portland, Oregon – Best Country Collaboration with Vocals
  • Van Lear Rose may sound like a radical departure for Lynn, whose place in the Nashville pantheon is as assured as Patsy Cline. Yet strangely it feels more like a return to her roots rather than some trendy attempt to garner a young audience. Lynn herself compares White to her original producer Owen Bradley and she’s not far wrong. Somehow he’s managed to get this legend to produce a legendary album. Absolutely essential… – BBC
  • It could have sounded uncomfortable, but instead, it sounds like the work of a fan getting a once-in-a-lifetime chance to shine the spotlight on a favorite artist, eccentricities and all. Given a chance to be herself, Lynn responds with a powerful return to form. White seems likely to be sharing his love with a bunch of new fans soon. – AV Club
  • Blender “…it’s some of the most gripping singing you’re going to hear all year… Lynn has made a brave, unrepeatable record that speaks to her whole life.” (5 stars)
  • USA Today “White serves Lynn unvarnished and unprocessed, letting her raw vocal splendor sprawl loose, gritty arrangements that retain her earthy twang while rocking harder than Ozzfest.” (4 stars)
  • Rolling Stone Lynn makes “the album we all dreamed she would make.”(4 stars)

LorettaLynnJackWhite-630x420Review

  • Of the album Jack says
  • And I think that holds true. 2 men

Resouces

http://www.cmt.com/news/1486630/loretta-lynn-and-jack-white-talk-about-van-lear-rose/

HONKY TONK GIRL: My Life In Lyrics by Loretta Lynn.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1848263

http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/jvf9/

http://www.lorettalynn.com/country-star-loretta-lynn-stays-true-to-her-roots/

https://books.google.com/books?id=a3yp8jLtGRAC&pg=PA164&lpg=PA164&dq=loretta+lynn+leroy+brown&source=bl&ots=c1zeDW7Pys&sig=viJrJqmeiQPbgbfKiABis9dnAZw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjD357Cus_TAhXGRyYKHcv1DBQ4HhDoAQg4MAM#v=onepage&q=loretta%20lynn%20leroy%20brown&f=false

Episode 31 – Margo Price

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Topic details:

  • A spotlight on Jack-o-lyte Margo Price, with focus on her music, history, releases and connections to Jack.

Growing up:

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  • Margo was born on April 15th, 1983 in Buffalo Prairie, Illinois, and grew up in the small town of Aledo, IL.
    • right outside the Quad Cities in the northwestern part of the state.
    • They farmed corn, soybeans and cattle
    • Her family was forced to sell the family farm when she was two.
    • “It took the wind out of the whole family,” she says. “We were still surrounded by cornfields and cattle, and it was really hard for them.”
    • Via the independant: Her father lost his farm due to a drought and a harsh banking environment
      • “It was like the Depression in the early 1980s and it went from three million American farms to one million in such a really short amount of time”) and it clearly stills cut Price deep.
  • Via the LA Times: Her mother favored Top 40 AM radio while her father leaned more to classic-rock. Then, of course, there was the vintage country she soaked up in visits with her grandparents.
  • She played piano and sang in the church choir
  • Via the village voice:
    • “Our house was on a gravel road and wasn’t even walking distance to the nearest grocery store,” she says from her home in Nashville. “We would have to go into ‘town’ to do any errands.”
    • It was there in Aledo that she found her voice. She started by singing Christmas carols at her grandmother’s house; vocal and piano lessons in the “city” followed, as did the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at the Quad Cities’ premier semipro hockey games.
  • Studied dance at Northern Illinois University and dropped out in 2003 at the age of 20
    • Village voice: After a couple of years of college at Northern Illinois University, Price needed a change. She’d been writing and performing her own music and knew she needed to make a move from NIU’s DeKalb campus. In 2003, she moved in with a cousin in Nashville.
  • She moved to Nashville to become a musician and never looked back.
    • Via rolling stone: inspired by her great-uncle Bobby Fischer, who wrote hits for George Jones, Conway Twitty and Reba McEntire.
      • Via American Songwriter.com: Around 1970, when he was in his mid-30s, Bobby Fischer did something most people would consider insane or suicidal or both. He quit his prized, long-tenured day job with a major farm implement company near his home in the Iowa-Illinois Quad-Cities and moved to Nashville to try the music business.
      • While his supportive wife and kids stayed behind until he could make something happen, Fischer wrote songs, recorded, worked as a record promoter to radio and did whatever else he could to make a buck, playing in honky-tonks along the road between Nashville and Iowa to pay for gas to go home and visit his family.
      • Within a couple years the gamble paid off, with Fischer’s face appearing in Billboard as a successful Nashville record promoter. Wife Helen and the kids (Robbi and Lori, who ended up making a living in the arts themselves) moved to Nashville, and Fischer became a fixture on Music Row.
      • As a writer he began to get cuts, with names like Conway Twitty, George Jones, Eddy Arnold, Faron Young, Charley Pride and others recording his material. He also produced, promoted, and did whatever else necessary to keep food on the table, even working on a project with actor John Wayne.
      • That relative success that most people would kill for lasted for the better part of 20 years until Fischer, with co-writers Charlie Black and Austin Roberts, finally got a “career record” with Reba McEntire’s recording of “You Lie,” which spent five months on the country charts.
  • Influences:
    • Rolling stone: Price makes clear that she also points to Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings as her biggest heroes. “A lot of times, people say, ‘You’re so much like Loretta or Tammy Wynette,'” says Price. “But I feel kind of like one of the men. I’m like David Allan Coe. I’ve been to prison, man! I think that’s what separated me from the Kacey Musgraves, stuff like that. There’s not a lot of glitter or girly bows and stuff.”

felber-nytm-margo-price-2016-21

Nashville:

  • She described her new home as “a tough place to be discovered”
  • Meeting up with Uncle Bobbie:
    • Via the LA Times: “He was in his 70s, or maybe at least his 60s, when we moved to Nashville. I went over one time and played him a song that I was so proud of,” she recalled. “He just sat there quiet after I finished. Then he looked at me, right in the eyes, and said ‘Here’s what you do: Go home. Get rid of your TV, get rid of your computer, turn the radio off and just write.’
    • “That was his way of saying ‘You’re not there yet, but keep trying,’”  she said. “It really hurt my feelings at first because so many people nowadays are afraid to be honest. But that was great. It really lit a fire under my ass, and I thought I do have to get better.”
  • To make ends meet, she waited tables, sold suits at the mall, waited tables at TGI Fridays, tended bar at the Flying Saucers (where she was made to wear skimpy catholic schoolgirl outfits which she would later describe as “a little demeaning”), worked in construction (installing and removing residential siding), playing Gretel in local children’s theater, and teaching dance to kids at the YMCA using some of the skills she picked up from college.
  • Margo then met husband-to-be Jeremy Ivey, a country singer with whom she’d move in with at a place in east nashville and start a band, Buffalo Clover.
    • Via rollingstone:  “I had a hard time meeting people that would help me out that were genuine,” she says. “There were so many traps.”
    • Via the village voice: Her first week there, she got into a nasty car wreck and ended up holed up in her room “not talking to anyone and just listening to Bob Dylan,” she says. “I really started to question whether moving was the right idea.” Eventually, Price started playing open mics around Nashville and hanging out with local Belmont students, getting a “real” musical education. In that social circle, she met her husband, Jeremy Ivey.

Buffalo Clover:

  • In these early Nashville years she started what was supposed to be a kind of local supergroup and called it Buffalo Clover with Jeremy.
    • Village voice: The two began writing together and started a band called Buffalo Clover, proceeding to release three albums under the moniker
  • Line-up: Jeremy Ivey or “Jivey” on guitar,  In late 2008, they met bassist Matt Gardner, whose guitar chops were so good, he switched instruments, adding bassist Jason White. Drummer Dillon Napier joined in late 2010, and the final ingredient was keyboardist Amaia Aguire, who came from Spain to Nashville, and eventually married Jason.
    • Previous members include: (the now-famous) Sturgil Simpson and Kenny Vaughan (guitarist for Marty Stuart’s band)
  • Releases:
    • Strong Medicine (EP) – 2009
      • No label
      • 7 tracks – fools gold, midnight circus, 15 reasons, the midwest, 20 tons of blues, over the winter and the wellwisher
    • Pick Your Poison – 2010
      • No label
      • Released in the US and Canada, features several songs from the EP
    • Low Down Time – 2011
      • Palaver Records
      • recorded at The Bomb Shelter in Nashville, TN.
      • This one had a vinyl and cd release
    • Test Your Love – 2013
      • LP had No label release, the CD was released on Angry Badger Records in the UK
      • Lots of cool info on this one:

Credits

  • Via the band’s website:
    • Ever since their formation nearly a decade ago, Buffalo Clover has attracted a variety of talent. Price has worked on three different projects with Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, including BC’s own latest endeavor, Test Your Love, which features Howard on BGVs. Pianist Micah Hulscher, who plays with rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson among others, recorded on Buffalo Clover’s last two records, and sometimes joins the band for live performances. They’ve also shared the stage with The Flaming Lips, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, The Wild Feathers, St. Paul and the Broken Bones and legendary sax player Bobby Keys, proving their southern soul style can match up with anyone.
    • In the simplest terms, Buffalo Clover are vintage rock ‘n’ rollers, but the South tends to creep in. This brand of southern soul bears a striking resemblance to their idols, the Rolling Stones and The Band. Taking a cue from Bob Dylan with a lyrical poeticism inspired by the troubled times, and Janis Joplin with her rough-hewn-but-honest, bottom-of-the-heart soulful lilt, Buffalo Clover emulate their musical paragons in a style of their own. Never playing the same show twice speaks for the band’s genuineness and translates into a loyal local fan base.
  • In 2012 the band scored an IMA Nomination:
    • Via their website: It’s been a great year for Buffalo Clover. Things are not slowing down at all. They have been nominated for Alt. Country Album of the Year by the Independent Music Awards. Next week, the band will head to Austin with thousands of other bands to play SXSW. As an added bonus, they are featured on the March (SXSW) issue or Relix Magazine’s monthly sampler.  They feature their newest song, Hey Child.  Have a look at the new video, which was shot and edited by some new friends- Two Fish Films, from the United Kingdom.
  • The band website’s last post: After independently releasing Test Your Love, the band returned overseas where they toured Europe in both 2011 and 2013. Including performances on the BBC and festivals in Spain. Out of their inborn wanderlust, and the encouragement of friends and fans there, they plan to return in 2014.
  • Reflecting on the band via charlie rose:
    • Margo Price: I was 20 years old. I definitely had that ambition but from what I saw and the direction that country music had went, I didn’t feel like there was a place for me to coexist with that kind of music because it was so glossy and because the image was always this kind of a certain prototype that I had come to see.
    • Charlie Rose: You couldn’t see yourself as that?
    • Margo Price: No, no, I didn’t think that I physically fit the mold. So, you know, I kind of went more the folk direction for a while. And I always wanted to write songs that had substance and so I very much love Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan and Neil Young and really gravitated towards that. And The Kinks, I got very interested in The Kinks for a while and started playing rock and roll. And did that for quite some time. Had a soul band that had like three back-up singers and a horn section. And before I knew it, I was singing over, you know, 14 people and kind of wondered if I had gotten to be too much, had this Joe Cocker thing going on.

Margo’s Style:

  • Via charlie rose:
    • Margo Price: I try to, you know, keep true to tradition. But I would like to think I’m not just spinning the same wheel. You know, obviously like classic country music,but I like soul and funk and blues and rock and roll. I try to bring all that in and make it my own.\
    • Charlie Rose: Are you as strong a melody as you are on lyrics?
    • Margo Price: I definitely think that a strong sense of melody is important. When I set out to write this album, I had kind of given up trying to write pop songs or rock and roll songs or whatever I had been doing on the last four albums. I wasn’t worried about if the hook was good enough or if it was melodically catchy enough, I just wanted the lyrical content to be there. And I think I achieved some of that.

Solo:

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  • Buffalo Clover’s breakup:
    • The specifics of the break-up are often described as the group simply “running its course”, though there was very clearly some turmoil involved.
      • Via the Guardian: “At the same time, I was breaking up with my old band [Buffalo Clover], and we had been together for four years, too,” she says. “I broke up with all these boyfriends and girlfriends [in the band] and it sort of became a metaphor for the band ending.”
    • Moving on:
      • Via rollingstone: After her manager attempted to drug her, Price and Ivey sold their possessions for $3,000 and drove west, playing bars along the way. In Colorado, they lived on a campground and busked during the day to make enough for dinner.
      • Via Charlie rose: I had a very bad experience with an older gentleman who had a studio and wanted me to write some demos for him, for more of the pop country world and we spoke a little bit but then at one point, I was doing some writing out there with him and another guy. And I went to the restroom and I came out and I was having a glass of sangria and I began to not feel well. And I asked them if they put anything in my drink and they said, don’t worry, we just put vodka in there becausewe thought you weren’t having enough fun. And that immediately put off a light in my head, you know. My mother’s words were get out of there. It was before technology was quite so savvy. I just had a little flip phone, it was dying. Luckily, I got out of there unharmed
      • Via encorepub: After becoming disenchanted with the Music City, Price and Ivey traded in most of their belongings to beat around in a 1986 Winnebago—even posting up along North Carolina’s shores for a time. They fell in love with Wilmington. “My husband and I would go and camp on those little islands along the beach,” she remembers.
  • Leaving Buffalo Clover was the start of some darker times for Margo
  • Ezra’s death:
    • Died in 2010, two weeks after he was born of a rare heart condition
    • Via rolling stone: His death kicked off a long, painful, self-destructive period. “That took me out of the game for a while,” says Price, in a booth at a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, country bar, sipping a frozen coffee with a shot of whiskey. “There were times I was feeling so terrible, all I wanted to do was drink to forget.”
    • Price went into a tailspin. “I denounced God,” she says, her eyes clouding up. “I was so angry: ‘Why would anybody do this to a person?’ ” She drank and self-medicated, and considered checking into a mental institution. During one night of hard drinking, a cab failed to show up and Price got behind the wheel of her car; she was pulled over and spent a weekend in jail.
  • Sobering up and recording an album:
    • She started with religion:
      • Via the independant: “I’ve been very questioning about my spirituality and I went to sweat lodges with Dakota Indians, and tried all sorts of different religions,” Price explains. “I got into Buddhism and read all kinds of different books and I really did pray, but He just didn’t answer my prayers, so I felt so cheated. Sometimes you find your strongest faith in the darkest corners,” she trails off with tears forming.
      • “Everybody goes through something terrible if you live long enough,” she continues. “I think it’s okay to talk about grief and sorrow especially for women when you lose a child, or have a miscarriage, it’s good to talk about it as a lot of people don’t want you to speak about those things. It makes people sad, but sometimes you’ve got to.”
    • Via rollingstone: Price entered therapy, “started behaving myself” and wrote nonstop.
    • Via encorepub: Price and Ivey eventually heard the call back to Nashville. Upon their return, Price made a list of every venue, dive bar and stage she was determined to play. “I just wasn’t going to let this city beat me,” she asserts. As she checked off her list, the singer became known throughout the honky-tonk scene for her flair and realness. Price now jokingly refers to herself as a “14-year overnight sensation.” Her tenacity had a snowball effect.
    • Via charlie rose:
      • I realized that I had a son at home. He’s the most important thing in my life and I knew I needed to get it together. So I went and got therapy. It took a long time getting clear-headed.
      • Kind of the turning point was a writer from “Rolling Stone” came and saw me in a very tiny dive bar in Nashville. That was my first glimmer of hope. They said, where’s your album? We want to review it. I said, I don’t have one. I’m trying to make one. I’m trying to scrounge up the money. At that point, I started writing all these producers and all these labels and sent them my demos and said, I’m going to make a great country record, please, give me an advance. But I didn’t hear any responses. So I sold the car and did it anyway.
    • She recorded Midwest Farmer’s Daughter at the original Sun Studio in Memphis, working at night because the place was packed with tourists during the day.
    • Via encorepub:  Before connecting with Third Man Records, Price credits her traction to lawyer Kent Marcus, who pushed her music out to anyone who would listen.
      • “He believed in me before anybody did,” Price states. “He was a big part of [my success]. My booking agent, Paradigm, opened up so many opportunities . . . my management at Monotone started working with me, and they weren’t worried about taking commission until I was actually on my feet. It’s been so nice to meet honest people.”
    • Via the village voice:
      • When Buffalo Clover ran its course, Price began crafting what would become Midwest Farmer’s Daughter. The couple didn’t have the funds to hire a publicist or management, so it was up to Price to get herself out there and try and scrounge up a record deal, anything.
      • “I was not a business-savvy person,” she says. “You have to find keys to unlock whatever door is in front of you, and we hit a whole lot of locked doors.”
      • Along the way they ran into managers making false promises and strange folks putting a halt to dreams, but Price didn’t let any of this keep her down.
      • “I wouldn’t trade any of that because as I look back on it, it was all fodder for songwriting,” she says.
    • “Margo Price doesn’t understand the words ‘no, you can’t,’ says friend (and frequent karaoke partner) Brittany Howard, who crashed on Price’s couch when she was recording Alabama Shakes’ first LP. “She’s a huge inspiration.”
    • Via the village voice:
      • If it wasn’t for Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, Margo Price’s debut album probably wouldn’t even be coming out. Price and her husband sold Howard their vintage reel-to-reel recording equipment to help pay for studio time. The reel-to-reel, Margo’s wedding ring, instruments, and a car all got pawned to finish recording Midwest Farmer’s Daughter

Enter: Jack

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  • Meeting Jack:
    • Price first met White years earlier, in 2007, by happenstance.
    • “He was walking down the sidewalk in Berry Hill, and he said, ‘Hello,’ ” she recalls. And I sort of blurted out, ‘I saw you at the Ryman last night with Bob Dylan! I’m a singer-songwriter and I’ve been covering ‘One More Cup of Coffee’ for a long time, too, and you played that last night.’ I reached into my purse and handed him a CD of my music. I wonder if he remembers that encounter.”
    • Jack-White-Margo-Price-1480x832
  • Via the village voice:
    • Third Man Records entered the scene when some friends of friends got through to Price that White had heard and was into some of her stuff. “I hadn’t even thought about them as an option, actually, since they’ve really only put out established artists,” she says. “But they invited me in and actually liked it and now it’s coming out!”
  • Via Rolling Stone:
    • Last year, Price’s pedal steel player told her that Jack White was a fan. She was invited to Third Man, where an exec handed her a guitar and asked her to record a song straight to acetate. Eventually, she met White. “He shook my hand and he said he loved the album and that it was genuine and it was real and it was good to hear that back in country music,” she says.
  • Via encorepub.com
    • Once Third Man did pick up Price, thankfully, she didn’t need to change anything about her work or who she was as an artist. She credits them for giving her the tools and freedom to release her music on a larger platform.
  • Via the Chicago Tribune:
    • The recording was rejected by every label that Price contacted, but White was interested. At a meeting at Third Man Records, she was handed a guitar and played a song she had recently written about life on the road, “Desperate and Depressed.” White was listening in the next room. “He just wanted to make sure I could sing in tune,” she says with a laugh, and White agreed to put out the label’s first country record.
    • “I don’t know if I would have given up after that,” Price says, “but we definitely put all our chips on that record.”
  • Via the irishexaminer:
    • “I was all on my own when I met Third Man,” she says. “They’ve been great… helped me find management, booking agents, publicists. Jack is always ready to advise. They let me be myself but if I have questions, they’re on hand.”
  • Via epiphone:
    • are you still able to write with the same sense of peace and quiet that you used to have?
    • Yeah, I continue to write through it all. That was some advice that Jack gave me: even when I’m on the road is to continue to write all the time.
  • Via the Guardian:
    • Third Man liked the analogue approach. At the label’s downtown store, the female staffers’ hair is the same lilac as Price’s album cover, which, given White’s obsession over detail, is probably no coincidence.

Midwest Farmer’s Daughter:

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    • Her debut record as a solo artist on Third Man Records
    • Came out on March 25th, 2016
    • It was recorded in THREE DAYS
    • Produced and engineered in the wee hours of the morning by Memphian Matt Ross-Sprang
    • Mixed at Ardent Studios
    • It was rejected by 30 different record labels
    • Via Rolling Stone:
      • a diary of her 12 years of striking out and living hard in Nashville. “I used to write story-songs, about a couple robbing a bank or whatever,” says Price, 32. “But I decided I’m going to go ahead and lay it all out on the line here. And it felt really good, really therapeutic.”
    • The Pricetags:
      • Via charlie rose: Margo Price: Today, I’ve got a six-piece band, you know, pedal steel, and piano, and fiddle when we can have it. I’m very happy with my band, they’re the same guyswho play on my record. I didn’t get session musicians. I got people who wanted to be part of the band. And so when we go to play live shows, it sounds like the record.
    • Track highlights:
      • Hands of time:
      • maxresdefault (1)
        • Via charlie rose: That is a six-minute song, yes. Everyone kept trying to make it my single and I don’t know if America has six minutes of attention span. Only got 140 characters most of the time to get your point across. But I’m happy that I went ahead and kept it and Third Man was very adamant with me about having it kind of be the kick off to the album because I feel like if people can get through that and, a, they’re going to know who I am and kind of what I’ve been through, and b, they’ll enjoy the rest of the record because it’s not as heavy as that song.
        • When asked if she would buy back the farm: “I’d love to buy back the farm for my parents, but I don’t know if they have any interest in farming at this point, my father’s retired after working his whole life in prison and they’re getting older,” she admits, disappointingly.
      • About to find out:
        • I wrote about an acquaintance who is a bit of a sociopath. It’s funny how songs change meaning over time. It seemed to be fitting for the privileged and the separation in the classes that we’re dealing with today.
      • Tennessee Song:
        • Via charlie rose: Kind of just a song about enjoying the outdoors and also the history of where America used to be and where we are now.
      • This town Get’s around:
        • On “This Town Gets Around,” a track from Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, Price references the story of how an early manager invited her to his mansion outside Nashville to meet with a potential co-writer. After a couple of glasses of sangria, Price started feeling woozy and disoriented, and asked if they had put something in her drink. “They said, ‘We put some vodka in there, because we didn’t think you’re having enough fun.'”
        • Via the independant: “In this world there’s more crooked people than honest people and I’ve been screwed over by men and a couple of women, too, in the music business,” she says. “A weird thing happens – and it’s not only in the music business – where people exchange sexual favours to advance their career and I’ve seen people sleep their way to the top. And people have tried to proposition me in those ways, too. It felt good to write about it in ‘This Town Gets Around’. I was mad about it and wanted to write a song.”
        • “For a long time I was very naïve and very trusting,” Price continues, applying the finishing touches to her make-up. “I Just didn’t think anyone would want to do anything to harm me, but I learned through trial and error that that’s not the case.”
      • Since You Put Me Down:
        • Via charlie rose: “Since You Put Me Down” is a song that — both “Tennessee Song” and “Since You Put Me Down,” I cover it with my husband. He started writing it. He maybe had a different direction that he was going but I definitely used that song to kind of write a scorned love letter to an old manager that did me wrong.(LAUGHTER) People might think it’s about love.
        • Via the independant: Price describes herself as an “outcast and a stray”, but does she still feel that way after her very successful year?
        • “I definitely like the outsiders, everyone likes an underdog, and I’d definitely say I’m different,” she maintains. “I don’t want to call myself a total outcast now I’ve been accepted, well not completely accepted, but things have been getting better in just this last year. It’s snowballed into a different type of operation than we’re used to.”
      • Weekender:
        • On “Weekender,” Price describes sharing a cold cell with a woman who “beat up her boyfriend up while high on crack cocaine.” She says with a laugh, “I felt like when I ended up in jail, that was God’s answer: ‘Now you are in a loony bin.’ I’ve kept it from a lot of my family. I don’t know if my sister knows. They’ll know when the album comes out.”
      • Four Years of Chances:
        • “”Four Years of Chance” was influenced by two things,” Price maintains, “of course by relationships and by the guys who had treated me bad, but also by a conversation I had with a friend of mine when we were both drunk and sitting on the porch. She said ‘I gave that motherfucker four years of chances,’ and I thought that’s a great line and I’m going to steal it for a song.
        • “At the same time, I was breaking up with my old band [Buffalo Clover], and we had been together for four years, too,” she says. “I broke up with all these boyfriends and girlfriends [in the band] and it sort of became a metaphor for the band ending.”
        • Via charlie rose: I was writing about her relationship and past relationships I’ve had but I also kind of writing a goodbye to my old band which was called Buffalo Clover. And I was with them for four years and doing the best I could to keep it together and then when I had to break up with them, it very much felt like a relationship.

 

  • The cover:

 

      • Via charlie rose: This was a film photo that my friend took and it was on a Lomo film so that was all green. It was during the summer. And the film turned it purple. It was so cool. I got poison ivy and all sorts of bug biteswhen I took that photo.
    • Margo appeared on SNL, and a performance on Conan’s show on March 24th 2016 preceeded the album’s release
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  • October 31st 2016: Margo’s Hands of Time video debuts

 

    • Video features her this time, as opposed to the ticking clock version we got when the album announcement was made

Reception:

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  • Via rolling stone:
    • After years of feeling like an outcast, Price is getting used to being the talk of the town. “The people who wouldn’t give me the time of day before now are like, ‘You’re cool.’ It’s also funny to hear people that I thought were my friends talk shit behind your back.”
    • With the success of serious road-hardened songwriters like Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell, Price feels it might finally be her time to break through. “A lot of people like mainstream country because they’re not given another option of country music to like that’s modern,” she says. “Much of the record is me giving the finger to the music business. I’m curious how I’ll be accepted in those circles now.”
  • Via The Independant UK:
    • Rolling Stone magazine ranked her debut album Midwest Farmer’s Daughter their third favourite country album of 2016, there’s been a guest slot on Saturday Night Live
  • Loretta Lynn Comparisons:
    • Charlie Rose:
      • Margo Price: Yes. I admire her so much and definitely see similarities in what we do.
      • Charlie Rose: What are the similarities you see and other people see?
      • Margo Price: I love that she was not afraid to be bold about, you know, women’s issues and really she was a unique songwriter. You know, she wrote her own songs and that really appeals to me, you know, in an industry where a lot of people have other folks write their songs. That’s definitely one of them. But, you know, I guess the other similarity is just, you know, in life are that I’ve read that she’s color blind,which I also am a little color blind. She had twins. I had twins. And she’s an Aries.She doesn’t like to be told what to do from what I heard.
      • Charlie Rose: You don’t want to be told?
      • Margo Price: No, I don’t.

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  • She won the Americana Music Association’s Emerging Artist of the Year Award in September 2016
    • Via the tennessean: Friends of Nashville country singer Margo Price gathered at Third Man Records on Tuesday night to surprise the indie artist with some very big news.
    • Price has won the 2017 American Music Prize for Best Debut Album. The $25,000 award winner is selected by a panel of music industry and media professionals. Price’s “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter” (released by Third Man) was among roughly 250 American debut albums considered for the prize.
    • The songsmith was clearly shocked as she opened the door to Third Man’s Blue Room concert venue and a few dozen friends, bandmates and colleagues (including her label boss, Jack White) yelled, “Surprise!”
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    • “You guys are so sneaky,” she said with a laugh.
    • “I have never been surprised before, except when I was pregnant. That was a surprise. … I’m really speechless right now. I wasn’t expecting this at all, and that’s maybe what makes it so sweet.”
    • Price was told she was going to Third Man for a “business meeting.”
    • “I kept asking, ‘Am I in trouble? Do you think I did something wrong?’ (My husband’s) like, ‘No, it’s fine. We’re going to go get a nice dinner.’ He even told me to change my dress, that it wasn’t nice enough!”
  • Last Month Third Man records released a Margo Price-exclusive vault, Vault Package #31, which included her performance at the Hamilton in Washington DC on November 5th, 2016, along with a DVD of her Austin City Limits show, collar pins

What’s Next:

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    • Margo later played alongside Jack on Prairie Home Companion, performing a duet with him on the Satan track “Im Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet)”
    • She was profiled on the anthony bourdain “parts unknown” show at the same time he was visiting with Jack and the kills

 

  • September 19th-24th 2016: Luck mansion sessions held

 

    • Third Man rented out a house in east nashville, where a whole mess of local artists got together to jam and cut a collection of 45’s
    • They called it a “pop-up luck mansion” and played in the parlour
    • They’ll be released one-by-one in 2017
    • Featuring, amongst others:
      • Lillie Mae Rische (partnered with Langhorne Slim)
      • Margo Price (not playing with her usual band)
  • Via the Independant UK:
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    • “Something’s finally gone right in my life, as for so long I felt I was a cursed, bad luck person,”
    • It certainly has and Price seems to be in a good place.
    • She’s drinking in moderation (“I don’t drink that often anymore; I like to smoke weed more”), is content in her marriage (“I’d say the only person who really knows me is my husband”) and after our chat Price wows a hugely appreciative audience with a set that includes peerless covers of ‘Jolene’ and ‘Mercedes Benz’, to celebrate Dolly Parton and Janis Joplin’s birthdays that day.
    • It won’t be too long before she’ll be buying back the farm for her dad and bringing crate loads of wine for her mum. One thing that she’s already reclaimed is her wedding ring, which her husband chivalrously bought back from the pawnbrokers. He clearly knows when he’s on to a good thing.
  • Via charlie rose:
    • I still feel very inspired. I’m dying to get back in the studio. We’re going to go in here in December and I’m full of songs.
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  • NEW ALBUM:
    • This spring she was interviewed by encore pub and said of her next album:
    • Price finished recording her sophomore album and is in the process of mixing it. The artwork for the cover isn’t finished, nor is the order of the track listing, among other final touches. Still, with an actual budget and label, it’s been a lot less stressful so far. Plus, she didn’t have to sell a car. “It’s nice to be able to take time and not feel like we have to rush to get this out,” Price adds.
    • While it’s rooted in country sounds, different textures and genres will make it onto the follow-up record. “I’m dying to release it,” she says. “There’s a little bit of everything, but it all still fits together really nicely. It’s nothing abrasive; I definitely still made a country record, but we recorded quite a few songs so there’s a lot to work with.”
    • Via epiphone: Oh yeah. We’ve just started working on the second album. It’s been great to be back in Memphis at Sam Phillips Recording. They’ve been fixing it up and refurbishing it. It’s just amazing. Great energy. They’ve kept a lot of the original wallpaper and original vibe in place. It’s wonderful. The first time I came here it was a bit disheveled so it’s great to come back and really see it coming together.
  • Ross-Sprang is also producing the her follow-up

Fun facts:

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  • Her tattoos (via rollingstone):
    • Margo Price’s tattoos tell her story. She has nine of them, some of which you can’t see, like the words “gypsy wanderer of the world” emblazoned on her left foot. There’s a buffalo on her left thigh, memorializing Buffalo Clover, her old country-soul band. Her biggest tattoo, on her left shoulder, is a huge tree circled by three birds, representing herself and her twin sons, Judah, who’s now five, and Ezra, who died in 2010, two weeks after he was born.

Episode 30 – Lillie Mae

Topic details:

  • A spotlight on Jack-o-lyte Lillie Mae Rische, with focus on her music, history, releases and connections to Jack.
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Growing up:

  • Via LA Times:
    • grew up playing chiefly with her siblings and parents as their family moved from trailer park to trailer park around the South.
    • “I come from a bluegrass-country background,” Rische said from her home of recent years in Decatur, Ala., about 115 miles south of Nashville.
  • Reportedly started playing music at 3 years old

Jypsi:

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  • Lillie Mae joined siblings Amber-Dawn, Frank and Scarlett to form a country group that had several releases and were quite active in the mid to late 2000’s.
  • They “formed” in 1994 in Galena illinois and played locally for years.
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  • They were discovered by producer “Cowboy Jack Clement” in 2000, who was based out of Nashville.
    • LA Times: When Lillie Mae and her family first settled in Tennessee, they were quickly taken under the wing of Jack Clement, a.k.a. Cowboy Jack Clement, the former associate of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, and one of roots music’s most revered producers, engineers and all around idiosyncratic musical geniuses and raconteurs. He mentored Lillie Mae and her siblings, helping nurture their maverick sensibilities.
  • They were signed to Arista Nashville in 2007 and began work on a full record when Lillie Mae was only 16 years old
  • Releases:
    • Love is a Drug
      • Did not chart, nor was it included on the album
    • I Don’t Love You Like That (single)
      • Reached 38 on the US Country singles charts
    • Self-titled debut album
      • Began recording  in 2007, released in May 2008
      • Was released as a downloadable album only, no physical release at the time (a CD release is available now)
      • Reviewed well by country standard time:
        • There’s sometimes a tendency with sibling acts for the “they’re so cute” factor to overshadow the question of just how good they are musically. Jypsi features four members of the Rische (rhymes with “dishy”) family ranging from 16 to 26 – sisters Lillie Mae, Scarlett and Amber-Dawn joined by brother Frank – who are without doubt a very attractive presence. Though it takes a little while to get it going, their self-titled debut demonstrates that there is indeed some substance to the image as well.
        • Their publicity touts influences from bluegrass to classic country to Django-style jazz, but the overall sound is a sort of “wall of sound” country rock approach. It’s along about the fourth cut, “You Don’t Know What Real Love Is” that the fiddles and steel guitar hints start to creep in, and the rest of the disc turns out to be nicely varied and arranged. Lead singer Lillie Mae (the youngest) has a decent set of pipes, and they do play their own instruments and in fine fashion at that. “Halfway Home Cafe” and “Shame On Me” stand out as well. These folks are a good bit more than a family novelty act.
        • photo03
    • “Mister Officer” single
  • While still in Jypsi, Lillie Mae made a guest appearance on the track “God Knows Who I Am” on Montgomery Gentry‘s 2008 album Back When I Knew It All.
  • The Jypsi Band was featured on an episode of Gene Simmons Family Jewels on August 9, 2009.
  • My impressions:
    • I like Jypsi, but it’s definitely way way closer to the kinds of country i don’t like then say, Margo Price.
    • The album itself is good, i enjoyed listening to it and there were some really solid performances. I found the family jam at the end to be the most compelling, as the cover songs were just so “country” that it became distracting to the music.
    • These are very young people making happy country pop music
    • Lillie Mae’s voice is great, but now i understand why she sings the way she does – she’s used to 4-part harmony with her siblings that they’ve been perfecting since she was 4 years old. She’s a great support singer, harmony seems to be her sweet spot. I personally find it tough to listen to her try and shoulder a song by herself for too long without that support, because it just sounds like there’s something missing from the equation.
  • Via LA Times:
    • the family band that had dazzled audiences in the country music capital with its regular performances at Layla’s Bluegrass Inn. All the buzz scored Jypsi a California gig at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio in 2008, even without a major label contract.
    • But the Nashville establishment didn’t know what to do with a group fronted by three freewheeling sisters who looked like they had stepped off the set of a late-’60s psychedelic movie, and who played with extraordinary musical dexterity while effortlessly spinning out tight three- and four-part (with their guitarist brother Frank) harmonies on a par with the tightest bluegrass vocal groups.
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    • They scored bookings at major festivals including Stagecoach and Bonnaroo in Tennessee, and for a time had major labels jockeying to sign them.
    • Lillie Mae was 16 at the time, and she quickly rose from her role supporting her older sisters and brother to the band’s lead vocalist.
  • Jypsi broke up, which freed lillie Mae up for..

Meeting Jack

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  • Lillie Mae was enlisted to play fiddle, mandolin, background vocals on the blunderbuss tour
    • Via craveonline:
      • Lillie: I was called for a session, Jack was doing a soundtrack for The Lone Ranger, which he ended up backing out of, but that was when they first called me and my friend Josh Smith, who is Jack’s engineer and also a tech on the road. He recommended me and they just kept calling me. I played on one song on Blunderbuss, the first recording I did with Jack.
    • Via LA times:
      • (on working with third man) “Where else would I have met any of these people, some of whom have a hip-hop background, some are from rock ‘n’ roll — all different kinds of people. I never would have.”
      • She said White invited her to play on a recording session he was doing for a film soundtrack, and then: “They just kept calling back and calling back. I sang on one song on his last album. It’s been a really busy couple of years with him.”
      • “Times are hard right now — in every business,” she said. “I definitely was lucky to land a gig like this during the last couple of hard years.”

Blunderbuss Album/Tour:

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  • Lillie Mae worked with Jack on the Blunderbuss album, as did her sister Scarlett who plays mandolin on Blues on Two Trees
  • CRAVE: When Jack was putting the band and the album together, were there any times when you felt like, “I don’t know if this is gonna work or not”?

 

        • Lillie: Absolutely. I almost didn’t take the gig in the first place. I’m glad I did, but I had my family band that had just broke up, and had it not broken up, I wouldn’t have taken the gig. Because I was fully dedicated to my own project, you know. But I’m very glad I took the gig, I met some amazing people and friends for a lifetime, and got to play some really cool music and it’s been a really good experience for me, as far as branching out of my small world, musically. It’s been awesome. I’ve been turned on to all different kinds of stuff.

 

  • Lillie: …if you know me, I don’t know what a Dead Weather song is versus a TWS song, I have no idea. I learned them all at the same time. [laughs] I have no idea. I’ll ask, “which one is this one from? what record is that?” Like, I know now that Steady as She Goes was by the Raconteurs, but I didn’t know Jack’s music before I started playing with him. I didn’t know it at all.

 

    • CRAVE: Was there a specific direction in trying to make one band different from the other?
      • Lillie: Not necessarily. Each group had their slightly different arrangements, but we all generally played the same songs, minus a couple different ones for each one. But how am I to know exactly what Jack was going for in his head? I don’t know. But it was pretty loose as well, it wasn’t completely different. There were a couple of shows when he got me up to play with the boys, and it was generally the same idea. I mean they were definitely a lot heavier for sure, musically.
    • CRAVE: It seems to me that the Peacocks had more of a dream-like quality.
      • Lillie: Absolutely. But I guess that’s what you’re supposed to get from a bunch of women in long dresses.
    • CRAVE: When you had the two bands, did it really feel like one band, united?
    • JACK_WHITE_SANFRAN_12_7_12030
      • Lillie: Absolutely. I mean, even now, obviously I’m from the girl band, but all the guys were from the same group, and it still felt like one big band to me. To me, anyway, I don’t know what the other ones would say.
    • CRAVE: Was there ever a sense of competition between the two bands, even a friendly one?
      • Lillie: …everybody wanted to play, nobody wanted so many days off. But, yeah, there should not have been any competition, but there was a little bit, unfortunately. Too many hens in the hen house, etc.
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  • Via the LA Times:
    • She also credits the time spent in White’s band for opening her up to an even greater diversity of music. Now the big challenge is stepping up yet again: from frontwoman in a family band and featured support player to a bona fide rock star to focal point of her own show.

Her Sound:

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  • Via the LA times:
    • Lillie Mae’s voice comes out of the Dolly Parton school of high, quavering emotionalism, bringing a tinge of sadness even to her more optimistic lyrics. One of the most distinctive facets of her singing is her ability to swoop up to some notes, gracefully fall off others and register hop with the ease of a great yodeler.
    • As a songwriter, she leans toward tunes of heartbreak, which she concedes sometimes limits her opportunities to flash her expertise on the fiddle.
    • “I just don’t write those kinds of [uptempo bluegrass] songs,” she said. “I wish I did.”
  • Major songwriting influence: lucinda williams

Lazaretto Album/Tour:

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    • CRAVE: How did it go from one band to two bands?
      • Lillie: I think he would’ve liked to do two bands again. I think that it just didn’t work out. Some folks had some scheduling interference. I mean, he could’ve gotten whoever he wanted for the tour, he wasn’t obligated to get the same members, but he didn’t. Maybe if he didn’t get certain people, he wouldn’t want to do it, but I’m not sure.
    • CRAVE: Although you really never have a setlist, did you know what you were going to play before the TV performances?
      • Lillie: Absolutely not. [laughs]
    • CRAVE: Not even that?
      • Lillie: No. No, sir, never.
    • CRAVE: What happens when you do, eventually, fuck up?
      • Lillie: Well, I fuck up all the time, but it’s not like I’m the drummer. [laughs] If I was playing drums, I wouldn’t be able to get away with it. Or bass, that’s a solid, locked-down instrument, you know. If I fuck up, nobody can tell – I mean, not that you can’t tell, but it’s a lot more hidden than the drums. I can just laugh it off, “oops”. [laughs] But he wouldn’t care anyway, he wouldn’t give a shit.
      • jack-white-and-lillie-mae-rische-1
    • CRAVE: Those final acoustic gigs that you did, just how different were they?
      • Lillie: It was totally different. It was really awesome, really cool to do a stripped-down acoustic thing. For me, I grew up doing stuff like that. I grew up in a bluegrass family band, so, you know. Not that I’ve done it lately, but it’s always fun to go back and do it. It’s also really cool to see Jack in that different setting, it was really nice, very personal. He does very good in settings like that, I guess. Musically, it was really fun. There’s nothing to hide behind, it’s right up there, up front. Mess-ups and everything.
    • CRAVE: It seems that on the last tour Lillie Mae took on a much bigger role.
      • Lillie: Well, I got to sing. I didn’t sing on Blunderbuss; Ruby Amanfu sang, she was the singer. I don’t think Jack even knew I sang when we started playing. But the second time around, he asked me to sing, so that was awesome, and I don’t know if it is a bigger role, but… they put me up front too, which makes a big difference.
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    • CRAVE: Do you feel like he put more trust into the musicians on this tour than on the previous one?
      • Lillie: No, not at all. It’s absolutely equal. He’s always been the absolute coolest about all that. He’s always given everyone a lot of freedom to do what they want musically, and he’s always put a lot of trust in everybody, since day one. He definitely wants to hear your opinion, or lets you do whatever you want, more than almost anyone I worked with – which is really cool for somebody at that level, you know.
    • CRAVE: I noticed how much he gestures to you as well.
      • Lillie: Yeah. All I take out of that is, he does put trust in himself, number one, but in his musicians, he trusts that people aren’t gonna fuck up. And that’s really cool. It’s a good feeling when people actually do that, that’s respect right there, you know.

Ikey Owens’ death:

    • CRAVE: What was the last gig you did with Ikey like?
      • Lillie: That was an especially awesome show. It was great, I had so much energy, I was so happy that day. It was just a fucking awesome show, everyone had a great show. And it was weird, there were all kind of things that were just lining up in weird ways, you know. Ikey was happy as could be, he really loved Mexico. Now, there was one thing that was funny: on the way home, from the gig to the hotel, we were in a van, everyone was in conversation, Ikey was being extra-loud, and he was hilarious, he was being really funny and opinionated [laughs]. As always. But we were talking about some religious stuff, because he was a Jehovah’s witness growing up. And… you know, there was definitely a religious conversation that happened, that was, you know, but… anyway. I don’t know, there were a lot of things that kinda panned out in weird ways.
    • CRAVE: Can you summarize the experience of playing with Ikey?
      • Lillie: It was amazing. I loved that guy so much. He was one of the most supportive people I’ve ever met, in a lot of ways, but as far as just being yourself, as far as music, women in music. He supported women in music more than anyone I’ve ever met in my life – well, him and Jack too. With them, it’s not even spoken of, it’s just a line. The rest of the world talks about it, they just believe that you’re fucking able to do anything that anyone’s able to do. But Ikey always… it was awesome, I loved playing with him. I got a lot from him. He’d just look over and grin at you, like “right on” [laughs].
      • The tour before Mexico, Ikey and I always smoked together. Before the show he called me up and we got behind these porta-potties, and he told me… There’s a part in this song when I sing a little bit, and he knew me, and I’m very insecure, although I’m confident at times. And as bad as I wanna go for it, I don’t go for it, I hold back. And he just told me that, “You gotta go for it, you have to, just break loose!” He was so encouraging. And I never went for it [laughs]. But I wanted to. But he was always encouraging.
    • CRAVE: I guess he always went for it more…
      • Lillie: More than anyone, absolutely. More than anyone I know. He wasn’t scared of anything, he just did it. What the fuck have you got to lose, you know?
  • Lillie would also go on to play alongside Jack on A Prairie Home Companion in 2016

Going Solo

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      • CRAVE: You’ve been on television many times by now, is it still different when you know there’s cameras in front of you?
        • Lillie: It’s different, especially in a small setting like that, because it’s like, “Shit, now I have to actually pay attention”. And you’re not quite as free. But the festivals and stuff, that doesn’t faze me. But when it was like, there’s a camera really close and it’s going back and forth across the theater, it’s like, “ugh”. [laughs] I cried on that show, and I was like, “Great, now my crying is on television or whatever”. [laughs] Something that nobody else would’ve ever known. Oh well.

 

  • “Nobody’s” blue series single:
  • lillie-mae-rische-nobodys-2014-2

 

      • Released on December 9th, 2014 (a tri-color was also pressed)
      • Via the LA times:
        • Anyone who caught one of Jack White’s shows supporting his latest album, “Lazaretto,” most likely has taken notice of one of the members of his band, singer-fiddler Lillie Mae Rische, who has just released her first single, “Nobody’s,” on White’s Nashville-based Third Man Records label.
        • Pop & Hiss is premiering the track, an alt-country number that White produced and in which Rische sings of yearning to make a deep connection with a romantic interest who doesn’t show the same level of interest.
        • She co-wrote the song, and the flip side, “Same Eyes,” with members of the group who backed her: steel guitarist Carl Broemel from My Morning Jacket, bassists Jack Lawrence and Dominic Davis and drummer Whip Triplet. It’s part of the “Blue Series” of vintage-style 45 rpm releases from Third Man.
        • When I did that with Jack, he brought in musicians I’d never played with before.
        • Also, she noted, in focusing the attention on her voice, the new single “has no harmonies on it. Coming from what I was in before, that’s quite a bit different. That’s what I love to do, you know. But [White] has a different way of recording and going about things. He likes to keep things new and fresh and interesting. It keeps things from getting stagnant.”

 

  • Rain on the Piano LP
  • 5b379d2f9de04e623b2063ac1b35dc61

 

      • Released January 19th, 2015 from Southern Shift Records
      • Backed by the kenneth Brian Band, also southern shift artists who released with LP “Welcome to Alabama’ in 2011
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        • Which featured the song Last Call which guest stars Lillie Mae
        • There’s an official video for this! It predates her involvement with Jack, she’s seen with a short blond bob with blue bangs, and she’s smoking during the video
          • Shot on location at the 5 Spot East Nashville TN. Directed by Joshua Black Wilkins.
      • Hard to track down info on this album, not even on discogs for some reasons
      • Track listing: Just the way it goes, wash me clean, wild thing, last call, mama, livin in the country, pretty polly, sundown in nashville, stay, tennessee line and steam powered aeroplane
      • Via LA Times:
        • Rische will be releasing a full album in February, one she recorded in Decatur with backing from the Kenneth Brian Band, with whom she has been performing frequently when not occupied supporting White.
        • The album, she said, “is very different” than the two tracks she recorded with White…My family also played on the album I did.”

 

  • Forever and then Some LP
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    • Announced in october of 2016
    • Via the LA times:
      • “There was no plan to make a whole album,” said Lillie Mae. “He asked me to come in and record a few songs, and after we got done with three, he said, ‘You got any more?’ ”
      • That turned into a baker’s dozen tracks —11 on the album and two more that are slated as B-sides for singles.
      • They span the melancholic Americana breakup song “Over the Hill and Through the Woods” to the sprightly country two-step “Honky Tonks and Taverns.” Elsewhere, there’s the country-gospel lope of “Wash Me Clean” and the folk bluegrass sway of the title track. The album closes with the haunting mantra-like minor-key lament “Dance to the Beat of My Own Drum.”
      • The album features instrumental and vocal contributions from several members of her large family: her brother, Frank, on guitar; older sister Scarlet on mandolin; and younger sister McKenna Grace on vocals. For years, they sang together as a family band that also included another older sister, Amber Dawn, who now lives in Canada.
    • From the official press release:
    • Lillie+Mae+-+Approved+Press+Photo+web
      • “Lillie Mae has been performing on stage since she was 3 years old,” White said in a press release. “She is an incredible writer who can play an array of instruments and has paid her dues from the honky-tonks on Broadway to stages around the world. She is a beloved artist in Nashville, and I think it is safe to say that she is one in a billion. You wont find anyone else quite like this woman no matter how long you live.”
      • Rische added: I”‘m proud to have become a part of the Third Man family, where there is no shortage of hard work and dedication to creating and making available the music we love so. I’m forever thankful to Jack for believing in me and giving me a chance and all the freedom I’ve needed to make this album.”
    • Lillie Mae played after at Jack’s Grammy acceptance speech in 2017 as well – Jack once more giving Lillie crazy exposure
    • Via Paste:
      • Rische is now dropping her last name and embracing her singer-songwriter side with the announcement of a solo album, Forever and Then Some, produced by White and to be released on White’s Third Man Records.
      • Accompanying the album announcement, Lillie Mae has given fans a first taste with the single “Over The Hill and Through The Woods,” a song that bears White’s unmistakable touch. The mix of mandolin, banjo and electric guitar feels right out of the same wheelhouse that produced the more folk- and country-laced songs in White’s solo and Raconteurs output. Yet it’s Mae’s distinctiveness as a vocalist and strength as a songwriter, spinning a tale of love gone wrong, that really stands out. The pair make an excellent team, and the song bodes well for the record to follow.
      • The album features contributions from Mae’s siblings Frank Carter, Scarlett and McKenna Grace Rische on guitars, mandolin and vocals respectively, along with some usual White co-conspirators like Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age and The Dead Weather on keyboards and Old Crow Medicine Show’s Cory Younts on piano, among others.
      • Forever and Then Some is out April 14 via Third Man Records and is available for preorder now and you can also purchase a 7” of “Over The Hill and Through The Woods,” a special edition of which will be released for Record Store Day. Watch the video for the song, directed by Elise Tyler, above, and check out the album art and tracklist below, along with Mae’s upcoming tour dates in the Southeast, which include some opening spots for Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals.
    • Via LA times:
      • “I’ve never put my own band together,” she said. “It’s kind of scary, in a way. But I’m really ready to just get out there and play and play and play.”
  • Other credits:
    • Vocals:
      • Beck’s I’m Down, Travis Stephens’ Between Someday and Never, Footbound Stranger’s Polly Punkneck (is that the pretty polly?), Miranda Lambert’s the weight of these wings and Coco Hames’ self titled debut LP
    • Instruments:
      • Michael Kiwanuka’s You’ve got nothing to lose, Leigh Nash’s The State I’m In, Towne Van Zandt’s Waitin’ around to die, Dwight Yokum’s high on the mountain of love and Frank Foster’s good country music
    • Featured on God Knows Who I Am by Montgomery Gentry
    • jg-lilmae-07-e5be2512-2f77-469a-9554-25b59d9f26b3

Episode 29 – Icky Thump: Album Analysis & Review pt2

Side Dwa

    • Conquest
      • Cover of 1952 Patti Page song written by Corky Robbins
        • Patti Page is best-known for her hit “How Much Is That Doggy in the Window.”
      • Jack would often listen to it while doing upholstory projects in Detroit
        • “The last song on it was Conquest,” he says. “Whenever the first horns came on, I knew that, whatever I was working on, I was going to have to flip the record pretty soon.”
      • “Nobody else picked that song, except me and Jack,” says Page
      • In 2008 USA Today put Page and White on the phone together a-la the Steve Coogan email transaction we went over in the Coffee and Cigs episode.
        • Page says she’s thrilled that a new generation has discovered her music through the White Stripes cover: “It’s great that they realize that some of us old folks had something on the ball, too.”
      • eBay was using the Page version in ads at the time “When we were mixing our record, we joked that MapQuest would want to license it,” -JW
      • “It finally came around because all the themes on the new Stripes record sort of revolved around role reversals, the underdog becoming the one in control,” he says. “The lyrical message in Conquest is exactly what you root for in life with people you know. You hope they’ll have the sense to switch a situation around if they’re in peril. I love how bold the song is, and simple at the same time. It’s kind of irresistible.” – JW
      • After finding a player in a mariachi band at a Mexican restaurant near the Nashville studio where the Stripes recorded Icky Thump, White recorded him again and again. “We just turned this one guy into a whole trumpet section,”
      • That Trumpet player was Regulo Aldama
      • Music video won the MTV VMA award for “Best Cinematography in a Music Video”.
        • Jack fights a bull
        • Jack trained under bullfighter Dennis Borba
        • shot by director Diane Martel with director of photography Wyatt Troll.
        • Martel came up with the bullring concept in conversation with Jonathan Lethem, author of novels including Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress Of Solitude. Filming was shot in a bullfighting ring in Artesia, Los Angeles.
        • “We had five fighting bulls and one docile cow. Each bull had a time constraint of 20 minutes of full blown action in him, then after that they became bored and uncooperative. Bizarre scheduling that. The bullfighter was amazing to watch too – he had an excellent time.” -Martel
      • 3 singles were issued for Conquest
        • “It’s My Fault for Being Famous,” “Honey, We Can’t Afford to Look This Cheap” and “Cash Grab Complications on the Matter.” alongside new versions of Conquest “Acoustic Mariachi version” “Conquista” and the regular album version
        • Releases came with trading cards featuring bullfighters
          • Mondo Toro trading card of El Blanca Rosa
          • El Sloth
          • El Perdador
        • “Well, the problem with B-sides is, it’s almost like, ‘Okay, we’ll go and write some mediocre songs,'” Jack White says. “I really love B-sides, because it gives you a new chance to breathe some new life into a whole project that you were already working on. It’s almost like the stepchildren of the project of the album.”
        • Jack teamed up with Beck and recorded them in his living room. Beck also contributed vocals and piano to ’It’s My Fault For Being Famous’ and slide guitar on ‘Honey, We Can’t Afford To Look This Cheap’.”
        • Being in Southern California, Beck pointed out a place where they could find mariachi ensembles standing around waiting for work.
        • “While we were working on a song, we asked if somebody could go over there and check and see if there was anybody there,” White says. “She called back and said, ‘Do you want a four-piece or a five-piece band?'”
    • Bone Broke
      • Song was originally written for Rocket 455 and was later released on 45 with Jett Plastic Recordings.
      • “We also found a song that I wrote 10 years ago called “Bone Broke” that I wrote for another band I wasn’t even in, in Detroit. And they never got a chance to record it. So that had been sitting around and we said, “Well, why don’t we try to do that song too. That’s 10 years old…let’s take a stab at that.” That’s definitely something from that period when we started, and it sounds exactly like it fits, because of the structure of the band the song fits.” – JW
    • Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn
      • This and the following trac (St. ANdrew) address Jack’s Scottish heritage.
      • This song is about the thistle, which is the national flower of Scotland. Jack and Meg White are both of Scottish descent, and the song is a celebration of their heritage. Jack explained in Rolling Stone, “Through Nova Scotia, a lot of Scottish families moved to Detroit to work at the car factories. I hope Scottish people take this song as my gift to them.”
      • “Bagpipes are due a revival. They a very somber instrument, very beautiful in the right context.” For this, White enlisted the help of a 52-year-old, London-born, Tennessee-based bagpiper, Jim Drury.
      • “You don’t do well in Nashville unless you’re a good guy. You have to have social graces. I’d never met Jack (White) before so I didn’t know what to expect. But I’d heard stories, y’know? I was impressed by how musical he was and how agreeable he was to changing things on the fly. We spent three hours together and had a nice conversation in the engineer booth. We’re kinda similar because my family is in Neasden and his wife is from England, so we had a conversation about that.”
      • Jack plays mandolin on this which he learned how to play during Cold Mountain. Which we went over in our Cold Mountain episode.
    • St. Andrew (This Battle Is In The Air)
      • A response to the previous song, again has the Scottish flair
      • Features two White Stripes themes : Children and Homes
        • Who is here to greet me?
        • The children are kind
        • I’m not in my home
        • I travel backwards in ecstacy
      • Jack says that he has spent the past two years prior doing extensive reading on the lives of the saints.
      • “The saints are interesting characters to me, but not in any super-religious way,” Jack says. “It’s just been a way for me to meditate. It’s interesting that a lot of them may have never even existed. Even still, there’s a lot to learn from them. They all had a different way to get to heaven. It kind of says a lot about humanity.”
      • “It’s about being torn between two things, and that’s what we are every day, whether it’s between wanting to please yourself or please other people, or just having a hamburger instead of a salad. You go through these little tiny battles to the huge battles between right and wrong. The bluesmen were just relating that division. Each one probably had different reasons for doing it, but it all comes back to being torn and expressing it.”
      • St.Andrew’s Hall is a famous venue in Detroit
      • St. Andrews is a town on the east coast of Fife in Scotland.
      • St. Andrew in the Christian tradition is the brother of Saint Peter and is a disciple in the New Testament and famously on the boat when Jesus told them to be “Fishers of men”
        • St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland
        • The flag of Scotland (and consequently the Union Flag and those of some of the former colonies of the British Empire) feature Saint Andrew’s saltire cross. (The cross he was martyred on)
        • Around 800 AD King Angus of the Picts, facing a larger army of Saxons at Athelstaneford in what is now East Lothian in Scotland, was overwhelmed by a blinding light the night before the battle and, during the night, had a dream. The message he was given was that he would see a Cross in the sky and would conquer his enemies in its name. The following morning King Angus looked into the rising sun and saw the Saltire Cross in its blinding light. This filled him and his men with great confidence and they were victorious. From that time Saint Andrew and his Saltire Cross were adopted as the national symbols for an emerging Scotland.
          • Is it possible that the symbol of the cross in the air is what Meg is referring to?
        • Relics of Saint Andrew are in St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland;[6] and the Church of St Andrew and St Albert, Warsaw, Poland. There are also numerous smaller reliquaries throughout the world.
        • Poland and Scotland looming large in Jack’s heritage and background.
        • You know what relics are? Theire mostly fragments of possessions owned by the saint or skeletal remains of them. Skeletal is another word for something…

 

  • Rag and Bone

 

      • A local Scottish superstition uses the cross of Saint Andrew as a hex sign on the fireplaces in northern England and Scotland to prevent witches from flying down the chimney and entering the house to do mischief. By placing the Saint Andrew’s cross on one of the fireplace posts or lintels, witches are prevented from entering through this opening. In this case, it is similar to the use of a witch ball, although the cross will actively prevent witches from entering, and the witch ball will passively delay or entice the witch, and perhaps entrap it.

Part 2

Track by Track

Side Three

  • Little Cream Soda
    • We have another song on the album called “Little Cream Soda,” which was a song that my nephew had given me a bootleg of. I sort of made it up in the middle of the set during one of our shows. I didn’t even remember playing it. He gave it to me and said, “You should check this out.” And I thought, “This is an interesting way of attacking writing a song too.” Something we’d made up during a show…now let’s try to give it life and make it an album track. We altered some of the lyrics, added some more changes-different things like that. We made a studio song out of it. We’d never done that before either, so that was fun.
  • Rag And Bone
    • This tune follows Jack and Meg as “rag and Bone collectors” or as wikipedia will have me believe is another name for them a “totter” who collects unwanted household items and sells them to merchants. They were largely prevalent in 19th century England and Europe where they would scavenge for cloth rags, bones like ivory and such from knife handles and things, and other scrap metals and things.
    • The song mixes up music and spoken word.
    • Jack took this idea, again, from Karen Elson who had apparently said to Jack that when she was younger she wanted to go away with the Rag and Bone Men. “when she was a little girl she wanted to run away with the rag and bone men, because she thought they were going to an exotic land. She tells me these things, pretty soon you’re playing a riff and yelling “Rag and bone!””
    • “Rag and Bone” is about taking and reusing old stuff no one else wants, a transparent metaphor for Jack White’s approach to making music.
    • In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, White said: “I think songwriters are all junk collectors at heart: We take other people’s problems and try to make something beautiful out of them.”
    • “The music was written at my house, but all the dialogue was written in the studio. We actually have three different versions of that song, and I was worried that the version we have on the album now was a little too funny, and that people wouldn’t get the metaphor because it was just too humorous. For a while there, we went back and forth deciding if we should put it on the record. At the last second, we said, “Eh, forget it, let’s see what happens.” And I’m glad we did, because people have responded to it really well.” – JW with AV Club
  • I’m Slowly Turning Into You
    • “There’s a song on this album called “I’m Slowly Turning Into You,” which is based on this Michel Gondry video treatment. I wrote a couple of verses for it back when we were working on Get Behind Me Satan, but I didn’t have time to [finish] it. There were too many songs. So we didn’t get around to that until we started working on this album. We thought, “Hey, we should go back and revisit that song and see if we can give it life again.”” – JW
    • When it comes to Michel, I almost don’t even care what the treatment or the idea is, I just want to work with him. I was just watching his video today, the Paul McCartney video he directed, and just the little tiny things that I know he puts in there, that can only be seen if you watch it multiple times, are amazing. And in an age of everything being gimme-gimme-gimme now-now-now, he sticks out like a sore thumb. I like the fact that he’s very anti-that. – JW
    • when you see something cool, for example, on a video—a teenager’s first thought is, “Oh, they did that on a computer.” But when I watch a Michel Gondry video, my first thought is, “Wow, how did he do that?” Because I know he probably didn’t do it on a computer. And that’s what’s great.
    • Satan was a bad time. There’s a track on the new album, I’m Slowly Turning Into You, we had cooking during Satan and I remember there being a positive slant to that song a first, a couple of lines that said “But I’m proud to be you”, but I guess I just wasn’t seeing the bright side very much at all during Satan.  – JW
    • Well, there’s this character that everyone has in their head when they’re having breakfast alone, this person you might represent to someone across the room looking at you. When someone comes into your life you have to decide, which ‘you’ are you gonna give them? A lot of times in bad relationships you give them the fake version and that’s why it doesn’t end up working out. -JW

 

Side Fower

  • A Martyr For My Love For You
    • An acoustic version of the song appears on the You Don’t Know What Love is single
    • In August 2007, Guitar World asked Jack White if this song, which has the narrator pining for a leggy teen girl, was his contribution to the great genre of jailbait song. White answered: “I don’t know, because I’m not sure who that character is. How old is he, the guy who’s singing? Maybe he’s 16 just like the girl.” Jack White added: “The main idea is that the guy is going to make a sacrifice and not ever explore the idea of having a relationship with the girl, ’cause he knows it’s going to end up anyway. What if we were smart as to do that in real life? Most people, when they start a relationship don’t say, ‘Oh come on, we know how this is is going to end. Let’s not even bother.’ The idea is, what’s the difference between negativity and realism? They’re very close. A lot of things I say sound realistic in my mind, but to other people they may sound very negative.”
  • Catch Hell Blues
    • Was used in the remake of Footloose
      • “Well that was first thing I thought of actually. As a matter of fact, if you talk to the president of Paramount he’ll tell you the same thing. What I did was I came in, and when I pitch a movie I bring a boombox with me, and I have a little iPod that’s attached to it, and I score my pitch sessions. And I’ll never forget knowing in my mind that I’ll probably never get Jack to sign off on using “Catch on Hell Blues”” – Craig Brewer
      • “Well, y’know, Jack is, as he should be, very protective as to what his music, y’know how his music is used. And I’ve met him before I think he’s one of the best, one of the greatest artists we have right now. I think he does to rock/pop what I try to do with movies, and that is infuse it with blues, infuse it with some tradition and heritage beforehand where you don’t know you’re being exposed to it. But I just remember pitching the angry dance, as a matter of fact almost verbatim, I even had, um, it all worked out, meaning I went in to the studio and I had “Catch on Hell Blues” playing and I had the whole angry dance- the original [Brewer takes out his iPad and shows me the “angry dance” clip from the original Footloose synced up to “Catch Hell Blues”] but I just kind of cut it up in different places, like right here they’ll… y’know… so I kind of knew early on what I wanted to do. God, I can’t believe I have this on my iPad. [laughs] But I, uh, I knew it in and out and I came up with a plan before I’d even written the script. And so I think they responded to that. Luckily I found out Jack was a Footloose fan and he saw the clip and he loved it. “ – Craig
      • “”I harken back to the days when bands didn’t have any overdubs. There are songs on here which are one take, which are just me and Meg playing live, like ‘Catch Hell Blues.’ We’re proud of that, because we know the conditions it was made under. If people say I love your song, and I think I spent $600,000 dollars and recorded it on computer and it took six months. I mean, what’s the big deal? Anybody can do that! But if they love the song, and you look back and think all you had was a book of matches and a screwdriver, then you can be proud.”
  • Effect And Cause
    • Rag and Bone:
      • The Democratic Congresswoman quoted Jack and Meg White’s 2007 rock song Effect and Cause as a lesson for Republicans during a debate over whether to shutdown US federal government last week.
      • Dedicating her speech to America’s “young people and our seniors and our service members and federal workers who stand to be affected by a government shutdown”, Edwards told Congress: “If you’re heading to the grave, you don’t blame the hearse”.
      • “You seem to forget just how this song started. You just can’t take the effect and make it the cause,” she preached.
      • The shutdown was later averted with less than two hours to spare when feuding Democrats, who run the Senate, and Republicans, who are in charge of the House of Representatives, finally agreed a budget for this year.

Promotion

  • Cover features Jack and Meg dressed as “Pearlies” which is an organised charitable tradition of working class culture in London, England.
  • Signed with Warner Brothers
    • The White Stripes are a corporation, even if it’s not on paper…But, you know, we just signed with Warner Brothers. That wouldn’t have been a good move on our second album. Enough time has gone by and we’ve gained in experience. What do you want from a record label? I want them to sell my record. That’s it. -JW
  • To promote Icky Thump before its release, the band distributed custom-designed boxes and previewed tracks from the record through Ice Cream Man. Ice Cream Man’s business model is based on mutual exposure and advertisement. In exchange for funding of its operations, Ice Cream Man attempts to increase word-of-mouth promotion and build a popular association between its sponsors, free ice cream and the experience of music events.
  • They turned the then defunct Tower Records into “Icky Thump Records” and played a show there.
  • Aside from being released on CD and vinyl, it was released on flash drives designed to look like Jack and Meg
  • A mono version of the album kicked off the TMR Vault and is much sought after
  • Q101 decided to leak the album in its entirety prompting Jack to call the station from their tour in Spain at the time.
    • DJ Electra’s Side
      • “I was extraordinarily surprised when Jack called,” said Spike, of the call, which came two hours after the album was played at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. “I had no idea what his reaction would be because I don’t know the dude. In my head he’s this indie-rock dude, so the fact that he’d be calling at all was cool to me. But when he was mad, it was a curve ball.” Spike said White was, in fact, “really mad” and though he didn’t yell, he used words like “naive” and “coward” and insinuated that DJs like Electra were helping speed the demise of the music industry.
      • “We never said on-air how we got it, but I was sent a link to a file and, when we found it online — like we always do — we played it,” Spike said, citing similar advance spins on the station of tracks from the new Linkin Park, Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson albums, all of which he says happened without incident.
      • “It’s a new time, in that you don’t know what the rules are anymore. We’re fighting to stay relevant with people who listen to the radio, and if they get something three weeks ahead of us, that makes us irrelevant.” Spike said that although the White Stripes’ label, Warner Bros. Records, knew the station was going to play the album, Q101 was served with a cease-and-desist order five hours after the airing and has not played it again; the station has also honored White’s request that the tape of his heated exchange with Electra not be aired.
      • She described how, after White berated her, “I felt like I was going to throw up. Weirdest, most surreal conversation of my life … We tried to explain where we were coming from — someone gave us a copy of a record that we were really excited to play, and the whole experience was an hour-long lovefest for him and his band — but he wasn’t having it. He hung up, very, very angry, and I thought I was going to cry.”
      • “I don’t think I did anything wrong, and I don’t think I am helping to ruin the music industry. I think I made people excited for the new White Stripes record. I know that was our intention.I also still think Jack White is an incredibly talented musician, and I still think the new record is amazing. I just don’t think I’ll be able to listen to it without feeling like crap for a good long while.”
    • Jack’s Side
      • “When you’re famous, you’re not allowed to have any kind of reaction unless it’s completely positive and saying, ‘I love rainbows and stars,’ on Entertainment Weekly or ‘Entertainment Tonight’ or whatever those shows are called,” White said. “But this radio station — in this instance — I was having a private conversation with somebody, and they wanted to exploit it and try to make even more press out of the situation. But that’s what usually happens nowadays. … Jack White the singer and songwriter isn’t reacting to you; it’s the president of Third Man Records — our record label — calling you and asking for an explanation. I’m not screaming and yelling at anybody. I’m just saying, ‘Who did it? Tell me why you did it.’ [They reacted] like I called up and threatened to burn down the building or something. For God’s sake.”
      • “I think it’s a shame for generations coming up that everything is ‘now, now, now’ and that they’re getting everything from a mouse click. We have people who get upset that you can only buy a T-shirt at our shows,” he laughed. “That’s upsetting to people. So it’s kinda hard in this age where you get everything instantly to tell people that they have to wait. Let alone if it’s the rules. People can’t help but rebel against any kind of rules.
      • I think everyone is like, ‘Big deal, it’s not my fault. Everyone’s doing it. Everyone’s downloading,’ but it’s about the rules and who chooses to follow them,” he continued. “We’re all in the business together — record labels and musicians and songwriters and radio stations and MTV — everyone’s in that together. And if they don’t all respect each other, the foundation crumbles. It’s obvious.”
      • The only other thing I could say about it is that if a movie theater played a movie three weeks before it was supposed to come out, what do you think would happen? The movie theater would probably be shut down.
  • They announce a tour…
    • “will include all 10 provinces and 3 territories of Canada, as well as the remaining 16 states of the United States the band have yet to play. A few major markets that have been journeyed to in the past will also be included.”
  • Jack’s personal growth and this album
    • I find a lot of beauty in the presentation. I think over time, as the years have gone on, that’s what I’ve gotten better at. Maybe I haven’t gotten better at songwriting, but I’ve gotten better at presentation of the song-just from a workman’s standpoint. – JW
    • “I never believed that it’s been our job to become the Beatles. This band is the opposite of that — we’re an anti-evolving band. When we walk out on stage, we have no idea what we’re going to do. We don’t even know what the first song is going to be. If we ever became the kind of band that played along to a backing track, with a huge light show, and a set list that we’ve practised for three months, we couldn’t take any pride in that. It doesn’t really become a dangerous proposition at that point.”
    • I haven’t been able to figure that out yet. Sometimes when something sounds better, you play it back and you start wondering. Is it the new engineer? The new microphone we never used before? The type of tape stock? Or are we just a little bit more experienced than we used to be? I think this record sounds… the songs sound better, you know? And I don’t know if that had anything to do with how much time we spent. Mostly the reason we spent more time was that we got really sidetracked while we were writing. In rehearsal, we got called away to do all this other stupid junk that was unavoidable. So we ended up needing more time in the studio to just finish writing the songs. I guess it’s all for the better, though, ’cause we’re happy with the finished product. – JW

 

Reception

  • Won two grammy’s for Best Alternative Album and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal.
  • A.V. Club
    • A-
    • There’s a lot more chatter on Icky Thump, from Meg White’s haunted monologue on “St. Andrew” to Jack’s resigned rant on “Little Cream Soda” to the duo’s comic give-and-take on the junkman sketch “Rag And Bone.” And that swagger extends to the music, with its spontaneous tempo shifts and loud-quiet dynamics, demonstrating The White Stripes’ interest in the transient qualities of performance. The heart of this album is in the little fillips at the end of a guitar solo, and Jack White’s carnival-barker growl.
  • BBC Music
    • At what point does alternative become mainstream? Six albums in and the White Stripes have a big fat Warners contract in their pocket and fill Hyde Park. In interviews Jack seems more enamoured of his new playmates, The Raconteurs. Is the end nigh? Or have the Detroit blues minimalists still got things to say? Like all great acts the answer is a bit of both. While Icky Thump has plenty of overblown moments it also still contains all the things that made us love them in the first place.
    • when he sings ‘You can’t be a pimp and a prostitute too’ you can’t help wondering if there’s an element of his own conscience nagging at him to return to simpler days. Whether they ever survive such a sea change to make another album is to be seen. We can only hope so…
  • Slant
    • 3.5 out of 5
    • So the album works, often brilliantly, in the specific terms of the band’s formalism. Where Icky Thump falls short, then, is in the consistency of its songwriting. There’s little fault in the opening three songs.
    • Thereafter, the songs become increasingly verbose—Loretta Lynn’s economy of language, it seems, hasn’t stuck with Jack—without any of his trademark wit to keep the songs buoyant.
  • NME
    • 4.5 out of 5
    • Icky Thump’ is brilliant, there’s no way around that. We’ve come to expect nothing less from The White Stripes, but it still sends a jolt down the spine when you hear them at the very apex of their abilities. Some might consider this record a little too eclectic, zipping as it does between genres and styles like a red-and-white magpie, but it’ll take a monumental effort by any band this year to top it.
  • Spin
    • 3 out of 5
    • “Noisy, Cranky” “The least fun album of their career”

Other Info

  • Icky Thump (song) was used in the new Justice League trailer. WB shares the rights to the song.
  • Icky Thump became a political point in the 2016 presidential election when a Donald Trump promotional used Seven Nation Army. Jack and his company put out “Icky Trump” tee shirts and bumper stickers. Icky Thump having a very “immigration” based theme only helped further the point he was making.

Sources

https://americansongwriter.com/2007/07/the-white-stripes-interview/

http://www.mtv.com/news/1562916/white-stripes-frontman-says-icky-thump-leak-angered-him-as-a-label-exec/

http://www.hotpress.com/The-White-Stripes/music/interviews/Things-that-go-thump-in-the-white/2928991.html

http://www.avclub.com/review/the-white-stripes-emicky-thumpem-7762

http://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/secrets-mix-engineers-joe-chiccarelli

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/music/news/2008-01-01-page-white_N.htm

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17332103

http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2008/the-white-stripes-conquest/

http://exclaim.ca/music/article/white_stripes-manifest_destiny

http://www.avclub.com/article/jack-white-14117?permalink=true

 

Episode 28 – Icky Thump: Album Analysis & Review pt1

Background

This is the album’s 10 year anniversary, which is fitting since the album came out 10 years after the Stripes’ Inception. At this point in his musical career, he also has the Raconteurs started up and releases Icky Thump between the Rac’s debut and sophomore release. Jack has married Karen Elson, had daughter Scarlett, and moved to Nashville, whilst Meg has moved to LA. “I was getting settled there while the Raconteurs were working, so before we started rehearsing the new album I was living a normal life for a little while,” Jack has moved on from his GBMS turmoil a bit and to quote Jack “The marimba’s all gone.”

  • Album recorded in January of 2007 in three weeks
    • “We always record in the winter when it’s a little more uncomfortable,” Jack says
    • “It pushes you to finish, kind of like when you’re shovelling the walk. You want to get it over with so you can go back inside and get warm again. Things like the weather and the environment seem to influence our records a lot.” – JW
    • “We recorded this White Stripes album in January, and [before we recorded] we had a chalkboard where we were rehearsing to write names of songs down…and it was blank in December. So that shows you how we work [laughs]. Very fast and very intense.” -JW
    • Three weeks is the longest stretch The White Stripes have spent on an album.
  • The sessions began directly after Jack finished touring with The Raconteurs first album
    • “I talked to Meg as we were ending the tour and started writing songs with her,” Jack explains. “We got distracted from the sessions a few times, and we ended up not having that much time, so it ended up taking a bit longer. So what was different this time was the album was sort of half written in the studio.”
  • Most was already written, but some was written on the spot.
    • “Probably half of it was written in the studio while we were recording. It’s very of the moment. The band’s always been like that-trying to capture a moment, trying to capture the intensity that rock and roll and the blues is really about. I think that it’s the way I work best.” -JW
    • “When I have the pressure on me to perform and come up with something very quickly, I can. I would probably call myself a clutch hitter. I don’t like to give myself six months and a million dollars and a beautiful place to work in. That’s not my environment to write.” – JW
    • That environment line harkens back the the “uncomfortable” thing he always strives for
    • The album also sports some of Jack’s wildest guitar work
    • “This album’s got the most guitar solos I’ve ever done on a White Stripes record, and that wasn’t pre-planned. On most of them I haven’t played any solos because I wanted to be anti that. But with these songs I felt like I wanted to get deeper into it.” – JW
    • Compare that to White Blood Cells when solos were off the table
  • The album has two central themes: Role reversal/Identity and a Mexican/Latinx vibe
    • Most of the songs play with the idea of role reversal. Whether it be a boy singing a song from the girl’s perspective (Conquest) or the shifting thoughts of lovers (Martyr for my love for you)
    • Jack also wanted a breathe of fresh air and positivity
    • “[Icky Thump] is about feeling positive about being alive, taking deep breaths and just being really happy.”
    • “Well, I grew up in Mexican Town, Detroit. There was Mexican music all around me 24 hours a day. I mean literally. Four o’clock in the morning there was Mexican music playing.”
    • It was ironic that he was constantly surrounded by Mexican music and had never played it.
    • “It’s kinda funny. I had to move away from Mexican Town to Nashville to finally work with mariachi music [laughs]. It’s always like that. It’s always the opposite of what you’d expect.”
  • Recorded at Blackbird Studios in Nashville
    • The Raconteurs’ flair must have rubbed off on Jack’s Stripe’s mentality to a degree. He moved to Blackbird Studios in Nashville which was a modern studio, unlike any place he has recorded in before.
    • “The studio was our big worry — could we pull off the sound we wanted?” – JW
    • “This is the first time The White Stripes went into a modern studio. So the goal was, “Can we still create the way we always have, under these “nicer conditions?” We succeeded, and we’re really proud of it….We were able to…make other struggles occur and attack those in a different way.” – JW
    • “I think we succeeded. We made it through unscathed. We used the same equipment that we like to use, and I don’t think it made anything sound plastic.” – JW
    • “Well, we’d always been scared to do that (use a modern studio), for one because I couldn’t afford it and also because we thought it would turn the sound plastic. But The Raconteurs are recording here right now, about two weeks into our album, and because we worked out any kinks with the White Stripes record.” – JW
    • In photographs of the two working on the album, you can see the very Stripesey portrait hung of Charlie Patton.
    • “Yeah, he was sort of a guardian angel, I hope. It felt like it. We also had Harpo Marx on the other wall.” – JW
    • Blackbird was a complex of six studios that had vintage gear, echo chambers, and live rooms.
    • Jack and Meg recorded in Studio D which was a large live room with a 64-input Trident 80 desk, an echo chamber and red curtains.
    • “I don’t really want to touch the board. I’d rather the engineer do that. I’m always pulling the leash on myself to keep from becoming interested in gear because I know pretty soon I’ll be out in a garage with a blowtorch trying to build a microphone and I won’t be writing songs.” – JW
    • Which brings me to Joe Chiccarelli.
    • Hired to mix the album, he was there in the studio with them.
    • Other work includes: Zappa’s “Joes Garage”, the Shins’ “Wincing the Night Away” and Kurt Elling’s “Night Moves”. Also Tori Amos, Oingo Boingo, Black Watch, American Music Club, and My Morning Jacket.
    • His impressions of the band
      • Jack is a big fan of old-school recording; he’s the kind of guy who thinks that nothing’s sounded good since 1972. [laughs] – Joe
      • I’ve recorded Jack now with three or four different drummers, but there’s a chemistry between him and Meg that’s unique. They’re so respectful with one another, and they work hard, and they push each other. Whatever people say about her abilities, it’s immaterial, because there’s something that she does that lets him do something very special. – Joe
    • Blackbird is one of the best studios I’ve ever worked in.” – Joe Chiccirelli
  • Mixing and recording
    • “Meg and Jack are very much alike: when the inspiration hits, they immediately want to record. They work extremely quickly, and expected me to be ready to record at any time, so I had several sets of room ambience microphones set up in the studio. When they began to play a song, I could quickly push up the faders and choose which microphones best suited the songs. Meg and Jack always laid down the basic tracks playing together in the large live room at Blackbird. We’d adjust the curtains against the live wall depending on what kind of acoustics we wanted.” – Joe Chiccarelli
    • “Jack’s guitar amps were in an iso booth adjacent to the drums. With some songs, especially the more instrumental, jammy ones, like ‘Catch Hell Blues’ and ‘Little Cream Soda’, Meg felt uncomfortable using headphones, so we would just open the doors to the iso-booth and let the guitar sound bleed into the drum mics…with the exception of maybe a couple of songs, Jack’s, and also Meg’s, vocals were overdubbed. He often sang them in the studio’s echo chamber; we also sometimes put the guitar amps or percussion in the echo chamber.” – Joe Chiccarelli
    • Most of the time they were recording to 16-track analog, which was Jack’s preference, but would occasionally switch depending on the circumstance to digital.
    • “When we started recording, I thought ‘Great, this is my opportunity to do something with a more traditional recording approach and to some degree mimic those classic ’70s records that we all love.’ So on the first day I tried taking this very minimalist, old-school approach to recording. I thought that with just two instruments, drums and guitar, there would be lots of space, and everything was going to be real and honest-sounding and I wouldn’t have to chisel things so much. But it wasn’t like that at all! It was evident in the first few hours that my approach wasn’t working. The sound just wasn’t powerful enough, and there were too many holes in the frequency spectrum.
    • “The Stripes demand a big sound, and so I had to work hard to fill in the space…When I realised the registers they play in, I had to work my butt off to extend the frequencies and dynamics of what they were doing, to get the spectrum one would expect in a modern record. The sound had to be more detailed and aggressive, and specifically this translated into more close microphones, more room microphones, more compression during recording and in the mix, using echo chambers, and so on.”
    • “Jack really wanted to step things up with this record,” explains Chiccarelli, “and do something that was more modern and punchier and a bit of a risk for them. Maybe he was concerned that some people see them as a little bit of a retro novelty act.”
    • Jack wanted to be able to do modern editing on analog machines. He told Joe he wanted to do Pro-tools style stuff” but “with no computer”
    • “Jack and Meg are big supporters of the analogue format, and he’s a big believer in the old-school approach: punch it in, no comping. If you don’t like a vocal take, just erase it and redo it.”
    • The mixed the tracks in a span of 5 or 6 days. They were doing about 2 songs a day, which is relatively slow for Jack, but really fast paced for any other band.
    • “I’m the kind of guy who likes to take extra time to tweak away, but Jack was always : ‘Are you ready? It sounds great to me!’”
    • “Working so quickly also meant that you really trust your gut, and you’re not over-thinking things. It’s exciting.”
    • “I’d spend a couple of hours tweaking and then Jack would come and make suggestions. We’d finish the first song by 4 or 5pm, and the next one would be done by midnight.”
    • “Meg was there for most of the mixes, and Jack was always there. He’s not a hands-on guy, he’s more of a movie director. He’d say things like ‘the solo needs more dynamics’ or something broad. Blackbird has these very expensive Grado headphones, and he loved the way they sounded. They’re really accurate and he’d use them as a reference. We did actually later go back and remix ‘300MPH Blues’ and ‘Little Cream Soda’, because Jack felt that our original mixes were too deliberate-sounding, that we’d gone overboard with the dynamics. So we scaled it down a bit.”
    • “I widened the guitar a little because it was a mono track. So I put a short delay on it with the Prime Time and also blended some room ambience back in….The idea was to make people go ‘What is going on? Is that a guitar or a synth?’ Part of the effect was achieved during recording, when Jack asked me to punch in and out as he was playing, so that bits of the solo were clipped, making the notes sound more synthetic. Jack was very specific about how short he wanted the phrases. At first I was puzzled, but as always I trusted him, and sure enough, he was right, it was a really clever effect.”
    • “Jack always wanted more distortion on the vocals! The main vocal effect is a distorted slap echo, which I recorded: I overloaded the tape machine. When you severely overload something, it squashes the waveform so much that it almost sounds like a different instrument. Instead of being a delay of the original signal, it becomes its own sound and adds a vibe to the track. When it came to the mix, Jack wanted still more distortion on the vocals and more edge.”
    • Vlado Meller did the mastering at Sony Mastering in New York, from the one-inch master tape. The vinyl version was mastered from the analogue tape instead of the CD which is rare in modern recording.
    • The CD version of Icky Thump was mastered at Sonic Solutions.
    • “Jack wanted the CD to sound loud and aggressive, so it was cut as hot and exciting as possible, whereas the vinyl was cut in a more traditional way. The vinyl version has more size and dynamics and air, all the things about vinyl that we love. Was the CD version brickwalled to compete in the loudness wars? Let’s hope not!”
    • A lot of people are not fans of the CD mix, which has a different version of Icky Thump which is shorter and Rag and Bone with slightly different vocals (we should play a comparison)

Track by Track

Side Uno

  • Icky Thump
    • In an interview with Jools Holland (June 1, 2007), Jack White explained that he had heard his wife Karen Elson, use the expression “Ecky Thump,” a Northern English phrase that means “What The Heck.”  The phrase was made popular by the British sketch comedy show The Goodies. He changed it to “Icky” to Americanize it a little bit and apparently so that teenagers would get it, citing how Led Zeppelin dropped the “A” in “Lead” for the same reason. He liked the phrase and thus the title of the album and the first track was born.
    • It is their first album to include a title track and they write about it briefly on their website. The title track “which curiously (and not ironically) has the same words in it’s name. Though some residents of northern England might almost recognize the title, the Stripes stress they are spelling it wrong intentionally just for “kicks” and “metaphors,” and to avoid a possible lawsuit from the estate of Billy Eckstine.” – Whtestripes website
    • This kicks off the previlent slang and culture mixing on the album
    • “I call it “sideways exotic.” People who speak the same language but live in different countries. There’s something exotic to these phrases that we don’t hear in America. And even moreso, what’s very interesting to me is how many different types of accents there are in Great Britain, in a place that’s about the size of Michigan. Imagine if the people the next town over from your town had a different accent than you. I find that really bizarre.“
    • “That song is about people using other people,”
    • “The theme is ‘Who’s using who?’ … But one moment of it felt like, I didn’t want people to confuse this character, who seems to be using this prostitute across the border. I wanted it to be taken as a metaphor for other things, so it seemed like a good time to talk about immigration. People think it’s a thing that’s come up in the last year or something, but it’s been a ridiculous thing that’s bothered people throughout U.S. history. I think when things get crazy in America’s history, people turn to issues like immigration to throw people off the scent a little bit.”
    • Jack calls Immigration “a scapegoat,” but he doesn’t want this to blow up because it’s jack getting political. “I’m always worried about profiting off of someone else’s problem, or picking up on a cause in order to get attention for myself. I would never want to be known for courting more celebrity by trumpeting some big cause, so a lot of it I leave to people who do it better than me.”
    • The lyrics include references to every color in the Stripes’ color scheme Redhead, White Eye, Black Rum and Candy Canes are all mentioned “When you say candy cane, people think red and white. Then there’s black rum. Now you’ve got two different things. You’ve got something that’s dark, mysterious…maybe on the bad side of the tracks. Black rum. Then there’s the candy cane, which is sweet and childish. You try to bring up both for people and see which one they’ll latch onto.”
    • Most of the song was written before they got into the studio, but they recorded an instrumental section at Blackbird and spliced that in. “Jack and Meg had several of the songs ready when we went into the studio, and some of them were whipped up on the spot. In a few cases the songs had parts missing, a bridge or an instrumental section, and we would record them without these sections, and then Jack would come up with a new section, and we would splice that in the middle of a song. ‘Icky Thump’ came into being like that: there’s a whole instrumental section in the middle that was obviously edited in.” – Joe Chiccarelli
    • There’s a noticable change in the way Jack’s using technology right off the bat. He’s starting to explore audio effects and heavy distortion, though reverb definitely has played a big role in the early stipes work. Joe had said “I was actually reluctant to use all that vocal distortion during the mix, but again, I had to trust him. One thing I have learned is when you work with great artists you have to put yourself in their hands, trust them and go with the flow. Sometimes the engineer in me would say ‘Oh no, I can’t print all that distortion,’ but then the music fan would go: ‘It sounds great, it’s exciting, who cares?’” – Joe Chiccarelli
    • They did some crazy stuff to get the the right sound “I had the Royer and an AEA on Jack’s two guitar amps, and a couple of U67s for room ambience…Ribbons are prone to overloading, so we blew out four Coles mics on the guitar amps. Luckily Jack had several Coles 4038’s with him!” – Joe Chiccarelli
    • The music video, co-directed by Jack White and the Malloy Brothers, premiered on AOL.com at midnight eastern on May 23, 2007.
    • The video is set in Mexico and puts a lot of that strong imagry in the lyrics on the screen. It was filmed in Nashville. The video has Spanish subtitles acting as a translation of the lyrics.
    • The video for “Icky Thump” was on MTV’s Total Request Live on July 17, 2007. Which was first time a White Stripes video was ever on the countdown.

 

  • You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told)
    • Second single of the album
    • Jack wrote the song while he was on tour with Dylan and The Raconteurs. “I don’t usually write on tour but I left the show to go write that song. Well, the next day I was talking to [Dylan] and I said, “I wrote this song last night called You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told)” and he goes “(Mimes Dylan’s sharp intake of breath as if to say ‘That’s a bit strong’)”. Then he says, “But what key is it in, man?”
    • Music Video was filmed later while they were on tour in Canada
    • Directed by Emmett Malloy
    • Video follows them in canada and was filmed in front of Hudson’s Bay Company historical buildings in the Apex neighborhood of Iqaluit, the capital of the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut. You can see a lot of publicity shots of them here in the UGWNLs book and movie.
    • The cover of the single is pretty nat, it’s Two gears interlocked which is similar to the two characters in the story Jack is telling in the song. A person dominating a relationship but yelling at the partner to open their eyes to that. Basically saying, you’re not in love, this isn’t what love is.
    • Australian R&B singer-songwriter Daniel Merriweather covered the song as a bonus track for the Japanese edition of his 2009 album Love & War.
  • 300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues
    • This song kicks ass. There’s a kind of rainy-wishy washy thing going on in the music with lots of well placed cymbols and drippy blues.
    • It also has one of my favorite tone switches when he goes into a screeching solo and back to dreary blues. It’s like a little temper tantrum in the middle.
    • The line “It’s safe to say that someone out there’s got a problem with almost anything you’ll do,”
      • Yeah, sort of the garage rock community where we came from…that style of music…the way that they look at music is not what you would call the most loyal [laughs] basis-the most supportive and loyal basis-to work in. It’s a very strange environment.”
      • He continues “After 10 years of it, I think it was just time for us to find a little more of a safe haven for us to create, because it always seemed like we were just throwing it to the snakes. For example, every time we had an album, every time we had a tour, it was a completely different audience. Every tour, I mean nobody would stick around for more than one album. And that’s what happens in that environment. If you’re a punk rocker and you’re playing in front of a hundred kids and they love you to death…if your next album sells a million copies, those kids ain’t gonna come to your show. …Those hipsters are all very fickle.”
    • Meg wasn’t just along for the ride on this album, she did some editing and working that I don’t think a lot of people recognize. And this song definitely had her all over it.
    • “There were also sections where Meg decided that she wanted a different drum feel, so we would punch in the drums. The song ‘300MPH Torrential Outpour Blues’, for instance, has two drum kits in it. Meg actually did some of her own drum edits — she knows how to edit tape.” – Joe

Episode 27 – Jack the Drummer

Topic details:

  • An exploration of Jack White’s history with the drums, why he left them, why he returned to them, and what his style says about his musicianship.

Starting out on drums:

  • Via “It Might Get Loud”:
    • Jack wasn’t initially interested in guitar at all, as he details in “it might get loud”, because “everyone played guitar”. He was a drummer to start, playing along to his favorite records in his bedroom.
    • He had 2 drum kits, a guitar amp and a reel to reel set up in his bedroom, with no bed. He slept on a piece of foam on an angle by the door.
  • Via the unauthorized biography:
    • Gold dollar founder neil Yee’s earliest memories of Jack consisted of him coming in and playing drums at the gold Dollar at open mic night. “He was really good”
    • He’d already learned to play with his brothers on a drum kit found in the attic when he was about five in most tellings, 11 in some. His early drumming idols included jazz extrovert Gene Krupa, a hero of his father’s…the Police’s Stuart Copeland and Deep purple’s Ian Paice. He also met life-long friend Dominic Suchyta when they were both 11. – they would jam together in jack’s basement.

Goober and the Peas:

  • The band consisted of “Goober”, (Dan John Miller, who eventually formed Two-Star Tabernacle and Blanche), “Junior” (Tom Hendrickson Jr.), “Shorty” (Jim Currie), “Boss Hoss” (the late Mike Miller, Dan John’s brother), and “Doc” (Damian Lang).
  • BIO Via their management at Detroit Municipal Recordings:
    • Seminal country-punk band Goober & the Peas, from Detroit, was known for blending odd humor and garage rock to the darker side of country music, as well as for the band’s frenetic live shows. The Austin Chronicle called them “some seriously sick individuals, and quite possibly the most exciting live act in America” after their performance at South by Southwest in 1993.
    • The band recorded a 5 song vinyl ep on Detroit’s Fortune Records in 1989, then two acclaimed full length albums, the first of which “The Complete Works of Goober & the Peas” (1992) was recorded at the legendary Fort Apache Studios in Boston (The Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., Throwing Muses), produced by John Wesley Harding and engineered by Sean Slade and Paul Kolderie. The second album, The Jet-Age Genius* of Goober & the Peas, was recorded with David Feeny at The Tempermill in Detroit.
    • The band toured extensively, with bands such as Morphine and Uncle Tupelo, headlining the Transmusicales Festival in France, where they appeared on a French television show with Link Wray. Labeled “alt-country pioneers,” by CMJ, the band opened for bands such as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Bob Dylan, and has been playing occasionally since a long lay-off ended with a 2009 sold-out reunion show at Detroit’s St. Andrew’s Hall.
  • Their band “interests” are listed as the following on facebook:
    • Band Interests
    • Putting things on layaway, pride in one’s hygiene, Swanson Turkey Dinners, finding hope in the bottom of a bottle, vacationing along the Detroit River, sitting at the bar whining about cheatin’ hearts, warm bubble baths…
  • Jack’s involvement:
    • Towards the end of the band’s original run, Jack White, the eventual founder of The White Stripes and subsequent popular rock bands, was brought on as a drummer. As this was in the period before the White Stripes, he performed under his birth name of John Gillis. His Pea nickname was “Doc”
    • He played on their final album (and his first) “the jet age of genius” released on January 24th, 1995.
    • Via the unauthorized biography:
      • Jack joined the band at age 19 in 1994. By that time the band had been playing for 5 years or so and had already released an album. Their biggest claim to fame was supporting Bob Dylan at the Fox theater in ‘92.
      • Miller: He auditioned to be their drummer “we knew we’d be touring a lot, so we wanted someone whose personality we liked, too. Jack was a lot younger than we were, he wasn’t the most technical drummer, thankfully. I do remember the first show when he played drums: for an encore he came up and sang some Elvis song. People were shocked by his passion for it.
      • Troy Gregory: “Nice kid, he was kinda quiet, he came to the studio with them just to hang out one day and brought his pet rat. Kinda weird.”
      • His drumming is unobtrusively skillful, nothing like his guitar. It was the last time he would blend in with a band. Even then, he chafed at its democracy. “He’d want to change songs night to night, even as the drummer” miller recalled.
      • “I think it was a good thing for him just to see what it was like to be in a band that toured.”
    • The band dissolved shortly after that in ‘96, though has since played sporadic shows here and there. Not long after that in september of ‘96, John gillis became Jack White when he married Meg on September 21st.

The Dead Weather:

  • As we know, the dead weather started as a fun jam after the raconteurs 2008 tour and evolved into one of his more dominant projects as a musician.
  • This is the project that made the majority of fans and the world aware of jack’s drumming ability, and those not versed in Jack lore got schooled pretty quickly about his skills behind the kit.
  • Via the unauthorized biography:
    • Jack’s low drum kit let him press and lead from the back.
    • His initial instinct for the Dead Weather’s touring was for drum solos to replace guitar solos – which he stuck to a bit at the beginning but by the time the Sea of Cowards tour rolled around he had settled down a bit on.

Technique:

  • The most we got from Jack in terms of learning about his technique as a drummer was in a 2015 “instructional” video he stars in to promote the release of the Dead Weather’s third album Dodge & Burn. This was part of a series of videos the band released online as a way of “touring” the album without actually touring the album. Kind of an interesting approach, which i would have appreciated a WHOLE lot more if the band also toured the album. But alas.
    • It’s 10 minutes long and jack is funny as hell in it! Also he directed it and Olivia Jean is credited with hair and makeup. Josh Smith did the live audio mixing
  • Highlights from the video:
    • Hang you up from the heavens:
      • High hat opening and closing – he added the extra high hat to add a stylistic difference
      • If the bass is doing something simple, the drums go along with that
    • He constructed the kit to play live shows along with Alicia keys which never wound up happening
    • He designed the kit with ludwig, who built it for him.
      • 16” wide snare drum – most are 14” wide
      • 16” floor tom
      • 16” wide rack tom
      • Added a high pitch marching band style drum
      • 3 floor toms on the left (3 drums on each side) – these are deeper
        • 14” jazz floor tom – the ones on his left are deeper
      • Kick drum is 26” wide – he wanted them to go 30” but was too big and loose for the studio and live
    • He likes everything flat
    • Skinny stands, more elegant – the symbols become “little statues”
    • Dracula’s three brides are on the bass drum
    • Pices signature fast crash 16
      • Saved up his money and bought it from wonderland music in dearborn when he was a kid
    • 26” wide jazz symbol – huge sound (gong style)
    • Splash symbol from a 1930’s trap kit “in the right place it can be cool”
    • Via Rolling Stone:
      • The clip closes with a full band performance of “Hang You From the Heavens,” featuring an alternate drum beat White previewed earlier in the video. The Dead Weather and Third Man Records will release three more clips in the series over the coming weeks.

Drumming Appearances:

 

  • Rag’n’Bone:

 

    • There’s ANOTHER Jack White out there, who is a drummer.
    • He’s often mistakenly listed as our Jack White at normally reliable sources like discogs and allmusic
    • He played with: Rock Springfield a whole bunch, David Cassidy, Eddie Money, Dick Wagner, Player, Bill LaBounty, Gary Myrick, Steve Hunter, Katey Sagal, Redbone and Vikki Watson
    • You can imagine my suprise when searching for Jack White drumming credits and seeing a shitload of Rick Springfield tunes. This guy looks happy as fuck in pictures — he played on Jessie’s Girl
  • Another Way to Die single
  • Obviously all the dead weather material
  • Smoke Fairies – Gastown and River song (2009)
    • Via clashmusic: In life you have to grab any opportunity that comes your way. Raucous duo Smoke Fairies knew this when they happened to spot that Jack White was drinking in the same Hoxton Bar as they were.
    • Still coasting from the release of their ‘Frozen Heart’ EP earlier in the year the duo persuaded the DJ to spin one of their track. Sidling over to Jack White the pair then left a CD together with a fresh whiskey for the Nashville based musician.
    • Impressed, Jack White invited Smoke Fairies to support The Dead Weather at their first ever London show. The guitarist even took the time to introduce the band onstage to fans, and later spoke to the duo about a possible single.
    • Via teenvogue: Jessica and Kaf’s big break came in the summer of 2008, when a rumor spread that The White Stripes front man Jack White was in town. The pair, armed with copies of their single, went straight to the bar where he was expected. “He actually showed up–we couldn’t believe it,” Kaf says. “So we just cornered him, bought him a whiskey, and had the DJ play ’Living with Ghosts.’ “
    • White liked what he heard. He contacted the girls about recording some tracks down in Nashville for his third man records label, which they did this past fall. “One night we were in the studio after midnight, and Jack came in with his band, and they picked up instruments and started to play along,” Kaf says. “It was one of those truly brilliant moments.”
  • Rachelle Garniez ‎– My House Of Peace (2009)

  • Karen Elson – The Ghost Who Walks LP (2010)
    • Plays drums on every track except Stolen Roses, The Birds they Circle and the last Laugh
    • Also on the truth is in the dirt single B-Side Season of the Witch
  • The Thornbills ‎– Uncle Andrei (2010)

  • Becky & John ‎– I’ll Be There If You Ever Want (2011)

  • Chris Thile & Michael Daves ‎– Man In The Middle (2011)

  • Karen Elson – Crying, Waiting, Hoping (2011)
    • From the Rave On tribute compilation
    • I have this record because of the Paul McCartney track, and know this song. I always liked it and it never registered with me that it was Karen Elson because it was prior to me getting into the Jack White lore in that way. Jack plays drums on this – really really weird thing to find for me here!
    • Also featured: The black Keys, fiona apple, macca, florence and the machine, cee lo green, she & him, the detroit cobras, modest mouse, lou reed and others
  • Karen Elson “vicious” b-side “in trouble with the lord” (2011)
  • John & Tom ‎– Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar (2011)

  • Black Milk – Brain single (plays on royal mega) (2011)
  • Seasick Steve ‎– Write Me A Few Lines (2011)

  • The Blunderbuss album – he plays drums on “On and On and On” (2012)
  • Duane The Teenage Weirdo ‎– Postcard From Hell (2012)

  • Beck ‎– I Just Started Hating Some People Today (2012)

  • Tempest Storm ‎– Interview With Tempest Storm By Jack White (2012)

  • No drums on Lazaretto but credited with percussion work on “Alone in my home” and “that black bat licorice” (2014)

Episode 26 – April 1st Spectacular (with apologies to Steve Harwell)

This is it! Our very special April 1st Spectacular is finally here, and it’s chock-full of guests, surprises, and the depth of a long-form art installation that you’re just going to have to listen to to believe. Despite what it might sound like, this is an episode that was a long time in the making (i think literally our second idea for the show) that we’re happy (?) to see it finally out there in the universe. It’s orbiting earth now, in some sort of lounge in space. A kind of…ASTRO…lounge…you might say. There are extended interview segments that will prove to be a truly ear-opening experience. For all the new listeners to our show out there who just climbed aboard, welcome! And, uh, we’re sorry!

Available (unfortunately) on:
iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-third-men-podcast/id1162004507#

Pod-O-Matic:
https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/thirdmenpodcast/episodes/2017-03-28T20_45_55-07_00

aCast:
https://www.acast.com/thirdmenpodcast/episode-26—april-1st-spectacular-with-apologies-to-steve-harwell

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Disclaimer:

The Smash Men podcast is a fan-made, not-for-profit, just for fun celebration of Smash Mouth, and is in no way directly affiliated with Steve Harwell or the band itself. For the definitive history of Smash Mouth and their music, please consult your local Smash Mouth. And for everyone else wondering why can’t we be friends, you found one here, so get the show on and get paid. Enjoy!

Astro Lounge Album analysis & review

Topic Details:

Analysis and review of Smash Mouth’s seminal recording, the modern day masterpiece known as “Astro Lounge.

Album details:

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  • Release date: June 8th 1999
  • The second, or sophomore release by Smash Mouth following their smash debut record, the double-platinum smash success Fush Yu Mang in 1997.
    • This was a full 5 years after former F.O.S. (Freedom of Speech) rapper Steve Harwell founded the group in his native San Jose, California.
    • Steve brought in drummer Kevin Coleman, guitarist Greg Camp and bassist Paul De Lisle and chose the name Smashmouth after a football term meaning an offensive system that relies on a strong running game, where most of the plays run by the offense are handoffs to the fullback or tailback. It is a more traditional style of offense that often results in a higher time of possession by running the ball heavily.
    • The band rose to fame after their demo tape of their song “Nervous in the Alley” was picked up by a local San Jose Radio station KOME, which lead to a signing by Interscope Records.
  • The heavy Ska influence of Fush Yu Mang is largely absent from this record.

Background:

  • The album was recorded from July 1998 to April 1999 – a period of 8 months
  • Recorded at H.O.S. Recording Studio in Redwood City, California
  • The band lost drummer Kevin Coleman shortly after the album’s release due to back problems.

Release:

Track by Track:

    • #1 – Who’s There
    • #2 – Diggin’ Your Scene
    • #3 – I Just Wanna See
    • #4 – Waste
    • #5 – All Star
      • The breakout success that catapulted the group to ASTRO-nomical heights.
      • Written by guitarist Greg Camp.
      • The album’s first single, released in advance of the album on May 4th, 1999
      • The single, like the album, reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
      • Other chart listings:
        • Billboard Modern Rock tracks: #2
        • Canadian RPM Singles chart: #2
        • Australia: #4
        • Belgium: #9
        • Finland: #17
        • Germany #74
        • Italy: #45
        • The Netherlands: #57
        • New Zealand: #15
        • Sweden #49
        • UK#24
        • US Mainstream top 40: #1
        • US Adult top 40: #1
      • The song was featured in several movies:
        • initially in the comedic masterpiece and Kel Mitchell vehicle Mystery Men – which was featured prominently in the music video for the song (incidentally also directed by McG)
          • The music video featured cameos from the film’s cast, including Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, Janeane Garofalo, Paul Reubens, Dane Cook, William H. Macy, Kel Mitchell and Doug Jones.
        • The song was given new life when it was featured the Dreamworks 2001 smash hit Shrek.
          • The song plays at the top of the film to introduce the main character, surly Ogre Shrek. Many parents and grandparents were charmed by Smashmouth’s non-threatening pop sugar.
          • Smashmouth also covered the Monkees I’m A Believer for the film
            • Smashmouth also covered the Beatles’ Getting Better – so ring the smashed beatle bell! 
          • Smashmouth continued its relationship with funny man Mike Meyers, with the comedian appearing in their 2003 music video for the single “Hang On”
        • Other appearances in film:
          • Digimon: The Movie (2000) – not to be confused with the film’s theme song, the powerful and understated “Digi Rap”
          • Inspector Gadget (1999)
          • Rat Race (2001)
        • On June 14, 2015, Smash Mouth was playing a set at the Taste of Fort Collins food festival in Fort Collins, Colorado, when Steve Harwell broke from his set and went into an angry three-minute, expletive-laden tirade, threatening to beat the audience members responsible for hitting him with bread. The band played the opening chords of “All Star” throughout a significant portion of Harwell’s rant. The incident was covered by major media outlets, including TMZ, Gawker, and USA Today.[16][17][18][19][20]Harwell later apologized for the incident in an interview with The Herald-Mail.[21]
        • Event organizer Jason Ornstein explained that he asked Harwell if he wanted him to have the DJs make an announcement instructing the crowd not to throw bread but according to Ornstein, Harwell “stormed on [stage] and took matters into his own hands.” He continued “It wasn’t like anyone was going to be getting hurt by throwing bread up in the air … We just had to laugh at it, because he just really made a fool of himself.”
      • During the 2016 holidays, the band released a series of bizarre memorial tweets for Carrie Fischer and George Michael featuring images of the passed celebrities and images of their own logo. They also famously tweeted a Pearl Harbor remembrance image plastered with dozens of repeated images of their logo.
  • #6 – Satellite
  • #7 – Radio
  • #8 – Stoned
  • #9 – Then the Morning Comes
    • Opens with that classic “good morning” alarm clock
    • It was Smash Mouth’s first single to enter the Billboard charts, reaching number eleven, though it was somewhat eclipsed by the success of “All Star” from the same album.
    • This song was used in a TV commercial by Nissan.
  • #10 – Road Man
    • Afternoon drive personality Kenny Roda uses “Road Man” as a bumper for his radio show, heard in Cleveland, Ohio on ESPN 850 WKNR.
  • #11 – Fallen Horses
  • #12 – Defeat You
  • #13 – Come on, Come on
  • #14 – Home
  • #15 – Can’t Get Enough of You, Baby

Reception:

  • Album Chart Position:
    • US Billboard Hot 100: #4
  • Certified Triple Platinum

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Episode 25 – Jack’s Influences: Flat Duo Jets

Topic details:

  • The second part in a continuing series spotlighting Jack White’s many musical influences. This episode we spotlight some key figures in Jack’s modern punk rock influences. Flat Duo Jets and their frontman Dex Romwebber.

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Band Background:

  • Getting together:
    • The band began in Chapel Hill North Carolina in the early 1980’s when frontman Dex Romwebber got together with drummer Chris “Crow” Smith
    • Classified as Psychobilly, but really boils down to punk rock blues with a rockbilly flavor.
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    • Their first album, In Stereo, was released by Dolphin Records in 1985 which was followed by an appearance on MTV’s The Cutting Edge
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    • Their self titled album was recorded in a garage direct to 2 tracks in the late 80’s, though was not officially released until 1990.
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      • It’s a cool album, lots of covers of songs that classic rock musicians love to play – Elvis type stuff and 50’s-era rock but sped up and spit on
      • The album got itself a little push with another MTV appearance, this time on the show 120 minutes, as well as a performance on Late Night with David Letterman where they performed the song Wild Wild Lover
        • https://youtu.be/ZwHcOrRquuE
        • It’s an energetic little performance – the group is joined by an upright bassist and some additional percussion
      • Dex used t sleep with pictures of elvis, ritchie valens, buddy holly, gene vincent and little richard over his bed he called “the rock of ages”. Also a shrine to “the bad man brown” james brown
        • It’s very cute, he says “we just got a ritche valens record and we listen to it all the time. He’s just the greatest”
      • He used to live in a shack of the woods he claimed he modelled after the Munsters
  • Early career:
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    • Upon release of their self titled debut album, the band went on a national tour of the US opening for The Cramps
    • They appeared in a cool little1987 film “Athens, GA: Inside/Out”
      • It’s a weird clip, they talk about releasing their own magazine and say the phrase “dextra dextra read all about it”. They follow this up with “pretty stupid, but hey”
      • “We believe in cheap equipment”
      • https://youtu.be/DwlKwwI0g9A
    • They did have a bass player, Griz “Tone” Mayer, who played with the band from 1988-1990
    • Other album releases include:
      • Go Go Harlem Baby in 1991
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      • Safari in 1993
      • White Trees in 1993
      • I’ll Have a Merry Christmas Without You in 1994
      • Introducing the Flat Duo Jets in 1995
      • 7”-ers: Dexmas, Jet Set
      • Red Tango in 1996
      • And Wild Blue Yonder in 1998
  • Major Label release:
    • It took until the group’s ninth album for a major label release with the Lucky Eye album.
    • Released by Outpost Records and produced by Scott Litt (R.E.M.’s producer)
  • Break-Up:
    • Crow was starting to not play every gig with the Jets toward the mid to late nighties, replaced on the road by dummer Crash LaResh.
    • By 1999 the band was no more
  • Dex Romwebber Solo work:
    • Upon the band’s demise Dex would hit the road as a solo act, and quickly released an onslaught of solo albums along similar lines to the Jets’ music.
    • He toured with bands such as Cat Power, Squirrel Nut Zippers as well as Neko Case.
    • Dex Romwebber Duo was the new group from about the mid-2000’s on, with Dex’s sister Sara playing drums in the group now.
      • Talk about similar to the White Stripes!
      • His sister came from the group Snatches of Pink
      • They played together until about 2013

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  • Getting back together:
    • Dex and Crash released a new album as the Flat Duo Jets in 2016 called “The Great Jones” and are currently touring Europe.
    • There is a documentary film about the group released called “Two Headed Cow” but very hard to track down – the DVD goes for $100 or so.
      • Cool quote fromDex in the doc:: “Romweber, now 45, retains a similar bluntness about his legacy and his cult idolatry. “I’ve got bigger problems to solve than how many people know me,” he tells Rolling Stone. As he explains in the film, he’s always admired outcasts; he calls his heroes “heavy-duty fuckers, real partiers and wreckage makers,” including Errol Flynn, the writer Knut Hamsun and his favorite rocker, Jerry Lee Lewis.”
      • “It’s been a hell of a ride – raucous, sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly,” Romweber says . “I don’t really expect anything other than to pay off my mortgage and put gas in the car. Life doesn’t really owe you anything.
      • “I know what it’s like to be free, and I know what it’s like to be caged. And when you’re playing music, you want to be free.”
    • Jack White contributed to the doc:
    • TwoHeadedCowFlatDuoJets
      • Via Rolling Stone: Two Headed Cow opens with a testimonial by Jack White, who has been acknowledging Romweber’s influence publicly for years. The White Stripes frontman invited Romweber to his Third Man Studio to cut a few collaborative songs awhile back, and tells the film crew that he was inspired by how little Romweber seemed to care what people thought of him while he was performing. “He just wanted to express these songs that were coming out of him,” White says in the film. “It was about energy and attitude and soulfulness – nothing fake about it.”
  • Jack White influence:
    • Via Rolling Stone:
      • Long before the Stripes, there were the Flat Duo Jets, Dexter Romweber’s ferocious guitar-drums duo from North Carolina who blazed through the Eighties and Nineties playing some of the most face-melting roots-rock ever heard. Jack White has paid tribute to the influences of the Jets and the wild-eyed Romweber in a variety of places. In 2009’s It Might Get Loud, a guitar summit pairing White with Jimmy Page and the Edge, White declared that seeing the Jets for the first time “opened up a whole new inspiration for me about the guitar.” And he was downright effusive in the 2006 cult-classic Romweber documentary Two Headed Cow, calling Romweber “a huge influence on my music… one of the best-kept secrets of the rock & roll underground.” In 2009 White recorded a seven-inch with Romweber, and in 2011 he reissued the Jets’ long-out-of-print 1991 album Go Go Harlem Baby on his Third Man Records imprint.
    • Discovering the group:
      • Jack wasn’t initially interested in guitar at all, as he details in “it might get loud”, because “everyone played guitar”. He was a drummer to start, playing along to his favorite records in his bedroom.
      • He had 2 drum kits, a guitar amp and a reel to reel set up in his bedroom, with no bed. He slept on a piece of foam on an angle by the door.
      • “Distortion and anger. The punk ideal. The guys who got picked on in high school like so many of us did. This was our chance to push YOU down.” – Jack
      • Muldoon showed Jack Punk music – The Cramps being one of them! Also Velvet Underground
      • Jack references Froggie Went a courtin by The Duo Jets as the thing that blew his mind
      • Jack went to see them perform and was blown away by the sparseness of it. “A little 10 watt amp and a silver tone guitar”…called it lovingly a “backwards direction” and caused Jack to re-assess what “backwards meant in his mind and opened up a whole new inspiration to him on guitar.
      • The Flat Duo Jets caused Jack to pick up the guitar again and leave the drums behind.
    • Paired down equipment:
      • “We believe in cheap equipment.” “when we did gigs with big expensive stuff it was horrible. It took away the feeling. There’s a sort of sound you get out of the old stuff”
      • The drum kit was bought for $100
      • This is a VERY Jack notion. Whether Jack had seen this movie and was modeling some of his own eccentricities after them or if it was just a like-minded kind of thing, that i don’t know.
    • Aesthetic:
      • The group is in paired down color scheme, mostly black and white. The most notable similarity is the two-piece aspect of it. It’s Dex as band leader, guiding Crow with a glance just like Jack does with Meg.
      • Dex’s hair in the early 80’s is very similar to Jack’s — the black leather look was also used by Jack in his solo years
      • Their music videos are visually engaging and avante gard — you can see them appealing to Jack. Their video for the cover of “You Belong to Me” off of the Go Go Harlem Baby album is a slow motion video taken from a high speed train passing a station offering a weird dream like quality to the ultra-slow motion people doing sorta mundane things
        • Ringo Starr covered this song too
    • Approach:
      • Dex is the youngest child in a musical family.
      • Moved all his stuff into a shack in the woods
    • Teaming up with Dex Romwebber Duo

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      • Jack recorded new music with Dex Romwebber duo (Dex and his sister Sara)
      • Via uprooted music:
        • The new Dex Romweber Duo released their first full length on Bloodshot Records in 2009, the guest-filled Ruins of Berlin. In April of that same year, the duo recorded a split 7″ single at Jack White’s Third Man Records to be part of the label’s Blue Series. In 2010, The Dex Romweber Duo again visited Third Man studios in Nashville, and recorded a live 12″ for the label’s Third Man Live series.
        • Dex: We were actually on tour and going through Nashville when Jack called my road manager and asked if we could stop by his studio to make a record. We were headed that way anyway and we had a day off, so we recorded the first track that night we arrived and then went in the next day to record the other track. Making that 45 was a pretty quick affair. Before we even went in, Jack already had that song “Last Kind Word Blues” in mind, which has always been a favorite of mine, so it was kind of funny how he had that one waiting there.
        • tmr009_550b
        • And then the live record was all planned. Jack was going to throw this big shin-dig and we would come there and record this live record there. Again, we were on tour at the time, and he just threw this big party and a lot people showed up. We thought the final product was actually pretty cool.

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        • Were you connected with Jack before these recordings?
        • Dex: I remember Crash and I played in front of the White Stripes in Boston in the early 2000’s. That was the first time I had met Jack in person. Throughout the years Sara and I have been making these records and then we played a really successful gig with Jack backing Wanda Jackson at The Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, which was maybe a year ago. So, off and on we crossed paths and it usually revolved around doing some kind of work. Sometimes it might have been a gig, or it might be a record we were doing. We just kind of cross paths when we do.
      • Via Spin:

Dex Romweber Duo

        • The single features two songs recorded at White’s home studio in Nashville. The pair share vocals on a cover of blues singer Geeshie Wiley’s “Last Kind Word Blues” and Romweber’s “The Wind Did Move,” which Romweber described to Nashville-based site Metromix.comas “dark, sort of hillbilly blues.” Sara Romweber plays drums on the record.
        • “Jack likes to move things along quickly and he’s a very positive producer,” Romweber said, later confessing to being moved by White’s admiration for his legacy: “It feels good. I can go to my grave and at least know I accomplished something. Nothing gigantic. But still, it’s something. It’s touching.”
        • The record, which was produced by White and engineered by Vance Powell (who has previously worked with the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather), is due to be released in late May via White’s label, Third Man Records.

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      • WOW moment:
        • Via stereogum:
          • You know Jack White’s mission to join every band in America? Still going strong. The Dead Weatherman is putting his new Third Man Studio to use by producing and playing on a forthcoming 7″ from The Dex Romweber Duo. “The Wind Did Move” features Jack on vocals, bass, and saw, and its B-Side is a cover of Geeshie Wiley’s “Last Kind Word Blues.” That’s a photo of siblings Dexter and Sara Romweber with their new third wheel. Meanwhile, the Dead Weather have appearances lined up in Louisville, Outside Lands, and ACL. And the White Stripes? They have plans too. In an interview with Music Radar, Jack says he and Meg have already recorded songs for a possible 2010 release. He also discusses Meg’s acute anxiety which derailed the duo’s last tour (“It was a very real problem, but one that I’m happy to say is in the past”).
      • Via Third Man Website:
        • Upon opening the Blue Room to the public for shows back in early 2010, we knew it was imperative that the first show was something special. Hand selected by Jack White was none other than the original brother/sister combo, Dex Romweber Duo. Brother Dex, is known for being one half of the much-admired American rockabilly set Flat Duo Jets, but for this project joins sister Sara for little bit of surf-rock and a whole ‘lotta blues. Dex strapped with his Silvertone vintage guitar and Sara’s wall of sound drums combine to kick out jams such as “Mexicali Baby,” “Brazil,” and the sweet “Love Letters” to name a few.
  • Dexecard
        • For their 7″ contribution to the blue series, Jack joins Dex and Sara on ripping original, “The Wind Did Move” and the haunting B-side cover of lost blues-woman Geechie Wiley’s “Last Kind Word Blues.”

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    • PLaying with Jack and Wanda Jackson:
      • Jack played with Wanda and the backing band he assembled for her at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn NY in January of 2011
      • This was the start of a few gigs the acts played together that year throughout the US
      • Dex Romwebber Duo opened:
        • Via Spin: Jackson’s sound still haunts rockabilly revivalists such as Third Man recording artist (and former Flat Duo Jet) Dexter Romweber, who delivered a short yet briskly evocative opening set with his drumming sister, Sara. But it’s a style that’s becoming increasingly difficult to emulate without irony. Jack White rewrites the book with loosey-goosey arrangements for horns, backing singers and steel guitar (all dressed in matching vintage attire) that attempt to recapture the spirit of Sun Records.
    • Third Man re-issued the 1991 Go Go Harlem Baby album in 2011
      • Via Consequence of Sound:
        • The reissue will be released October 18th on standard vinyl, with 75 limited edition black & white split colored LPs also available on the day of release at the Third Man Records store. Can’t make it to Nashville? Pre-order your copy here.
        • The White Stripes covered album Flat Duo Jets tracks “You Belong to Me” and “Apple Blossom Time” on several occasions (White also talked the band up in the documentary It Might Get Loud). TMR wrote that the songs on the record are “genuinely important in the pantheon of American music. Out-of-print on vinyl since it’s original issue 20 years ago, Third Man Records worked solidly for a year-and-a-half to make this record available again.”
        • This album features their cover of Froggie Went A Courtin’ that he talks about blowing his mind in “It Might Get Loud”
        • Jack borrowed part of the title to “Apple Blossom Time” for his own song, though aside from both songs being slower ballads, there’s no real similarity to the songs. The Jets’ song is a ploding piano ballad.
          • Jack does a beautiful cover of this in the Under Amazonian Light doc

https://youtu.be/OXdpHyLfKvQ

  • Via Third Man’s website:
    • It has been a while since we’ve reminded you all of the glory of Dexter Romweber and Chris “Crow” Smith. Flat Duo Jets reigns as one of the most prolific, and one of our most favorite, American psychobilly acts to come out of the 80’s/90’s, and Go Go Harlem Baby, produced by the legendary Jim Dickinson, is a reissue we worked hard to bring back to life for your enjoyment. Go Go Harlem Baby has been sold out (due to popular demand) for more than a few weeks as of late, but trusty United Record Pressing just dropped off a new batch, hot of the presses, and we are eager to keep spreading this masterpiece out into the world. If you’re a fan of rockabilly or garage rock or punk or blues or The White Stripes or Jack White or, hell, if you’re just a fan of America (Go USA!), this one’s for you.

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Episode 24 – Jack-On-Tour: Blunderbuss

Topic details:

    • An exploration into Jack White’s very first solo tour in 2012 to support his debut solo album Blunderbuss. Part of our continuing series highlighting Jack White’s various tours over the years.

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  • Prepping for the tour:

 

        • Jack was coming off of a year and a half long hiatus from a new studio album, after touring with the Dead Weather in 2010 to promote their last release “Sea of Cowards”. That hiatus is detailed in our “going solo” pts 1 and 2 episodes
        • The long and short of it is that he’s in Nashville, settling in and finally taking the time to realize his dream ideas and projects that he finally has the money and time to do.
        • He’s going through a divorce which is starting off as amicable but would soon turn uglier.
          • Via the NY Times: ““I wouldn’t stay in a band if we weren’t moving forward and progressing,” he said. “It’s more like we’re best friends, pals, so we should be pals, and not pretend we’re something bigger.” He was wearing his wedding ring, a black diamond set in ivory, on his right hand.”
        • Family Life:
          • Via the NY Times: “White’s mansion is on seven hilly acres in southwestern Davidson County, just down the road from Hank Williams’s old house. There was a barn-red guesthouse out back, but the main house was almost all white — stately columns, a white porch swing and a white veranda straight out of “Gone With the Wind.” Only the front door and the two chimneys were red.
          • White led the way inside, past collections of Mexican dolls and two stuffed hyenas, into his den. The walls were covered in flocked-velvet wallpaper, and in the stairway hung a portrait of Claudette Colbert. On the floor were two small pairs of jellied sandals belonging to his daughter, Scarlett, and on the kitchen counter sat a red, white and blue toy accordion — it belonged to his son, Henry.
          • Henry, whom White calls Hank, would be 4 in a couple of months; Scarlett had just turned 5. “They’re little vaudeville kids,” White said. “They’ve been onstage for school plays and stuff, and they’re not nervous at all.” He’d already noticed some differences in their personalities. “You can see in Henry’s eyes that he really watches the creation of things,” he said. “And Scarlett is very much a producer — she likes to tell how it’s going to happen. We were messing around a couple of weeks ago, and she was like, ‘I’m hearing two pianos. . . . ’ ”
        • The demise of the White stripes:
          • NY Times: White said if it were up to him, the band would still be together. “I’d make a White Stripes record right now. I’d be in the White Stripes for the rest of my life. That band is the most challenging, important, fulfilling thing ever to happen to me. I wish it was still here. It’s something I really, really miss.”
          • Newsnight interview touches on it
        • A LOT of pre-planning went into this, and a lot of rehearsal.
  • Photo by Greg Cristman | www.gregCphotography.com
    Photo by Greg Cristman | http://www.gregCphotography.com
        • His mother even stopped in to visit and help:
          • Via the guardian: She recently came to visit him in Nashville and ended up folding record sleeves at the studio, while White shuttled back and forth between his backing bands. “I offered to drop her off at home and she says, ‘No, you’re not dropping me off, because you’re not going to go back and rehearse and if you do,'” – his voice rises into the quaver of an angry elderly lady – “‘I’m going to be mad.'” He laughs. “OK, Mom, I’ll stay home.”
        • Stage fright – fuse interview

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  • The Touring Bands:
  • The Peacocks:

 

          • Ruby Amanfu – Vocals
            • Ruby Amanfu: I got the call to come in to his studio to meet him one morning in January of 2011. He was putting together the touring band for Wanda Jackson’s promo run for her new album. I went to his studio and they happened to be working on Chris Thile and Michael Daves’ Blue Series that day. He ended up calling me into the tracking room with the band and put me on percussion for the B-side track, “Blue Night” and backing vocals for their single, “The Man in The Middle”. That was a fun way to be introduced!
            • JACKWHITE_NEWYORK2_09_30_12010
            • So some weeks after that, I ended up doing the promo tour with Jack and Wanda. From that point on, we had a nice flow and I ended up singing on various projects Jack was producing like for Seasick Steve, and any number of tunes of his own. The rest happened naturally.
          • Carla Azar – Drums
            • Was known for drumming in the band Autolux
            • After the tour, Carla had an acting role as a drummer in the 2014 movie Frank, starring Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal
            • JACKWHITE_NEWYORK2_09_30_12019
          • Maggie Bjorklund – Pedal steel guitar, acoustic guitar
          • Catherine Popper – bass
          • Bryn Davies – bass
          • JACKWHITE_NEWYORK2_09_30_12006
          • Lillie Mae Rische – fiddle, mandolin, background vocals
            • Lillie: I was called for a session, Jack was doing a soundtrack for The Lone Ranger, which he ended up backing out of, but that was when they first called me and my friend Josh Smith, who is Jack’s engineer and also a tech on the road. He recommended me and they just kept calling me. I played on one song on Blunderbuss, the first recording I did with Jack.
            • JACKWHITE_NEWYORK2_09_30_12022
          • Brooke Waggoner – piano, B3 organ, keyboards

 

  • The B3 is a Hammond organ, or Electric Organ.

 

            • Brooke was pregnant for a large portion of the tour

 

  • On working with women:
  • JACKWHITE_NEWYORK2_09_30_12003

 

            • White’s success has come working with women. He said he liked their lack of ego. “When you’re in a room of five guys, it becomes a bunch of gorillas in a cage,” he said. “Girls don’t have those hang-ups.”
            • Via Exclaim.ca: “I’ve never had any prejudice toward anybody, and I’ve probably worked with more women than guys,” White says. “What I’ve noticed working with women is that a lot of bullshit goes out the window, and the focus is on accomplishing the task and getting down to something.
            • “Guys can often walk in the room with a lot of other agendas going on — egos, hang-ups — especially 20-something white hipsters. They can bring so much bullshit to the table that you have to sift through, and then they might turn around and sabotage you a week later because of all those hang-ups. I haven’t really experienced that working with females.”

 

 

          • Dominic Davis – bass
            • Dominic: I’m from Detroit, so I met Jack when we were kids, and we kinda learned how to play music together. My family wasn’t musical, his family was. All of his older brothers were in bands, and they had a lot of equipment at the house, so that’s sorta where we started playing. For him and I, we kinda speak the same language in music.
          • Daru Jones – drums
          • Fats Kaplin – pedal steel guitar, fiddle, mandolin, theremin
            • Via CraveOnline: Did you audition for the band? Were there auditions at all?
            • Fats: No, I didn’t audition. And Jack would never have that. He would just know somebody was [the right player]. I started working with Karen Elson, Jack’s ex-wife. And I got called by Lalo, the tour manager, to do some shows and go to Europe with her. They needed someone to play steel guitar and fiddle. So I went to Europe with her, a number of years ago, and when we were rehearsing all that I met Jack. When I came back, Jack called me, he was doing one of the Blue Series singles, and he called me to go up there. I think it was First Aid Kit, two girls from Sweden, so I went in and played pedal steel on that.
            • Soon after that I got another call, and I started working all the time at the studio, doing these TMR singles. And Jack was doing a lot of producing of the singles at that point. And then we started recording, slowly, bits and pieces of what was to become Blunderbuss. So I became part of a small group of players who would get called for sessions.
          • Isaiah “Ikey” Owens – B3 organ, piano, keyboards
          • Cory Younts – mandolin, harmonica, piano, keyboards, percussion, background vocals
            • Via CraveOnline:  I met Jack Lawrence first at a bar that I was playing piano at. 2004 I think. He mentioned me to Jack White and I met him at a Time Jumpers show. He was leaving as I was walking in. We talked for a minute. I must’ve given him my number. He then called me a few months later. I think my first session was The Smoke Fairies. I then went on to do more sessions over the years for Third Man. Then in January of 2012 I got the call to be in his band touring the Blunderbuss album.
            • Also played with the Old Crow medicine show
  • Photo by Greg Cristman | www.gregCphotography.com
    Photo by Greg Cristman | http://www.gregCphotography.com

 

  • Switching Groups:

 

          • Interview at Lolapalooza about the switching bands
            • Talks about maybe it wasn’t working, but then they found the groove
          • Both male and female bands accompanied Jack on the tour. The day of the gig, Jack would decide which group was going to play with him that night.
          • Via the guardian:
            • He has assembled two separate backing bands for the accompanying tour – one all male, the other all female – and has rehearsed an entirely different live set with each: “Different versions of the same songs, and each band plays some songs that the other band doesn’t play as well,” he says. The idea is that the two bands will alternate behind White during the tour. “I’ve been working for weeks, driving back and forth to two locations in Nashville, rehearsing with both bands, trying to remember what versions of the songs each one does. And it’s very expensive. I mean, I don’t know how long I can keep this up, because it’s very expensive to keep that many people on the road.”
            • Why are you doing this? “Well, to make it harder on myself. I really don’t like to take the easy way out, if I can help it, on anything I do, I like to really make it a challenge. I don’t know how to create by taking the easy routes.”
          • Via NY Times:
            • He wasn’t announcing which until the morning of the show — even the bands would be surprised. He’d barred them from listening to each other, because he wanted them to evolve separately.
          • Via crave online:

 

  • Did the two bands travel in different tour buses?

 

            • Fats: No, all of us in the same bus.
            • Dominic: Normally you only have so many bunks in a bus, and normally you have a couple of extras to put things on. But we had 12 people in twelve bunks, so… I think that was good though. At first, it was a little strange not playing every night, but being able to be together made it seem more like one band.
            • Daru: Woo, it was crazy. [laughs] But we made it. But at the end of the day, I’m grateful, just to have a job and pay my bills. Gotta keep it moving.

 

  • Apparently they would sometimes switch the bands while jack played an acoustic song

 

            • Fats: We actually didn’t do that switch very often, though.
            • Dominic: We were going to do that more often and share a lot more gear, but pedal steels can’t really be shared, and the drum kits were so particular that we also wound up not sharing them. So once we had two kits, they decided to change everything for each band. And I think at some point they had the switch down to three minutes, but we didn’t have both bands on that often.

 

  • How did you feel about not playing some nights, when the Buzzards were the chosen band?

 

            • Ruby Amanfu: They are my brothers so I felt proud. I was dancing alongside stage.

 

  • Was there ever a sense of competition between the two bands, even a friendly one?

 

            • Lillie: There shouldn’t have been. Unfortunately, there was a little bit. There should not have been, because it wasn’t a competition for playing a slot or anything. I think, more than anything, it was people wanting to play. If you’re on tour, there are ten gigs, and you only get to play five, that kinda sucks
            • Was there a specific direction in trying to make one band different from the other?
            • Lillie: Not necessarily. Each group had their slightly different arrangements, but we all generally played the same songs, minus a couple different ones for each one. But how am I to know exactly what Jack was going for in his head? I don’t know. But it was pretty loose as well, it wasn’t completely different. There were a couple of shows when he got me up to play with the boys, and it was generally the same idea. I mean they were definitely a lot heavier for sure, musically.

 

  • It seems to me that the Peacocks had more of a dream-like quality.

 

            • Lillie: Absolutely. But I guess that’s what you’re supposed to get from a bunch of women in long dresses.

 

  • When you had the two bands, did it really feel like one band, united?

 

            • Lillie: Absolutely. I mean, even now, obviously I’m from the girl band, but all the guys were from the same group, and it still felt like one big band to me. To me, anyway, I don’t know what the other ones would say.
          • No set lists, being a band leader: Fuse interview
          • The “I’m shakin” video was meant to document this – fuse interview

 

  • Tour Rehearsal:

 

        • Via Crave Online: Dominic: 2 months (of rehearsal). But it was just him coming in and starting a song, it wasn’t like, “let’s do this, let’s do that”. He tried to run a rehearsal like he would play a show. When he first called me to do the whole thing, he said that with The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather they had to be a little more structured, they’re bands with more than one songwriter, and he was hoping he could do with a full band what he did with The White Stripes. He asked me if I thought he could do it, and I said, “yeah, we just need to work on it.” It took a little while to figure it out. We didn’t have to just learn all the Blunderbuss material, we had to learn everything. So we were learning all the White Stripes songs, everything.
        • Cory Younts: Well, the rest of the Buzzards already had rehearsed