TORONTO – Two summers ago, the White Stripes embarked on an unorthodox tour with the ambitious goal of playing a show in every province and territory in Canada.
Now, frontman Jack White says the duo – which also includes drummer Meg White – will release a documentary about the tour that he predicts will be surprisingly revealing.
“It seems to be much more than a concert film,” White said in an interview at a downtown Toronto hotel while doing publicity for his new band, the Dead Weather.
“I think Meg (White) and I gave away a lot more than we ever would have imagined we would want to.”
In 2007, the Detroit rock duo set out on a Canadian tour that was unprecedented in its thoroughness.
During the trek, the four-time Grammy winners frequently played unannounced gigs at a series of unusual locales, including a Saskatoon bowling alley and a youth drop-in centre in Edmonton.
White said he and Meg would brainstorm venues for the spontaneous performances each day.
“We’d make up an idea at breakfast of where we’d play that day, whether it was on a boat, bus, school or city park, then we’d make it happen,” he recalled. “We didn’t pre-plan it. I don’t like to do that too much, because I think it ruins things.”
Ultimately, they pulled the plan off. Along the way, the duo authored no shortage of memorable moments – they played a one-note concert in St. John’s, N.L., dined on raw caribou meat in Iqaluit and performed “Wheels on the Bus” and “Hotel Yorba” on a city bus in Winnipeg.
White says he chose Canada for the tour because he has Canuck roots (he says four generations of his descendants lived in Nova Scotia) and the band had never thoroughly explored the country.
“It just felt like such a vast, untapped place,” said White, who has said that the White Stripes are working on a seventh album. “As we went around and played a show in every province or territory, we realized that not even a Canadian band had ever done that. Which is wild, I can’t even believe that.
“How did we become the first, you know? It’s already the 21st century!”
Aside from the appeal of spotting Canadian landmarks, the documentary will also offer a rare inside look at a group that has always carefully maintained a certain mystique.
When the two-piece first broke into the mainstream with “White Blood Cells” in 2001, Jack and Meg White frequently claimed in interviews to be siblings.
Even after documentation surfaced indicating that they had in fact been married and divorced, they encouraged confusion by giving inconsistent answers in interviews, partially as a way to keep the focus off their personal lives.
While the still-untitled documentary may strip away some of the murky mystery that has always surrounded the group, White says that they didn’t set out to provide such revealing footage.
“When we started, we just didn’t know what we were doing, so we just (said): ‘Film everything, see what happens,”‘ he said. “I don’t think we would wanna film ourselves like this. I’m pretty anti-reality television and all that ridiculous peeking behind the curtain sort of aspect of entertainment these days.
“But in this case, I don’t think it really has that ridiculousness to it. It does have an insight into some of the things that got created and how we went about making a tour like that happen.”