If anyone deserves the title “busiest musician in showbiz” it’s Jack White. Besides fronting The White Stripes, the prolific artist is a producer, a record store owner and the guitarist and singer in the Raconteurs. So when White started yet another project, even he was surprised.
“I wasn’t expecting to be in a new band on another tour,” says White before a gig in Toronto. “Last fall I had an empty calendar. I can’t believe what has happened in the last six months.”
What’s happened is The Dead Weather, a sludgy garage blues rock band that features The Kills’ Alison Mosshart on vocals, Queens of the Stone Age’s Dean Fertita on guitar, Raconteurs’ Jack Lawrence on bass and White on the skins.
It’s a supergroup to be sure, but unlike, say, Velvet Revolver, the foursome isn’t doing this to make a quick buck. The reason they formed the band, says White, is because the music told them to.
“I do believe the music tells you what to do,” he explains. “If the songs didn’t emerge they wouldn’t have told us to form a band. We’re busy. We’re not looking for something fun to do. There was a direct need to create these songs.”
You can’t just chalk this band formation up to some musical spirit having its way with the group — it helped that White became friends with Mosshart after the Kills opened for the Raconteurs.
Soon enough the friendship blossomed into a musical partnership when, on one alcohol-fuelled night, the two songwriters, along with Fertita and Lawrence, recorded Gary Numan’s Are Friends Electric. About 12 hours later they had written four other songs.
“We just kept writing,” says Mosshart. “It was really a massive accident. We had so many songs that we really loved and we were having such a good time.”
There’s no question that these swampy goth-rock songs are fun, but they’re no White Stripes or Kills. White admits that it might be difficult for people to get that this new band is different.
“If you put musicians in bands together people think the new group should therefore be better than the best Queens, Stripes and Kills songs put together,” says White. “It’s impossible for fans not to have these preconceptions. I imagine it will take a couple listens to clear their head.”
White also points out that just because this group doesn’t sound quite like their other acts, doesn’t mean The Dead Weather went into the studio consciously trying to create a new sound.
“It’s very hard for people not to think it’s pre-mediated and talked about,” he says. “But, if we sat down and said who should be in this band, it would have been something else. If you go into it thinking I like this one Missing Persons album or I like this Frank Zappa record then maybe you’ll get something, but it won’t make sense. If it doesn’t come naturally than it’s not worth doing.”