TORONTO – When Jack White looks back on the White Stripes’ ambitious
2007 tour of Canada – chronicled in a new documentary unveiled at the
Toronto International Film Festival this week – a few features stand
out in his memory.
“The environment in Whitehorse, the air in
Whitehorse (and) the accents of people in Newfoundland,” White said
Friday at a press conference.
“I just love the accents of the
people. We went and played bingo one night. We didn’t bring the
cameras, we just wanted to go experience the town. As one of our
roadies asked an 80-year-old woman next to us in bingo if she’d ever
been to prison, the story that came out from her was just so special to
“There’s a lot of those moments.”
Many of them appear
in “The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights,” which is part
music doc and part travelogue. Director Emmett Malloy and his camera
crew were present for all of the Detroit duo’s unorthodox Canadian
trek, during which they played a show in every province and territory.
also made a point of playing unannounced gigs in such unusual locales
as a Saskatoon bowling alley, a youth drop-in centre in Edmonton and
onboard a Winnipeg city bus.
White, who traces his ancestry to
Nova Scotia, has typically been guarded about the inner workings of his
peppermint-coloured band, allowing them to maintain a certain mystique.
For instance, Jack and Meg White have long claimed to be siblings – and
do so on a few occasions in the film – even though documentation
surfaced years ago that they were married and divorced.
White acknowledged on Friday that he and Meg were apprehensive about
pulling back the curtain for fans, but he said they got over it.
the tour went on, we got more and more comfortable with the camera
being in the room,” said White, clad in a long black trench coat,
T-shirt and pants, with a pair of white shoes.
Indeed, in one scene the exhausted pair were relaxed enough to fall asleep on camera, with White curled up on an armchair.
another intimate moment, they sit at a piano together in a darkened
room backstage following their tour-closing 10th anniversary show in
Glace Bay, N.S. As Jack plays, Meg cries softly and he wraps his arm
around her shoulder.
“It’s a very powerful scene and hard for me
to watch and hard for Meg to watch,” White said. “But I think there’s
so much about it that I can’t even tell you about. It’s beautiful.”
Added Malloy: “It was as real a moment as I’ve ever captured, surely.”
also focused his lens on some more light-hearted moments, as when the
duo dine somewhat reluctantly on raw caribou meat in Iqaluit and when
the mayor of Yellowknife meets the band on the airport tarmac and
generously gives them a ride into town in the back of his ’51 Chevy.
is White’s second trip to the Toronto film fest in as many years after
he made the trip north of the border in 2008 for the guitar doc “It
Might Get Loud,” and he says he’s learned much about the film industry.
So, one reporter asked, would he then consider taking on more acting roles?
2′ has just been offered to me,” said a laughing White, referring to
the ill-received 1992 original film, which starred Rolling Stones
frontman Mick Jagger.
But seriously, White – who had a role in
the 2003 Civil War drama “Cold Mountain” – doesn’t sound particularly
enamoured of the acting world, particularly since it limits the number
of musical projects that the prodigiously prolific artist can take on.
Mountain’ is the longest I’ve gone out and worked on a film,” White
said. “When I was in Romania for that film, 27 days in a row not
working, sitting in a chalet in Transylvania, I started thinking of all
the records I could be making during that time.”
On that note,
White says he hopes to make another White Stripes album soon, and that
he and Meg have been talking about working on some new songs.
“We worked on a couple recently, a few months ago, and we’ll hopefully work on some more when I get a few moments,” he said.
now, he’s touring with his gothic blues-rock outfit the Dead Weather,
producing a record by a group called Transit (which is actually made up
of employees at the Nashville Metro Transit Authority) and another by
British folk duo the Smoke Fairies.
Yes, he’s busy. So when one
reporter made the mistake of asking what album – singular – White was
working on at the moment, a sly smile spread across his face.
“You were asking about an album – I’m working on four different records, so I can’t tell which one you mean,” he replied.