You can hear the sounds of European automotive engineering by-passing The Raconteurs’ tour bus as it races towards a date at the Vital Festival in Belfast, Ireland, on the afternoon of Aug. 22. The European roadwork comes after a short west coast leg with an appearance at Lollapalooza in Chicago, and culminating with a stateside homecoming as the house band at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards.
Stemming from three critically acclaimed side projects, The Raconteurs have fused the Paul McCartney-esque melodies of Brendan Benson’s (guitar/vocals) solo project with the swagger and strut of the American blues in the soul of Jack White (guitar/vocals) and combined those with the groove of The Greenhorns’ rhythm section, courtesy of Patrick Keeler (drums) and Jack Lawrence (bass).
“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.”
The result is a record musically focused on melodic vocal phrasings that resonate a message of maturity. The Raconteurs are regarded as not only credible but culturally relevant, publicly coming of age in an era where rock fans are desperately searching for their new leaders.
The album tracks exert a tone reminiscent of a psychedelically enlightened Beatles with “Hands,” and John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band in, “Together.”
“All my influences came from my parents’ record collection,” says Brendan Benson, “I got really into the MC5, The Stooges, and David Bowie, that sort of thing.”
Titled Broken Boy Soldiers, the debut LP was released in May on V2 Records.
“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.
“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.”