The Raconteurs: Interview with Jack White

“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.”

Existing as an entity of vintage rock-n-roll excellence in an industry overrun by marketing trends and the corporate influence of record company business strategies, The Raconteurs’ core brotherhood has solidified themselves to a musical purist standard and theu are a living testament to modern rock’s legendary elite.

Jack White will gladly explain, “I think music in this day and age has become incidental. All of the arts have become incidental for that matter. Nobody is passionate about art or collecting anything anymore, even records. So what you end up with is the sort of ‘meant to be’ song of the week or flavor of the week, as some people would say. You know, the songs that are played on the radio 30 times a day? Those songs that everyone knows but really aren’t that good.

“I guess the attitude has changed,” says White. “Kids nowadays have to make up their minds on music based on everybody else. It is now an identity choice, which bands they like. The way I look at it is, if you liked Elvis, wouldn’t you want everyone to like Elvis? Why would you want to keep him your own little secret?

“I feel bad for a generation that has to grow up and weave their way through technology and internet blogs, especially with all the cynicism, sarcasm and the jaded way of living, especially here in America,” states White. “I just wish I could explain to them how much more beautiful and romantic it is to buy a vinyl record and crack it open and smell it. That to me is so much more romantic and powerful than reading some blog.”

Jack White’s response to a personal commitment in changing this cycle came before the entire question was even off the lips. “How would you do it?” exclaims White. “How do you teach new bands that a Fender twin reverb is better than some synthesized computer rack? You can’t teach these things you just have to know. I used to think it was rock school everywhere I went, and I wanted to show and tell everybody, ‘Hey guys, do you remember this?’” explains White. “It ended up being that kind of attitude, and to be honest with you, I don’t want to do it anymore. I would rather just do what I need to do and let everyone else worry about themselves.”

His comments are an inspiration to a dying morale of the spirit of rock-n-roll and it is not just writers who are recognizing his contributions. His peers also praise his candor and workmanship.

Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips spoke freely about Jack White in an unrelated interview the same week, saying “He is one of the few people right now that just seems like a real rock star. Just the real deal,” says Drozd. “He has got the talent, the fucking voice, and he knows how things should sound and look on records. Everything about him just tells you he knows what the fuck he is doing.”

But in the midst of the generational blitz of revolving trends, Jack White does indeed feel there are modern influential artists. “I think The Strokes are very influential, and Andrew Bird is very cool. I think a lot of things are influential. If you hear a song and you like it, then it is influential. But now we are talking about a level of degrees. I mean, Loretta Lynn has more of an influence on me than say… umm… Linda Ronstadt,” as laughter follows. “I mean, somebody in particular would be Danger Mouse,” says White. “He is sort of a real pioneer and hugely influential on me. But growing up, I guess I always listened to a lot of blues records. Cole Porter and Irving Berlin and a lot of classic songwriters,” says White. “The whole American folk vibe is something I always find myself going back to. To me, rock-n-roll is now sort of a novelty.”

Up next on The Raconteurs’ road schedule is a highly anticipated Northeast run and selected dates with Bob Dylan before eventually heading back into the studio to record the follow up to their 2006 debut.

“We have been writing stuff while we are on the road and we have got a few songs ready for the next record,” says Benson. “We have decided not to play them live so they are not leaked on the internet and saved for the record. We don’t know when we are going to go into the studio yet, but a new record is definitely coming.”

The Raconteurs will be appearing at The House of Blues in Atlantic City on Sept. 24, Roseland Ballroom, NYC Sept. 25-26, The Orpheum Theatre, Boston Sept. 29 and Continental Airlines Arena with Bob Dylan on Nov. 16.