“Since we have been around for 10 years, its’ easy to get a label’s attention; it’s whether or not they think it’s the right time for us to put out a record. A lot of labels are losing so much money on bands that no one really wants to take risks, and with us, you know how many fans we’ve had in the past so it’s not as big as a risk,” he says. “The music industry is one of those funny things. I’m not anti major labels but when you sign to a major label you know what is possibly going to happen—you will probably get dropped, or something bad is going to happen. I mean, that didn’t happen—but it’s all relative. It’s not good when a major label puts out 100 records a year and five of them do well and the rest fail—that’s not a good ratio.”
As Stollsteimer and his bandmates successfully make it past customs and back onto U.S. soil, the lead singer is cool, calm and collected when asked about his relationship with Jack White, an issue which has had its fair share of media attention over the years.
The White Stripes’ frontman and Stollsteimer made headlines back in 2003 after a biff in a Detroit bar which was reported to have resulted in Stollsteimer being treated for a bloody eye and bruising, and White allegedly being ordered to pay a fine and attend anger management classes after pleading guilty to assault and battery. What made the altercation even more controversial was that White was said to have played a part in helping get The Von Bondies’ career off the ground by including them on his Sympathetic Sounds Of Detroit compilation released in 2001. When asked to clear up some of the mystery, Stollsteimer says some media reports were way off the mark.
“We were never friends to begin with. The reason why he got pissed at me is because the guy who produced his first record—nothing to do with us— didn’t get credit for it, and the guy that produced our first record is the same guy—and he didn’t get credit for it. So I stood up for our friend (and producer) Jim Diamond in an interview and he (White) jumped me a few weeks later at a bar.”
Like most other music industry controversies, the media exhausted the story to death, evident by Stollsteimer’s very reasonable but slightly frustrated request that followed shortly after he offered his brief lowdown: “If we can not talk about him (White) that would be good.”
While some topics might strike sensitive cords, Stollsteimer was more than happy to spill the beans in other areas and completely talked up the energy and electricity that the “new and improved” Von Bondies planned to unleash on crowds through their current tour.
“When we record it’s one thing, but when we play live it’s not for us—it’s the people that come to see the show—that’s what puts it over the top. The fans sit there, singing along, knowing the words. It’s addictive having the audience participate,” he says. “At some point in my life I realized I enjoy entertaining people for a living. There will be a lot of sweat and dancing and we encourage people to come up on stage and dance with us. Our goal is to be as in-your-face as possible and as energetic onstage as possible. We’re here to entertain people so they forget they have a nine-to-five job to go to in the morning.”
Check out The Von Bondies at the Mercury Lounge in NYC on Feb. 16. For more info, visit myspace.com/vonbondies.