Inside Jack White’s Hype Machine

by | Jun 10, 2007

With The White Stripes’ sixth album, Icky Thump, waiting in the wings (it will be released on 6/19), Alan Light of The New York Times paints Jack White as a meticulous control freak who believes deeply in theatre.

While indie-rock tastemakers tend to champion bands that look like them, Mr. White still believes that smoke and mirrors, the kind of approach that once caused detractors to dismiss the White Stripes as a gimmick, are integral to successful art. “Everything from your haircut to your clothes to the type of instrument you play to the melody of a song to the rhythm — they’re all tricks to get people to pay attention to the story,” he said.

“If you just stood up in a crowd and said your story — ‘I came home, and this girl I was dating wasn’t there, and I was wondering where she was’ — it’s not interesting,” he said. “But give it a melody, give it a beat, build it all the way up to a haircut. Now people pay attention.”

The article also mentions how the band will be playing arenas this summer–something more than a little odd for a two-piece band. Another sign of The White Stripe’s maturity as an act is the fact that Icky Thump is licensed to Warner Brothers, with the band retaining ownership of the master recordings. Mr. White said he has no qualms about working with a major label, given some bad experiences with small indies and promoters during the band’s early years.

“We’ve been ripped off by so many independent labels and so many people from the underground,” he said. “All that stuff left a really bad taste in my mouth.”