For Student Direct:
INTERVIEW: THE DEAD WEATHER
A DISTINGUISED COLLECTIVE - members from The White Stripes, The Raconteurs,
‘We were all crashing at Jack (White)’s place and started jamming; just four people in a room, seeing what happens if we hold these instruments and lock the door.’ So like a human-meets-music experiment? ‘Exactly. It started out as just fun, but it’s interesting when you’re all used to playing with other musicians, in other ways. Playing in The Kills, Jamie and I faced only one another other. It was like a conversation you’re having with somebody else; we were just almost psychically linked. The audience saw an intimacy and energy being pulled from one another. I wasn’t really ready to let go of leaning on somebody else, but when I started playing with Jack I suddenly did. I just turned and faced the crowd.’
Once Mosshart faced her crowd fear, The Dead Weather became a serious project. Was the presence of her celebrated on-stage guise VV a help in tackling such feats? ‘VV was created not so much to present another persona as a device to help plug my debut Kills stuff…’she laughs. ‘So long ago, wow…’ she trails, reflectively. ‘It stuck, huh. Between Discount (Alison’s first band when she was 14 – she is now 30) and now, I’ve learnt how to be part of a more traditional set-up definitely.’ But on how it is that something so casual became an album, followed by a tour, it seems Mosshart was as pleasantly surprised as us all.
‘It started off as a conversation between Jack and I wanting to make a 7-inch (featuring their first single ‘Hang You From The Heavens.)’ ‘We really weren’t starting a band! I guess it was a project to put out a single for Jack’s label Third Man Records. But then we found we just couldn’t stop writing. I think it was after playing a surprise show at a party that we decided to carry on playing these new songs live. Everything fell in front of us.’ Did the sudden presence of a real drummer as opposed to a drum machine as used in The Kills influence prove something hard to get used to? ‘Yes, and no. It’s a really different set-up. You can’t always rely on what’s coming next. But… working with Jack, who’s not traditional in any sense really, is always going to be unpredictable and unusual.’
So collaborating with Jack White, a man who’s almost built a musical empire from his name, and giving him prize place of control directing you with his drums - wasn’t daunting? ‘Somehow it wasn’t like stepping into a void; it was exciting knowing everything can change each night.’
White, known for his unabashed and seemingly borderless capacity for invention, has of course been the proverbial backbone to his newest venture; to him the band is perhaps just another outlet of his constant unquenchable need to make music... and direct. The circus-themed video to their latest single ‘I Cut Like A Buffalo’ is directed by White, who also features as a creepy ringmaster. In a circus, the ringmaster exhibits performers, speaks to the audience, and generally keeps the show in motion. White conducts The Dead Weather with his time-perfect and deeply unnerving drumming – and is clearly the power behind the group, with his label and iconic status. Plus, it was at his house where the band came to be. As Mosshart testifies, their dirty, bluesy rock has both a traditional formality and a White-esque contemporary quality to it that speaks to teams of audiences.
Having let debut album Horehound off its leash in July, The Dead Weather are already deep into the creation of record number two. How will it differ to Horehound? ‘I don’t know, but a hell of a lot. We wrote fifteen songs in three days, and because we’ve been playing live a lot, we’ve discovered more and more about each other’s techniques. It feels like family now.’ Well, to feel like family to the guy who claimed his wife was sister must feel pretty close.