A conversation with Jack White about music, the universe and everything

[This is my weekly column for Global News. -AC]

Jack White is in a good mood. He’s just played an intimate show at Third Man Records headquarters in Nashville to launch his new album, Boarding House Reach.

“The show went great!” he enthuses. “I’m really looking forward to these shows that we’re doing [LA, Brooklyn and London] before we head out on the road for real. It’s going to be fun to play this record for the people.”

Alan Cross: Let’s talk about the recording process a little bit. Did you use digital tools like Pro Tools?

Jack White: To edit I did, yeah. Brilliant editing tool. I’m not so sure I would like to record and live in that world too much. I really love the world of recording to tape, because there’s something about erasing what you did. … I like that technology. I think some people think I like this stuff just because it’s “old-fashioned.” There’s something about when you record a track on a tape and you don’t like it, you try again and you erase the old one. In computers, you don’t do that. You keep everything. I’m not into that, I like to throw away things I’m not using. It’s like getting photos developed, you know? I’ll take out the four good ones and throw away the rest.

AC: Do you have an archive of stuff that you’ve been working on? I talked to Eddie Kramer the other day, and he just finished the third of a trilogy of Jimi Hendrix releases from the vaults. There’s hours and days and weeks of tape to choose from. Do you do that?

JW: First off, I would love to sit down and have a coffee with Eddie Kramer one day. That would be great, you’re lucky you got to talk to him, that’s somebody I would love to meet.

I play in the studio all the time. But then, once in a while, I’ll say, “Hey, I like this. Can you record this thing before I forget it?” I’ll do that. And what happened with this album was a lot of those things, these little five-second pieces, 10-second pieces, especially from me on the drum set. Say, the beginning of “Corporation” or “Respect Commander,” [two songs from Boarding House Reach]. That’s me on drums playing for five or 10 seconds. And then I made a song out of that, because I really liked the tone of that drum beat.

Keep reading. Jack was really good. And stick around for a review of Boarding House Reach.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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