Thursday, March 27, 2008

The White Strips Speak to ASW About Their Latest Album, Icky Thumb

Fabiola Beracasa, Tinsley Mortimer

Icky Thump album cover

When Jack and Meg White of the White Stripes first came to our attention ten years ago, they had us all intrigued, wondering whether the pair were brother and sister or former husband and wife. It turned out that the raven-haired garage folk rockers were in fact once bound by marriage (a copy of their certificate surfaced as evidence). They
divorced in 2000 but have continued to make music together since.

Their sixth studio album, Icky Thump, follows the Grammy Award winner
Get Behind Me Satan, and is a perfect return for a duo who breathed new life into the two-piece concept.

The duo's do-it-yourself work ethos continues on Icky Thump. There is no sign of negotiation; the songs are fresh, catchy, tight and perhaps a throwback to some gritty blues that first made the Stripes famous. 'You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)' is the album's most melodic track while 'Little Cream Soda' is choked on a garage metal sound.

This major label debut with Warner Bros was recorded over three weeks
at Blackbird in Nashville. It's the first time the Stripes allowed themselves to record in a modern studio, given they had always used smaller spaces - even Jack White's stairwell served as the recording studio for their last album.

"It felt really good to be back in the studio," Jack White tells ASW, sitting in a suite at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville with shy Meg White by his side.

"I feel positive and happy about what occurred. And the fact that we did it in a modern studio didn't rule what we were going to express," he emphasises.

Jack White, who left Detroit for Nashville a year and a half ago with his expecting wife Karen Elson and their daughter Scarlett Teresa, says the move was a highlight of his life.

"Yeah it was time to go," he says of leaving Motor City. "About 30 years of negativity was enough for me."

Meg White, who recently moved to Los Angeles adds, "I'm still adjusting to a new city and reconnecting with the people, but I agree, it's good to have left a place like Detroit."

When asked if success had changed them as individuals, Jack and Meg
White were quick to declare it hadn't. "I don't think success has changed me as a person, but it's kind of hard to tell because it's been ten years and you don't know what you'd be without it," says Jack.

"I guess we don't have to drive to the shows anymore," adds Meg. "I don't have to worry about the transmission of the van falling out on the way home, so that's a nice thing."

Icky Thump will hit shelves via XL Recordings in Europe on June 18 and
via Warner Bros in the rest of the world on June 19.

Jane Rocca

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