they rode the wave of back-to-basics rock to the top
with their third CD, "White Blood Cells,"
and now the White Stripes are back and smack dab in
the radio.wazee Spotlight with "Seven Nation Army,"
the first single from their fourth disc, "Elephant."
One half of the duo, Jack White,
says the new song grew out of a phrase he used to
say as a child. "I used to call the Salvation
Army 'Seven Nation Army' because I thought that's
what the name was," he says. "So I was working
around that and it just became a song about gossip."
The White Stripes are Jack (guitar,
vocals) and Meg White (drums). The Whites, reported
to be both brother and sister and ex-husband and ex-wife,
formed the band in 1997. For those wondering what
the truth is, the Detroit Free Press uncovered Meg
and Jacks 1996 marriage certificate (citing
real names John Anthony Gillis and Megan Martha White),
and both it and their divorce paperwork is posted
online by the rock enthusiast web site gloriousnoise.com.
Jack has called the White Stripes
sound okie rock, equally informed by folk,
blues, country, 60s Britpop and Broadway show
tunes. The Whites are fond of dressing in just two
colors: red and white, with promotional artwork to
match. A former upholsterer, once Jack painted his
entire upholstery shop Third Man Upholstery
in just two colors, as well, but that time
it was yellow and black, based on the color scheme
of his hand tools. He eventually abandoned the upholstery
business, but not before he'd formed a two-man rock
outfit with his mentor that they called the Upholsterers.
Then, one day a few years ago, Meg
plopped herself down behind a drum kit in Jack's attic.
Though she had next to no experience on the instrument,
the two penned the song "Screwdriver" before
the day was out, and they decided to keep at it. The
duo released 1997's debut 7-inch single, "Let's
Shake Hands," on the Italy Records imprint. After
one further single ("Lafayette Blues") for
the label, they relocated to the leading independent
Sympathy For The Record Industry. Their self-titled
long-playing debut garnered immediate praise, and
by the time the following year's "De Stijl"
came around (named after the Dutch abstract art movement
led by Gerrit Rietveld), the media buzz surrounding
the White Stripes had reached new heights, especially
in the U.K. The influential John Peel was even quoted
as comparing their importance to that of Jimi Hendrix
and the Sex Pistols. The Whites say they named their
latest album after an animal representing both of
their respective personalities. "Elephants are
powerful and majestic, but also subtle and innocent,
angry and clumsy," says Jack. "It just seemed
like all these different characteristics were either
one of us." The album comes out April 1st on
V2, a week earlier than previously planned.
out radio.wazee's spotlight article on White Stripes
from March 2002!