Red, White, and Blue about America

The White Stripes @ Roseland Ballroom, Nov 2003

This made our month.

In their first proper interview of 2004, The White Stripes talk to the Observer about their formerly friendly Detroit comrads, why they dislike America, and why they just might move away from their hometown.

The highlights from the interview by Andrew Perry:

Jack on Jim Diamond: “Some people, you realise that they’re looking at it differently than you’re looking at it. Fame and money, that is. That can only fall on their own heads in the end, not us. Because we love everybody, and if you’re not out to hurt anybody, then you won’t get hurt in the end.”

Jack on Jason Stollsteimer: “He pulled a contact lens out of his eye that he’d left in for a year, and he’s trying to blame me for it. Such a manipulator! I really feel sorry for the people in that band. You don’t know what it’s like being on tour with a band, and they’re all complaining and crying. That guy is a provoker, a really bad person, but the way I see it, the more I talk about it, the more he gets what he wants.”

Andrew Perry RE: talking to Jack about Renée: Their publicist warned me that Jack would almost certainly terminate the interview at any mention of his relationship with Hollywood actress Renée Zellweger, which is ongoing and steady, by all accounts bar tabloid ones.

Jack on the American music landscape: “What do we have? Ashlee Simpson instead of Patti Page! I mean, look at those people – like Paris Hilton! Who are all these skanks, man? Little girls are looking up to these girls, and it’s so gross. Those girls have no dignity at all, and parents are letting their kids dress up like those skanks. But what else have they got? What are the other choices? Oh well, ha ha ha [laughing angrily at the folly]! Somebody had the nerve to ask me if I wanted to play guitar on Lindsay Lyons’s [sic] album! Ha ha ha! She’s another one of those 16-year-old actresses, and she’s making an album! Like, ‘NO!’ Ha ha ha!”

Meg on American politics: “It’s a rough time. I haven’t seen people be so obsessed and upset in my lifetime – you know, about everything. My dad always told me, they should always have a third choice on the ballot, like ‘none of the above’, then if enough people picked that, they’d have to get new candidates.”

Jack on Detroit: “I don’t yearn for this town any more. It’s so decrepit, and the government’s so corrupt, and it’s getting in my way more than helping me. It’s hard to be comfortable any more. What I used to love about it was, we could play drums on the front lawn and the cops wouldn’t even show up, but now I don’t care any more about that. I don’t wanna play on the front lawn any more.”

Jack on whether or not he’d move away from The D: “I might, actually. There are plenty of places prettier than this place, maybe down south. That’s the real America, I think. That’s the last bastion of culture in the country, where people really have American culture. There’s parts of Appalachia that still maintain those mountain songs, those feelings that convey Americana. I don’t think you can get that in any major city ever again. It’s gone forever. I read old books about Detroit from the Twenties and Thirties, and it was such a beautiful city, but it’s been destroyed. You think how wonderful it could’ve been if it had just stayed that way.”

Jack on quitting smoking: “My voice was getting really really bad. I was losing all the high end. I’d heard some old tapes of us play, and I was really disappointed in the way I couldn’t hit these notes anymore. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t wanna stop.”

Jack on working with Beck: “I was just working with Beck a couple of months back. It’s this song where I played bass and he played Fender Rhodes on it. We just started working on it. He had the Dust Brothers producing on it, and the studio wasn’t really for me – it was just like, a computer. They know what they’re doing, they’re really good at what they do. Beck sent me the song not too long ago, and he’s done some really cool things with it after I left. “

Read the complete transcript.

Pre-order a copy of the soon-to-be-released White Stripes “Under Blackpool Lights” DVD on the official site (it comes with a “free” tshirt) or for half the price on Amazon.