September 10, 2006

WHAT WORKS & WHAT DOESN'T:

Raconteurs' long story (VIT WAGNER, 9/10/06, Toronto Star)

The Raconteurs — comprising Jack White of the White Stripes, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler of the Greenhornes and Brendan Benson of, um, Brendan Benson — has been described variously as a "project," a "side project" and a "supergroup."

White, whose CV also has a 2004 collaboration with Loretta Lynn on Van Lear Rose, prefers a simpler label.

"It's a band," he says, sharing a phone line with Benson as the Raconteurs prepare for their Toronto debut tonight at Virgin Festival. [...]

"I remember seeing the White Stripes and thinking, `I'd like to meet this guy. This is some brilliant songwriting,'" Benson recalls. "Then Jack walked in on a show of mine just as I was at the point of actually covering one of his songs. We eventually were introduced and hit it off."

Both also have connections to bassist Lawrence and drummer Keeler. White enlisted the tandem as the rhythm section for Van Lear Rose. And Benson produced the Cincinnati-based Greenhornes' 2004 EP, East Grand Blues.

All 10 songs on the Raconteurs debut were jointly written by White and Benson, who also both sing and play the guitar. The result fuses musical styles, a sympathetic push and pull between White's fondness for rootsy blues and Benson's penchant for power pop.

"It's better when things are different. Then something interesting will happen," White says. "When two people are in the same boat, they are too close to be able to figure out something interesting. Working with Loretta Lynn, for instance, something interesting was bound to happen."

The Raconteurs have remained on the road non-stop since that Liverpool debut, augmenting their sets with an array of covers ranging from Gnarls Barkley's ubiquitous "Crazy" to Gram Parsons' "The Christian Life."

"We didn't do any covers on the album," White says. "But we're playing them live as much as possible because we want to explore where we're headed musically. And also we don't want the live show to be the same every night.

"If we had gone on tour and every night felt the same, by now I might have thought it's not that inspirational. But it is inspirational. We're finding out what works, what doesn't, and where we can go for here."

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 10, 2006 9:53 AM
Comments

I don't like the Raconteurs as much as the White Stripes. They are just a little too slick.

Posted by: ted welter at September 10, 2006 2:16 PM

Better to error on the side of pop than unlistenable...

Posted by: Mike Beversluis at September 10, 2006 8:38 PM

Well, I like pop, and I like rock and roll. Jackie White is a brilliant rocker, but a merely competent popster.

Posted by: Ted Welter at September 11, 2006 9:47 AM

I stopped listening to Jack White after he apologized for being an American at a recent music festival in England.

Posted by: Wintersway at September 11, 2006 2:10 PM
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