On Tuesday night (March 20), a select number of the music press (and Jamie Hince from The Kills) entered London County Hall to listen to Jack White’s forthcoming solo album ‘Blunderbuss’. After some Blunderbuss cocktails we entered vast debating chamber bathed in blue light (as per the record’s colour scheme), an enormous screen revealed a 12-inch record on a turntable and so the listening commenced. This first spin revealed the prolific White’s latest output was stoked with saloon style piano ripples and gnarly guitar riffs (‘Weep Themselves to Sleep’), down home country slides (‘Blunderbuss’) and an epic closer that begins with fiddles and a lolloping beat and ends with a wickedly spiky solo and rousing three-part girl harmonies (‘Take Me With You When You Go’).
As soon as the lights went up, Councillor Christiana Valcarcel, the Mayor of Lambeth, stood up from amongst the crowd. She proceeded to call White a ‘fantastic man’ before demanding: ‘Where is he?’ And lo, Jack White himself descended into the chamber to woops and gasps. What ensued was a hilarious interview conducted by Valcarel. After telling him how proud she was of White, she then warned him not to get a big head. She implored him to tell us all about himself (he’s 6”1 and 185lbs), including how he got into music and his background as an upholsterer. They both concluded that their favourite song was ‘Hypocritical Kiss’ before questions were opened up to the floor. Topics touched upon: the influence of Nashville on the record (huge), how he didn’t realise he was making a solo record until it was already happening and the self-enforced pressurised environment in which he sometimes chose to compose.
‘Sometimes I would challenge myself and bring in six musicians that I hadn’t really worked with before and I hadn’t written a song. I didn’t tell them that though. I made up a challenge that I would go in there and pretend I already had a song. I’d sit at the piano and be like, “I’ve got to come up with something right now, there’s six people there waiting for me to tell them what to do.” So I said, “Alright it’s in C, boys!” and it went from there.’ He was quite the charming gent throughout.
‘Blunderbuss’ is out on XL Recordings on April 23; Jack White plays Hammersmith Apollo on June 22.