Warning: this column may contain traces of lies
Music journalists are the stupidest and laziest people on earth. Even with so many new research tools at their disposal they still manage to get it wrong. At least 90 per cent of what they write is just lifted from press releases. You can even put a number of outrageous inaccuracies into a press release, and music journalists will dumbly report them as facts. For this reason, and others, remember that at least 90 per cent of whatever you read in any music publication is simply untrue – and you’d be better off just making up your own things to believe about any given band.
The above is (gosh, I hope) a pretty accurate paraphrasing of remarks made by Jack White (White Stripes/Raconteurs) about the music press.
How much truth is contained in the remarks, you’ll have to decide for yourself. White’s argument seems to stem from what happened to a phony press release issued by the band.
In 2003, The White Stripes released their Elephant album, which was generally received with rapturous reviews. However the person who wrote the record company release for Elephant decided to insert a little joke about the band’s strict insistence about what type of studio equipment they used. It was stated that none of the band’s equipment was made after 1963. The idea being that The White Stripes were so “authentic” the studio equipment had to be too.
Most all of the reviews of Elephant repeated the “fact” about the band using only dated studio equipment. Some reviewers took it even further, arguing that because of the vintage studio equipment used, the band had created a sound that was “earthy and low-tech” and in glorious contrast to all the other computer-generated albums that were released at the same time.
“It was just a fun thing to do to make that up,” says Jack White now about the prank. “Before you knew it, people thought we wouldn’t touch a piece of equipment unless it’s 60 years old or something! It gets to a point where you’re answering questions based on a joke somebody made.”
But then Jack White has form here: when The White Stripes first began, he would tell everyone that he and drummer Meg White were brother and sister – a falsehood that came to be accepted by many. His real name though is John Gillis – he took Meg’s surname when the pair got married in 1996.
White’s antipathy to the music press continues. His other band, The Raconteurs, released their second album this week. You won’t have read any reviews of Consolers of the Lonely – or at least you won’t have read any up until last Tuesday – because White has said that no advance copies of the album will go out to the media.
“We wanted to get this record to fans, the press, radio etc, all at the exact same time,” say The Raconteurs. “This is so that no one has an upper hand on anyone else regarding its availability, reception or perception. The Raconteurs would rather this release not be defined by its first-week sales, pre-release promotion or by someone defining it for you before you get to hear it.”
All very worthy, I’m sure, but a bit odd when you consider that the previous Raconteurs album was in no way harmed by “someone defining it” just before its release. Rolling Stone said of 2006’s Broken Boy Soldiers that “expectations were sky-high, but the Raconteurs exceed them all”, and elsewhere the pre-release reviews were of a similarly laudatory nature.
You could see Jack White’s point if any of his previous releases had been unfairly or erroneously defined by the media. But Jack White – whether with The White Stripes or The Raconteurs – has only ever received generally glowing reviews.
But then when you tell everyone that your wife is in fact your sister, and you write a song for a Coke advertisement saying your motivation was to get a message of love out to the world, consistency is obviously not a priority.
Jack White: reckons that 90 per cent of what you read in any music publication is untrue