‘CALL ME A LIAR’

. . . well we would, ex­cept there are no White lies here. In­stead, the busiest man in rock gets hon­est with Tony Clay­ton-lea about God, mu­sic and his lack of in­ter­est in par­ty­ing

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Cover Story -

F YOU CAN’T ask your­self the tough ques­tions as a priest – does God re­ally ex­ist? Are all the Chris­tian ways to get to God blind paths, and so on – then you have no busi­ness be­ing one. In a lot of ways, preach­ers, min­is­ters, priests in any re­li­gion, are not al­lowed to say those things out loud. That be­gan to bother me – that I would have to keep those things quiet. Blind faith makes you not ask those ques­tions, and I think that’s where my strug­gle would have lain.”

The Ticket, Jack White, a London ho­tel room, talk­ing re­li­gion. If you think that’s a co­nun­drum, how’s this for you: born into a staunchly Catholic fam­ily in Detroit, the youngest of 10 chil­dren, White (aka John Gillis) went from be­ing an al­tar boy to be­ing ac­cepted into a sem­i­nary in Wis­con­sin.

“I de­cided not to go,” White says. “I learned later on that mu­sic was ac­tu­ally my vo­ca­tion; that, in fact, spir­i­tu­al­ity and mu­sic are the same thing. Mu­sic ful­filled my con­nec­tion to God in a way that would be un­fet­tered by man’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion and man’s re­li­gious ideas. I can be­come closer to God by un­der­stand­ing the beauty of what I do­mu­si­cally. In this vo­ca­tion I can vo­calise those top­ics.”

White has just flown over to London from Texas, where a few days be­fore he played a blinder of a gig at the SXSW barn dance. He looks knack­ered but the ragged­ness be­fits his sta­tus as one of the busiest and most re­spected peo­ple on Planet Rock. Here is a man who made pared-back blues/rock cool again (White Stripes), suc­cess­fully fused peak-fit rock with but­toned-down pop (The Racon­teurs), smartly re­fit­ted block­buster riffs (The Dead Weather), re­booted the ca­reers of coun­try mu­sic le­gends (Loretta Lynn, Wanda Jack­son), and set up one of the most ef­fi­cient in­die record la­bels of the past 10 years (Third Man Records). No won­der he’s tired.

White smiles through a mop of black hair that oc­ca­sion­ally cov­ers his en­tire face. Wiry, slim, dressed in head-to-toe black, he is both warm and wel­com­ing. He is in London on pro­mo­tion du­ties for his de­but solo al­bum, Blun­der­buss, which is re­leased right about now. Sur­pris­ingly, for some­one so es­tab­lished in in­ter­sect­ing cir­cles of cred­i­bil­ity, White is as down to earth as you can get. No airs, then, just grace, and a re­al­i­sa­tion that his busy sched­ules can oc­ca­sion­ally be the cause of prob­lems.

“I love to cre­ate strug­gle to work off, but some of those prob­lems are no fun – sleep de­pri­va­tion is nei­ther cool nor in­spir­ing. There are times when I have no sleep and end up, for some rea­son, hav­ing a pro­duc­tive day, but the worry kicks in when you have peo­ple buy­ing tick­ets to see a show – stay­ing up all night af­fects the voice.” No af­ter­show par­ties, then? “If you don’t have an agenda like get­ting loaded or laid then there isn’t much in­ter­est for me in those par­ties.

“Some­times I just don’t re­ally have any­thing to gain from hang­ing out.”

So it’s back to the ho­tel room for a shower and an episode of Grey’s Anatomy? “Now there’s an idea . . .”

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