It’s been seven long-ass years, but the musical genius that is Jack White is finally returning to the land down under. In case you missed it, next month Jack and his mates Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler — aka The Saboteurs (or The Raconteurs outside of Australia) are playing their first live shows in 8 years and they’re doing it right here in Australia. Bless ’em.
I got Jack on the horn today to chat about the shows, and also to scold him for not gracing us with his presence in so long. And let me tell you, folks, the man is keen as mustard to get down here. “It’s really nice, I’ve been hoping [to get down to Australia]. But sometimes the timing doesn’t work out, and it can be hard to fly all your equipment all the way across the ocean to places Japan and Australia,” he tells PEDESTRIAN.TV. “So I’m glad we get to do that — and also, how cool that we get to start off our Raconteurs touring — obviously playing as the Saboteurs in Australia, down there? I think it’s really cool.”
Considering The Saboteurs have never played in Australia and New Zealand, I can definitely agree that it is really cool. The band have sold out their show in Melbourne, and there’s only a few tickies left for the Sydney show on April 20. So hop to it HERE before they’re all sold out.
Jack tells me it wasn’t a conscious decision to kick things off in Australia and NZ, it was just meant to be. “It sort of just happened, there was a festival [Bluesfest, which the band is playing] there so we were all like ‘Why don’t we go do that, and do our own shows as well and try to get something happening,’” he says.
“And we figured we’d go to New Zealand and also Japan if we’re coming down that way. It all worked out. Every time I’m back home, I’m like ‘Damn I’m not gonna get down to Australia and New Zealand for awhile’, so it’s great to kick things off there.”
For his last solo US tour, Jack adopted the policy of mobile phones being cloaked at his gigs — and it’s a policy the Saboteurs are bringing to Aus. “When we did it last time, I thought ‘This will be cool for a couple of weeks’, but I figured people would probably get annoyed and we’d stop,” he explains. “I just thought it would be funny if people showed up and didn’t know they had to put their phones in these pouches, but with the Internet you can’t keep anything secret.”
But it turns out US punters were actually really receptive to the idea of almost being forced to engage more actively with the music. “We didn’t have to worry, because people overwhelmingly loved it,” Jack says with a laugh. “I would say close to 100 per cent of people thought it was the best thing ever. And that was NOT the response we thought we were gonna get.”
“As the tour went on it was the same response, everyone loved it, and now other bands and comedians are starting to pick up on it. It’s a cool kind of project. You’re in the moment, you’re experiencing things totally differently. It already happens at the symphony or the movie theatre, it’s just treating rock ‘n’ roll music with the same attention,” he points out. “Like I said, if people hated it we would have stopped it a long time ago but it’s had a good response so we thought we’d bring it down there.”
As for what we can expect from The Saboteurs’ new album, which the band have just finished recording and is expected to drop later in the year, Jack says we’re in for some good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. “It’s really strong, it’s just kind of got this grandiose feeling to it. Some songs are very extravagant and some are very hard and punk and rock ‘n’ roll. It’s just a really solid rock ‘n’ roll album. It’s nice to say that out loud, in a time when there’s not many albums like that right now, it feels very unique.”
So which member of The Saboteurs do we have to thank for this sudden urge to create new tunes? “God, it was kind of the timing… all of a sudden everyone seemed to be free. So we got together, we were jamming a little bit and we decided to record a song or two,” Jack says, adding: “But I do need to go back and ask those guys who called who, because I don’t know who was actually the one responsible for the reunion!”
With all this talk of reunions, I cannot help but ask about my favourite band of all time, The White Stripes. (Literally the day they broke up I wept, so I have a vested interest in this.) I decide to ~casually~ ask Jack whether we can expect more solo stuff, Dead Weather material or “even dare I say, The White Stripes???!” Here’s what he had to say.
“You know, I never plan anything ahead of time. I try to do everything as it happens, I’ve always been very spontaneous and let the music tell me what to do and go with what situations arise,” he explains. “When I do plan, I start to feel like I’m part of someone else’s agenda, or something. So I’ll just let it happen naturally and almost on accident. I mean, I really couldn’t have told you last year that this year we’d be doing a Raconteurs tour and have an album. It was a surprise to me.”
Read that back. The man didn’t say a flat-out “no” to a White Stripes reunion and I am going to cling to that small glimmer of hope forever, my friends.
The Saboteurs are playing in Auckland (sold out) on April 16, Melbourne (sold out) on April 18, Sydney’s Big Top at Luna Park on April 20 and Bluesfest on April 22. Get your hands on those last few Sydney tickets at the Frontier Touring site HERE.