MUSIC MAVERICK JACK WHITE admits that his extraordinary vision for how workers at his Third Man Records empire should greet guests would never become a reality, lest he be branded a power-mad dictator.
“When you come here, I’d like all the employees to be standing in a line to greet you, one by one,” he enthuses in the new issue of MOJO, which is available in UK shops on Tuesday, June 24. “All the men would be dressed with yellow suspenders over black shirts and bow ties. They would present their business cards and tell you how long they had been at Third Man.”
Yet White knows perfectly well how that would play with a media primed to pick up on any hint of his eccentricity. “If I did what I really want to do,” he tells MOJO’s Will Hodgkinson, “you would find a lot of people who would hate me.”
White opened his Third Man Records building in Nashville in 2009, and since then it has developed into a highly singular – and amazingly cool – HQ, including offices, a warehouse, a small concert venue called The Blue Room and Jack’s Voice-O-Graph, the 1947 fairground recording booth that Neil Young recently used to record an entire album.
But White admits his single-mindedness and precise tastes haven’t always made him popular, particularly among his musical peers on the turn-of-the-century Detroit garage scene. “Over the years people have said to me, ‘Oh you’re a control freak, you have a huge ego,’ and it used to hurt so much,” he says. “Nobody ever says anything bad about [White Stripes drummer] Meg.”
In our exclusive 12-page interview, White addresses the loneliness of life on fame’s rarefied pinnacle, the fact that his new solo album, Lazaretto, is not, repeat not about his recent “horrible divorce”, and his compulsive attention to detail.
“You really have to pay attention, all the time, to get the details right,” he explains. “It’s important to me that the inner sleeve of Lazaretto is black rather than white. Most people wouldn’t care.”
White’s commitment to the depth and texture of his music and recordings is unparalleled, but it’s not just love, skill, craft and obsession that goes into his releases.
“Did you know the British sleeve of Elephant was made out of recycled elephant dung? We forgot to tell people about that at the time.”
Read more in the new MOJO magazine.
The new MOJO magazine, which is also our VINYL ISSUE, also features:
• A celebration of vinyl – Jack White-endorsed and still music’s best format. MOJO’s Good Vinyl Guide, vinyl rarities and more • Zep, Part 2! Jimmy Page on the myths surrounding Led Zeppelin I and II • Sean Lennon on life in and out of mum and dad’s shadows • Our verdict on Morrissey’s new album, World Peace Is None Of Your Business, plus 149 other reviews, including the new CSN&Y live box set, Manic Street Preachers and The Roots • Elbow take Manhattan!
THE JACK WHITE MOJO (MOJO 249, August 2014 issue) IS ON SALE IN THE UK FROM TUESDAY, JUNE 24, AND IN CONTINENTAL EUROPE SHORTLY AFTERWARDS. U.S. & WORLDWIDE READERS, EXPECT JACK WHITE MOJO TO REACH YOUR SHORES IN LATE JULY.
Jack White was photographed for MOJO by Kevin Westenberg.