White Stripes: no recording gear after 1963

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by CardinalFang, Apr 2, 2003.

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  1. CardinalFang

    CardinalFang New Member Thread Starter


    White Stripes' Latest Is Fueled By Discomfort, Not Cappuccino

    04.02.2003 8:11 AM EST

    The White Stripes
    Photo: MTV News

    "From day one, we purposely got involved in this box and with these
    limitations and chose not to grow and evolve." ? White Stripes' Jack

    They don't exactly wish it was still 1965, but the White Stripes would
    probably be a lot happier if everything still sounded like it did back

    Not that they want every artist to be a facsimile of the Kinks, the
    Sonics, Loretta Lynn and Muddy Waters (of course, they probably wouldn't
    mind ), but they cherish the organic sounds of vintage recording
    equipment. That's why frontman Jack White and his drummer sister (wink,
    wink), Meg White, flew to London to record their new album, Elephant, at
    Toe Rag, a studio owned by '60s throwback Liam Watson, who doesn't own
    any gear made after 1963.

    "It's so hard to find a studio nowadays that's devoid of that evil
    digital and computer technology," Jack said while Meg nodded, which is
    about as vocal as she gets. "You can find studios that have all the same
    equipment that he does, but they also have all this other modern stuff.
    ... To give you too much opportunity really destroys creativity. If you
    took an artist you respect and put them in a room with a broken guitar
    and a two-track recorder, something more interesting would come out of
    them than if you put them in some fancy L.A. studio with a million
    dollars to spend."

    The White Stripes take the same approach to songwriting as they do to
    recording. Jack is convinced that less is more, which is why he refuses
    to have more than two members in his band or to include basslines in his
    songs. And while keyboard passages occasionally filter through the
    group's songs, computer effects are strictly prohibited.

    "From day one, we purposely got involved in this box and with these
    limitations and chose not to grow and evolve," he said. "We still have
    the same ideas we had when we started. We break everything down to its
    most primitive state and involve the number three ? storytelling, melody
    and rhythm; guitar, drums and vocals; red, white and black. Having these
    set parameters allows us to work best."

    The music on Elephant is deceptively simple yet created in a way that
    allows Jack and Meg to intuitively feed off of each other. Her
    rudimentary snare and bass drumming pave the way for his bluesy guitar
    bluster, which lays the foundation for his vocals, and as they veer
    between raspy and bratty the intensity of the music rises and dips.

    Blind Willie McTell, the Rolling Stones and the Sonics are signature
    touch points, especially on the more rockin' stuff such as "Black Math,"
    "The Hardest Button to Button" and "Ball and Biscuit." But the White
    Stripes also pause to deliver softer, more folksy fare like "You've Got
    Her in Your Pocket" and the Meg-fronted "In the Cold, Cold Night." Once
    again, the band shuns bass; Jack insists the low resonant groove in the
    single "Seven Nation Army" comes from an octave guitar (see "White
    Stripes To Put Their Best Trunk Forward On April Fool's Day With
    Elephant ").

    And even with their self-imposed limitations, the White Stripes have
    built an expansive soundscape that includes elements of '50s rock on
    "Hypnotize" and '70s pop with bluesy slide guitar on "I Want to Be the
    Boy to Warm Your Mother's Heart." They even cover Burt Bacharach's "I
    Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself."

    "There was no real conscious thought involved in the different styles,"
    Jack insisted. "Every album we've done, we've always tried to bring the
    songs that were written and just force them all into this box and make
    them work. We never premeditate anything. If we went in and said, 'OK,
    we want to make a country record or a soul record,' we would just fail

    The White Stripes spent more time on Elephant than any of their past
    three albums, but compared to nearly any other group, they bashed out
    the record in a heartbeat.

    "We did the whole thing in 10 days," said Jack, "and that's just because
    the engineer at Toe Rag only wanted to work six-hour days."

    Working so quickly forced the White Stripes to be on their toes and
    avoid distractions. For most bands, speed is a recipe for disaster, but
    Elephant sounds complete and unrushed.

    "We like to be uncomfortable," Jack said. "I don't like those kind of
    places where the studio is nicely heated and you've got a cappuccino
    machine and video games to use in between takes. It should be
    uncomfortable and you should feel forced to be working on something. It
    feels like school to me, and I like that."

    ?Jon Wiederhorn
    driverdrummer likes this.
  2. d.r.cook

    d.r.cook Forum Resident


    Thanks for the article.

    I checked out your site, and it's pretty interesting. Being a MAC user (very rudimentary), there are a lot of links of great interest, espec the SHN files!

    Your listeing habits look fairly close to mine, too (FWIW).

    Thanks again,

  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    Well, I dunno. Using an Eight Track recorder from 1969 looks like cheating to me!

    Take a look at Toe Rag:

    Attached Files:

  4. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    I found a bigger picture:

    If they really wanted to sound like the Kinks, they would need no more than two three-track machines, heh.

    Attached Files:

  5. CardinalFang

    CardinalFang New Member Thread Starter

    LOL - I had a feeling Jack was pulling that year out of his butt.
  6. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host


    Yeah, take away that Studer 8-track and see how many groups flock to the studio....:rolleyes:
  7. d.r.cook

    d.r.cook Forum Resident

    Nice floors:)

    Actually, it looks like a nice, cozy room, and I surely like the Stripes' approach to the project (though I haven't yet heard it).

    Having worked on a lot of 35mm film productions with and w/o nat. sound, with posting in rooms in Atlanta, Nashville and Richmond mainly, it's refreshing to know a place like this still exists. The prevelance of Pro-tools and other digital-based editing sources is virtually universal now, and the rooms tend to be so comfortable and perfectly appointed (with plenty of craft service/refreshments), that there is a tendency to sort of lose focus at times. It's kind of a nether-world where the air seems thin, no sunlight and the possibility of creating some version of reality would appear remote.

  8. David Powell

    David Powell Well-Known Member

    Atlanta, Ga.
    I heard that, in order to discourage bootleg down-loads, they only sent out LP versions for advance promo. Now that's retro!
  9. CardinalFang

    CardinalFang New Member Thread Starter

    Here's what I'm wondering... will this analog recording be butchered by digital limiting?
  10. LarryDavenport

    LarryDavenport New Member

    Seattle, WA, USA
    Except someone burned their LP to CD and then uploaded it. It has been on the net for weeks, but I waited and bought the CD yesterday. It's great!
  11. shakti

    shakti Forum Resident

    Ramnes, Norway
    Just saw a TV interview where Jack White said it was mixed to 1/4" two-track and then mastered directly to vinyl (or something like that). Nothing in between there...I'm not sure how much sense that makes from an LP manufacturing point of view, but that's what he said. I won't get my LP before next week, but it should be sweet. A double album too, so that they didn't have to compromise the sound (there are only 3 or 4 tracks on each side). I did skip through the CD in a store today, and while the music was great and the overall sound very cool, I thought it did sound rather pumped-up...
  12. GabeG

    GabeG New Member

    I got an advance last week and it sounds great (so is the music). The liner notes state something like "no computer were used in the writing, recording, mixing or mastering of this disc"

    Their last disc also sounds great - lots of hiss!!
  13. MikeT

    MikeT Prior Forum Cretin

    New Jersey, USA
    Vinyl surprise.

    I just picked up a copy of the LP for $14.99. (I bought the CD yesterday at Best Buy for $9.99).

    Haven't listened to the vinyl yet - but I was very surprised at what was inside the double LP (released domestically by V2 records).

    One LP (side A and B) is pure white vinyl - and I mean pure white. I just hope it plays quietly.

    The second LP (side C and D) is see-through red vinyl. It also looks very clean - but again I wonder what it holds for overall fidelity.

    You would think that with an album that was recorded to 8-track analog, mixed directly to 2-track analog and then mastered to vinyl would use higher quality vinyl than the thin (maybe 120gram) white and red vinyl.

    Well as soon as I listen I will find out. But for pure surprise and a "cool" presentation the white and red vinyl look nice. :cool:
  14. mne563

    mne563 Forum Resident

    DFW, Texas
    Re: Vinyl surprise.

    Am I wrong, or doesn't black vinyl have the most impurities in it? (That's why they make 'em black, to camouflage the crap!) I was always under the impression that colored or especially clear or translucent vinyl would be the most pure. I know some promo pressings in the '80's used a very dark yet translucent vinyl: Promo copies of Columbia singles where extremely dark red (looked black), promos on Warner Bros. and promos on I.R.S. also used black looking translucent (virgin?) vinyl...

    Any plastic experts out there?
  15. CardinalFang

    CardinalFang New Member Thread Starter

    I just realized that Jack White didn't say that Liam Watson owned no post-1963 gear, the author of the article, Jon Wiederhorn did. My apologies to Mr. White and his sister (wink wink).

    But still...
  16. teaser5

    teaser5 Cool Rockin' Daddy

    The DMV

    Just picked up the new disc
    and I think it's amazing. The bass on some tracks really fills them out.
    Some of the guitar playing I swear sounds like Disraeli Gears
    Excellent stuff
  17. jeff e.

    jeff e. Member

    Re: Elephant

    Actually, in a Stripes article in the new SPIN, they mentioned that there is no real bass on the album. Instead, Jack tuned his guitar to sound like a bass.

    I didn't realize this was out already--I'm gonna have to rush out and buy it ASAP. The first single, "Seven Nation Army", is unbelievably cool. If this one is half as good as the last, it should be a monster! :thumbsup:
  18. Tyler

    Tyler Forum Resident

    My brother's been asking me how this album is, and I haven't bought it yet. I think this one's worth picking up!
  19. teaser5

    teaser5 Cool Rockin' Daddy

    The DMV
    Elephant Bass

    Wow! It really sound fuzzy and cool. There's some keyboards on the album too. Or maybe guitars tuned to sound like keys. Who knows? This guy is so clever I wouldn't put anything past him. Plus I like using my elephant smiley!

    I'm not an elephant; I'm a pharmacist!
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