"I just don't think that this band is ever gonna be that big..."
-Jack White - Interviewed for VPRO Dutch Detroit Rock doc
"You start asking yourself: 'What are we getting from this? What are we destroying by doing this? Does it mean anything?'"
- Jack White, 2002 Interview with SPIN-- Post: REMEMBER: The White Stripes by Chuck Klosterman
...inside this nine year old article, Klosterman uses the phrase "cultural phenomenon," in his description.
"The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it whatever you want..." --segment from the White Stripes farewell message more than a month ago.
Now, eighteen bands, majority of them based around Detroit, have... done what they want, by covering a range of White Stripes songs, captured onto a limited cassette release on 5-3-Dialtone Records.
This may well be the Detroit-based label's masterstroke - (heretofore thriving on limited 7" singles and b-side cassette comps) - here, culling a decent sampling of contemporary Detroit talent to put their signatures on their favorite Stripes songs, from hits ("Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," "Hotel Yorba"), to 7" singles ("Big Three Killed My Baby," "Red Death at 6:14"), to older and subtler ditties ("Sugar Never Tasted So Good," "When I Hear My Name")...
There's a buzzsawing jangle recalling some Neutral-Milk-type trip upon "Finding It Harder to be a Gentleman"; - we tromp through a murky "Big Three Killed My Baby" with a fibrous blues-metal; - "Denial Twist" sounds a bit more like saucey synth-pop, but maintains the original's soulful strut; - "Hotel Yorba's" intro morphs into an atmospheric waltz before cutting back on the fuzz and launching into its characteristic keyed-up toe-tap trounce. And - there's a sublime shade, some spooky, nocturnal folk mist drapes gracefully upon "Dead Leaves & the Dirty Ground."
And on and on... It is, frankly, a bit exhilerating (or maybe surreal), to know all of these voices from Detroit so well for their own specific styles, sensibilties and signatures, whether it's noisy, dancey, bluesy, cute, grimey, august, folky or freaky... to then hear these voices reinterpret the very distinct, well-known voice of the White Stripes.
These comps will be available, some way, somehow, somewhere - throughout the venues of the Blowout, dependent upon the plans and personal trajectories of the 53DT label heads. Keep your eyes and ears peeled... (Metro Times Blowout XIV happens this week/weekend throughout Hamtramck, Mar 2nd - 5th). INFO here.
So, then,... what is this? A tribute transmitted from the little room of Detroit, ten years after the fateful White Blood Cells? Or could it potentially be, more so, at least on some level, a eulogy?
No,...more "like a thanks," said Illy Mack's Jennifer David. When asked if there was a level of intimidation whilst interpretting a White Stripes song... David: "Duh!! Je-zuss!"
I bring up my own meandering thoughts of this potential euology, as myself being a pseudo music journalist in a post-Jack-White Detroit, it's felt that the man's self and the man's songs hovered like a phantom upon the contemporary group's songs and shows. Or, perhaps, that his voice, belting about whether we "want an explosion," still echoed, ghostly, like the after-rumblings of an actual explosion.
David's sole bandmate, Steve Kendzorski, said, thinking out loud, that, since the mid-00's, "Jack White has moved out of Detroit. He kinda left the scene, our community. And White Stripes, being apart of that band, was really the last thing connecting him to Detroit. Now that that's not there anymore...it's like... he's gone! So the ghost thing feels true..."
David, as blunt, raw and beautiful with her metaphors as she is with her singing voice and lyrics, slides in quickly, saying no...that it's more like the late scene in The Big Lebowski...
"...where they throw the ashes over the cliff and it comes back and hits them in the face, how the breeze brings the ashes back...and we're covered with the ashes."
The Union Forever: 10 Great White Stripes Deep Cut(z)