EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appeared in conjunction with SPIN’s first cover story on the White Stripes, in October 2002. Back then, the band continued to give journalists (and fans) the run-around when it came to the question of whether Jack and Meg were siblings, ex-lovers, or something else. Here’s what they told Chuck Klosterman on the matter.
Sitting in a hotel room with the White Stripes and talking only about music is like sitting in a hotel room with O.J. Simpson and asking him only about winning the Heisman Trophy. At some point, every journalist is obligated to ask the payoff question: Are Jack and Meg White truly a brother-and-sister team (as they claim), or are they actually a divorced couple (as most of the planet now assumes)? What follows is the transcript of our conversation on that topic. Ultimately, it proves nothing except that Jack and Meg are a weirdly playful twosome.
Do you regret some of the things you’ve told the press, especially since those seem to be the main things everyone wants to ask you about?
Jack: [Pauses] In the end, twenty years from now, the only thing that matters about any band is if the music was good. People still walk into antique stores and want to buy old Beatles ice-cream-sandwich wrappers, but that has nothing to do with the music. Yeah, sure. But…well, if you’re not going to talk about this, there’s no way I can make you.
Meg: Actually, Jack was dead two weeks ago. That was the rumor.
But why do you still tell people you’re siblings?
Jack: We’ve given up. People can say whatever they want at this point. It never mattered to us. We were never trying to create this. We were never trying to be icons or hoping to get attention. We never purposefully sat down and said, “If we say these things, people will talk about us.”
But at every single conceit, you refer to Meg as your sister. However, your marriage certificate was published in Entertainment Weekly.
Jack: I didn’t see any signature on that certificate. It certainly didn’t look real to me. If people don’t want to believe that Meg is my sister, that’s fine.
But why would people try to portray you as previously married?
Jack: Because America loves gossip. Everyone loves gossip. England loves gossip. Detroit is the gossip capital of the country.
But couldn’t you just end the gossip by telling the truth?
Jack: No! The gossip is what everybody wants. If I told you that Meg is my cousin and that she has always been my cousin and I could prove it, people would say that’s a lie, too. People won’t believe the truth. And the reason we don’t want to talk about this is because it perpetuates the idea that we are trying to do all this on purpose. If we had wanted to fool people, we would have come up with a story a lot crazier than this.
You’re asserting that the marriage certificate is fake, and all yourfriends who say you’re divorced…
Jack: Are all fucking with you (smiles).