Jack White on the Rocks He Fears (Real Ones), the Ones That Haunt Him (Chris) and the Ones He Worships (N Roll)
Every Jack White profile is a wellspring of silly quotes from and anecdotes about America’s most anachronistic rock star. Last year’s sitdown with the New Yorker, for instance, yielded the incredible detail that White’s children believe he can control the weather, because of microphones he installed outside of his Nashville home that allow him to amplify the sound of the rain. A new Rolling Stone cover story is even zanier.
White’s quotes in the interview range from the expectedly boastful (“There is a case to be made that in a lot of ways, the White Stripes is Jack White solo,”) to the unexpectedly au courant (He is enthusiastic about the controversial professor Jordan Peterson’s views on religion, though he seems genuinely surprised to learn about the strident anti-feminism for which Peterson is also known). He holds forth on nurses (“I just despise them…[but] they got a tough job, that’s for sure,”) fake patois (“Can’t stomach it,”), and DJ Khaled (“He’s an incredibly talented man,” delivered with perhaps a hint of sarcasm).
But we’d like to talk about Jack White’s views on rocks. He has complicated feelings about rocks of all kinds, it turns out. First up are normal, actual rocks, the hardened bits of minerals that come out of the earth. Y’know, rocks. Jack White likes to avoid them when he’s running:
He orders a hummus appetizer and a salad of shaved Brussels sprouts with chicken. He’s on a paleo-ish diet. He describes his exercise regimen as follows: “I run as fast as humanly possible, for short bursts.” It’s my turn to laugh. “It’s true! I do! I’ll run at top fuckin’ speed . . . on a treadmill. I can’t run outside. It’s too dangerous to run that fast outside with rocks and shit, I’ll probably break an ankle. But whatever the top speed on the treadmill, I’ll go. For short bursts. So I don’t have a heart attack or some shit.” He thinks that’s what human beings are meant to do. “You run as fast as you can to catch up with an elk. Then you hide for a couple of minutes, and you run really fast again.”
Next up is celebrated comedian Chris Rock, who once delivered a cutting comment to White about his well-known obsession with vintage recording equipment and methods, a comment that evidently influenced White’s embrace of electronics on his newest album, and that haunts him to this very day:
But it was Chris Rock, who did a set in Third Man’s event space last year, who really got under his skin. “Nobody cares how it’s done!” Rock told White, in passing. He was joking, but not really.
“I wish he wouldn’t have said that to me,” White says, shaking his head, “because it’s haunting my days. Because I’ve built my whole artistic creativity on this. But he’s right, because nobody fucking cares! Even musicians don’t fucking care. You know?” He describes showing “modern musicians” his setup – the tape reels, the vintage Neve recording console – to which they respond, “Well, I’ve got a computer.” White bursts out with that laugh.
Finally, there is the one true rock, the spirit of youth and sex and danger, the sound of hot cars and sweaty VFW halls, the beautiful racket that has electrified the FM radio airwaves for generations. Yes, my friends, I’m talking about rock ‘n’ roll. You don’t need a pithy quote from the latest Jack White profile to illuminate his thoughts on the matter; you already know he loves that shit. Still, if you want to hear more, the Rolling Stone profile is here.