Mark Coles and Paul Schuster
Listen to Mark Coles' full-length interview with Jack and Meg White, as 'Elephant' debuts at Number 1
"Usually good music means not a lot of record sales."
Jack White, Toerag Studio, London, April 2003
Did the ability to capture music on tape peak in the sixties? Yes, according to Jack and Meg White - otherwise known as 'The White Stripes', one of the most exciting rock outfits the music industry's seen for years.
The Detroit duo burst onto the British music scene in August 2001, going from virtual unknowns to what many hailed as 'the saviours of rock' almost overnight.
Now, over one-and-a-half years later, Mark Coles caught up with them at the Toerag Studio in Hackney, London, where they recorded their fourth studio alblum 'Elephant'.
Toerag is an unusual studio: you wont find a single piece of digital equipment there. No computer of any description. Jack says that their reasons for using the studio were simple.
"If someone says 'what are the great recordings in music?', they'll be going back to things like Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Elvis Presley and James Brown. And they were all done with this same equipment. It was never surpassed in my mind. They never improved on analogue equipment."
Along with engineer Liam Watson, Jack and Meg recorded and produced 'Elephant' in the same way they would have had they been recording decades earlier. Microphones, a piano, drum kit, reel-to-reel recorders, lots of tape and a carefully wielded razor-blade.
"If it's not a good song, then no amount of tweaking in the studio is going to make it good", Jack insists. "People can't resist technology. It's sold to them as if it is an easier way to do the same job."
"I think if we jump into that thing where we got into this big Los Angeles studio with a big producer, then we'd over-think everything."
Jack hopes the approach may catch on, reining in the large costs many bands are faced with when securing studio time. "Is music all about making studios rich? I don't think it should be."
"It shows people that you don't need to spend nine months and a million dollars recording an album to make good music."
With 'Elephant' debuting in the British album charts at number 1, Meg admits they're still trying to get their heads around the phenomenal success they've achieved. "It's amazing. It's something we never believed would happen. We never really thought we'd make it outside Detroit."
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