Founded in 2009, the Dead Weather had a bit of a leg up for a new band. But then all its members came together from other well-known projects: Jack White, who decided to take up the drums once again for this band, is famous, of course, for his stints in the White Stripes and the Raconteurs. Alison Mossheart, meanwhile, is the group's vocalist, but she came to prominence as a member of the Kills, while guitarist Dean Fertita had a great degree of underground success during his time in the Waxwings and later with Queens of the Stone Age. Jack Lawrence not only plays bass for the Dead Weather but his early project, The Greenhornes, is still going and he was White's bandmate in the Raconteurs.
Together, this quarter has crafted a modernized rootsy rock that doesn't actually sound like it's trying so very hard to be like a band from the past. We recently spoke with Lawrence about how the band came together and found out more about his and White's role in the most recent Loretta Lynn album.
Westword (Tom Murphy): How did you become involved in Dead Weather?
Jack Lawrence: We had been in Nashville with The Raconteurs, and Jack's voice was going out, and we had Alison sing a few songs at the end of the show. So we thought it would be cool to record a 45 and take Alison with us. Dean Fertita happened to be around, so we all decided to work together, and it sounded good so we kept writing?
WW: What bands were you in before The Raconteurs?
JL: The Greenhornes. We're due to release another record in October. We played Detroit a few times, and that's where we met Jack. We started in Cincinatti in '96. People seemed to like us in Detroit so we went there a lot. The first time we went there, Jack and a bunch of people befriended us.
WW: How did you meet Brendan Benson?
JL: The same way. He'd come and hang out with us after shows. We bonded over music. Just like The Dead Weather, we started out working on one song, and then the next thing you know, you're on tour.
WW: One song I thought was interesting on the new album is called, "Looking at the Invisible Man." What can you tell me about that song?
JL: We didn't intend for that to be on the album. We had this part that I think Dean may have written, and we'd been kicking it around and didn't know what to do with it, and Jack came in and filled it out.
WW: Did you start out as a bass player?
JL: Yeah, when I was fifteen it was the classic story of how no one played bass, and if you wanted to start a band you ended up being the bass player.
WW: What kind of gear do you like to use?
JL: I prefer short scale. In the Dead Weather, I use a Gretsch White Falcon, and it's long scale, so it's a little more challenging. Everyone plays a Gretsch guitar because they were around at the studio -- all these white guitars.
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WW: How did you end up in Nashville together?
Jack: Just me and Jack live here. Alison still lives in London, and Dean lives in Detroit. Jack and I had done a Loretta Lynn album here about six years ago, and we fell in love with Nashville and the South. I was here to get out of Cincinatti for a little bit. The album we worked on was Van Lear Rose. Brendan had talked to her about bringing us in along with Patrick Keeler, who is also in the Raconteurs.
It was great working with Loretta Lynn. When you first hear someone's voice that you recognize so well, and you hear the playback with music you played, it kind of gives you goosebumps. It wasn't a big, fancy Nashville studio. It was recorded at a house in Nashville on tape. [There were] dogs running around. That house is on the cover of the record.