Before releasing his new album Entering Heaven Alive on July 22nd, Jack White celebrated early with an exclusive iHeartRadio Album Release Party on Thursday, July 21st. Fans were able to tune into his show from Paris, France, via iHeartRadio's Alternative Radio station and hear Jack perform some of his new music and biggest hits live. In addition to the exclusive live performance, Jack also sat down for a Q&A with ALT 98.7's Booker and Stryker to talk about the new album which follows his April 2022 project Fear of the Dawn.
To kick off the night, Jack opened with a rousing performance of The White Stripes classic "Icky Thump," off the 2007 album of the same name. Fans chanted the seemingly nonsensical yet politically charged lyrics as the rocker and his band ripped through distorted guitar solos. Then, Jack took his fans even further back to 2006 by going straight into the New Wave-y track "Steady, As She Goes," the debut single from his band with Brendan Benson The Raconteurs. The song was featured on the first of their three albums Broken Boy Soldiers.
Booker and Stryker came back on air to ask the musician about his decision to release two new albums just three months apart. "The main reason was the vinyl production," explained Jack, "because it was impossible to produce that much vinyl for two albums and have them come out on the same day. I wanted them to come out on the same day but they said just absolutely not," adding that he would have had to cut the number of records made in half to make a double release possible."
"The albums are vastly different. They're night and day in the coolest way," the hosts said before asking Jack to explain the thought process behind how the albums would roll out since they couldn't be released at once.
"I think everyone kind of thought that after the long wait of the pandemic it would be nice to come out with sort of guns blazing record first and then the next one a gentler record," he said. "It just seemed like it made sense. But then again, these are things that... the songs start sort of dictating it. I had no intention of making two albums and no intention of making that many songs. They just started coming out and coming out and it turned into those two things. Then the vinyl production comes in and the talks about when you're gonna tour and the pandemic was still happening. So, all these things sort of dictate it for you. You don't really get to choose this stuff the way you want to choose."
"What is the normal plan for you throughout your career doing that?" they asked.
"Well, funny thing is that the Fear of the Dawn album, I would almost bet that people look at it and think this is obviously a concept record... I wouldn't argue that. I would say maybe that's true, maybe that's what it is. Did I intend to do that? No, I didn't sit down and intend to do that but things just start evolving and sculpting and you start doing mixes and you do a sequence, for example. And something gets created that you never intended to. Maybe other artists go in with a full intention... I've never done that."
The conversation then moved on to musical influences on Entering Heaven Alive. "It feels like you were listening to [Led] Zeppelin or the Beatles. There's a lot of Paul McCartney feels to it. Do you listen to a lot of things like that and get inspired or is it just that's the mood you're in that day?" prompting Jack to reveal one of his quirks.
"The bad news about me, if you live with me or have to ride in a car with me while I'm working on a record is I can't listen to anything but what I'm working on," he revealed. "I cannot listen to other music or other people's records. I don't want to emulate anything else. I don't want to even think about emulating or copying anything else."
"So does one track inspire another track? Especially on this new album that's coming out?"
"Yeah, there's interesting sort of little connections if people wanted to dig deeper," Jack replied. "One that I think is the most interesting is the first song on Fear of the Dawn is called "Taking Me Back" is a full-on electric, pro-tools, really in-your-face, modern sounding song. And then the last song on the second album is "Taking Me Back Gently" which was done with 1930's microphones and a live jazz band in the room. So it's the exact same song done in two entirely different styles, recorded in two different ways."
Jack gave fans a taste of the new "gentler" album by performing a new broody song, "If I Die Tomorrow." He then followed it up with a previously released track called "Love Is Selfish," an intimate track that Booker and Stryker then asked the artist to explain.
"When I'm writing I'm always trying to write as another person or another character. I always feel like it's boring to write from my perspective. If I can come up with a phrase [like "love is selfish"] where I don't really know what it means because now it gives me a whole plot, a storyline," he said. "I'm an outsider trying to figure out what this story is and what it means exactly. There'll be certain songs where you think I'll never know what the whole point was or what the plot of that storyline was of that song. But I think in that sense people can get more out of it for themselves."
"How much time a day will you put into learning this music that you just put out. I'm always blown away. You just put out two albums within three months! How could you possibly know all of that?"
"If you pay too close attention you'll see me many times singing the wrong verse of a song," he laughed. "But luckily I don't care too much about specifics of that. If I did, I would be kicking myself every night. My memory is not the greatest for things like that."
The hosts then asked about a song they particularly loved, "A Tree On Fire From Within," another track off the new album. "This was nice because I wrote it on the bass guitar and it was something different than writing on piano or electric guitar. So that's where the grooves came from and I saw a photograph of a tree burning from the inside out and I saved it and thought, 'I should think about that.' And yeah that was the genesis of it."
The musician has had a whirlwind year. Not only has he been touring, but he also got engaged and married while preparing to drop two albums. "Oh, so great!"Jack shared. "It feels really nice. I'm finding some great moments of balance between being really calm and really energetic and finding better ways to turn it on immediately. In our business it's a lot of "3, 2, 1, Go! Be interesting!" Sometimes it's a Monday night... and you're like, "You know what, I don't feel like playing guitar right now." And you have to get in a zone immediately to play whatever makes for you at that time and for all the people to get something out of."
Jack definitely gave his audience in Paris something to get out of the performance. The singer closed out the night with his global anthem "Seven Nation Army," which caused the crowd to properly lose their minds. His new album Entering Heaven Alive is available now and you can listen to it here. You can also check out the previous album Fear of the Dawn here.