Jack White is rock’s foremost old soul. But though he sings the praises of forgotten bluesmen and the merits of analog recording equipment, and rails against seemingly every digital innovation of the past 25 years, he admits an appreciation for a few tokens of the 21st Century, like Kanye West.
As he reveals in an upcoming profile for Rolling Stone, White was at one point excited to work with the contentious rapper, but plans never materialised. West reportedly asked White to collaborate on his 2013 album Yeezus, but never followed up, leaving White to simply admire Yeezy’s live shows.
“That might have been the greatest show I’ve seen in my life,” White tells the magazine of West’s acclaimed 2013 arena tour in support of his divisive sixth album – which was originally slated to arrive in Australia this month. “It was more punk, more in-your-face than anything I’ve seen.”
White even gushes about disco vanguards Daft Punk, calling them “amazing,” and follows-up on comments made in 2010 regarding a collaboration with Jay-Z. At the time, White described the unreleased tracks as “unbelievable-sounding,” but now reveals that he’s “not sure [Jay] liked them.”
He himself is not a fan of the “fucking texting thing,” especially at concerts. “People can’t clap anymore, because they’ve got a fucking texting thing in their fucking hand, and probably a drink, too!” he says. “Some musicians don’t care about this stuff, but I let the crowd tell me what to do.”
“There’s no set list,” he continues. “I’m not just saying the same things I said in Cleveland last night. If they can’t give me that energy back? Maybe I’m wasting my time.” White is self-aware when it comes to his curmudgeonly outlook, even comparing himself to one of history’s great malcontents.
“I’m very much like Larry David in my everyday,” he says. “Complaining about, you know, why they make shoelaces so much longer than they need to be.” White says if he’s in a social situation where someone tells an off-colour joke, “I’ll be the only one to laugh, just to ease the tension in the room.”
Listen: Jack White – Just One Drink