It’s taken him more than 20 years, but Jack White is finally heading south.
White – founding member of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather and the label Third Man Records – has added a one-off New Zealand concert in Christchurch to The Pacific Rim Leg of The Supply Chain Issues Tour.
White will perform at the Christchurch Town Hall on Monday, 21 November. It’s his only New Zealand gig this tour and the first time he has performed a concert in the South Island.
RNZ Music 101’s Charlotte Ryan spoke to Jack White earlier this week while he was on tour in Oklahoma City.
The White Stripes were a key part of the “garage rock” revival of the early 2000s, with low-fi jagged hits like Seven Nation Army and Fell In Love With A Girl. They played around Auckland and Wellington many times early in their career – even at local schools.
Since The White Stripes disbanded in 2011, White has embarked on an eclectic solo career, and has put out two albums this year – the mostly acoustic Entering Heaven Alive and the rowdier, more electric Fear Of The Dawn.
White will be swinging through Aotearoa after playing dates in places like Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea, none of which he’s played before.
“A normal earthling would be incredibly wiped out at this point and giving up and asking for mercy.
“But whatever planet I came from or whatever time period they sent me here from, I’ve got different blood in my veins.
“I’m joking, of course,” White said, laughing.
Each show is different and the set list changes from night to night.
“It’s been very exciting but you have to constantly keep reevaluating and pushing yourself as to what you’re doing.
“The other side of the coin would be sort of phoning it in, giving up and making every show the same. That’s not very hard.”
White said he really wanted to reach out to places he’s never been in his more than 20-year career.
Other than Japan, “I’ve never played in Asia or Africa or the Middle East,” he said, noting that it is hard to arrange shows in those countries and the costs can be much higher to get there.
“I really want to play those places, I want to go to those places just any way.
“I don’t even know if there are any fans in Vietnam or Sri Lanka that would even like any of my music. I have no idea because I’ve never been.
“Whenever you visit smaller places, the cool thing is people are very happy anybody came to this strange part of the world that they’re in.”
The two new albums spun out of pandemic-enforced isolation, but while they share similar vibes, they’re also distinct works.
“It’s a bit like the Beatles, Revolver and Rubber Soul. I think I heard George Harrison say that those could almost be two discs in a double album and that maybe feels the same way with this.
“This could almost have been a double album in a way but it decided on its own that it kind of wanted to be two different records.”
On tour, White will take in his solo work, his White Stripes years, and his other bands The Raconteurs and Dead Weather.
“Anything I’ve been a part of is fair game.
“Somebody told me that so far I think we’ve played like 70 shows this year and I think someone told me that we’ve played over 120 different songs so far.
“You know, you only have to play 15 or so songs and it could be the same set every night.”
The tour is called Supply Chain Issues, which White said is a bit of a joke about how difficult it was to put things together the past couple of years.
“It seemed like it was the number one excuse where ever we’d go during the pandemic … We don’t have any, you know, supply chain issues.”
While it’s the first time White has played the South Island, he’s no stranger to New Zealand, having performed a lot further up north.
“We had several people from New Zealand in our crew early on in the White Stripes, John Baker from Auckland was our tour manager, and we had several people from New Zealand who worked with us for years.”
“Every time we have been in the North Island I have always tried to figure out some scheme to get to the South Island and we never could.
“This is basically a whole scheme to me to play all these dates in the Pacific just because it’s been 20 years of trying to make it happen. I’m so glad it’s finally going to happen.”
He’s hoping that as the Christchurch stop comes at the end of this leg of the world tour, he might get a chance to linger.
“I can’t wait to get there, New Zealand is like paradise on earth to me.”