May 31, 2014


Jack White Makes Statement Regarding Black Keys Diss

Mary Ellen Matthews
Mary Ellen Matthews

WELL. The dust has settled on the comments Jack White made to Rolling Stone about the Black Keys in their current cover story--namely, that Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney wouldn't have a musical leg to stand on without the White Stripes--and White's kicking it up again with an "apology and explanation" about his remarks.

To refresh: Jack White and the Black Keys are not friends. At all. Jack White and Meg White, his ex-wife and former bandmate in the White Stripes, don't speak. Jack White discussed the acrimony between himself, the Black Keys, Meg and more in the Rolling Stone feature currently on stands, but the Black Keys comments were particularly cutting given the longstanding feud between the two bands. 

Now, White isn't so much as apologizing for his stance on the Black Keys, Meg and the other musicians he name-checked in the piece, but explaining it. He posted an "apology and explanation" to his website this morning, referring to the leaked emails that brought the whole White vs. Keys spat to a head in the first place.

"I felt in a way forced into talking about very private opinions of mine that are very much in the realm of 'behind the curtain' show business conversations, and things to do with my own family and friends," writes White. "These are things I never talked about publicly, but through the actions of lawyers trying to villainize me in a private legal scenario, my private letters were made public for reasons I still don’t understand. They contained comments that were part of a much bigger scenario that is difficult to elaborate on, and also one that I really shouldn’t have to explain as it was personal and private in nature."

White goes on to wish the Black Keys--and everyone associate with them and their music, including Danger Mouse--well: "There are a lot of things that only people around me can know about or understand, but despite all of that I want to say this: I wish the band the Black Keys all the success that they can get. I hope the best for their record label Nonesuch who has such a proud history in music, and in their efforts to bring the Black Keys songs to the world. I hope for massive success also for their producer and songwriter Danger Mouse and for the other musicians that their band employs. Lord knows that I can tell you myself how hard it is to get people to pay attention to a two piece band with a plastic guitar, so any attention that the Black Keys can get in this world I wish it for them, and I hope their record stays in the top ten for many months and they have many more successful albums in their career."

As for the context of White's on-the-record commentary, he claims that the intricacies of musical jargon were essentially lost on the reporter, which changed the intention of his words: "Remarks I’ve made about the state of the music business and about how certain acts create new markets in the minds of music lovers are also very difficult to clarify without exacerbating the issue. In an attempt to not give the music magazine Rolling Stone a 'no comment,' because I thought they would use that to convey some sort of pettiness on my part, I decided to try to explain a tiny portion of what they were asking. But, they are the type of comments that are to be made to producers, engineers, and managers who thoroughly understand the behind-the-scenes of what we do all day long. I should’ve been smarter to know that it would be pointless to use comparisons like I did to readers who most likely don’t understand the scenario and that my words would seem very negative in nature. That’s not me trying to sound like I’m above anyone, it was just 'shop talk' and it sounded a lot more negative than it was meant to." (Cue the eye-rolls of a zillion producers, engineers and managers who read the Rolling Stone profile and "understood" White perfectly.)

The original comments made to RS

"There are kids at school who dress like everybody else, because they don't know what to do, and there are musicians like that, too. I'll hear TV commercials where the music's ripping off sounds of mine, to the point I think it's me. Half the time, it's the Black Keys ... The other half, it's a sound-alike song because they couldn't license one of mine. There's a whole world that's totally fine with the watered-down version of the original ... Some people will hear that and say 'Oh, Jack White thinks he's the first person to play the blues.' But certain acts open up a market for a certain style. Amy Winehouse: Did she invent white soul? Wearing a beehive? No. But she did something brand new and fresh, altogether as a package, and you see who's in her wake, from the Duffys to the Lana Del Reys," he says. "Adele selling 20 million records? That would not have happened if Amy Winehouse was alive. The White Stripes did the same thing, and in our absence, you're gonna find someone to fill that. And you get a band like the Black Keys, who said they never heard of the White Stripes? Sure."