The Raconteurs Are a Real Band

The Raconteurs Are a Real Band
Two important things to know about the Raconteurs: they are not Jack White’s side-project, and the White Stripes have not split up. The Raconteurs are a coalition between good friends from Detroit who meant to start a band together years ago. Each member — White and Brendan Benson joined by Greenhornes’ Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler — considers this a band.

According to White, the Raconteurs were a product of boredom and little preparation. "It may have just come out of us having nothing to do that day,” he says. "I think we were all curious to know what we’d sound like if we all got together; we’d been talking about doing it for years, so I don’t think any one of us wanted to interfere with that process by trying to dictate what it should be like. We just let it happen. The plan was to see what would unfold.”

The notion that it was full-time, though, came as they moved along and developed the Raconteurs’ sound. "I think it just built up over time,” says White. "Me, Patrick and Jack were on Loretta Lynn’s album [Van Lear Rose], which I think was a side-project because we knew it was only going to be one record and that was it. That kind of falls under the term ‘project’ to me. But this album feels like we’re a band. To us it’s a band — a brand new one. We hope that people look at it the way we do. The best way we can do that is to get out and play for people and really show them that it’s not a side-project.”

Spending the last eight years writing for the Stripes, White found his role as co-writer of the Raconteurs’ debut full-length, Broken Boy Soldiers, a nice digression. A partnership with Brendan Benson — the established popsmith in the band — helped give them a pertinent Lennon/ McCartney balance. "It’s nice to be able to bounce ideas off someone else and a lot of times if you’re stuck, the other guy can pick it up,” Benson says. "You inspire and motivate each other.”

You can certainly distinguish Benson’s pure, power pop influence on the saccharine "Intimate Secretary” from "Broken Boy Solider,” which showcases White’s signature blues-infused garage rock; the Greenhornes’ own amalgam of both sides, respectfully gives the middle ground boost the two need.

But Benson, for one, feels the collaborative effort isn’t as cut and dry as it appears — a point best felt on the frenzied "Store Bought Bones,” which feels like their purest example of teamwork. "You’d be surprised. I think maybe we each felt a certain degree of anonymity knowing that we could almost pay homage to the other person in a way,” he admits. "I know, at times, I was almost doing impressions of Jack. I’m a big fan of the White Stripes and it was a chance to get into his world a little bit.”

White’s world is no doubt the predominant one to newcomers of the band, but Keeler believes fans will give the Raconteurs their fair share of respect. "I think it’s a natural thing for people to compare things to other things, because there’s no way that something new could come out,” he says sarcastically. "People are entitled to their own opinions, but I think we’re all up there together and the people who are [at shows] are there to see a band.”