What was your first reaction when you were asked to be in this documentary?
I’d met Jimmy once, and waved at Jack at an awards show, but I’d never had a proper conversation with either. I thought that, no matter what happened, it was going to be interesting. There was a sense of the unknown.
What was the weirdest moment?
It was the early, more tentative phase, where three of the most well-known guitar players in the world weren’t making a sound that was particularly great. You don’t walk out there and create something great just because you have in the past. And, early on, there wasn’t much to write home about. [Laughs] We did ”Bullet the Blue Sky” for a second, and it was like, ”Whoa, this is really not going anywhere.” Then, when we played ”In My Time of Dying,” slowly you just see people relaxing. There’s a certain spark at the end of that session where a little bit of magic comes through.
Is Loud just for guitar geeks?
It’s not a guitar players’ documentary. It will appeal to anybody interested in the creative process. Davis Guggenheim [the director, who also helmed An Inconvenient Truth] managed to avoid all the awful clichés. Spinal Tap is the nightmare scenario. In the wrong hands, the subject matter could become farcical, nerdy, and not interesting.
Got a favorite White Stripes song?
”Seven Nation Army” is amazing. I wrote this sketch of a song, which I was really excited about. I went over to my brother’s house and told him, ”Dik, I gotta play you this new tune!” After about 16 bars he says, ”Edge, that is ‘Seven Nation Army.”’ I said, ”What? Get out of here! Is not!” I went back and listened, and it wasn’t exactly, but it was way too close. I played it for Jack, and he was like, ”Mmm, it’s a bit close, isn’t it?”
U2’s tour hits the U.S. next week. What should we expect?
For years we’ve been trying to figure out a way to make those big stadiums more intimate. So with this new production design, the stage is [at least] a hundred feet closer to the back of the stadium. And we’ve created these ramps that go into the center of the crowd, so we’re able to make that connection with the audience. We are constantly evolving our live show, because if you get too strict about the format, it just starts to lose the sense of spontaneity and jeopardy: that it can go anywhere.
For a Q&A with Jimmy Page and Jack White, go to ew.com/loud