Jack White’s gothic blues quartet (featuring the Kills’ frontwoman Alison Mosshart, Queens of the Stone Age’s Dean Fertita, and The Raconteurs’ Jack Lawrence) began work on its third album in late 2013. They even released a couple of singles. But sessions were soon derailed by, as Mosshart says, “everyone having 900 other jobs.”
Mosshart and her Kills cohort Jamie Hince keep a brutal tour schedule and were spending down time in the studio, working on their fifth full-length. Fertita has been out with QOTSA in support of their 2013 release …Like Clockwork, as well as on White’s epic string of dates for Lazaretto (he replaced White’s touring keyboardist Isaiah “Ikey” Owens in 2014 after Owens died from a heart attack while on tour in Mexico). White, outside of that tour, which wrapped with an acoustic set in Fargo, North Dakota, has been setting up Third Man Records’ Detroit outpost, filming documentaries, reissuing Elvis’ first ever recording on vinyl, and doing that whole Tidal thing — which is to say, his dance card’s been full.
“We did a lot of ‘three days here,’ ‘four days there’ whenever we were in town,” Mosshart says of how Dodge and Burn was finally completed in the band’s mutually adopted hometown of Nashville. “So we basically just skipped 2014,” she jokes. “And as per usual with the Dead Weather, it was written and recorded at the same time. There’s not a lot of thought put into the writing of the music, it’s really just a human, organic explosion. Everyone starts playing at the same time and we start writing lyrics at the same time — just making stuff up and singing.”
What they’ve “made up” is 12 tracks of heavy guitar riffs, heavier grooves, and vivid tales of ne’er do wells. Particular highlights include the howling and most recent single, “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles),” the pulsing “Let Me Through” which has Mosshart playing the shifty villain, shouting “I’m a bad man, let me through” between White’s crashing symbols and Fertita’s spastic riffage, and the maniacal “Three Dollar Hat” that has White and Mosshart trading scorching turns at the mic, telling the tale of trigger-happy Jackie Lee whose always shooting people with his .33. Like we said, heavy.
Like their two previous albums, there’s a freeness you don’t hear on any of their respective other projects. Kills’ music is painstakingly crafted. Mosshart calls it “a really long-winded process of endless programming and stylizing and really pouring over the words.” White, of course, has a well-documented capacity for detail that shines most in his solo work but also in The Raconteurs.
Perhaps it’s a result of that unique recording process Mosshart touched on above or maybe it’s the relationship the four of them share. “It’s a magical thing, finding people you can play music with effortlessly like that, I look at all these songs as a gift and I think, ‘How in the hell have I wandered upon this twice in my life? Mosshart says of the gig. Either way, “It’s art, isn’t it?” Mosshart shrugs. “I don’t always know where it comes from, but I trust it. If I ever wake up one day and totally understand it, I might get a little bored.”
The group, because of those 900 jobs, have no current plans to tour. Of course it raises the question as to why they’d release the music now at all, but getting an answer from some of rock’s most beguiling characters is to take the fun out of it altogether.
Dodge and Burn is out via Third Man Records on Sept. 25. It is available for pre-order.