Jack White pulled double duty on Wednesday’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, serving as musical guest and sitting for an interview. The multi-hyphenate singer, guitarist, Third Man Records co-founder, and part-time upholsterer performed “What’s The Trick?” from his new album, Fear Of The Dawn.
Strutting out onto The Ed Sullivan Theater stage to meet host Stephen Colbert, White acknowledged his reluctance toward TV interviews, saying Wednesday’s appearance was “a tax-related obligation.” Immediately illustrating why White does so few interviews, the show quickly devolved into a living Progressive commercial where Colbert was compelled to address the blue-haired elephant in the room.
“If you stick out your tongue you’re the American flag: red, white, and blue,” Colbert quipped. “Or the French flag.”
It was soon on to business, as Colbert ran through White’s recent achievements including his proposal and marriage to Olivia Jean at his The Supply Chain Issues world tour opener in his Detroit hometown earlier this month. That momentous performance at the Masonic Temple came hours after White delivered a blistering slide-guitar rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” to open the Detroit Tigers‘ season at Comerica Park. Colbert, White, and Jean had previously collaborated in 2011 on the single, “Charlene II (I’m Over You)“, with Jean’s band The Black Belles.
Though he has burst out of quarantine with two albums—Entering Heaven Alive is out July 22nd—lockdown was a relatively quiet time for the normally prodigious White.
“We didn’t know how long lockdown was going to be,” White explained. “Well there’s no touring, so I kind of thought I don’t want to write songs, and then they don’t come out for a year and a half or something, I thought maybe I will have already moved on in my mind. So I thought why don’t I just take a break from writing? I hadn’t done that in a while.”
With his newfound free time, White instead made furniture. His roots in the upholstery business are actually what inspired the name behind Third Man Records, as growing up, his family was the “third man” on Ferdinand street to practice upholstery.
After diving into some “upholstery esoterica,” as well as revealing that he co-owns the Warstick baseball bat company, the subject turned to Prince. Third Man Records is gearing up to release The Purple One’s long-shelved 1986 album, Camille. White recalled the one time he met Prince, whom he modestly referred to as “a pretty good musician.” At an after-party, Prince told White, “Don’t let anyone tell you how to play your guitar, Jack.”
White teased another appearance on Colbert come July when Entering Heaven Alive hits shelves, allowing Colbert the chance for one last dad joke, “What color will the hair be then?”
Following the interview, White turned in a performance of “What’s The Trick?” The sludgy rock n’ roll number took jarring detours into hip-hop, funk, and more as his backing band found openings throughout the stop-start song.
Watch Jack White sit for an interview with Stephen Colbert as well as perform “What’s The Trick?” White is currently out on tour, performing tonight, April 21st, at New York, NY’s Barclay’s Center. For tickets and a full list of dates click here.
“Don’t Let Anyone Tell You How To Play Your Guitar, Jack” – Prince’s Advice For Jack White
Jack White – “What’s The Trick?”