Interview: Jack Lawrence -- The Belleville-Born Bassist for The Dead Weather -- Talks Its New Album

Categories: Interviews

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The Dead Weather debuts in St. Louis this weekend
The Dead Weather's résumé is stellar: The quartet features White Stripes/Raconteurs figurehead Jack White, Kills vocalist Alison Mosshart, Queens of the Stone Age's Dean Fertita and Raconteurs/Greenhornes member Jack Lawrence. Together, the musicians meld and subvert genres - shuddering blues, lusty electro, ominous jazz, stylized cabaret noir and bellowing classic rock - in creepy, sexy and cool ways. (Just take a listen to its scrambled, chaotic cover of Gary Numan's new-wave classic "Are Friends Electric?" for proof.) The quartet debuted a little over a year ago and released its debut, Horehound, last July. Surprisingly, its sophomore release, Sea of Cowards - which was recorded in Nashville at White's studio -- is already finished and will be in stores on May 11. If lead single "Die By the Drop" is any indication, fans of the band don't have to worry about a sophomore slump.

The Dead Weather's Saturday appearance at the Pageant marks its first show in St. Louis - and will function as a homecoming of sorts for bassist/jack-of-all-trades Lawrence. The musician was born in Belleville, Illinois, and lived there until the age of six; his dad is an East St. Louis native who worked on the railroad, specifically Chessie System (which later merged into CSX). When reached via phone, the soft-spoken Lawrence was in Nashville outside an antiques store, while his wife shopped inside.

Annie Zaleski: You have a new album coming out already. Was it written concurrently with Horehound? How did it come about?
Jack Lawrence: It kind of came while we were touring. We were taking some breaks in between touring, whenever we had time to record. This band's really great; we just keep coming up with song after song. It comes from us really inspiring each other.

I guess the big question everyone wants to know: How is the new music comparing to Horehound?
It's a little more aggressive this time. I don't know if that was just from being on the road, or touring and writing it, or just figuring out how to work with each other, maybe? The first album was the first time we really just were together playing. This time we've had a little more time to learn from each other. The songs...some of them are heavier, there's a song off it that's kinda...I don't know, a little more soul, almost?

What's your favorite song so far? Do you have one?
It's always changing, but one that we've been playing live, "Hustle and Cuss." I've been liking that one. It changes a lot. We have a song on there that could be a hit song - except no one's really talking about it for a single, which is strange. The only people that really have mentioned it so far have been a couple of Japanese reporters.

"Die By the Drop" stood out to me, because it seemed like it has a way more focused groove. Immediately, I was like, "Whoa." That aggression makes sense, then, because it's definitely very in-your-face, pulsating-in-your-chest type of thing.
I think that was just coming from being on tour and wanting to play more of those kind of things for the crowd. It seems like the audience wants a little more of that. However it happened, I think Dean [Fertita] started writing that riff for the chorus and we all just chimed in with other parts. That's just really how that one came about.

All told, how long did it take you guys to record Cowards?
I'd say three weeks total. It was here and there a few days, we really...we came back and finished most of it through December and January. Alison's been recording with the Kills during the same time, so she'd go with them a couple weeks and then come back with us.

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