Jack White Explains How The White Stripes Breakup Was ‘The Only Way’ to Start Solo Career

When you have a commercially successful, it’s not an easy task for its individual musicians to make a breakthrough as solo artists. After all, fans might see this as a cash grab and riding the coattails of their previous success. Nonetheless, plenty of musicians have become bigger than their bands, especially if they break up. And although it was difficult for Jack White to distance himself from his work in The White Stripes, he’s now one of the musicians that are spearheading the evolution of guitar-oriented music.

However, in a recent chat with Relix, Jack explained that there was no other way for him to even start a solo career while The White Stripes was still an active band. While he’s not strictly against the idea to have a side project, Jack was too busy being the songwriter in his band, and having a solo career would take up too much of his time and effort. As he explains:

“There was a little bit of worry in my brain about making a solo record while The White Stripes were still an existing band. And so The White Stripes not being an active project anymore, and us announcing that to everybody, was the only way I could actually go over and make solo records at that point. Because I was concerned that people would say, ‘Well, why are you bothering with this? Why don’t you just make a White Stripes record? Why are you insisting on making a split in two different directions?'”

The White Stripes - From the Basement (Official Performance)

“I write the songs in The White Stripes anyway. I just didn’t want people to degrade The White Stripes or degrade the idea of me making my own record under my own name because of that. It seems a little bit trickier when you’re a two-piece band instead of a four-piece band. People just look at it differently. Maybe those worries were all unfounded, but that’s just the way it worked out anyway.”

Despite the band’s breakup, Jack White explains that this was a peaceful transition into his solo career. And there was no bad blood between him and his former duo bandmate Meg White. He said:

“We announced that The White Stripes wasn’t going to be happening anymore, and then I did a solo record. It wasn’t a death in a negative way; it was a positive thing. It was the kind of death where you have a party at the funeral instead of thinking of it as a tragedy.

“We were never beaten down until we were on our last leg or anything like that. It felt like we closed that up while it was feeling incredibly positive. So that was a good thing to transition to — it made me feel comfortable about making a record with my name on it. And then once I finally did that, I almost felt, like, ‘Wow, what took me so long? Why did I wait so long to do this?'”

Photo: Fabio Venni (Jack & Meg, The White Stripes), Raph_PH (Jack White at Rock Werchter 2018 1 (cropped))


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.