Posts Tagged ‘Third Man Recordings’

It’s 4:20 p.m., Central Time, and Brendan Benson is a little nervous. He’s been practicing and is about to go live for whoever will listen. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Benson was preparing to release his seventh album, “Dear Life”Instead, he’s home in Nashville,  Coincidentally, Benson does feel like he’s trapped in some sort of illusory, encapsulated dream, but “Boy in a Bubble” is the moniker for his Instagram Live series, an essential reprieve from the coronavirus lockdown.

“It’s something to do every day and something to prepare for,” says Benson. “A lot of times, I have to pick the song and learn it, and I get nervous, so it’s a kind of whole arc to my day. It’s a great way to break up the day and the monotony. If I didn’t have this, I think I’d be going fucking crazy.”

Benson, founding guitarist and co-writer for the Jack White–led troupe The Raconteurs, hasn’t gone stir crazy (yet) thanks to IG live—broadcasting with special guests or just going solo—but being home with his seven-year-old daughter Adeline and nine-year-old son Declan has its challenges. He’s living through what most parents are facing during the shut-in. “The rest of my family are going crazy,” says Benson. “Kids need your attention twenty-four hours a day from the second you wake up—like, before you wake up. We’re doing OK, though. It’s a good chance for us to get closer.”

Playing tracks off Dear Life, as well as older songs—even leaving his 1996 debut One Mississippi open for more exploration—Benson is just warming up for when life gets back to normal and he can tour again. His first release since 2013’s You Were Right, Dear Life is Benson’s transfixion on domestic life, relationships, and the realization of his mortality. For nearly five years, Benson was hanging on to Dear Life since he started writing it. Then, The Raconteurs had regrouped, and he stepped back into the band’s third album and first in eleven years Help Us Stranger in 2019. “I stopped, I did The Raconteurs album, but I was really anxious to get this record out,” says Benson. “Then, this fucking virus hits.”

The road leading to the album has had its U-turns and swerves. It was even birthed from a complete upheaval of Benson’s Readymade Studios, which he started in 2012. When he was forced to vacate the studio after the building where it was housed was sold and converted into a parking lot, Benson was forced to pack up all of his equipment and put it in storage. Left without a place to record, he created a makeshift studio in his home, at first experimenting without guitar and drums and more software and drum machines, which all have their place on Dear Life, dusted over sharp riffs and penetrating lyrics on the knowns and unknowns in life.

Sequenced by Jack White, Dear Life drives down a winding road of reflection—good and bad, fear or moments of tranquility—that only Benson could steer, from frenetic opener “I Can If You Want Me To” to the more elevated “Good to Be Alive.”

Reflecting on family life, “Richest Man,” which received an animated video treatment by New York cartoonist Michael Wartella, Benson confronts his fear of dying as matter-of-factly as he can singing “I gave you your name, but you gave me my life … And after I’m gone, you’ll carry on / And then you’ll have a family of your own.” Exploring domesticity and the delicacy of life, Benson covers all corners of emotion, gently crooning the title track through airy “Baby’s Eyes,” the latter the only Dear Life track that features a co-writer and outside musicians, including Dynamites drummer Jon Radford, and on to a more enraged “Freak Out.”

Opening up about family, life, and death is also something new for Benson, but it’s been lingering on his mind more since having children. “I don’t think I ever thought much about my mortality, so it’s kind of come as a shock I guess,” he says. “When my kids were born, I think, is when I started to fear death. I started getting afraid of leaving them. I was just confronted all of a sudden with, ‘Holy shit, I’m not going to be here forever.’ Your kids keep growing up and they keep getting older. I’m seeing it and I’m like, ‘Stop!’”

He jokes that he’s aging slowly, but there’s still a nostalgia as he gets older. It’s something Benson, now 49, just can’t shake. “When you have a family, you start thinking about life and death and what happens when you leave,” he says. “I think it’s something that I’m still thinking about. It’s something that is new to me as well.”

Departing from the core subjects, “Evil Eyes” confronts a plethora of toxic relationships. “Let’s just say it’s a composite,” says Benson. “Maybe it’s different people—not necessarily all female, or a girlfriend, either.” On “I Quit,” Benson borrows from Peggy Lee’s melancholy 1969 hit “Is That All There Is?” “It’s sort of an homage, but otherwise it’s just one of those songs that kind of came out exactly as you hear it,” says Benson. “There are no chord changes. It’s just, like, three chords over and over, and lyrics that are sort of improv or freestyle, and impromptu.” Generally, songs evolve over time for Benson since he says he’s not fully cognizant when he’s writing. “I think I’m half conscious when I’m writing songs,” he says. “It’s not like consciousness. It’s like I’m speaking in tongues. It’s not some sort of, like, meditative state where I’m channeling or tapping into my deepest feelings, and I understand it, and I can sort of transcribe it in this poetic way. It’s mostly meandering thoughts.”

Song meanings tend to come later on. It’s as if he’s unconsciously confessing or revealing things as he goes along. “What’s interesting about this record is that when I look back on it, having been so out of it while writing it, it’s all really kind of focused,” says Benson. “It turns out it’s a lot about life and death and family, you know, so I did it sort of unconsciously.”

Writing for himself is one thing. He’s acclimated to his own, internal cacophony of fragmented words and melodies. Unconscious or not, it’s his own sinuous process. He’s tried working the Nashville co-writing thing but says he’s not that good at it. “I don’t think people are using producers really anymore, so it just doesn’t pay the bills,” says Benson. “I kind of screwed myself, because I left my solo career by the wayside.”

Writing for The Raconteurs is another thing. “We’re meant to write together,” says Benson. “It’s easy. We don’t talk about it. We don’t analyze it. We just know what sounds good, or cool, like, ‘Oh yeah, that sounds like it belongs in the song.’ [Jack] understands when I go meandering, and he gets it.” Now, Benson has a record he wants everyone to hear. “I’m having to start over,” he says. “The Raconteurs helps a little, but it doesn’t help as much as people think, because people don’t know me from The Raconteurs. They know Jack. Brendan Benson is not a household name.”

It’s also Benson’s first album on Third Man Recordings, which he says was a “no-brainer.” He’s not sure why he never worked with White’s label prior to Dear Life, but admits he may have been too proud to ask. “I didn’t want to ride his coattails, but it just makes sense now, because there are no labels left,” says Benson. “And he’s really good at it.”

Benson is ready for Dear Lifeand admits that he hasn’t felt this proud of one of his albums since 2002’s LapalcoI think I made it for all the right reasons,” he says. “Those reasons were just for the fun of it, and the enjoyment of it, and the therapy of it—not because I had to contractually, or because it was expected, or that it’s been too long since my last record. It just comes straight from the heart.”

In the meantime, as he waits for the world to open back up, he’ll remain a Boy in a Bubble.

“It keeps me sharp,” says Benson of his ongoing IG Live sessions. “Usually when I go on tour I have to learn a bunch of new songs, or ones that I’ve forgotten. This way, I’m kind of just keeping them fresh. When we get out of this, whenever this is over, or when things open up and we get out of jail five years from now, I’ll be ready.”

Jonathan Fire Eater

With Lizzy Goodman’s recent in-depth account of the life and death of Jonathan Fire*Eater—among many, many other tales of drama in NYC’s garage rock revival scene spanning the mid-’90s to the mid-’00s—many of us have become aware of just how influential the Stewart Lupton–led band was on the rebirth of palatable rock music in an era of perverted grunge and jaded nu metal. Despite giving rise to bands like The Strokes, Interpol, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs (and without Lupton, going on to form The Walkmen with Hamilton Leithauser), the group’s three years’ worth of music has regrettably gone virtually unheard in the present day.


As usual, this is where Jack White and Third Man Records come in, who’ll be restoring and re-releasing the band’s 1996 EP “Tremble Under Boom Lights” next month. In addition to the record’s five mostly unheard tracks, the package will include five more almost entirely unheard recordings, offering up the original EP’s opener “The Search for Cherry Red” ,which marks the first time ever it’s been made available digitally. It will also be the first time in over 20 years that it’s been pressed on vinyl.

The forthcoming reissue will feature five bonus cuts, including the previously unreleased ‘In the Head’, which is believed to be the last record Jonathan Fire*Eater ever recorded together before they disbanded in 1998. Third Man will also be dropping a book of the late Lupton’s poems, featuring intros from JFE and The Walkmen’s Walter Martin and The Kills’ Alison Mosshart.

Both items are out October 18 via Third Man Recordings.

Image may contain: 1 person, on stage, playing a musical instrument and night

Jack White and Brendan Benson of the Raconteurs admitted they couldn’t pinpoint when the band got back together – but recalled that their first show in eight years had been a “rough” affair that nevertheless left them feeling “exhilarated.”

White, Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler hit the stage together bck in April to mark the the 10th anniversary of White’s label Third Man Records. They later confirmed a North American tour to promote their new album, “Help Us Stranger”, which is released on June 21st.

The reunion appears to have been fueled by White’s creation of the song “Shine the Light on Me,” which he felt didn’t work with any other project he had and sounded like a Racounteurs track. “Just the mention of it – The Raconteurs – jolted me a bit,” Benson said in a new interview. “And then a couple years passed.”

White remembered taking “baby steps” towards any kind of reunion, and also that a full album had never been part of the plan. “The first step for any act in that position would be to have some kind of meeting with a manager and plan out your whole year, like, ‘Hey, we’re going to make an album and tour and start booking festival dates,’ and you haven’t even recorded a song yet,” he reported. “You could very easily fall into those traps in the music business if you’re not careful. So we just got together a couple times and said, ‘Let’s see what happens.’ … but the songs came out really fast and that was a great sign.”

With the new LP in the can, the band regrouped for the Third Man show. “It was a little rough,” Benson said, noting that it was also the first time he’d performed sober in the group. “But it felt good. It was just one of those moments where afterward, we were all very exhilarated and stoked about the future.” That led to more shows and then the North American tour. “We don’t sit around and discuss a plan; we just roll with it,” he added. “We just do what we do – for better or for worse.”

their forthcoming album “HELP US STRANGER” – out June 21st.

The Raconteurs have announced a new album, “Help Us Stranger”, It’s their first new album in 11 years, since their 2008-released second album, Consolers of the Lonely. “Help Us Stranger” is due out June 21st via Third Man Recordings. No new music accompanies the album announcement, but it includes the remixed and remastered versions of two songs the band shared back in December: “Sunday Driver” and “Now That You’re Gone”.

The band features Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence, and Patrick Keeler. The Raconteurs formed in 2005 and released their debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers, in 2006. Lawrence and Keeler were also in The Greenhornes and Lawrence has also played with White in The Dead Weather. Benson is known as a solo artist and of course so is White, who released a new solo album, Boarding House Reach, in 2018 via Third Man and Columbia. The band is known as The Saboteurs in Australia, due to another band down under named The Raconteurs.

Jack White and Brendan Benson wrote all the tracks, except for “Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness),” which is a Donovan cover. The Raconteurs produced the album, which was recorded at Third Man Studio in Nashville, TN, and engineered by Joshua V. Smith. Vance Powell and The Raconteurs mixed the album at Blackbird Studios in Nashville. The album also features keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Dean Fertita (The Dead Weather, Queens of the Stone Age), as well as Lillie Mae Rische and her sister Scarlett Rische.

A special Third Man Vault edition of the album will include the album on 180-gram marble vinyl and a 7-inch featuring early demo recordings of “Help Me Stranger” and “Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying),” as well as a Raconteurs bandana designed by Keeler and an exclusive Raconteurs slip mat.

The Raconteurs Announce First New Album in 11 Years, “Help Us Stranger” Due Out June 21 via Third Man Reordings.

Third Man is happy to announce the contents of our 30th Vault package, our final offering of 2016. This time around we wanted to showcase something special from every one of Jack White’s wide berth of musical projects, as well as some really cool extras from a pretty special event that fans were able to catch a glimpse of during Sunday’s Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown Nashville episode, but weren’t able to hear in full. We got so excited putting this package together we decided to break with tradition and offer 2 full LPs for the first time.

Live at Disgraceland: From Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown LP
Anthony Bourdain and his team descended on Nashville hungry for culture and knowledge (as well as hot chicken, tasting plates, and tequila); they visited every nook and cranny of this town, hung with the locals, ate like czars, partied like rock stars, and woke up every morning fresh as daisies and ready to do it again. Parts Unknown does not come to your city in order to present a slide show of tourist spots and magazine cover spreads. Bourdain wants to understand what makes a city tick. He has a knack for getting down to the marrow of how a town’s denizens think and live, why they do what they do in their community, and how that relates to the country at large in this time and place, Earth 2016. This is a man after our own heart and we were so happy to welcome him into our world for a few, too-short days. Their time here culminated with a rager of party at Disgraceland (location… unknown) where The Dead Weather, The Kills, and William Tyler all played jaw dropping electric live sets, living room style, to a house full of well-fed, newly tattooed, appreciative friends. Wish you could have been there? Wish granted: we present the night’s musical entertainment in full for your listening pleasure…

The Dead Weather
1. Hang You From The Heavens
2. Gasoline
3. I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)

The Kills
1. Heart of a Dog
2. Impossible Tracks
3. Whirling Eye

William Tyler
1.We Can’t Go Home Again
2. I’m Gonna Liver Forever (If it Kills Me)
3. Area Code 601

Listen to a clip of “Gasoline” from the Dead Weather’s set below…

The Raconteurs – Live at Irving Plaza NYC April 7th 2006 LP
It’s been just over ten years since the first Raconteurs show on American soil. This release celebrates that momentous occasion with another hard slab of wax from the infamous Third Man Records tape vaults. Featuring cover art inspired by the original concert poster by long time visual collaborator Rob Jones, and featuring a set of songs that would prove to be classics, this album is a solid testament to the early fury and energy of those nascent and exciting times when The Raconteurs were first introduced to the world on the live stage.

Full set list:

Intimate Secretary
Steady, As She Goes
Store Bought Bones
Call It A Day
Yellow Sun
Broken Boy Soldier
Five on the Five
It Ain’t Easy
Blue Veins

Jack White / The White Stripes Double A-Side split 7″ “Love is the Truth (acoustic mix)” b/w “City Lights”
Two previously unheard, beautiful, and haunting Jack White compositions recently released on the Jack White Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016 compilation paired together for this Vault only blue and red splatter 7″ vinyl in a heavy paper stock sleeve. This will be the only physical version of this 7″ available… ever.