GQ: I’ve always felt challenged by your resistance to modern trappings. Has having a family changed your experience around technology and modernity? You’ve told me in the past that a lot of the stuff that most of us surround ourselves with makes you uncomfortable.
Jack White: I was raised by pretty much senior citizens. My parents were pretty old. We had ten kids. They were into a lot of older things. I remember listening to Nat King Cole, Roger Miller, and Gene Krupa, and I was in a neighborhood where nobody was listening to any of that stuff, and they never would. It was weird to be on my front porch playing guitar, and to have people walk by and making fun of me, throwing rocks and shit. You sort of get this defiance like, Okay, a lot of people aren’t into this stuff. But there was always this temptation, like two people on your shoulder, and one of them’s saying, “Jack, just go along and like what they like. You’ll have more friends, it’ll be an easier time, you’ll be happier.” Then on the other side of me there’s that stiff upper lip, like, “No, I like this, and I’m going to keep liking it. I’m not gonna change just because they want me to.” That whole battle. And maybe I started that battle in my head. Maybe I imagine that battle in my head. Maybe I create it when it’s not there, just so that I know how to work. I don’t know.
GQ: Does having a family, where it’s not just you in your head anymore, change that?
Jack White: Like, kids, you mean? You know, honest to God, I don’t think about ‘em when I’m working. There’s a time and a place for that. I don’t think about my mom when I’m onstage, you know? I just don’t really think about my kids when I’m working, and when we press stop and I walk outside, they’re the first things I think about. Even when Karen and I worked on a record together, we never thought about that we were husband and wife. We never talked about it, never did anything where I said, “Uh, I wish we weren’t having this conversation right now, because we’re supposed to be working on a record…” We never had that; it was time to work. And we never said it, either, which is a good sign, you know? That means things were happening on their own, naturally, for the right reasons.
GQ: And you’re both equally focused.
Jack White: Yeah. That was sort of a test, when I look back on it, for the studio, and for me as a producer, to get through something like that and have it come out the other end and be pure. It’s hard to do, man, work with your wife, or work with your husband. And it broke through.