Jack White and Lars Ulrich Discuss Phone Use at Concerts
Jack White has explained his reasons for preventing fans from using their cellphones during his concerts.
Those attending his upcoming tour can expect to have their phones locked in a pouch, which they retain, and can only be accessed when they leave the venue. In a new interview with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich on Ulrich's It’s Electric! radio show, White compared his performances to those of stand-up comedians who require a fully attentive crowd to give them the feedback they need to perform.
“I don’t have a set list, I really react to the crowd, just like a stand-up comedian would,” White said. “They tell a couple of jokes and they hear crickets, they know, ‘Okay, those Donald Trump jokes aren’t working for this crowd, I gotta switch over to this kind of material. … That’s how I work with no set list. If I finish a song, ta-daah, and it’s crickets, I don’t know what to do now. Am I supposed to play a heavier song, a faster song? Do you want me to play acoustic? Do you want me to leave? … But what I don’t like is, ‘Is that how they really feel, or are they just not even paying attention because they’re not engaged, because they’re texting?”
You can watch the interview below.
White recalled how Chris Rock wanted to try out new material onstage and how he needed audience feedback. But he also didn't want the performance to leak onto YouTube because it was experimental. The solution: “Locking your phones in a bag, and they hand you the bag," White said. You carry the bag with you … you just can’t access it. You want to access it, you just step out of the hall and unlock it and you can use it. I thought, ‘That’s brilliant.’ This is going to be the first major music tour to use this.”
He noted that simply asking fans to ignore their phones during his shows didn't work; he admitted he would find it “very difficult” to keep performing live if a solution wasn’t found. “I love the idea of rock concerts being punk as hell and there’s no rules,” he said. “I don’t like the idea that I have no idea what to play next. I need that.”
“It’s hard to believe that anybody appreciates you, respects you and is a fan of you would not 100 percent support this position,” Ulrich added.
White’s U.S. tour in support of his new album, Boarding House Reach, begins on April 19.