The following is directly from Mr. Basket maker himself and it is the third and last installment to his posts last week.
Since three is Jack’s favorite number this will be the third and last post for My Day at Third Man Records.
So let me set the stage.
It’s the day before New Year’s Eve, and the store is buzzing with patrons milling about the showroom and retail store that is open to the public. Lynne AKA Uber Kittty, her cousin AKA Karma G and myself are introduced to “Bud” and then he unlocks the door and we enter into Jack’s world.
Oh yeah, and no picture taking is allowed back here except for in the ‘Blue Room.’
We are behind the closed and locked doors of Jack White’s Third Man Records in Nashville, Tennessee. Once inside I noticed the area was devoid of anyone but a flutter of a few hipster (chicks) employees. Sorry, if that sounds kind of sexist but…. this is still rock n’ roll.
Let’s just say Jack has a strict dress code. All the ladies are relegated to a Catholic school girl type uniform with a yellow and black color scheme. The guys, I don’t really recall what they wore. “Bud” our guide was in uniform which was a yellow tie, black sweater with a small emblem and basically the same Catholic theme and yellow and black color scheme as the ladies. Didn’t really check out the whole outfit.
I digress once again, my bad.
So back to our tour. First off, I’d like to add that Jack bought this warehouse building, and then purchased the one next door combining the two. Even though they have expanded, they are once again busting at the seams. Every square inch of their space is being used. I was told he is starting a second location in his home town of Detroit with the plans of building a manufacturing facility for pressing vinyl records.
I digress once again, my bad. But “Bud” was telling us so much information that I found fascinating.
Everywhere you look is something related to the music industry or some kind of art. Upon entering the backroom the first sight you see is a hallway covered with photos of all of his rock star friends who have visited or have played with him.
You don’t get the feeling that it is all about him. These photos are more personal than promotional. You get a vibe that it’s more about the memories and inspiration than anything else. It doesn’t seem like it’s full of pics of famous people he met but more about the ones that have touched him and he befriended. Some on the wall you would recognize and others you might not, unless you are a music aficionado.
All of this kind of makes someone like me think he is way more cool than I thought.
We continue taking everything in as we walk down the hall. “Bud’ weaves in fascinating antidotes about the people in the photos lining the wall. We won’t even talk about Karma G’s crush on a certain female member of one of Jack’s bands that he interviewed for a magazine. All I will say is when he saw a pic of her which was throughout the place, he had some words to say I will not repeat here.
As we continue along, vivid primary colors are all you see at every turn. Lots of yellows and reds and white and black combo’s. It’s almost like you’re in a primary school for adults. It’s an ADD kid’s dream world.
The industrial theme is oozing everywhere. All the factory pipes on the outside and inside of the brick walls are painted primary yellow. It has a Willey Wonka feel. No detail is too small to be spared.
After walking through the hallway we enter a large common area with a kitchen all decked out in bright white subway tile with strategically placed red squares to create a red cross theme. It has the feel of an early sixties hospital. Only a little hipper and cleaner.
This is just the picture that comes to my mind. I can only paint this mental image with my words since no pictures! Anyway, it was white, red and sterile. But totally cool.
All of the appliances are vintage chrome and colors rarely seen. And I must add that it was killing us that we were asked not to take any photos in here. We both live in an unconventional house and workspace and would have loved some photos for future reference only. We have been trying to figure out what to do with our own kitchen which is in a large open space as well and visual snaps would’ve come in handy!
However Lynne and I didn’t dare since we 100% respect other artists and their work and how they want it represented, or not. And Jack’s place is a work of art. If an artist says no pics, then we oblige. Even though it was painful. But you know what Jack? I don’t need photographs! I have these photos permanently burned into my brain. Take that Jack!
I digress, sorry back to the tour
The kitchen is open for the staff and all those who come to perform. “Bud” talked about how Neil Young’s personal chef was in here recently and prepared all of Neil’s meals right in this kitchen, a few weeks earlier while he performed and recorded an album. He said there was so much food that Neil could not possibly eat that he kept picking off the plates and sneaking food… bad “Bud”.
Then “Bud” offered us sodas from the fridge which we all said “yeah” to. With the fridge door wide open,“Bud” says “see those Mello Yellow sodas? Those are Jack’s. There has to be Mello Yellows in there at all times, per Jack.” But then he said, “the funny thing is no one has ever seen Jack drink one.”
Two Third Man Records Catholic-school-inspired dressed just passed by…
I digress, but that was way hot.
The kitchen is open to a raised sitting-hangout area with sofas and a coffee table with a couple of large animal carcus heads on it. I can’t even tell you what they were as I didn’t have a whole lot of time to analyze them. Let’s just say they were large heads of a mammal.
I could tell you a funny story about one of these dried out mammal relics but they would find me and kill me. I’m sworn to secrecy about the piece front and center on the coffee table. I can tell you in person just not here so ask me sometime.
Next, we went into the infamous “Blue Room” where Jack hosts live events AND where we can take some pictures. Third Man is a studio that attracts a lot of cutting-edge bands. He records them live in this room from behind the stage in a separate studio.
Anyone notice this elephant?
That elephant is the one Jack purchased on the show American Pickers. One of his well-known works was his elephant album. Karma G is standing under it. You can also see how the floor literally curves and morphs into the wall. The picture to the right is showing me and Karma G standing back towards the second wall — you can now see why this is the “Blue Room.”
A blue light shines down emphasizing the blue even more. When you move in closer and shoot at the right angle, it looks like we are “floating” in the image. But we are not.
Even old folks like us look cool in this room. Karma G and Old ET look like they’re ready to drop an old school early 90’s rap album. On the right, Lynne is standing higher on the curved edge working the whole artsy hippie vibe. I’m thinking we look like the new hit folk duo “Taylor and Kitty.”
This room makes for some crazy photo shoots I’m sure. It was almost like we were in a carnival fun house of sorts. I guess we were in Jack’s fun house.
Back to the Blue Room:
On the adjacent wall to the large blue wall is a stage. And behind the stage’s wall is a hidden room which was the most impressive thing we saw all day (well that and all the other impressive things we already saw). This room is the only place in the world that can record a live concert and hand you a vinyl master copy when you’re finished. Think about that.
You go there, play your music and in the back they have a machine that takes acetate and records it to vinyl—all live, while playing on a stage in the Blue Room. It was told to us that a lot of the bands don’t get it until they see it first-hand—because they have never seen it before and they don’t understand the concept or the process. We weren’t able to take pictures in this room but I liked this part of the tour most. There is a one-sided mirror that over looks behind the stage and an electric “CUTTING” light sign is seen by the band/fans when they begin recording. This gives an extra thrill to those lucky enough to be there live, knowing that every shout-out will be recorded on this live album. Many bands now are going here to try out their fresh material and it gets pressed straight to vinyl.
We continued to get the full behind-the-scenes tour. I must say that there were three rooms that even we didn’t have security clearance to get into: His studio with all of his guitars is locked at all times; along with his stocked masters vault; and then his private office. The vault is James Bond like: one-foot-thick concrete walls and climate controlled. An added layer: If there’s a fire or water damage, the whole room gets sealed up completely!
Jack owns all the rights to everything he has ever created and has a warehouse/shipping room that opens to the street with a large garage door. Sometimes they open this door and perform live and allow the public in (only inside the warehouse area). Like the time they recently had Neil Young, Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow show up to play there on the same day. That’s pretty tough to beat. Imagine just walking down the street or happen to be in the retail store and you hear these three great artists singing live!
We were just about done with the tour and as we were making our way back to that private locked door we entered, “Bud” went on to say that Jack is the most down-to-earth person and wished he was here because we would have met him—He is in and out of here all the time.
Then we came back out where we entered. Lynne snapped this quick pic of “Bud” and me in the retail store, just outside that black steel door.
We thanked him profusely before he left, with the door closing behind him. I then saw a couple trying to open that same door. Denied! (I cannot lie… made me feel sad they didn’t get to see what we saw.)
Anyways, it was a great experience. For those who are curious about who he is, I think this is one of the best interviews of Jack White. Dan Rather was able to get a rare interview with him at Third Man Records, actually shows the few spots we didn’t get into. Hit the button below to watch.