The Raconteurs

Author: Janet



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A self-described “new band made up of old friends,” the Raconteurs feature the White Stripes‘ Jack White and power pop maestro Brendan Benson on vocals, keyboards, and guitars, and the Greenhornes’ drummer Patrick Keeler and bassist Jack Lawrence as the group’s rhythm section.

The idea for the band began when Benson and White collaborated on the song “Steady, as She Goes,” which later became the Raconteurs’ debut single.

When the duo drafted Keeler and Lawrence, they became a full-fledged band. Recording together at Benson’s East Grand Studio whenever they were available from their other projects, the Raconteurs recorded their debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers, over the span of a year and released it in spring 2006 to middling reviews but a Top Ten place on Billboard’s album charts. That year, the band also relocated to Nashville and worked on another batch of songs in between touring and dates at festivals such as Lollapalooza.

According to the official website, “The seed was sown in an attic in the middle of a hot summer when friends Jack White and Brendan Benson got together and wrote a song that truly inspired them. This song was ‘Steady, As She Goes’ and the inspiration led to the creation of a full band with the addition of Lawrence and Keeler.” The band came together in Detroit during 2005 and recorded when time allowed for the remainder of the year. Due to the various members’ success in other bands, they were quickly dubbed a supergroup. The band, however, asserted they were not, saying that the term implies something pre-planned, whereas they re actually “a new band made up of old friends.”

The band has played a number of music festivals in Europe, Asia, and North America (including Reading and Leeds Festival in the UK, Vegoose in Las Vegas, Lollapalooza in Chicago, Austin City Limits Music Festival in Austin, Texas), and Coachella in Indio, headlining many.

The Raconteurs were renamed as “The Saboteurs” for the Australian market when it was discovered that a Queensland band was already using the name “Raconteurs”. The Queensland band refused to give up their name for the amount they were offered, and instead asked for a higher price from the Raconteurs’ record company, who refused to pay the greater amount. A member of the Queensland band said that they had not been informed of who was trying to buy their name and asked for the larger sum of money to see what would happen.

The Raconteurs’ full-length debut Broken Boy Soldiers was recorded at Brendan Benson’s in-home studio located in Detroit. The first single was “Steady, As She Goes/Store Bought Bones” and was released as a limited-edition 7-inch, 45 rpm vinyl record in Europe on January 30, 2006, and in North America on March 7, 2006. A CD version of “Steady, as She Goes” was released on April 24, 2006, with the B-side “Bane Rendition”.

The Raconteurs first performed live at the Academy in Liverpool, U.K., on March 20, 2006, launching a short British tour. Their first American date was the next month, on April 20 at New York City’s Irving Plaza. Nearly nonstop touring followed, bringing the band to audiences around North America and Europe. The high profile of Jack White meant that even though the band was new, they were able to sell out mid-size venues—a rarity for a band’s first tour.

Broken Boy Soldiers was released on May 15, 2006 in the UK on Third Man Recordings/XL Recordings and May 16 in the US on Third Man Recordings/V2 Records. It entered the UK charts at #2 and the US charts at #7.

In November 2006, the Raconteurs played eight dates as the opening act for Bob Dylan on the northeastern leg of his U.S. tour. On November 3, 2006, the Raconteurs performed the song “Store Bought Bones” and the title track, “Broken Boy Soldier” on Later with Jools Holland. According to Planet Sound (who had reporters in attendance), during “Store Bought Bones” White’s guitar malfunctioned and they had to re-play the song. This eventually happened four times, with the band breaking up in laughter by the fourth take. The TV airing used edited pieces from all four performances and cut out any laughter. The band’s cover of “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones appeared on a 40-year anniversary of the BBC live compilation. They played it live on a John Peel tribute.

The band has performed a number of covers during live shows. For instance, the set list usually includes renditions of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” (a song written by Sonny Bono and popularized by both Cher and Nancy Sinatra) and “Headin’ For the Texas Border” by The Flamin Groovies. Other songs the band has covered include Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”, Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?”, The Undertones’ “Teenage Kicks”, Ron Davies’ “It Ain´t Easy”, and Love’s “A House Is Not A Motel”. Also the band often covered Irish artist Jape’s song “Floating”, and “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead” from the soundtrack to the film “The Wizard Of Oz”.

In December 2006, the band’s debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers, was awarded the title Album of the Year by Britain’s Mojo magazine. In 2007, the album was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. The Raconteurs were nominated for two awards at the 49th Annual Grammys: one for Best Rock Album for Broken Boy Soldiers, and another for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “Steady as She Goes”.

The band recorded a cover of the song “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones that was released on the compilation Radio 1 Established 1967.

The Raconteurs released their second album, Consolers of the Lonely on March 25, 2008. The first single, “Salute Your Solution” was released the same day. The album was announced only a week before its release date, purposely leaving no time for critics to review it before it was bought by the listeners and fans.

The band has also announced tour dates including: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 25; the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on May 4; Bonnaroo Music Festival; Oxegen festival in Ireland on July 13, 2008; Open’er Festival in Poland; and the Leeds and Reading festivals in England on the 23rd and 24th of August. They are also playing at “The Pyramid Stage” at the Glastonbury Festival 2008 on saturday in the evening.

The band will also tour the US during the summer of 2008.

- sources: biography by Heather Phares and Wikipedia

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