Jack White calls banning phones at his gigs an “art experiment”

White explains to Lars Ulrich why he's banned phones at his shows

Jack White has spoken to Metallica‘s Lars Ulrich about why he recently banned phones at his live shows.

The former White Stripes frontman’s new solo album ‘Boarding House Reach’ is out today (March 23). Ahead of the release, White spoke to Ulrich on Beats 1.

Back in January, it was reported that White had banned the use of mobile phones at his gigs in order to create a “100% human experience”.


Speaking now to Ulrich, White has explained his rationale, describing it as an “interesting art experiment” and saying that it would have been “funny” had he surprised gig-goers with the rule and they had “got mad and demanded their money back”.

“I really react to the crowd, just like a stand-up comedian would,” White said. “If I finish a song and go, ‘Ta-da!’, and it’s crickets, I’m like, ‘Well, 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? I’ll leave!'”

Jack White
Jack White

“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?'”

“When you go to a movie theatre, a symphony, church, whatever – there are all these moments in life where people put those away and engage,” White continued.

“And I love the idea of rock concerts being punk as hell and there are no rules. I love that. But I don’t like the idea that I have no idea what to play next. And I need that. Because I’ve walked offstage before like, ‘Man, I don’t know what to do anymore. If this is how it’s going to be from now on, it’s going to be very difficult’.”


White also spoke to Ulrich about using hip-hop musicians on his new record.”I really wanted to find musicians who played with hip-hop artists onstage – who backed up Kendrick or Jay-Z or Kanye or something,” he said.

“I thought that was a special musician that can [take] what’s on a hip-hop track, where it’s a sample or a drum machine, but replicate it live with real drums and real bass.”

White has made headlines recently by saying he doesn’t understand what DJ Khaled doesresponding to the Jeremy Corbyn chant and doubting whether the White Stripes will ever reunite.

Of his new album ‘Boarding House Reach’, NME‘s Leonie Cooper recently wrote: “Jack White has finally lost the plot – and he sounds totally brilliant. On his third solo album he’s at last shaken off the bluesy shackles of the White Stripes and has created something wild, mysterious and unlike anything else around.”