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A storm of creativity from Dead Weather

“Sea of Cowards’’ is the latest album from the Dead Weather, (from left) Dean Fertita, Alison Mosshart, Jack White, and Jack Lawrence. “Sea of Cowards’’ is the latest album from the Dead Weather, (from left) Dean Fertita, Alison Mosshart, Jack White, and Jack Lawrence. (Michael Stravato/ Associated Press)
By Chris Talbott
Associated Press / May 18, 2010

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NASHVILLE — Jack White has built himself a do-it-yourself utopia in a nondescript building downtown.

Third Man Records features a recording studio, a stage for live performances that doubles as a soundstage, a darkroom, and a record store out front. White can take a concept, put it on tape, design and produce the cover and liner notes, shoot the video, and record a live show in a matter of weeks. It’s the kind of place where a band can thrive, and his latest, the Dead Weather, is doing just that. Thanks to the all-inclusive nature of Third Man Records, the group just released its second album in 10 months.

“He’s done that punk rock dream of being able to control every element yourself and making sure that’s exactly how you want it, and [stuff] comes out when you want [stuff] to come out,’’ bandmate Alison Mosshart said. “It’s incredible what he’s got.’’

White, the 34-year-old musician and producer whose resume includes the White Stripes and the Raconteurs, is a prolific artist. Add in the other three members of the Dead Weather — singer-guitarist Mosshart of the Kills, bassist Jack Lawrence of the Greenhornes and the Raconteurs, and Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Dean Fertita — and the creative spark takes on the shimmering blue of an acetylene torch.

White, Lawrence, and Mosshart had been friends for years and their bands were out on tour together. White caught bronchitis and slipped a disc in his neck toward the end of the tour, and Mosshart began joining him on stage to sing some of his parts. When the friends limped into Nashville, they were joined by Fertita in early 2009. White suggested they cut a 7-inch record and a jam session of sorts turned into something special right away.

“It was kind of magical,’’ Mosshart said. “When we got there, within about 15 hours we wrote five songs and kind of couldn’t stop ourselves. That’s certainly a little bit weird.’’

The band’s first album, “Horehound’’ was released six months after recording started. The Dead Weather went on tour and found the creativity couldn’t be capped. The band wrote songs during soundcheck and slapped them down on tape during breaks in Nashville. From there it took just a few weeks to finish off “Sea of Cowards,’’ which came out this month.

“It’s magic, but you’re very fortunate to have it once in your lifetime,’’ White said of the band’s output.