The Raconteurs Detail 'Help Us Stranger,' First Album In Over Ten Years
By Nicole Mastrogiannis
July 1, 2019
After over a decade, The Raconteurs have finally released a new album in the form of Help Us Stranger. Written by the band's Jack White and Brendan Benson and recorded at Nashville's Third Man Studio, Help Us Stranger follows The Raconteurs' 2008 album Consolers of the Lonely, and features twelve new songs in total, including "Help Me Stranger," "Sunday Driver," "Now That You're Gone," "Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness)" and "Bored and Razed."
White tells iHeartRadio of what it was like reuniting to put together another Raconteurs album, "It kinda came really quickly and easily at first, almost sort of too easily. Got a little bit scary for a second, [like] there must be something wrong here. I think that's just a testament to the band and there's some kind of chemistry the band has where I feel like not much time had passed since."
Benson adds, "And also, we were pretty busy and it just didn't feel like that at all to us, didn't feel like 10 years had gone by. When we were considering making this record, we couldn't believe like, 'Wow, 10 years, man.' But, Jack had Third Man, just was starting that up really right, and we have kids, and so it just didn't feel like 10 years had gone by."
There is a song on Help Us Stranger called "Shine the Light On Me" that helped jump-start the idea of putting together another Raconteurs album. Jack explains, "There was this song called 'Shine the Light On Me' that's on the album and I know, like, I recorded that for my last album, and I thought, this song's like a Raconteurs song. So we kind of think that might have been the emphasis for it all."
Similarly, Benson had also been putting aside songs he thought made sense for another Raconteurs album. He tells us, "Any songs that I thought might work for them, I sort of put aside. But, it was never like, 'Hey guys, you want to get together and make an album?' It wasn't like that at all. It was just these little steps."
All the "little steps" eventually turned into Help Us Stranger, which the band has described as "the rock & roll album [fans have] been waiting for." White elaborates, "It was sort of us taking on the armor of that idea. Let's pretend we're the only rock and roll band making a record right now." He adds, "Sometimes you trick yourself into little situations, you kinda find a cohesiveness while you're working and find direction where the songs are gonna go without turning into a concept album or something like that. So that was one of them, was that we're the only rock and roll band right now, what record will we make? What's the record we want to see on the shelf that we want to buy that's not there? And that's the record we made."
Despite the fact that The Raconteurs' new album is called Help Us Stranger and its lead single is called "Help Me Stranger," the title of the LP is "open for interpretation" by the fans, as Benson explains. He tells us, "I think it's one of those phrases that is kind of invocative. I think everyone kind of gets something different from it. I mean, I hope and I think that's kind of a cool thing to do for your album, to call your album something that's very relatable. Some people think it's political, some people think it's a message about humanity, maybe."
Speaking of "Help Me Stranger," the song is one of Benson's favorites from Help Us Stranger. He says, "My favorite is actually 'Help Me Stranger' for many reasons. Among them, it was a really fun recording or process. It was a really spontaneous and electric few hours. It was really very short. It just features acoustic guitars, two acoustic guitars, two singers, like Everly Brothers style with the most insane rhythm section you could ever imagine or put together. And, Patrick [Keeler]'s got his snare drum flipped upside down, he's playing it upside down. LJ's [Jack Lawrence] playing bass keys instead of a bass guitar; it just makes for a this really unique sound. I mean, there are very standard things to play, but I think it has a cool mood to it."
Photos: Katherine Tyler