John Mayer

John Mayer has had quite the day after the revelations in his new Playboy interview.

Credit: AP Photo

In defense of John Mayer: Our thoughts on his Playboy interview

We come to praise him, not to bury him

It’s becoming increasingly clear that John Mayer really should just let his fingers do the talking.

It seems like every time the guitarist opens his mouth, he puts his foot in it.

After giving Rolling Stone a recent interview where he explicitly praised masturbation and how it’s probably kept him from getting into trouble with women (all of which is fine, but perhaps is not information he needs to share with the world), he tweeted that he might not even want to hang out with himself anymore.

But that was just the warm-up act. In a new interview with Playboy, Mayer talks about his sex life with Jessica Simpson, his break-up with Jennifer Aniston, drops the N-word, and generally come across as an ass. He’s spent the better part of today apologizing via his Twitter page, including “I don’t want anyone to think I’m equivocating: I should have never said the [n] world and I will never say it again.”

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<p>Celine Dion in 2009</p>

Celine Dion in 2009

Credit: AP Photo

Celine Dion returns for a new Vegas run in 2011 at Caesar's Palace

Diva's new show will focus on movie classics and her hit

Her heart will go on… and on and on. Mark your calendars: Celine Dion is returning to Las Vegas for a new three-year residency—13 months from now.

Dion, who just appeared on the Grammys in a tribute to Michael Jackson and participated in the 25th anniversary recording of “We Are the World,” will premiere a new show at The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace’s on March 15, 2011. That’s right, 2011, but tickets go on sale this Friday, Feb. 12. Just in time for Valentine's Day... we're just saying.

As you will recall, in 2003, Dion somewhat started the whole trend of artists still somewhat in their prime (or at least more so than Wayne Newton and Engelbert Humperdinck) taking up residencies in Vegas when Caesar’s build the 3,000-seat venue for her five-year residency. Elton John followed, as did Cher, Bette Midler, Santana and now Garth Brooks. Midler's run at the Colosseum ended Jan. 31.

This time around, Dion will be beating her chest with her fist as she sings (It really upsets us when she does that. We’re afraid she’s going to hurt herself) with a full orchestra behind her. Her show will focus on music from classic Hollywood movies and her many hits. She's spilling the beans on her appearance on today's "Oprah Winfrey Show." 

The initial announcement covers 54 performances running from March 15-Aug. 14, 2011. Again, that’s 2011. Ticket prices range from $55-$250.

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<p>Jack White of the White Stripes: not pleased.</p>

Jack White of the White Stripes: not pleased.

Credit: AP Photo

Whites Stripes blast Air Force Reserves' usage of song in Super Bowl ad

Duo takes to website to protest usage of its song in Super Bowl ad

The White Stripes’ message to the Air Force Reserve couldn’t be any clearer: don’t use us as a recruitment tool.

The duo took to its website to protest what it calls the unauthorized use of its song “Fell in Love with a Girl” in a Super Bowl commercial that aired Feb. 7. We have a feeling the Air Force got the message loud and clear: A link on the White Stripes’ site to the ad only directs to the Air Force Reserve site—the offending commercial is nowhere in site.

“We believe our song was re-recorded and used without permission of the White Stripes, our publishers, label or management,” says the band on its website.

The message reads in full:

“The White Stripes take strong insult and objection to the Air Force Reserves presenting this advertisement with the implication that we licensed one of our songs to encourage recruitment during a war that we do not support.

“The White Stripes support his nation’s military, at home and during times when our country needs and depends on them. We simply don’t want to be a cog in the wheel of the current conflict, and hope for a safe and speedy return home for our troops.

“We have not licensed this song to the Air Force Reserve and we plan to take strong action to stop the ad containing this music.”

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Credit: Columbia

MGMT's sophomore set 'Congratulations' due for April 13 release

Duo says inspirations included Lady GaGa and surfing

Following its nomination for best new artist, MGMT returns with new album, “Congratulations” on April 13.
The set follows MGMT’s Columbia Records debut, “Oracular Spectacular,” which included the Grammy-nominated hit “Kids.”

While not labeled as a dreaded, pretentious “concept” album, “Congratulations” is, according to a release, “nine individual musical tours de force sequenced to flow with sonic and thematic coherence.” Among the track names are “Brian Eno,” I Found a Whistle” and “Lady DaDa’s Nightmare.”Guess who’s the inspiration for “Lady DaDa?” That’s right… rhymes with Lady Gaga. The Brooklyn-based duo’s Andrew Vanwyngarden told that the band was influenced by LG, as well as his new love of surfing. Maybe a duet with Pearl Jam or Jack Johnson is forthcoming.

"It's definitely going to shock people," Vanwyngarden told of the album. "We dropped any sort of irony that was on the first record, and 'Congratulations' feels true to who we really are."

MGMT produced the album with Sonic Boom (known to his mom as Pete Kember) in New York and Malibu. Guests include Royal Trux’ Jennifer Herrema.

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<p>Mastodon is among the headliners for Rock the Range</p>

Mastodon is among the headliners for Rock the Range

Rob Zombie, Slash, Mastodon, Limp Bizkit headline Rock on the Range

Midwest's fourth annual fest rocks Columbus June 22-23

For those about to rock, Rock on the Range salutes you. While it may not be as hip as Coachella or as hippie as Bonnaroo, the Columbus, Ohio festival is rocking the good people of the Midwest with its May 22-23 festival.

Headlining the fourth annual event at the Crew Stadium are Rob Zombie, Limp Bizkit, Mastodon, Godsmack, Three Days Grace, Rise Against, Slash and 30 other acts.

Tickets for the two-day fest start at $99.50. Like many other festivals, Rock on the Range offers a layaway plan. Pre-sale begins Feb. 16.

The Rock on the Range line up as of today is: Godsmack, Rob Zombie, Limp Bizkit, Three Days Grace, Slash, Seether, Rise Against, Deftones, Papa Roach, Theory Of A Deadman, Mastodon, Killswitch Engage, Coheed & Cambria, Bullet for My Valentine, Puddle Of Mudd, Five Finger Death Punch, Apocalyptica, Drowning Pool, Halestorm, Sevendust, Skillet, Mushroomhead, Helmet, Airbourne, Anberlin, Cold, Nonpoint, 2Cents, Adelitas Way, Shaman's Harvest, Year Long Disaster, Like A Storm, Taddy Porter, Janus, and Noise Auction.

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<p>David Cook</p>

David Cook

David Cook spills the beans on his second post-'American Idol' set

What does he share with Imogen Heap?

David Cook has some pretty different plans for his next album, by his own admission. “I’ve got lofty ideas, man,” he says. “So it’s just a matter of implementing them.

The “American Idol” season 7 champ wants to break the tight, guitar-oriented mold had adhered to on his self-titled major label debut. Among the ideas he’s tossing around are recording an a cappella song in the vein of Imogen Heap, and relying more on piano than the six string, he tells Entertainment Weekly’s Popwatch.

Unlike his self-titled, platinum-plus 2008 set, which he worked on while on the road, he's separating the touring and recording process this time around and let himself be in the moment. “With this being the first big tour that I’d ever been on,” he says. “I really wanted to take the time to appreciate it and get out and experience things. What was great was it allowed me to stockpile ideas.”

Among the songwriters he’s working with are ex-Evanscence member David Hodges and producer Brian Howes, both of whom have written with other “Idols,” including Kelly Clarkson and Daughtry. Howes wrote “Light On,” the megahit from Cook’s debut album, with Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell. He hopes to work with Max Martin and Ryan Tedder.

In addition to a possible all-vocal track, Cook says he’d like to have the second post-"Idol" set focus more on piano. The last album had a guitar-based “wall of sound,” he says, adding he’d like to “use guitar less as the basis of a song and have it [be] just another instrument” for the new set.

He's hoping for a mid-2010 release date.

Cook admits that unlike some of his fellow “Idols,” he was slow to warm to Twitter, but now he enjoys it as a communication tool. “I love it now because it’s a direct way to put something out there with my fans,” he says. “I just try not to get too mundane about it.”

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<p>Sade's &quot;Soldier of Love&quot;</p>

Sade's "Soldier of Love"

Review: Sade's 'Soldier of Love': Was it worth a 10-year wait?

Has time been kind to the sultry singer?

There’s something timeless about Sade. Her musical style doesn’t change, her look (and certainly her pulled-back hairstyle) doesn’t alter and her voice remains the same. She’s not so much stuck in a time warp as she’s her own time zone, never in a hurry to get to her destination. There are plenty of other singers who tread in her fairly flat delivery— such as Nick Drake or Tanita Tikaram (yes, she was a one hit wonder, but what a hit “Twist in My Sobriety” was). But there’s something about Sade that is sui generis.

Maybe it’s because we know nothing about her other than her songs. Or it could be that she seemingly could not care less about popularity in this fame-obsessed culture. Then again, it could just be that the emotion in her dusky alto sounds exactly the same whether she’s in the depths of despair or in paroxysms of joy.

On much of “Soldier of Love,” only her sixth studio album in 26 years and her first in a decade, she mines the familiar “love is a battlefield” trope. She does so with military precision on the winning title track and on the gentle, stunningly beautiful “The Safest Place.” On the latter, she assures her lover that her heart, “a lonely warrior,” has “been to war so you can be sure” that it’s now a safe place to hide his love

In addition to “The Safest Place,” the other standouts here are “Morning Bird” and “Long Hard Road.” “Morning Bird’s” lonely piano intro and lovely strings help set a breathtakingly sad tale of a love that has taken flight. It sounds like it might be about her mother’s passing. It’s haunting and ethereal. But then again, in the elliptical Sade world, it could be about something else totally.

“Road” is an affirmation that despite the tough times ahead, it’s going to be okay. The juxtaposition of the downer melody with the affirming lyrics could seem jarring, but in Sade’s hands, it feels comforting and meditative.

She pulls a similar songwriting trick, in reverse, on “Bring Me Home,” where longing, despondent lyrics play in proximity to fairly strong beats. Her struggle is over as the tears flow, but the melody is one of her most upbeat. The same is true of “Skin,” where she peel away the memory of her lover’s skin as easily as he has shed his feelings for her. (Is there really a line in there about Michael Jackson? We’ll have to get hold of the lyrics, but we swear we keep hearing “Like Michael back in the day.”)

This is Sade we’re talking about so the melodies only veer so much. There are fillips of world beats thrown in here and there throughout “Soldier of Love,” but for the most part, the tunes are mournful and the lyrics desolate. For Sade, anything that doesn’t make you want to slit your wrists counts as up tempo.

One of the nicest musical surprises is “In Another Time,” where Sade incorporates old-school R&B and breaks (if only ever so slightly) out of her typical musical pattern. It’s easy to imagine the song, with its lovely, swaying lilt, as an early Motown hit written by Smokey Robinson or, even better, as a buttery duet with Robinson.

Oddly, one of the few missteps here is “Babyfather,” an upbeat, island-flavored tune that is probably one of the most personal ever recorded by the enigmatic Sade. It’s a sweet tale about a child whose father’s lifetime of love is guaranteed sight unseen. It seems a little too lightweight for Sade. Who is this and what have they done with my sad Sade?

I hadn’t realized that I’d even remotely missed Sade until I listened to “Soldier of Love.” In fact, I can safely say that I hadn’t given her a second thought in the last decade or so, but what a welcome—if not entirely happy—return.

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Sade marches back with 'Soldier of Love' to lead Feb. 9 top album releases

Singer's first album of new material in 10 years joined by Dave Matthews, Jaheim, Taylor Swift and more

There may be plenty of releases coming out Feb. 9, but there’s only one that people are talking about: British-Nigerian singer Sade, who releases her first album of new material in roughly 10 years with “Soldier of Love.”

Galactic, “Ya-Ka-May” (Anti-/Epitaph): Continue to celebrate the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl win with this New Orleans jam band. Half of New Orleans does, including such wonderful hometown faves as Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Rebirth Brass Band and Trombone Shorty. The second line starts here.

Him, “Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice” (Sire) Finnish metal band combines love, sex and hard rock on its seventh studio album, produced by metal maven Matt Squire (The Used, All time Low and Saosin). Best served with a nice slab of reindeer meat.

Hot Chip, “One Life Stand” (Astralwerks): British electro-pop act throw in plenty of heart and soul with the technology, courtesy of lead singer Alexis Taylor’s sweet, vulnerable voice. Could this, their fourth album, big their big U.S. breakthrough? It should be.

Jaheim, “Another Round” (Atlantic): R&B singer already has a big hit with the set’s frst single, the smooth, pick up anthem “Ain’t Leavin’ Without You.” Entertainment Weekly compares Jaheim to the late, great Teddy Pendergrass. We can’t go that far, but there’s plenty here to sex you up.

Massive Attack, “Heligoland” (Virgin): Trip-hop masters are joined by Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, Blur’s Damon Albarn and TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe for their latest set.

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, “Live in Las Vegas” (Bama Rags/RCA): Sometimes the title says everything you need to know, but if you’re looking for a few more details, it’s 26 tracks of Matthews and Reynolds noodling at a show taped Dec. 12 at the Theater for the Performing Arts at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

Sade, “Soldier of Love” (Epic): Produced by Sade and Mike Pela, “Soldier of Love” marks Sade’s first album of all new material in 10 years. Read our review here.

Various Artists, “Valentine’s Day” soundtrack (Big Machine): Soundtrack to new Garry Marshall romantic comedy features new music from Jewel and Taylor Swift, who also appears in the film as Taylor Lautner's girlfriend, as well as a number of other love-themed ditties, including Maroon 5’s remake of Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight,” Diane Birch’s perky “Valentino” and Michael Franti & Spearhead’s peppy “Say Hey (I Love You).”

The Watson Twins, “Talking to You, Talking to Me” (Vanguard): Folky pop twins Chandra and Leigh Watson, best known for their collaboration with Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis on “Rabbit Fur Coat,” are joined by members of My Morning Jacket and Everest (Neil Young’s new fave band) for their latest.

Yeasayer, “Odd Blood” (Secretly Canadian): Artsy hipster band from Brooklyn toggles just as easily between opening for MGMT and playing at the Guggenheim Museum or Bonnaroo. They fuse experimental rock with pop sometimes. Other times, they’re just delightfully weird.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that Massive Attack was appearing at Coachella.

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Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who after their Super Bowl half time performance

Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who after their Super Bowl half time performance.

Credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay

Review: The Who's Super Bowl performance: Anthemic or Anemic?

Has 12 minutes ever felt so long?

Each year, the act selected to play the Super Bowl halftime has 12 minutes to do its best gig ever before the biggest audience of its career. There’s no time to build momentum; you have to hit the stage at 100 miles per hour.

The Who (or what remains of them: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend) decided to go with a medley of some of their biggest hits for their moment in Miami and spilled the beans to Billboard a few weeks ago on their line-up. So how’d they do?

Confession: I love the Who. They’re brilliant. I was too young to see them in their heyday, but my appreciation for them has only grown over the years. It hurts me to say that they were terrible.

They opened with an extremely short verse of “Pinball Wizard,” and then very awkwardly switched to “Baba O’Riley.” There was absolutely no energy there; instead of anthemic, the songs just felt anemic. “Who Are You,” one of the most potent, muscular rock songs every recorded--at its full strength, it can peel paint off walls--sounded weak. Was it so wrong that I wanted Daltrey to slip and throw in the F-word? Just something to wake us all up? Plus, using lines from “Tommy” songs as bridges (“See Me, Feel Me” from “Tommy’s” finale just got one line) served no purpose unless they wanted to up their total song count.

The Who wrapped with “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Daltrey’s classic scream—one of the most feral rock and roll screams every committed to vinyl-- was there, but it was clearly pre-taped as there was not a camera within 100 yards of Daltrey when that scream went down, but then a camera went back on him right afterward.

While there was much talk that Daltrey and Townshend would be playing to pre-recorded tracks, there’s no doubt those vocals (other than the scream) were live. Daltrey’s voice is diminished, but it’s still powerful and there were moments during “Who are You” where he sounded great. For the most part, Townshend just sounded creaky. I felt like he should be yelling at us to get off his lawn. Townshend’s guitar playing sounded strong and lots of parents probably got to teach their kids about the Windmill, but the cameras cut away anytime he started to do something interesting. There was no passion whatsoever in the performance (I know, I know, they’ve been phoning it in live for years… I’ve seen them in concert enough to know that), but it’s still disappointing. If Daltrey and Townshend ever acknowledged each other during the set (other than the final bow) to even look at each other like “Man, can you believe we’re here?” or “Isn’t this fun?,” I missed it.

The circular stage was the winner. It was the star of the show with the different color lasers and images. The best image was of Townshend on guitar. It must have looked great up in the stands. The light show completely overwhelmed the performance. The Who's performance: C. The stage and production: A+.

Ever since Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime appearance with Justin Timberlake, no female breasts have been allowed on stage. It’s been veteran male-fronted acts ever since: Paul McCartney in 2005, Rolling Stones in 2006, Prince in 2007, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers in 2008 and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band in 2009.

I say bring back the estrogen: for 2011, we’re rooting for Lady GaGa or Beyonce.

For those of you who loved the Who’s performance and would like to recreate it, Rock Band will offer it as a $2 download later on today (for Xbox 360 and Wii; PS3 will arrive later, according to

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<p>Brendan Benson</p>

Brendan Benson

Sundance Interview: Brendan Benson reveals what's next for the Raconteurs

Singer/Songwriter also talks Nashville songwriting 'crap' and Springsteen

Brendan Benson is best known as a member of the Raconteurs, along with the White Stripes/Dead Weather’s Jack White and Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler of Greenhornes.

But he’s also released four stellar solo albums, most recently “My Old, Familiar Friend,” this past August. The collection is irrepressible melodic pop rock redolent of Benson’s musical influences, including the Cars, Todd Rungren, Cheap Trick and the Kinks.

Hitfix caught up with the lowkey, genial Benson prior to his second performance at ASCAP’s Music Café at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah (Yep, we're still cleaning out our interviews from the festival). He filled us in on what’s next for the Raconteurs, his thoughts about becoming a first-time dad in April, and why he just doesn’t understand Bruce Springsteen.
Following his Sundance appearance, Benson and his band embarked on a month-long tour. He is also collaborating with singer/songwriter Ashley Monroe, who joined the Raconteurs and fellow guest Ricky Skaggs on the Raconteurs’ “Old Enough.”

Q: Since we’re at Sundance, it seems appropriate to ask what’s the last movie you saw?
A: “The Invention of Lying.” It wasn’t great. I love [Ricky Gervais]. I’m inclined to think that the powers that be changed that movie. It was his idea. It could have gotten… it could have been way better.

Q: Congratulations on your first child coming in April. Are you going to be able to resist the urge to write songs only about your kid?
A: I think I’m too self absorbed still. Maybe the kid will change that about me, but there’s no one more interested than myself to write about. (laughs)

Q: You’re here playing at ASCAP’s Music Café. Part of the idea is to use this opportunity to meet directors and music supervisors who may license your music. What’s your experience been with that and what’s your expectation?
A: Not a whole lot, but I’ve had songs in some movies. My first license was in “Zero Effect,” on my first record, which was really exciting. [2002’s] “Tiny Spark” was used in “Along Came Polly” and I think it was used in another movie sooner than that and I’m best known for that song and it’s not hugely popular, but that’s the most popular song that I have and I know it’s because of the movies. People are like, ‘Oh yeah, I know that song!” And then TV shows and stuff, commercials, like an iPod commercial, that was a big deal.

Q: You’re on tour in February. What’s the key to survival on the road and not killing your band mates on the road?
A: I think there’s a combination of things. Humor would be key. If everyone has relatively the same sense of humor, then that helps. And things in common, like food, eating. If there’s one person who’s vegan, say, then that person might be alienated in my band (laughs)… Last night we went to this vegan restaurant because someone said it was great. It was okay, I think some of us would have preferred a steak.

Q: There are bands who will take a slightly less talented musician for someone they can live with the other 22 hours of the day off stage.
A: That’s for sure. In fact, to my detriment, I’ve done that. I just like somebody so much or [they’re] a great companion and maybe not the best musician or the best person for the [job]... but I don’t care.

Q: Bruce Springsteen talks about how “Born to Run” started his lifelong conversation with his audience. “My Old, Familiar Friend” is your fourth solo album. Where is that in your conversation with your audience and where is that conversation headed?
A: That’s a really far out concept to consider, and a little lofty. It sounds cool and just like Bruce Springsteen is famous for… he’s got great one liners, but what is he talking about? You know what I mean. So I’m not sure I agree or maybe I haven’t hit that point yet or maybe I haven’t started this so-called conversation with my audience. I have a hard enough time writing a little something on an email blast. My manager is like ‘write a little something’ for my fans. And I’d rather not. That’s not my life. My life is me and music, it’s not me and my fans. ..It’s a cool concept, I like that. It sounds nice, it sounds neat, but I’m not a huge Springsteen fan for that very reason, I think, because I never knew what he was talking about.

Q: You live in Nashville where there are songwriters everywhere. Do you find it inspirational?
A: Yeah. I don’t know if it’s inspiring so much as it’s great practice. It’s great to keep in practice. You want to surround yourself… with any kind of art, you need to stay in practice. You can’t always be inspired. Or you can’t wait for it.

Q: It’s a craft there. There are times it becomes an art.
A: They write crap songs though (laughs). I’m not a fan of the new country stuff. Not always. At best, it’s clever, though. It never just hits you. I don’t know it very well. Still, I think it’s admirable to and it’s a good idea to stay in practice for when maybe something does happen. Something does really come to you and you’re ready for it.
I started out painting… well, I kind of did them at the same time, music and painting. And then music became easier for me and I pursued that. But while I was painting, I studied with this guy and who sort of taught me you can’t afford to sit around and wait.

Q: It’s a muscle.
A: Right… [he’d say] “so go out and fucking draw that flower over there.” And I’d be like, “I’m not inspired, I’m not into flowers…” and he’d be like, ‘I don’t give a shit, go draw those fucking flowers.” You know what I mean, like ‘Shut up, punk.’ He said it should be like breathing, it should be like second nature. I like that, so at the very least, I write a lot of dumb songs and sometimes they even make it on my record.

Q: What do you get out of being in the Raconteurs that you don’t get out of being a solo artist and vice versa?
A: So much. I haven’t decided which… I think I definitely prefer being in a group, writing in a group too. I have a group of guys with me, but they didn’t write the songs. They don’t have a whole lot of emotional stake in it. But bless their hearts, they’re fucking good. They’re great. But it’s a different thing.
Of course, the biggest thing is playing in the Raconteurs or in a group, you’re sharing everything. You share the glory and whatever when it’s not glorious. When it sucks, I don’t have the bear the load myself. And you can take turns doing things like if I’m tired… some nights I’m not in the mood or I’m tired or something like that and so I can fall back on these other guys, like Jack, maybe he’ll take over. We’ll do more of his [stuff]… With me, it’s like man, I gotta carry it the whole time. And that’s kind of a negative way of looking at my solo stuff, but at this point, I’m in that phase coming off the Raconteurs. But there’s things that the Raconteurs can’t give me that my solo stuff gives me and I’m not sure what that is at the moment. Nothing’s coming to mind.

Q: We’re not catching you on a good day, are we?
A: I know, I know. Oh my God, this should be an interesting set today.

Q: Is there a new Raconteurs record in the works?
A: Not as of yet. I mean, I think we’re all just really focused on other things. I barely talk to those guys. We’re all busy, but it will, like it always does, it will come around and we’ll get together again and hang out and maybe make a record or maybe not. Terrible answer, sorry.

Q: It’s the truth.
A: It’s a real spontaneous thing, really. The Raconteurs was, is and always will be, hopefully, should be spontaneous. If we feel like doing it. We’re not contractually obligated, we don’t need it. We don’t have to do it, which is cool.

Watch "A Whole Lot Better" from "My Old, Familiar Friend" below:


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