Core Members: Alison Mosshart, Jack White, Dean Fertita, Jack Lawrence
Formed in: 2009, Nashville, Tennessee
Key Albums: Horehound (2009)
The Dead Weather are an alt-rock supergroup founded by Jack White of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs (on drums and vocals) and Alison Mosshart of The Kills (on vocals), whose line-up is rounded out by bassist 'Little' Jack Lawrence (of The Raconteurs, The Greenhornes, and Blanche) and guitarist Dean Fertita (of Queens of the Stone Age). They made their first album, 2009's Horehound before having ever played a show, and recorded their second less than a year later.
White (born John Anthony Gillis, July 9, 1975) and Mosshart (born November 23, 1978) had both found much acclaim out front of their respective bands, The White Stripes and The Kills. The two bands were often compared; each a boy/girl duo of peculiar personal history, each working within the blues, each owing a debt to Royal Trux.
"[We] always loved each other's bands and always thought that we come from the same family of the blues, but interpret them completely differently," Mosshart said, to Colorado Springs Independent. "It's just stupid, comparing our bands because they both have a girl and a guy."
In October 2008, The Kills supported The Raconteurs on an American tour. It proved to be a tumultuous trip: The Kills had their tour bus stolen (by their driver), and, by the end of the trip, White was suffering from bronchitis, and began to lose his voice.
Mosshart offered to step in and sing White's parts on his behalf, and, from there, the pair decided to do a project together. On the last night of the tour, in Atlanta, White demanded Mosshart leave off in The Raconteurs' tour-bus and head back to his recording studio in Nashville. There, they knocked out a cover of Gary Numan's old electro chestnut "Are Friends Electric?" It was conceived as a one-off, but became something more.
"A few months later," Mosshart explained, "Jack called me up and said, 'look, I don't think we should end this.'"
In January of 2009, Mosshart returned to Nashville to work on more material. Initially, the pair thought they'd be working on a series fo seven-inch singles, but soon it became clear they were working on something bigger. After "accidentally" writing an album, with the help of Raconteurs ringers Lawrence and Fertita, they realized they had another band on their heads.
Given White was already sinking much time and energy in The Raconteurs, he felt resistance to another project. "The one thing that most people want —label-wise or fan-wise— is for me to go back and be in The White Stripes and just keep doing that," White offered, to The Clash. "I end up pressuring everyone else: ‘Let me do this band right now. I have to. It’s what we need to do.’"
The Dead Weather's three weeks of recordings turned into Horehound, an album largely bluesier and heavier than either The White Stripes or The Kills. It was released in July of 2009 and entered the Billboard charts at #6.
After spending much of the rest of the year touring, The Dead Weather returned to White's Nashville studio and finished their second album, less than a year since they first came together. The result, Sea of Cowards, was an LP Mosshart described as "heavier than we ever imagined we could be."