Dead Weather's Moody Blues

Despite the ominous moniker, The Dead Weather really just wants to have a slumber party.

Jack White: visionary songwriter. Husband of supermodel. Creator of not one but three critically beloved rock bands. Merciless Scrabble champion?

"We have a competition going. He's the reigning champ," says The Dead Weather's lead guitarist Dean Fertita on a recent phone call. "We're all on a mission to dethrone him on this tour. Alison [Mosshart, the band's vocalist] beat him once, but he said the game wasn't legit."

Whether Mosshart's a cheater or White's just a sore loser, they'll have plenty of time for Scrabbling in coming weeks. Fertita called from a cab with Mosshart in Washington, D.C., where the band was kicking off a month-and-a-half tour in support of their second full-length, the edgy and darkly ravishing Sea of Cowards.

"We were writing a lot of the songs together at sound checks and dressing rooms and on the bus," says Fertita. "It was even more collaborative than the first [album, Horehound. Sea of Cowards] has the benefit of us being a band for a year. The chemistry set was a little more alive on this one."

That chemistry is the by-product of less than two years together, a hyper-productive span that's spawned two full-length records and plenty of time on the bus.

"We watch the Cosmos series with Carl Sagan. We do movie nights. We've been spoiled for a year and a half," Fertita says. "We're complaining that we have to stop in a few weeks. We're getting something out of it that we weren't getting out of our other bands."

Once the tour wraps, the foursome will reluctantly part ways for the time being—Fertita to tour and write a new record with Queens of the Stone Age , Mosshart to work on a new Kills album, bassist Jack Lawrence to hit the road with the Greenhornes, and "who knows what Jack [White] will be doing," says Fertita. "I'm sure he'll have one of a million things going." Perhaps a new White Stripes record? Fertita says "it's probably always a possibility."

But first The Dead Weather will hit Seattle to headline the final day of the Capitol Hill Block Party—under dark and stormy skies, Fertita hopes. "Moody weather would be great. We're built for nighttime," he says. "I hope Seattle can provide. It usually does."

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