Interview magazine recently published a uniquely compelling interview featuring the unlikely duo of astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to ever walk on the moon, interviewing rocker Jack White (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, seven thousand other bands, side projects and one-offs). White, who never met a trend he didn’t buck, conceived the idea when the magazine solicited his thoughts on who might conduct his interview. Someone’s people called someone else’s people, an agreement was struck and thus flowed a thoroughly fascinating dialogue between these two disparate symbols of American culture.
Having seen Aldrin speak at a convention many years ago, I was fascinated by the premise. At the time, Aldrin filled the auditorium of San Francisco’s Moscone Center–an impressive accomplishment for anyone, much less a man whose star first rose in 1969, when his Apollo 11 lunar mission tattooed the left arm of history. Aldrin’s speech started strong but eventually splintered into rivulets of tangents that drew him far beyond the gravitational pull of his prefatory remarks. Expecting something energizing and focused, I walked away disappointed.
The very premise of the interview intrigued me. How would Aldrin conduct himself under such unusual circumstances? Would he ramble? Would he participate as a formal interviewer or as part of a conversation?
I was thrilled to discover the two falling into a convivial and thought-provoking dialogue that shines ample light over the men’s respective areas of expertise. The interview flows easily, guided by Interview magazine’s music editor Dimitri Ehrlich, as the men discuss space travel, the perils of divorce (Aldrin offers almost immediately that he is in the middle of a divorce proceeding at the time of the interview) and of course, music.
White is refreshingly deferential, asking thoughtful questions and providing candid and gracious answers to Aldrin’s questions concerning the breakup of The White Stripes and why White didn’t rank higher on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 100 Guitarists of all time (White was listed at number 17). When Aldrin veers back into the future of space travel, White genially follows along, never pushing his own image or agenda onto the stage they share. Given that White recently released his most stunning record to date, Blunderbuss, it is pleasantly surprising to see him turn off the wheels self-promotion, instead yielding the spotlight to Buzz.
Jack White fans will find relief in the discussion of Blunderbuss appearing in the feature’s introduction, but even non-fans will dig the men’s banter concerning the meaning of the number three, and forty years on, what the moon feels like to Buzz.