Jack White toasts opening of Third Man Pressing plant
Vintage Detroit rock and roll blared as workers stamped out fresh stacks of vinyl records on Friday night during an invite-only, VIP opening party at the brand new Third Man Pressing plant in the Cass Corridor.
A few hundred Detroit artists, musicians, venue owners and members of the Detroit music community got their first peek at the colorful, brightly lit facility – its eight presses in full operation mode – before it opens to the public Saturday.
Among them was Jack White, the patron saint of vinyl and the man whose vision brought the new seven figure compound to the 10,000 square foot warehouse, which is now one of only about 20 vinyl pressing plants in the U.S. and a few dozen worldwide.
Standing in the center of it all, as copies of the White Stripes’ debut album were being pumped out on red vinyl just a few feet behind him, White beamed with pride.
“I mean, my mother pressed a Stooges record yesterday. What?” said White, clad in a black pinstripe suit, black shirt, yellow tie and shiny yellow boots. “Ten years ago if you said this is going to happen, there’s going to be this place and it’s going to be in the Cass Corridor and your mom is going to press the first Stooges album in it, I don’t think I’d believe it.”
It’s a place that could only come from the imagination of Jack White, the White Stripes frontman and rock and roll preservationist who opened his Third Man Records store in the Cass Corridor in November 2015 with the promise of a pressing plant to follow.
His stamp is on everything, especially the plant’s dramatic black-and-yellow color scheme, which matched the color of the frosting on the party’s cake. The floor is yellow, the presses are yellow, and workers wear black Dickies overalls with yellow shirts underneath. Everything in its right place.
When doors swing open on Saturday, customers at the Third Man Cass Corridor retail store will be able to watch the pressing plant in action through windows in its back hallway. Folks began lining up outside the store early Friday morning to be the first to get inside, and to get their hands on exclusive releases from the White Stripes, the Stooges, MC5 and more.
Derrick May, who is among the artists with exclusive product available at launch, put his arm around White and embraced him at the party after checking out a copy of his 7-inch record on clear vinyl and showing it off to his daughter.
Other prominent artists at the party included Detroit producer Mike E. Clark, Kid Rock drummer Stefanie Eulinberg and Detroit rapper Danny Brown, who closed the night with a lively unadvertised set in the store’s performance space. The Craig Brown Band and Kelly Stoltz also performed.
Jax Anderson, the Detroit singer who goes by Flint Eastwood, was wowed by the pressing plant’s attention to detail.
“The presentation of everything definitely exceeded any expectations I had,” she said. Having a pressing plant in the center of the city is definitely going to be a boon for the local music community, she said. “Vinyl is such a hard thing to get,” she said, “especially as a lower-tier artist or someone just starting out. So to be able to have something like this in the city is awesome.”
Mike E. Clark, the producer best known for his work in shaping the sound of Detroit rap duo Insane Clown Posse, called White’s commitment to the city inspiring.
“He’s showing love, he’s showing unity, and he’s bringing everyone together,” said Clark. “Who ever thought this would happen? He’s doing this and he’s humble, man. Thank God for Jack White.”
Among the invited guests were other pressing plant owners, including Mike Archer of Detroit’s Archer Record Pressing. At one point in the evening White and the other pressing plant owners posed for a group photo, perhaps the first of its kind.
White offered a toast to the crowd midway through the party, first joking about “fake news” and then thanking the carpenters and the plumbers for their hard work on the building.
“We’re all one family, we’re all together, this is us together,” he said, holding a glass of champagne in the air. “Remember this moment, because we’re making things beautiful last for the next generation.”
White, who said he’s most proud of the mural by Cass Corridor artists Robert Sestok that adorns the back wall of the facility, told The News that the plant is about leaving something lasting in the neighborhood, the neighborhood where he went to high school, where his mother was an usher at the Masonic Temple and where the White Stripes played their first show in the now-shuttered Gold Dollar.
“Out of the roughest – quote, unquote – neighborhood in Detroit, this is where the rebirth is happening,” he said. “It’s not gentrification. Empty lots made into something beautiful are not gentrification. It’s something beautiful we’ve waited 40 years for, and everybody here is glad to be a part of it.”
He said he doesn’t want the building to be about him and his name, but for it to become its own institution and become part of the fabric of the new culture of the city.
“The beauty is to try to make something that didn’t exist already,” said White. “When I first pulled in here (two years ago), this was a parking structure. We parked our car here and got out of our car. I said, ‘what is this room?’ And (Shinola Founder) Tom (Kartsotis) goes, ‘this is where we park our cars.’
“And now?” White said, smiling, “it’s something different.”