Around 2000 it didn’t take too much of a clue to realize that there was a lot of cool shit going on in Detroit. The powers that be declared it a garage revival, but what it was was just vital rock and roll in the city that had given us Motown and the MC5 and the Stooges. Bands like the Von Bondies, the Detroit Cobras, the Electric Six (formerly the Wildbunch), and the Dirtbombs were on everybody’s lips. The White Stripes’ album White Blood Cells came out in the summer of 2001 and catapulted them to a whole new level.
In 2001 the Dutch TV station VPRO sent a crew to Detroit to document the goings-on, with a focus on (of course) the White Stripes. The program was directed by René Hazekamp and the interviews were conducted by Helmut Boeijen. The Dirtbombs’ Mick Collins is the closest thing the show has to an MC, we follow him around on Detroit’s People Mover as he explains the nuances of the Detroit scene. (Can’t help but think of the Electric Six song “Egyptian Cowboy,” in which Dick Valentine sings that “there’s never any people on the People Mover.”)
In Jack White: How he Built an Empire from the Blues, Nick Hasted writes:
In early November , ahead of the White Stripes’ European return, Dutch TV station VPRO filmed an evocative documentary showing a Detroit scene on the cusp of change. Mick Collins optimistically opined that if the White Stipes were its Beatles, “the Dirtbombs are the Rolling Stones,” while the Paybacks’ Wendy Case described a community that was finally “coalescing,” with bands “helping each other and booking shows together.” ... Did [White] feel obligated to pay attention to other Detroit bands, his interviewer, Helmut Boeijen, perceptively asked. “It feels good to take another Detroit band on tour with us,” Jack said. “They deserve it,” Meg loyally put in. Now he was home, Jack could duck fame’s chores like a naughty kid, as with the previous day’s phone interviews. “I just had my roommate [Ben Swank] do ‘em,” he laughed.
Towards the end of the program Jack is explaining that they had turned down a million bucks from the Gap to do a Christmas commercial, and makes the mistake of invoking Donny and Marie. Their friend and manager Arthur Dottweiler hilariously gives them endless shit for it. “You guys are not Donny and Marie!! You think you’re Donny and Marie?? Do you guys have your own network prime time television program??”
Dude did have a point.
Watch it after the jump…