Detroit minimalist rock duo (specifically, south-west Detroit minimalist rock duo) the White Stripes - Jack White, guitar and vocals, Meg White, drums - formed in 1997 (Bastille Day, to be precise) with the idea of making simple rock & roll music. From the red and white peppermint candy motif of their debut singles, self-titled album, and stage show to their on-the-surface rudimentary style, they succeeded wildly and immediately with that mission. Their first recordings were a mix of garage rock, blues, and the occasional show tune. In frontman Jack (a former drummer for Detroit country outfit Goober & the Peas), the White Stripes have a formidable songwriter, guitar player, and vocalist capable of both morphing between styles and changing the musical styles themselves (from the folk blues of Blind Willie McTell to soaring Kinks-esque pop and narrative pop tunes worthy of Cole Porter and into deepest Captain Beefheart territory within the span of 15 minutes is not an uncommon listening experience with either the White Stripes live show or on record). In drummer Meg, the White Stripes have a minimalist percussionist who seems to sense intuitively exactly when to not play. The White Stripes are grounded in punk and blues, but the undercurrent to all of their work has been the aforementioned striving for simplicity and a love of American folk music and a careful approach to intriguing, emotional, and evocative lyrics not found anywhere else in the modern punk, or garage rock (or amongst post-modern "blues" practitioners such as Jon Spencer, for that matter).
While they may have sprung form the Detroit rock scene (and they remain regular fixtures on the Detroit club circuit with Jack producing or working with many Detroit-area bands), the White Stripes quickly gained a national following after two successive tours with indie rockers Pavement and Sleater-Kinney in 1999 and 2000. The White Stripes released their second LP, DeStijl, in 2000 and it further spread the group's reputation. They followed its release with successful tours of Japan and Australia and entered the Memphis studio of renowned producer Doug Easley for 2001's White Blood Cells.
Chris Handyside, AMG