Watch Drummer Daru Jones Demonstrate How He Brings Life To Jack White's Live Show
Few drummers play at the stakes that Daru Jones has come to know. The Michigan born and bred phenomenon has steadily risen through the ranks of church gospel, neo-soul, hip-hop and rock drumming, finally arriving at the mighty throne from which he now holds court: the leadership role in Jack White‘s arena-packing live band.
Jones’s hip-hop credentials read like a whos-who of artistic rap. Slum Village, Talib Kweli, Black Milk and many others have made him the motor of their live shows, and while his current role has him playing barbed wire blues rock, his ability to drop the beat is as important as ever. “From my experiences,” Jones told Esquire in an extended interview, “the drummer’s always in the back. Even though our job is important, we don’t ever really get recognized. Jack was just like, ‘Man, everybody else is cool… but I play to the drummer.'”
White was well-versed in playing to the drummer in his last band–The White Stripes saw him touring the world as a rock and roll superstar, with only Meg White’s simplistic stickwork to lean on. Jones certainly brings more variety and flair to White’s current band, but he also knows how to mete out all that power. “It’s a challenge to play simple,” he told Esquire. “People know I’ll pay attention to detail. I want to learn the music as close to the record as possible. I feel like my job is to give the audience what they heard. People like songs for a certain reason. And one of my things is just making sure people is dancing. But if you want me to add more I will—I’ll bring in my swag every now and then.” Title track “Lazaretto“, off of White’s latest LP, is a perfect example of that swag at work.
Jones’s ability to both rein himself in and let his talent shine was on full display last weekend at Jack White’s sold out Madison Square garden mega-spectacle of a show. In keeping with his hip-hop roots, Daru accompanied special guest Q-Tip on a full band rendition of “Excursions,” the classic A Tribe Called Quest track that hinges entirely on a dry, deft drumbeat. Below, treat yourself to a video of Jones flexing his skills behind the kit, and be sure to keep an eye out for which stage he lands on next.