The White Stripes Get Redd

Steve McDonald gives the Detroit rockers some bottom end

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The White Stripes have expanded their lineup to include a bass player . . . sort of. Steve McDonald -- best known for his years with hardcore-turned-power-pop funsters Redd Kross -- made a unilateral decision to join the duo by posting some freshly dubbed MP3s that combine his bass playing with pre-existing White Stripes recordings on his Web site [www.reddkross.com]. To seal the deal, McDonald superimposed himself clad in de rigeur red and white togs next to guitarist Jack White and drummer Meg White onto the cover of White Blood Cells, which he re-titled "Redd Blood Cells" for the occasion.

"It's not as if I wanted to take a shot at a band that dared make my instrument irrelevant," says McDonald. "I really love their approach, so I just see this as taking being a fan to another dimension."

McDonald initially conceived the project as a sort of rock scene in-joke, but once enough friends bought into the notion, he decided to spring into action --only to find himself suffering from a rare case of stage (or home studio) fright.

"When I sat down to actually record these things, I began to feel pressure, which I thought was kind of weird, since I'd played guitar with Courtney Love and never had that feeling then," he says. "I ended up working about an hour on each track, which is probably a lot less spontaneous than Jack and Meg were when they recorded the songs in the first place."

McDonald isn't devoting all of his time to becoming the third Stripe, though. He's done some sessions (Tenacious D being the best known) and is once again testing the waters of the L.A. rock scene with a new combo called, sensibly enough, the Steve McDonald Group.

As for making the White Stripes a trio, McDonald might be one step closer to that goal. "I just went to see the White Stripes in L.A. and I met Jack, and he gave us his blessing 100 percent," he says. "He said he thought it was a much better idea than the White Strokes, which I guess is some English novelty track."