Dan Auerbach on How the Black Keys Came Back

Dan Auerbach spent the years between Black Keys’ new album, Let’s Rock, and 2012’s Turn Blue taping album after album in his Nashville studio, many of them far more rootsy, layered and restrained than much of his band’s brochure. But to go back to the Black Keys‘ noise– and a more primal variation of it than they manifested during their prolonged period of collaboration with Danger Mouse, who is missing this time– all it took was Auerbach returning into a space with drummer Patrick Carney. In a discussion prior to the album’s release, Auerbach described how it occurred, and more

With all the other music you’ve been doing, was it hard to return to the Keys’ mindset?

I believe it’s simply this magic that occurs with Pat and me– it was this same thing that took place when we were 16 and started playing, and magically, it just sounded like music, when we started. It’s the very same thing that constantly happens when we get together. And it was really remarkable, having the break and then returning and simply playing with Pat once again was truly good, it felt terrific.

Did you come in with an overall blank slate?

We didn’t come in with anything written, we didn’t speak about anything, we had no plan, we didn’t even truly listen to any music. And we’re making the record. We simply sort of went all out. We worked really rapidly for the a lot of part.

Certainly no Risk Mouse this time– you people chose to produce it yourself. What was the thinking there?

Like I said, we didn’t even think about it. Honestly, we wished to find to “Louie Louie,” if we could. We simply wanted to not think about it, not prepare it, not discuss it and not overthink anything. That was the idea actually, just to have some fun and play music. Just play rock ‘n roll.

Why is the album called ” Let’s Rock”?


Well, I indicate, it’s a rock ‘n roll record. The whole record is just guitars and drums and bass. There’s not anything, no synthesizers, no keyboards. So there is that. About a week into the recording session I had a Tennessee paper, and it was a huge heading the week that we were taping, and it was that they had actually executed a detainee in Nashville, for the very first time in 16 years. They did it while we were taping, and they asked this particular man if he had any last words and he stated, “Let’s rock”. So the album cover is an electric chair.

That’s pretty dark.

This organisation is kinda dark. I loved it, loved everything about it.

At the start of “Walk Throughout the Water,” I believed I heard keyboards, those aren’t keyboards?

No. That’s really the only non-guitar or drum thing in the entire record– it’s a drum maker. And this drum machine has actually a developed in sound with the drum and that’s sort of it. However it is simply Pat playing the drum maker and it simply happens to have a little noise on it with the drum.

There’s something practically rebellious about making an album like this in 2019.

You know, a couple of years earlier, I made this record in Nashville with this person named Glenn Schwartz. He was the original guitarist in The James Gang. He was the first rock n’ roller that Joe Walsh ever saw. Joe Walsh saw him in 1966 at Bowling Green University in Ohio. He had purple bell bottoms on and no t-shirt and ripping on guitar. He made Joe Walsh wish to play rock n’ roll. Anyhow, I utilized to go see Glenn Schwartz play beginning when I was 17, I would increase there with my daddy. He played at this little bar, and n he just played crazy, careless rock n; roll guitar. It was kinda dark and religious and sounded like Cream basically. And I had him concern Nashville 2 years ago and we cut a record and Joe Walsh can be found in, and Joe was telling me how prominent he was, and as quickly as we began playing this Glenn tune, I realized how much I ‘d gained from him. Just how much I ‘d taken in. Having actually seen Link Wray and Glenn Schwartz when I was 18 basically made me who I am. And it’s that unusual rock n’ roll spirit that I can’t ever avoid. and whenever Pat and I get together it just comes out. Glenn played a home-made 335- style Gibson through a Fender Quad Reverb with an extension. He was playing 8 twelve-inch speakers! In a bar that held about seventy-five individuals It resembled this thunder. When I started The Black Keys I got a 335- style guitar, I got the Fender Quad Reverb, I set the amp sideways like Link Wray did. It wasn’t ’til I returned to do that record with Joe and Glenn that I understood, oh my God, this whole thing, I have actually been so influenced and didn’t even truly understand it.

So discovering that core influence assisted you refocus?

Yeah. So it all kinda taken place together and I made that record with Joe and it was just really raw. We played all of Glenn’s old songs, all these heavy blues songs. And it’s simply sort of where I originate from and where Pat and I come from. Northeastern Ohio, Cleveland, Detroit, all these cities that just had rock n’ roll pumping through the airwaves all the time. I inform everybody all the time, I’ve never owned a Tom Petty record, however I know every Tom Petty tune. Rock n’ roll was all over in northeastern Ohio and the older I get the more I realize it too, particularly being around all these country guys in Nashville. These men are just naturally country, all the time, there’s a great deal of these old guys, ’cause that’s what they were raised around. And I guess I didn’t recognize what my natural tendency was till I dipped back into that well. You never ever think about it. I utilized to think that was the noise that everybody plays guitar with. I do not understand.

” Lo/Hi” has that great fuzz sound with a great deal of variations in it, some truly cool guitar stuff going on in there. What do you remember about that coming together?

Really rapidly. I bear in mind that the guitar solo on that is live, it’s the one from the tracking. I just stopped playing rhythm guitar and played the song. And then returned to rhythm. Many of the tunes on the record are just live. Prior to I even knew what the words were. So, we simply let it flow truly. That was one of those ones where I simply remember entering that groove. And Pat just knows how to wing it like that. It’s so good. He’s such a dance-y drummer. He has the ability to be dance-y and heavy at the very same time. I believe we both felt influenced. We’re both perhaps in an excellent place, you could say. We just weren’t fretted about external bullshit, we just came to make music. And do what we do. We weren’t attempting to impress anyone; we weren’t attempting to believe about contextually speaking where this record was gon na sit or anything. I think it’s best when we kinda do our own thing. It always has been.

The opening track, ‘Shine A Little Light’ has a genuine air-guitar-inspiring power chord part therein.

I think that it started as I playing the Gretsch guitar, I ‘d never actually played a Gretsch in a rock n’ roll type of method, and as quickly as I plugged it in and start playing I’m likem “oh shit, no surprise AC/DC constantly utilized these fucking things”. And I began playing those rhythm-type chunk chords and that song simply popped right out. My preferred part of that tune is right in the beginning after the introduction prior to that riff hits in there’s a moment of silence, and you can hear the amps begin to inflate practically like when the racers are at the start of a race, and right prior to the gun goes off everyone raises up, you understand what I mean? That’s what I hear because little moment of silence before that riff hits. And you can simply hear the amps, they’re just all set to fucking blow up and they start to swell before the note even occurs.

Was ‘Fire Stroll With Me’ a recommendation to the motion picture?

It’s a coincidence. I do not understand, male. I believe I simply began singing it which just popped out of my mouth hole. Yeah but no, I hadn’t seen that movie. To be sincere, I don’t believe I have actually ever seen it.

Inform me about ‘Obtain Together’.

That was practically like that little whack-a-doo, like, R.L. Burnside kinda thing on guitar, I keep in mind starting it with that. That’s got open tuning guitar. That’s the exact same type of tuning I ‘d utilize playing in bars back when I was 17 The very same kinda ‘whack-a-boo-boo-whacka’. Recognizing that most of R.L. Burnside’s guitaring was in the scraping sound of the guitar, not the real playing of the notes. When I finally figured that out it resembled a revelation for me.

” Breaking Down” has what, for lack of a much better term, I keep calling the “Listen to the Flower Individuals” part– a little psychedelic break down, where did that come from?

I have no fucking concept! We just did it. We simply stopped right in the middle, and we played that. I do not understand why, but it worked. We had not played together for so long, we kept surprising ourselves.

Existed ever any doubt that there would be this record?

4 years ago I certainly wouldn’t have remained in a location where I wished to make a record. However it was less about making the record and more about … Because we can’t simply make a record. We got ta make a record then trip for two years. So there’s a lot more that supports just making a record. But I’m thankful that we put in the time to settle our minds and escape each other for a while, it was truly valuable. It made it all better when we returned.

How did you understand it was time to do this once again? How was that decided?

I don’t understand. Management would bug me every when in a while, and Pat would let me understand, however they weren’t pushy. I just felt like I had things that I needed to do. And I actually did. I satisfied people, I composed a lot of tunes, I learned a lot about music and musicians and record-making, and as much as Pat and I are a natural thing, I certainly feel like I am a different person then I was 4 years ago. I’m so happy that I stuck to my guns and made us take a break. They ‘d ask and I ‘d say no, not yet, or I wan na do this very first, I got this to do. I pushed it back, however then I just finally put it in the calendar. We just put it in the books and got together. I understood that we weren’t going to have problem making the record.

You had this regular opting for your studio and working almost nine to five and not being on the road. Now you will toss that out the window for a quite very long time. How do you feel about that?

I’m delighted to play some shows. I’m delighted to play for the fans, I’m thrilled to play some of the old tunes once again. I simply seem like in this service, specifically for us, because we’re so middle class from Ohio, it’s tough for us to refuse money. Hard for us to decline those jobs. Because we worked so difficult to get em. We worked for a years. We took a four-door vehicle and drove all around America, then we took a minivan to do the same thing. So like, to say no to opportunity was additional difficult for us. However it was a necessity. We needed to.

How will you evaluate the success of this album?


It’s tough to evaluate that nowadays due to the fact that of the way the music business is. But I think that playing the shows, if people come out, I think that’s an indication that they like the record, I guess or like the band, still.

Possibly if individuals are psyched for the brand-new songs rather than running for the bathrooms, that’s success at this point.

If they’re going to get $10 hotdogs while we’re playing our brand-new songs then we understand we have actually done something wrong.

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