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Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach Ready for Biggest Tour of Band’s Career

Dan Auerbach
Mark Davis, Getty Images

The Black Keys have come a long way since their formation over 10 years ago. The duo have released No. 1 records, performed on late night TV shows like ‘Saturday Night Live,’ graced the cover of Rolling Stone, played in venues around the world and everything else we can only dream of.

The Black Keys released their seventh studio album, ‘El Camino’, last December, which has become one of their most critically and commercially successful. We had the chance to talk with frontman Dan Auerbach about the band’s overdue popularity, their upcoming arena tour with Arctic Monkeys, his stance about the so-called death of rock music and more.

You are about to go on the biggest tour of your career so far. How are you guys preparing for that?

We are…I don’t know, we’re not doing anything [laughs]. We just do our thing, man. People come to see a rock ‘n’ roll show. They come to see the Black Keys. We’re not going to be like Cirque du Soleil on stage. I think that’s why people like us because there’s no phoney baloney-ness. It’s just us playing music.

Judging by the response so far, odds are it’s going to be a great tour. Madison Square Garden in New York sold out in 15 minutes. You were Linsanity before Linsanity even happened.

Exactly, and we suck at basketball.

You guys released ‘El Camino’ in December, which is the follow up to [2010's] ‘Brothers.’ Was there a lot of pressure to follow up the success of ‘Brothers’?

There could have been if we let that happen to ourselves, but we didn’t. We just went in and made a record like we always do without really any plan or without any rehearsal. Just get in there and do it, you know? And that’s how we’ve always operated. That’s what we did on this one too.

Now Danger Mouse, who you’ve worked with before, had a lot more participation on this record. Obviously he co-produced it but I think he also co-wrote most, if not all of the songs. Is that right?

Yeah, it was a co-production and a co-write on the whole record, so we all worked together as a team.

Is it normal for you guys to put so much trust into one person?

No, I mean not at all. We’ve never done that before. It’s because we’ve worked with him before. We know him, we trust him, and he was really excited about working on the record and really expressed that he wanted to be able to write with us. He didn’t want to feel like he was held back at all with any thoughts that he had. Writing lyrics with someone is weird. I’ve never done it before. At times it was absolutely infuriating but most of the time it was cool and went smoothly.

You guys relocated from your hometown of Akron, Ohio, to Nashville and opened up Easy Eye Sound Studio. What made you guys decide to move?

Pat [Carney] was living in New York City at the time and I was just ready for a change of pace. I had some friends in Nashville and a couple of years ago I came here and they showed me around town. I was just really impressed. It has a small town feel just like Akron. It really reminds me of Akron but there’s just so much going on. I wanted to have a proper studio and this is the kind of town where they just cater to musicians. If I run out of tape in my reel-to-reel, I call somebody up and they deliver it to my door. It’s kind of crazy.

You’ve also been on the cover of Rolling Stone and played on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ All these huge things are happening. Has it all just sunk in?

Yeah, I mean, everything is crazy. All this stuff we could have never dreamed it would happen. It’s wild but we’ve been a band for 10 years. I guess it’s helped us absorb some of these wild things that have been happening. I think if it had been our first album and we were still 20 years old, we might just be going crazy. We’re grownups at this point.

People have been talking about the future of rock, if it’s actually the death of rock. Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters has said rock was never really dead. It’s just that people haven’t discovered the good stuff that’s out there. What are your thoughts about the status of rock?

I think that it’s so lame of an argument. It seems so stupid. It’s like the press needs something to talk about. Being 16 years old and getting an electric guitar is never going to get old. There’s always going to be kids making music. There’s always going to be kids in bands. Everything is cyclical. It’ll come back around and be popular. The Foo Fighters are like the biggest band in the world. They play stadiums.  How is rock dead?

Listen to the entire interview on WGRD.com.

Check Out Our Interview With Black Keys Drummer Pat Carney

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