The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach On The “Deep Kind Of Chemistry” Of His New Side Project

It’s been a while since he released his 2009 solo album ‘Keep It Hid’ but Dan Auerbach is once again playing away from his Black Keys buddy, drummer Patrick Carney. This time however, he’s not going it alone. Forming The Arcs with friends and Black Keys session superstars Leon Michels and Richard Swift – who swap between keys, guitars and percussion – as well as Homer Steinweiss (drums) and Nick Movshon (bass), the group release their debut album ‘Yours, Dreamily,’ on September 4 via TBK label Nonesuch. “It just felt wrong to have it under my own name,” explains Auerbach on the phone from his home in Nashville, explaining why he’s shying away from calling the record a solo release. “It wasn’t just me that made it special.”

“When we get in a room it’s already this deep kind of chemistry going on,” he adds of the collaborative process behind the record. “We’ve got 50 or 60 songs recorded over the last five years so this is not something I’ve just decided to do, this is something I’ve always recorded. I’ve always loved playing with other musicians ever since The Black Keys was started, I’ve always created music with other people – it’s what I do.”

A significant portion of the album also features the backing vocals of Mariachi Flor de Toloache, an all-female mariachi band from New York. Initially drafted in just to play on one track, they ended up becoming an integral part of the record. “They did their part and they were amazing,” remembers Auerbach of their initial session. “Then we said ‘Hey, can you guys sing, because we’ve got some background vocals we need done?’ and they said ‘Yeah, we can sing’. It was fucking so great that I put them on another song and then I put them on another song and then they ended up singing the lead on another song, called ‘Chains of Love’.”

Partially recorded upstairs in a lounge room at New York’s legendary Electric Lady Studios (“My friend manages Electric Lady, so we kinda snuck in there and worked at night”), the 14-track release sees Auerbach distancing himself from industry pressure as well as getting in touch with his falsetto side. “I didn’t once think about what other people would think of it, I didn’t once think of writing anything catchy, I didn’t once think about doing anything for radio,” he explains. “My voice is laid very bare on these songs and I’m singing in ranges I’ve never sung in, but it never felt uncomfortable.” Even so, you’ll still recognise who you’re listening to, insists Auerbach. “I’m not hiding behind anything, you know, I’m not pretending to be something,” he says. “I’m just really drawing from the same note that I always have, the same creative places that I’ve always gone to that still fascinate me.”