The Black Keys on the PTSD, injury and tension that led to their long break

"It was Dan's decision to take the break, and I knew I couldn't argue with him about it, because it made sense. One time I had to tell him to fuck himself"

The Black Keys have spoken of the tensions and difficulties that they faced during the time since their last album.

The rock duo will be releasing ‘Let’s Rock’ on June 28, their first album in five years since ‘Turn Blue’ in 2014.  In a new interview with Uncut, the pair have opened up about what led to their hiatus. While focussing on production and working with other artists, they also suffered from a breakdown in communication as well as burnout from extensive touring.

“To be honest, I wasn’t even thinking about The Black Keys at all,” said frontman Dan Auerbach. “It was completely out of my mind. Playing arenas felt like a distant dream.”

The Black Keys

The Black Keys

Carney continued: “I wasn’t ready to make a Black Keys record for a long time. I was completely locked in to rolling down Music Row at 8.45 every morning and getting into the studio. The whole week is just filled with different things and it’s all music related. It felt like there was a lot of work that I needed to do.”

Before the band decided to regroup, Auerbach said he felt he may have been “cursed” by their final show at Outside Lands in August 2015.

“I realised, ‘Fuck, every band plays their last fucking show in San Francisco. The Sex Pistols. The Band. The Beatles.’ I was sitting there saying to myself, ‘This could be a curse’,” he added.

Frustrated with the amount of downtime the band were taking, tensions reached breaking point between Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney.

“It was Dan’s decision to take the break, and I knew I couldn’t argue with him about it, because it made sense,” said Carney. “One time I had to tell him to fuck himself, but it wasn’t because of the break. It was because of just not communicating clearly. That didn’t go over well. But I figured that added another year to the total.”

While the drummer had his own problems to deal with, he appreciated that the hiatus was essential for their own recovery and development.

“We both needed to take a break. I had PTSD after coming off that last tour. I injured my shoulder, and if that wasn’t some kind of sign, I don’t know what was,” Carney went on.

“That long a break was very frustrating for me, but at the same time it was the right thing to do. It was right to walk away from living in each other’s pockets and just get on with our own lives. In the process, Dan and I ended up making a lot of music with a lot of other people and I think it made us better at what we do.”

Read more about the band’s journey so far and what the future may hold in the new issue of Uncut, which is out now and available here.

The Black Keys release ninth album ‘Let’s Rock’ on June 28, alongside a summer of extensive US touring. UK and European tour dates which are expected to be announced shortly.