How much do you know about Ohio garage kingpins The Black Keys? Bet you didn’t know that guitarist Dan Auerbach’s goal in life is “not to go bankrupt or get some incurable disease,” while Pat Carney on drums is simply “excited to become a 70-year-old man with no taste buds left who only wants to eat mustard.”
The duo once launched a charity t-shirt, designed by Patrick Carney’s brother Michael and sold at shows for £15, to raise money for the baseball little league they used to play in as children, the West Akron Baseball League. Carney explained: “Dan and I played little league when we were kids before we got into music; it was a really positive hobby that kept us from sitting around watching TV.”
Their name comes from an expression used by a friend of the pair, schizophrenic artist Alfred McMoore. “He would call people he doesn’t like D Flats and Black Keys,” Carney explained in 2006.
The pair are vocal supporters of Barack Obama, playing a benefit show for the President in 2008 in their hometown Akron, Ohio with fellow Akronites Devo and Chrissie Hynde.
In 2010, Pat’s personal e-mail account was hacked. The hackers sent out messages stating that he was stranded in the UK and needed money to get home.
Early in their careers, they were offered a six-digit sum to put their music in a Hellman’s mayonnaise advert, but turned it down because they didn’t want to alienate their fan base.
Pat Carney is slightly less diplomatic about Spotify: in 2012, he called one of its board members, Napster founder Sean Parker, “an asshole.”
Pat thinks that “music [that is] too perfect is boring.” “When you turn on the radio it’s all kind of perfectly sequenced, perfectly written, perfectly performed by machines,” he complained.
Pat blames the recent downturn of interest in rock ‘n’ roll solely on Nickelback, described as “watered-down, post-grunge crap, horrendous shit.”
Dan’s mantra for life is “the groove is king.”
The first DJ in the world to play their music was John Peel, for whom they recorded three sessions, including one at his house, where they hung out with the family. “We were on the way to the fourth when we received news that John had died,” said Pat.
By the time of their mainstream breakthrough, following 2010 album ‘Brothers’, the pair were speaking to one another. Pat had felt betrayed to discover Dan was touring a solo album, ‘Keep It Hid’, which he says was made without his knowledge. Dan claims: “I told him about it, but he likes to think I didn’t.”
Dan is friends with Billy Gibbons, of ZZ Top fame. They met through mutual friend. Producer Rick Rubin. The pair also recorded together with Gibbons describing the session as “hyper-pedal”. Whatever that means.
Their 2010 album ‘Brothers’ was a licensing bonanza. The single ‘Tighten Up’ appeared in a Subaru ad, a video game, a Gossip Girl episode and on the soundtrack to several Hollywood films.
Pat’s younger brother, Michael, was friends with Dan’s younger brother, Geoff at high school with the Keys meeting during a tag American football game with them.
Dan’s numerous side projects include stints in the production chair for Dr. John, Michael Kiwanuka and Valerie June. He’s also collaborated with Lana Del Rey.
Pat’s uncle has composed music for two spoken word poetry records: Robert Creeley’s ‘Really!’ and Ira Cohen’s ‘Stauffenberg Cycle’.
In 2009 Dan and Pat released a hip-hop collaboration under the pseudonym ‘Blackroc’. It featured contributions from Mos Def, Q-Tip and Ludacris and a limited edition Chevrolet Camaro was released to promote it.
Dan and Jack White’s children attended the same school. In letters released during the latter’s divorce he is rumoured to have not been a fan, saying “[Dan] gets yet another free reign to follow me around and copy me and push himself into my world.” Ouch.
One of Pat’s nicknames is ‘The Salesman’, said to have come about as a result of his multi-coloured drum kit.
The creepy promo for upcoming release, ‘Turn Blue’ featured the actor Micah Fitzgerald, who’s previously starred in 13/13/13, The Tsarevich and The Sunshine Shop: The Lovaganza Convoy Proof of Concept. Nope, we’ve never heard of those films either.
Their first album, ‘The Big Come Up’, was a lo-fi affair. Dan and Patrick recorded the entire album in Pat’s basement studio on 8-track recording equipment. Follow-up ‘Thickfreakness’ was recorded in the same studio during a single 14-hour session.