|The Black Keys (Handout)
For their latest rock offering, El Camino, The Black Keys followed that old adage, if it ain't broke don't fix it.
In other words, the blues-rock-soul duo -- originally from Akron, Ohio -- reunited with their 2008 Attack and Release producer Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) who also produced one song on their Grammy-winning 2010 effort Brothers.
The result is yet another raw-sounding rock album that's so far spawned the catchy singles Lonely Boy and Gold On The Ceiling.
"It's really just sort of a reflection of what we've been listening to," says Keys singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach, 32.
"We're listening to rockabilly records, and we were listening to '70s bands like The Sweet, The Clash, we're listening to The Cars, we were listening to all kinds of s---, Creedence, any band that starts with C, basically. We were stuck in the C section."
Adds drummer Patrick Carney, 31, in a separate interview: "Perfect music is boring music -- that's the kind of stuff they play in an elevator. I think people are losing an ear for (raw music). I think everybody kind of has it but you've got to exercise it. When you turn on the radio it's all kind of perfectly sequenced, perfectly written, perfectly performed by machines. It's hard not to listen to The Who and really understand these are wild men going crazy or Led Zeppelin -- these are human beings playing that, it's all hard to kind of put that in perspective. We just try and make music that we love to make and have fun."
As bare bones as their approach, however, the songs should come alive in a live setting as the Keys cross Canada in the next few months.
"I love (doing arenas)," says Auerbach. "The energy is really cool. It feels like old school rock 'n' roll, like the video of Led Zeppelin playing at the Garden. It's really expansive and the sound system is massive, blasting -- it feels really grandiose.
Adds Carney: "It takes some getting used to, but we realized the shows could be just as good in a big place. It just all depends on the crowd."
Behind the scenes for their arena trek is Montrealer Karl Lemieux, responsible for all the striking stage visuals for Montreal band Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
"He's really amazing. He does everything on film and then he processes it in crazy ways," Auerbach says. "He's awesome."
Completely the opposite of where El Camino was recorded -- in Auerbach's brand new Nashville-based Easy Eye Sound studio.
"I just bought a very simple building and designed a very straight-forward old-fashioned room and filled it with all the instruments," says Auerbach. "I've been happy as a pig in s--- "¦ It's my favourite thing to do -- is to make records."
Name mix-up keeps Keys humble
Just because you win an award doesn't mean they'll get your name right.
Black Keys singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach still laughs about winning the 2010 MTV Video Music Award for best breakthrough video for single, Tighten Up, only to discover the award inscribed to the Black Eyed Peas.
"We thought it was amazing," he says. "We gave it back and got another one. They didn't let us keep it. They said, 'If you want a proper (inscription), you've got to send that back."
He's just as low-key about the three Grammys the group won in 2011 for their sixth studio effort, Brothers. He reveals he keeps the trophies out of sight at his new Nashville-based studio, Easy Eye Sound.
"I've got them way high on the shelf," he says. "That's not why I make music "¦ I'm not going to have gold records in my house. I'd find that embarrassing, do you know what I mean? Cause that's like history. It's like, I'm so focused on right now and the future, I'm not satisfied with like, 'Okay, now I can retire, I've got the gold record.' "
THE BLACK KEYS CANADIAN TOUR DATES:
March 13, Bell Centre, Montreal
March 14, Air Canada Centre, Toronto
May 9, Rogers Arena, Vancouver
May 11, Saddledome, Calgary
May 12, Rexall Centre, Edmonton
May 14, MTS Centre, Winnipeg
Aug. 4, Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Toronto