The Black Keys
New Times: Brothers is due to drop in May and ostensibly is the reason you cats are going back out on the road, has, with the exception of "Tighten Up," been pretty much kept under wraps. Why all the hush hush?
Dan Auerbach: I don't know. All I know is it will be available on CD and LP on may 18th. That might be why it feels sort of hush hush cause it's still over a month before it's officially released. Why get everybody excited if they can't go out and get it?
Speaking of "Tighten Up," did you consciously crib that title from Archie Bell and the Drells?
No, just coincidence. "Tighten up" is a lyric in our song and just became the title.
Brothers was recorded at Muscle Shoals -- what made you decide to use that fabled studio?
Brothers was recorded in Akron, Muscle Shoals, and Brooklyn. We happened on Muscle after ruling out a few other cool old studios. We just wanted to get out of town and this was an excuse to check out a studio and a town that had recorded lots of records we love.
We didn't actually use any of Muscle Shoals equipment; even if we did want to they don't have the equipment that was used in 1969. We brought our own gear and Mark Neill from San Diego brought his recording equipment. It was a mix of new and old analog mics and mixers and a digital multi track recorder called RADAR. The entire record was recorded digitally.
There's a Fender Rhodes in a studio shot. Any other classic instruments we might make note of?
We didn't use the Fender Rhodes in Shoals, but we did have a Wurlitzer, a Hammond, a Realistic synthesizer, a Parlour piano, a Mellotron and a harpsichord and we used all of those on the record.
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2009 saw [Auerbach's solo LP] Keep it Hid as well as the Blakrok record. Were these two things you simply needed to get outta your system before recording Brothers?
They were just records that we made and didn't think too much about. I mean, we didn't really have a master plan. We just love making music and whenever we have "down" time, we are making music of some kind.
Your hometown Akron's got a wild history, from abolitionist John Brown to Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill W, Quaker Oats to Goodyear, the All-American Soap Box Derby to the Pro Bowlers Association; the town even has its own swamp creature (The Grassman), not to mention a musical history that includes David Allan Coe, Devo and Robert Quine (to whom you're reportedly distantly related). How much of the city would you say is in your sound?
Robert was my mom's first cousin, so, he wasn't really distant. His mom and dad lived around the corner from me when I was a kid and I played guitar with Robert there a couple times. Akron is in our sound but I'm not sure it's so easy to identify. I think what Akron excels at is allowing musicians and artists to create in a setting that is free of interruption and outside influence. You can really be in your own "little world" in Akron. And housing is cheap too!