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The Black Keys Are Still Having Fun With Rock 'n' Roll

Blues rockers the Black Keys will headline the first day of the Riptide Music Festival on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Patrick Carney (left) and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys will headline the Riptide Music Festival on Saturday, December 2.
Patrick Carney (left) and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys will headline the Riptide Music Festival on Saturday, December 2. The Black Keys photo
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Growing up in the Midwest, going to the beach was a special journey for Patrick Carney.

"As a kid in Ohio, most years we would get to go to the beach for one week," the Black Keys' drummer tells New Times. "We'd load up the station wagon and drive to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. It was a huge treat. We'd stay in a condo and get picked on by the kids from New York City."

Now with two kids and married to fellow rocker Michelle Branch, it's become more of a norm. He says, "I actually bought a house in Charleston on Sullivan's Island just so my kids could get to the beach more often than I did. Who doesn't like the beach? But to be fair, my wife, Michelle, for our first trip, I took her to Jamaica, and she wasn't a beach person. But now she's a beach person — in fact, she's embracing being a 'beach goth.'"

On Saturday, December 2, Carney and Dan Auerbach will descend on Fort Lauderdale Beach, headlining day one of the two-day Riptide Music Festival. Additional acts on Saturday span the alternative spectrum, including Bleachers, Young the Giant, Silversun Pickups, and Cannons. Day two features Dirty Heads, Sublime with Rome, and headliner Jelly Roll.

"I've been impressed with his career," Carney says of Jelly Roll. "I met him a long time ago — probably when he was just out of prison in 2010. I was in Nashville and went to see a hip-hop show on the outskirts of town, he was there and thought I was making fun of him or something. He got in my face, and it was actually very terrifying. I think it's all smoothed over since then."

Beyond reflecting on when he could have gotten jelly-rolled, it's been a super-smooth and musical year for Carney and the Black Keys. As Riptide approaches, the band is wrapping up its latest album, which features collabs with the likes of Noel Gallagher of Oasis fame, Beck, and Alice Cooper. The album — the band's twelfth — is slated for release in 2024.

"It's the most fun we've ever had," Carney says of the new work. "It's a testament that we've come full circle as a band, starting as two neighborhood buddies in Ohio in a basement to playing Madison Square Garden and beyond. The trick has been figuring out how to still have fun and love your music. Music is the most important thing to us. In making this album, we wanted to make it like every kid wants to make an album. We went to London, jammed with Noel Gallagher, and stayed in the nicest hotels. We visited historic studios in L.A. The main thing now is making something you're proud of, and we've accomplished that."

Carney says his singer-songwriter wife had input into the new album as well.

"I take her criticism very seriously," he adds. "[With the new record] there have been songs she loves and songs she doesn't like, and we've definitely taken them off the record. We also share a lot of our music with our kids but also let them do their own thing. Like, our 5-year-old has a very interesting taste and will love the Bee Gees one day and then want to listen to the Fall and postpunk the next day."

Like his kid, Carney seems to be all about keeping the rock vibes going well beyond the beach and new music.

"The place we're at now as a band, music is the salvation," he says." We're having fun and bringing happiness. In the late '90s, when we were starting out, it felt very scene-y, judgey, and all that bullshit. I'm so far past that. What I want people to take away is the fact that we're playing rock 'n' roll, not using computers, and it's going to be what it is. That's the whole fun with rock 'n' roll."

Riptide Music Festival. Noon Saturday, December 2, and Sunday, December 3, at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, 1100 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; riptidemusicfestival.com. Tickets cost $49 to $309 via frontgatetickets.com.
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