The Black Keys are an American alternative rock music duo consisting of vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer/producer Patrick Carney. The band was formed in Akron, Ohio, in 2001. As of October 2010, the band has sold over 1.7 million records.
Early history and The Big Come Up (2001–2002)
The Black Keys are Dan Auerbach (guitar and lead vocals) and Patrick Carney (drummer). According to an interview on NPR‘s Fresh Air the name came from a schizophrenic artist named Alfred McMoore that the pair knew; he would leave incoherent messages on their answering machines referring to their fathers as “black keys” such as “D flat” when he was upset with them.
The band released their debut album, The Big Come Up, in early 2002. The album was very successful for a new independent rock band. Along with their second album, it was recorded entirely in drummer Patrick Carney’s basement on an 8-track tape recorder from the early 1980s. The album spawned two singles released as an EP, “Leavin’ Trunk” and “She Said, She Said“. Both are cover songs; “Leavin’ Trunk” is a traditional blues standard and “She Said, She Said” is originally by The Beatles. “I’ll Be Your Man” would later be used as the theme for the HBO series Hung. “Breaks” was featured in the 2008 film RocknRolla‘
Thickfreakness era (2003)
The band released Thickfreakness in April 2003, which was recorded on a Tascam 388 in Carney’s basement in 14 hours.The album was favoured by critics and spawned three singles: “Set You Free“, “Hard Row” which was featured in the pilot episode for the FX tv show Sons of Anarchy and a cover of Richard Berry‘s “Have Love, Will Travel“. The other cover was Junior Kimbrough‘s “Everywhere I Go”. “Set You Free” was featured on the soundtrack for School of Rock, as well as the 2009 comedy I Love You, Man.
The band released a split-EP with The Six Parts Seven on September 16, 2003, titled The Six Parts Seven/The Black Keys EP and featured one song by The Six Parts Seven and three songs by The Black Keys.
Rubber Factory and first live album (2004–2005)
Rubber Factory, the band’s third album, was released in 2004. During Thickfreakness and Rubber Factory, the band gained recognition and popularity, boosting their career. Rubber Factory was recorded in an abandoned factory in early 2004. The factory waslocated in Akron, but according to Carney, was torn down in early 2010.The album featured singles “10 A.M. Automatic“, “‘Til I Get My Way“, and “Girl Is On My Mind“, released as an EP. “When the Lights Go Out” was used in trailers for the film Black Snake Moan and was featured in the erotic opening sequence with co-stars Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake. Additionally, “10 A.M. Automatic” was used in Live Free or Die, The Go Getter, the soundtrack to MLB 06: The Show and an American Express commercial. The Go Getter also featured “Keep Me” as did Sons of Anarchy‘s Season 1 Episode AK-51 & Old Bones. “Grown So Ugly” was featured on Cloverfield and “Girl Is On My Mind” on Sony Ericsson, Victoria’s Secret, and in November 2010, Zales commercials. Around this time, they also opened for bands such as Pearl Jam, Beck, Radiohead and Sleater-Kinney. The Kinks cover, “Act Nice and Gentle” appears in the eleventh episode of season four of Rescue Me. In the scene where Dennis Leary and Gina Gershon are getting freaky, it plays in the background.
The Moan was an extended play which was released on January 19, 2004, featuring “Have Love Will Travel”, an alternate version of “Heavy Soul,” and two covers.
Magic Potion and other releases (2006–2007)
The Black Keys released Chulahoma: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough, an EP with covers of songs by Junior Kimbrough, a north Mississippi bluesman, whom the band had covered on The Big Come Up and Thickfreakness. The EP was released on May 2, 2006. Four days later, The Black Keys released their second live album, Live in Austin, TX – also known as Thickfreakness in Austin – which was recorded October 24, 2003. Soon after, their fourth album dropped; Magic Potion was their first release on Nonesuch Records. The album featured four singles; “You’re the One“, “Your Touch“, “Strange Desire“, and “Just Got To Be“. The latter was featured on the soundtrack to the video game, NHL 08. “Your Touch” was featured on the 2009 film Zombieland as well as the HBO series Eastbound & Down. The Black Keys recorded a cover of “The Wicked Messenger” for the soundtrack of I’m Not There and have recorded “If You Ever Slip”, a song written by Jesse Harris for The Hottest State soundtrack.
Attack & Release and the Blakroc project (2008–2009)
Attack & Release, the band’s fifth album, was produced by Danger Mouse and released on April 1, 2008, having leaked onto the internet by March 4. Attack & Release debuted at number 14 on the Billboard 200. The singles from the album were “Strange Times“, “I Got Mine“, and “Same Old Thing”. “Strange Times” was featured in the video games Grand Theft Auto IV and NASCAR 09. “I Got Mine” was named the 23rd best song by Rolling Stone in its list of the 100 Best Songs of 2008. “I Got Mine” is used as the theme song for Canadian Police Drama TV Series The Bridge. “Lies” was used in episodes of Big Love and Lie to Me, and was covered by Kelly Clarkson live on her All I Ever Wanted Tour. “So He Won’t Break” was featured on an episode of One Tree Hill. According to an interview in Pitchfork Media, the band was collaborating on an album with Ike Turner, to be produced by Danger Mouse and released in 2007, but the idea was rendered impossible with Turner’s death in December 2007.”Some of the stuff we ended up recording sounds like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins,” said Carney.
On October 17, 2008, The Black Keys was an opening act for fellow Akron-area band Devo at a special benefit concert at The Akron Civic Theater for presidential candidate Barack Obama. Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, also an Akron native and Firestone High School graduate, followed their set.In November, they toured through Europe together with Liam Finn. On June 6, 2009, The Black Keys performed along with The Roots, TV on the Radio, Public Enemy, Antibalas, and other acts at the 2nd Annual Roots Picnic on the Festival Pier in Philadelphia. They also joined the 9th annual Independent Music Awards judging panel to assist independent musicians’ careers.
On February 10, 2009, vocalist and guitarist Dan Auerbach released his debut solo album, Keep It Hid. During this time, drummer Patrick Carney formed an indie band called Drummer, who are currently signed to Carney’s Audio Eagle Records label. Drummer released their debut album Feel Good Together on September 29, 2009.
Blakroc is a collaborative album featuring The Black Keys and several hip hop artists released on Black Friday. The project was supported and brought together by Damon Dash, who is a big fan of the band. The album features rappers among the likes of Mos Def, Ludacris, RZA, Raekwon, Pharoahe Monch, Q-Tip, NOE, Jim Jones, Nicole Wray, M.O.P., and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard. The album was recorded in Brooklyn, New York. Auerbach said on the official Blakroc site, “Pat and I have been preparing for this record since we were 16.”
Brothers was released on May 18, 2010, featuring a 15 track listing. The album was produced by The Black Keys and Mark Neill, and was mixed by Tchad Blake. The song “Tighten Up” (featured on the FIFA 11 soundtrack) was released before the album as a single, along with “Howlin’ for You” (featured on the NHL 11 soundtrack and used as the theme song to the Australian Police Drama TV Series Cops L.A.C.. It is also featured in the movie “Limitless”. The Toronto Blue Jays baseball franchise has also used a portion of it in their promotional advertisements during the 2011 season.) on the B-side. Brothers sold over 73,000 copies in its first week, giving it a #3 ranking on the Billboard Albums chart, their highest yet. Furthermore, the single “Tighten Up” has become their most successful single, reaching the top spot on the US Alternative charts. The Brothers CD has a thin thermal film on the surface, which changes colors depending on the temperature of the surroundings and ranges from completely black to a creamy surface with writing when placed in a CD player. There are two cut tracks from this album that have been released as well. “Ohio” pays homage to the home of The Black Keys, and “Chop and Change” was featured on the soundtrack of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The song “She’s Long Gone” was used to promote the second season of “Swamp People” on History Channel.
The Black Keys also helped judge the 9th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists’ careers.
On November 26, 2010 The Black Keys released a special edition Record Store Day Black Friday Double 12″ vinyl (45 RP) + 10″ w/6 Bonus Tracks, CD, Poster called, Brothers for independent record stores.
Rolling Stone magazine placed Brothers at #2 on the Best Albums of 2010and “Everlasting Light” at #11 on the Best Singles of 2010.On December 14, 2010, Spin magazine named The Black Keys the Artist of the Year for 2010.
On December 26, 2010, The Black Keys performed on Saturday Night Live.
In February 2011, they released a short musical film called Howlin For You starring Tricia Helfer, Diora Baird, Sean Patrick Flanery, Christian Serratos, Corbin Bernsen, Todd Bridges, and Shaun White.
The Black Keys were nominated for three Billboard Music Awards: Top Alternative Artist and Top Rock Album and Top Alternative Album for their album, Brothers.
On June 11, 2011 The Black Keys played at the 10th annual Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tennessee. They were a headliner for the four day festival and performed on “What Stage”.
El Camino (2011-present)
The Black Keys started recording for their 7th upcoming studio album beginning around March 2011.They reportedly recorded in Dan’s new studio in Nashville, Tennessee.
On July 14, 2011, the Black Keys revealed in an interview with Spin magazine that they had finished work on the album, comparing the sound to influences such as the Clash and the Cramps. The names of two songs on the album were also revealed: ‘Lonely Boy’ and ‘Little Black Submarine’. The album’s title was later revealed to be “El Camino“, and is due to be released on December 6, 2011.
On August 13, 2011, The Black Keys played at the 4th annual Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. They played before Muse, performing on the “Land’s End” stage.
- Studio albums