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Black Keys at Little Caesars Arena, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Friday, October 4, 2019

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Black Keys fans have been watching and waiting — and have, truthfully, been somewhat concerned about the band during the past four years.

Since touring to support 2014's "Turn Blue," the Akron-formed, now Nashville-based duo has been on ice while singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney have focused on their own projects. Both have been producing others, while Auerbach formed another band, the Arc, and started a label, Easy Eye Sound.

The break ended earlier this year with the release of "Let's Rock," the Black Keys' ninth studio album. The set debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and has put the duo back on the road, abetted by three additional musicians to flesh out the arrangements.

• Auerbach, 40 — who won the 2013 Grammy Award for nonclassical Producer of the Year — says by phone that during the past four years he was never concerned about whether the Black Keys would work together again. "I didn't even think about it like that. It's always been easy for us to make music together, and it was that same way, immediately. It was instant. We had not recorded together for five or however many years, and the very first idea ('Breaking Down') made the record. I think that pretty much sums it up."

• The Black Keys were inspired to get back together after Auerbach did some recording with Glenn Schwartz, the original guitarist in the James Gang, who was subsequently replaced by Joe Walsh. "He was my guitar hero growing up," Auerbach recalls, "and man, I just borrowed so much from him when I was starting, especially when I was starting the Black Keys. A couple of years ago I invited him to Nashville to record, and it was amazing. It got me excited about the idea of making a Black Keys record, so as soon as I finished that Glenn Schwartz record I got in touch with Pat and we put it in the books. We didn't even talk about it. I said, 'Hey, let's record some stuff' and he said 'Cool' and that was about it."

• Auerbach and Carney made "Let's Rock" — whose title quotes the last words of a recently executed Tennessee convict — solely by themselves after working with Danger Mouse as co-producer of the last four Black Keys' albums. "It just felt like the right thing to do," Auerbach says. We hadn't made a record in so long, it just seemed like it should be just the two of us. We didn't have any meetings beforehand. We didn't do any pre-production. I sat down with the guitar, he sat down at the drums and we just kind of did our things. It didn't even occur to us to talk about working with someone else, especially on this record."

• The Let's Rock Tour marks the first time the Black Keys worked with more than one guitarist on stage, adding a pair of players in addition to Auerbach. "Every time we've had other musicians before it was mostly for keyboard and bass, and this tour's absolutely no keyboard on stage," Auerbach says. "It's pretty wild hearing the songs with the triple guitars, because since the very beginning I've always doubled and tripled the guitar parts, but I've never heard that sound on stage before. So it's really interesting. It's a lot of fun, and really different for us."

• Auerbach is, however, circumspect about whether the Black Keys are an active concern again or what he and Carney have planned for the future. "I'm not sure. I really don't know. Only time will tell. Nothing’s for sure in this life — we find that out every day. But I'm definitely excited for this run of shows we're doing, and for having new music out. It feels good."

The Black Keys, Modest Mouse and Jessy Wilson perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. Tickets $39.50 and up at 313-471-7000 or 313Presents.com.

Web Site: www.313Presents.com

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