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Archive for June, 2009

The musical lineage and influence of the Auerbach and Carney extended families on The Black Keys is often over looked. Until now, I don’t think I really appreciated all the connections.

It’s easy to acknowledge the mythologised road trips Dan took with his Dad to try and see Junior Kimbrough. Whilst that legacy is important, maybe we should pay more attention to the influence of Robert and James Quine on Dan’s development as a musician and guitarist.

Dan Auerbach did a lot of interviews after he released his solo album ‘Keep It Hid’. Not many were as insightful as this one. Listen to the interview here.

In a wide-ranging interview, respected Triple J radio host, Richard Kingsmill, inquired into the musical heritage of Dan’s family and unearthed interesting anecdotes about his Uncle James Quine and noted guitarist Robert Quine his first cousin once removed.

Dan’s full name is actually Daniel Quine Auerbach. The Quine family heritage stretches back via Dan’s Mother’s side of the family. They are all related to the famous analytical philosopher WV Quine (Robert’s Uncle), who was also born in Akron, OH.

In the aforementioned interview Dan tells a great anecdote of playing guitar for and with Robert Quine when he was a 16 year old. The story is even more innocent when you understand the musical legacy of Robert Quine. He was at the heart of the New York punk scene playing with everyone from Lou Reed, Richard Hell and the Voidoids through to Mathew Sweet.

I never knew that it was actually Robert Quine who laid down the instantaneously catchy guitar lines on Sweet’s song ‘Girlfriend’ (listen to it below).

As with Kimbrough, Dan never got to play with Robert Quine in a professional capacity. You can feel Dan’s lament in the interview that Robert died in 2004 just as The Black Keys were making great strides and before they had a chance to seriously play together. It would have been a raucous jam, for sure.

It’s always been too easy to pigeon hole Dan’s guitar style and The Black Keys song book as “blues rock”. Like Robert Quine, Dan has not been fearful to experiment and define his own sound, most impressively on his solo album. Robert’s influence might be reflected in the angular sounds of ‘The Breaks’, through the harsher electric sound on the Magic Potion record, while the country influence on ‘Keep It Hid’ reflects the heritage of James Quine.

James Quine, of course, accompanies Dan on the track ‘Trouble Weighs A Ton’ and took the publicity photos used for the album. He’s actually an acclaimed photographer and it’s worth checking out both his photographs and music. James is the brother of Dan’s mother.

Keeping it all in the family, let’s not forget that Dan’s father Charles Auerbach wrote the words to ‘Whispered Words’. It’s interesting to hear Dan discuss this on the interview. I’m surprised like the interviewer that he didn’t press his father for a deeper interpretation of the lyrics. Charles apparently told Dan about Jessica Lea Mayfield as well, the rest is history.

I also hear whispers that Pat Carney is recording with his Uncle Ralph Carney who helped out on The Black Keys’ Attack and release record. Pat has recently changed his MySpace page to reflect the naming “Pat and Ralph Carney” including a photo. Ralph Carney has had a long association with Tom Waits and interestingly Robert Quine played on Tom Waits’ 1985 album, ‘Rain Dogs’. Both Robert Quine and Ralph Carney have played with guitarist Marc Ribot (also of Tom Waits’ band) who also contributed to the Attack and Release album.

I loved Mathew Sweet’s ‘Girlfriend’ (with Robert Quine on guitar) when I was growing up. I also briefly studied WV Quine’s philosophy at University. Very tenuously, no wonder I like The Black Keys so much!

This version of ‘Girlfriend’ is played from the video game Guitar Hero. Can’t be too long until we hear a Black Keys song featuring on this game also. The Black Keys have after all licensed ‘Strange Times’ to be used in Grand Theft Auto 4.

Come to think of it I’d love to hear a Black Keys version of ‘Girlfriend’. Too cheesy? Maybe, but I reckon it would work.

Dan Auerbach Triple J Radio Interview:

Listen to the interview here

Mathew Sweet – ‘Girlfriend’

Dan Auerbach w/ James Quine – ‘Trouble Weighs A Ton’

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This video for Dan Auerbach’s “I Want Some More” track was created by Black Keys fan Vampireplayground.

The video is not just a few still images and a music track slapped together. Thought and time has gone into the imagery and editing to create a professional result which reflects the themes of the song.

So far Dan has only made videos for “Trouble Weighs A Ton” and “Heart Broken, In Disrepair”.  It would be great for Dan or The Black Keys to run a fan oriented video competition to create a video for the band in the future.

The Black Keys Fan Lounge recently caught up with Vampireplayground to ask him about his inspiration for the video:

I have been a fan of The Black Keys for a long time and have seen them perform live about 8 times.
I have all of their studio released albums and would put them in my top 5 favorite bands right now.

The song ” I Want Some More ” really stood out to me on Dan Auerbach’s new solo album.
I love the hard driving blue/rock arrangement and the context of the song. It painted a very vivid picture in my mind of love, sex and lust.

I am always combing through old footage looking for thing to appropriate for projects. When I heard the song for the first time it conjured up the footage of the women with the coke bottle that I had
pulled around the same time. I thought the imagery and the track would compliment each other well. The other elements I just inserted where I felt it worked. The character footage ended up giving the video more of an ominous – “fat cat” – enough is never enough context.

The video only took me about 4 hours to put together (Not counting rendering time). I would call it a rough cut for sure. I did it just for fun – I loved the song and thought the images worked well with it.

I guess you could say I have made a few other music videos… I find it very relaxing to edit things like this together with no clients or deadlines… Just for me.
I am sure I will continue to do more videos in the future as the fancy hits me…

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Patrick Carney of The Black Keys seems to have caused a bit of a stir with his recent comments for a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article promoting their recent appearance at the Three Rivers Festival in Pittsburgh on June 5, 2009.

Reminiscing about his time in Pittsburgh, Pat said:

“I used to live in Pittsburgh for like six months. I used to go to that pseudo art school Downtown,” he says of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, in the fall of ’98. “I was getting straight A’s, so I knew there was something wrong, because I had 2.0 in high school. So that’s why I left. It felt like a joke.”

This has prompted no less than the President of the Art instute of Pittsburgh, George L Pry, to respond in a letter to the paper:

I am moved by overwhelming collective response within The Art Institute of Pittsburgh college community to extend our disdain for Scott Mervis’ article announcing the appearance of the Black Keys at the Three Rivers Arts Festival (June 4).

Our outrage is not with the opinion of the band’s drummer, for every institution of higher education deals with the negative commentary from a dissatisfied dropout from time to time. More specifically, our concerns are directed squarely at Mervis, for his surprising lack of professional decency.

Still greater is our sense of wonder about how the drummer’s quote speaks in any meaningful way to telling Mervis’ story about how the Black Keys formed or drawing the relationship between its members and the City of Pittsburgh.

Patrick Carney’s quote about his academic performance and his insult to one of the city’s most successful, historic and largest academic institutions have no relevance to the Arts Festival or the city, and therefore, it can only be concluded that Mervis lacked the judgment to disregard the statement.

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh is a thriving institution closing in on a century of success with an alumni network of tens of thousands of successful commercial artists, photographers, illustrators, filmmakers, animators and designers of all disciplines.

Despite its delivery, Patrick Carney’s opinion concerns us. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh takes pride in a continuous cycle of improvement and our commitment to graduate success has been the core of our mission since 1921.

Mervis’ indiscretion in choosing to lead his story with such an unsavory, irrelevant remark to a college that hosts over 12,000 students, 340 employees and 900 year-round residents of Downtown Pittsburgh? That’s another matter. One that raises a simple question about his motivation.

George L. Pry
President, Art Institute of Pittsburgh

Crikey, I didn’t realise The Black Keys were were now such tall poppies or their views on education were crucial to the well being of an established institution.

Anyone who has read many interviews with Pat over the years knows his comments are often acerbic and ironic. He likes to poke fun at issues that are generally taken so seriously. Clearly he was just speaking of his own experiences. Big deal. Some of the educated alumni might have seen the comments in the context in which they were offered.

The President is obviously concerned other students will be turned off studying at the Institute. His spleen is venting more toward the reporter Scott Mervis’ use of the quote but he cant help himself to dis-credit Pat as a “dissatisfied dropout”.

In summary, funny.

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This is the first post from Jade Luber for The Black Keys Fan Lounge .

I arrived at the front of the line at Oceanside, California at 2:30 PM to enter the gates of 94.9 FM’s Independence Jam 2009. Dead Confederate, Metric, Yeah Yeah Yeahs were set to open for the headliners The Black Keys.

Gates opened at 4 PM and immediately the hundreds of people waiting ran to the main stage to get the front row view at the beautiful venue right near the shore. You could hear the waves crashing as fans awaited eagerly to stand for 6 hours rocking out to some amazing bands.

Dead Confederate and Metric did a great job of getting the crowd pumped. It wasn’t until the Yeah Yeah Yeahs got up to rock, however, that people started crowd surfing. A beardless Dan Auerbach watched them from the side for about 45 minutes ’til their setup was started. Dan seemed to be enjoying Karen O playing with the crowd, and later on that night, Nick Zinner, their guitarist, watched the Keys from beginning to end.

I saw Dan peeping out every now and then, and occasionally he would watch the crowd. I was more into his presence than anything else, that I just decided to wave to him as the crowd was focused on Karen O. Dan kindly smiled and waved back and then went backstage.

Occasionally I saw Patrick adjusting his drum behind the curtains. When the Yeah Yeah Yeahs finished, a lot of the people who were there for them moved to the stands and the Black Keys crowd snuggled up close to the stage.

They took about 45 minutes to set up and I saw Patrick and Dan about to come out. The crowd was a little quiet and I took my opportunity to yell Patrick’s name. When they ran out on stage the crowd went nuts.

Dan and Patrick arrived at around 9:10 PM. There were technical difficulties due to the two shows that they had played two days before, and Patrick didn’t have his normal drum set. Nevertheless, Dan and Patrick played their hearts out and the crowd went crazy. I looked up a couple of times and saw people watching from the pier, from the parking lot, and all around me was just full of people, swaying and loving what they heard.

Every song was just so entertaining. Right before they played “Strange Times” Dan was trying to fix his amp and Patrick kinda relaxed and played his drums softly. People started yelling “Drum solo!” and he laughed a little and tapped his cymbals and whatnot. When Dan came back, he smiled and said, “I”d like to see a drum solo, too.” The crowd went nuts and Patrick started “Strange Times” off. Fantastic. A long drum solo would’ve been awesome, too, though!

They ended their show with “I Got Mine”. As you can see on the set list (below), they would have played two more songs but Oceanside is really strict and it was a Sunday night. They finished at 9:58 and I stayed behind and saw them, hoping for a pick or Patrick’s drumsticks. Soon enough I will see every show they play in California or Nevada or nearby.

I am very fortunate to have Dan’s set list and I got to say ‘thank you’ to him after their show while they were hanging out on the stage and their roadies were putting away the last of their equipment. If you compare the handwriting in the booklet of “Attack and Release”, that is Dan’s genuine handwriting.

The technical difficulties seemed to make Dan a little agitated and embarrassed, understandably. They did follow the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and by then so many people in the crowd were drunk and just being obnoxious. So much so that two girls ran on the stage, kind of danced around Dan, and then got pulled off. There was a lot of crowd surfing and at one point one guy belly flopped into the crowd and Dan literally played a little softer, almost stopping, for a few seconds to see if he was alright.

Watching Patrick and Dan play is such an experience. They each play with so much passion and talent and I just absolutely get lost watching them on stage. The quality of their music is so distinct and their humble and genuine style is impeccable.

I love my set list!

black-keys-independence-jam-set-list

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The Black Keys have just spent 3 big days, 5-7 June 2009, performing at The Three Rivers Festival (Pittsburgh), The Roots Picnic (Philadephia) and the 94.9 FM Independence Jam (Oceanside, California).

The Black Keys haven’t done much touring this year, but they have cherry-picked significant festivals of choice in advance of recording in August. Consequently, the ‘Keys have been able to concentrate at these festivals on laying “rubber for nearly an hour with an impressive set of whiskey-soaked shit-kicker rock”, as Rolling Stone described their performance at the Roots Picnic.

Various reports mentioned some technical difficultities at each show and blown amps, so it looks like the boys really did kick out the jams. It was remarked upon that The Black Keys did drown out Kid Cudi’s performance on a nearby stage.

Interestingly, it was reported a new song was debuted in Pittsburgh. Not sure if anyone out there has a recording of it?

At The Roots Picnic my hoped for drum battle between Pat and Questlove sadly didn’t eventuate.

Below are a couple of live videos that reflect the crowd, scene and band. Pat looks like he’s not quite at his normal playing weight, and the freshly shorn Dan made a welcome return.

For other awesome black and white video of The Black Keys at the Independence Jam check out the YouTube channel of Black Keys’ fan BatCountryX who was hard at work at the gig. Previously this site has featured her Pomona live videos in this post

Three Rivers – Same Old Thing

Independence Jam – I Got Mine

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Maybe the reason why The Black Keys aren’t on Twitter is because they don’t need to be since everyone else is and will report on what they are up to.

Pitchfork reports rapper Jim Jones tweeting:

“I’m on my way to me the black keys a new rock n roll group then summer jam rehearsal lg.”
“Aight back to our reg schedule I did some dope music with black keys and mos def last night def a good rock n roll experience.”

Black Keys fans shouldn’t be so surprised. Dan and Pat are big hip hop fans. Witness:

  • The Black Keys have been inspired by the Wu-Tang Clan since before the band began
  • Attack and Release was of course produced by hip-hop raconteur Danger Mouse
  • Pat has indicated he would love to work with The RZA
  • The Black Keys have interviewed The GZA recently
  • There’s even a Jay Z vs The Black Keys mp3 going around
  • The Black Keys are playing by invitation at The Roots Picnic. Fingers crossed for a drum battle with Questlove.

What’s probably most surprising is that Jim Jones thinks that The Black Keys are “a new rock n roll group”.

All this talk of these collaborations certainly bodes well for an interesting new Black Keys album which will go into production in a few months. Considering how much interest and media was generated by these two comments, The Black Keys look set to surge on a new wave of interest in their music when that album is released.

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For a long time, I didn’t give The Black Keys lyrics much thought. I was all about the music. For some reason the lyrics seemed less important.

Then I found the excellent Lucid Dreams blog. Scott, who runs the site and is clearly a fan of The Black Keys,  posts a band’s lyrics with an image.  The image and words contrast and concentrate your thinking. It caused me to start looking at the lyrics of The Black Keys again.

Dan Auerbach, who writes all The Black Keys lyrics, has noted in many interviews that he is growing in confidence with his lyrics. One might even argue his recent solo album is the best example of his lyrics. In all his lyrics there’s a continual focus of loss, heartbreak, distance, girls, lurking, and being on the fringe and not fitting in. All good blues themes.

Interestingly enough I don’t think there’s one overtly political song lyric in The Black Keys’ catalogue.

As an aside, it’s quite interesting that people often quote this part of the lyric from ‘When The Lights Go Out’ on Twitter. It’s such an evocative phrase:

you know what the sun’s all about
when the lights go out

My favourite Black Keys lyrics would have to be ‘The Lengths’. Lucid Dreams has other lyrics that other’s might also consider as some of the better lyrics including ‘When The Lights Go Out’, Memories Of Night’, ‘Midnight In Her Eyes’, and ‘Elevator’ .

What are your favourite lyrics?

The Lengths

tell me where you’re goin or
what is going wrong
I felt you leavin before
you’d even gone
and hold me now
or never ever hold me again
no more talk
can take me away from this pain I’m in
see the moonlight shinin on
your window pane
see it leave you as
faithful as it came
please yourself so you
don’t have to be afraid
make amends
or carry on another way

tell me what you were thinkin
to treat somebody so
the care he took the
lengths to which he’d go
coals are hot to walk
across without your shoes
but in the end
know that you got nothin to lose

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