By Jason SchneiderIt's entirely likely that if any other band experienced the mainstream breakthrough the Black Keys did with their 2010 album Brothers, they would want to take some time to enjoy it. But that's not the case with Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, the hard-working Akron, OH duo who are set to release the follow-up to Brothers, El Camino.
In fact, the 11-song collection was laid down in Auerbach's Nashville studio with producer Danger Mouse this past spring, even before touring for Brothers was completed.
"It took 40 days to make but it was off and on, because we had to leave for shows, come back, and leave for shows again," Auerbach, the band's singer/guitarist tells Exclaim! "We really love hanging out with [Danger Mouse] and respect him as a record maker, and I think he feels the same about us, so there really wasn't much to talk about. We didn't do any demos, there were no rehearsals, we had nothing when we went into the studio. We started from scratch every day."
The overall results are the Black Keys' tightest album to date, which Auerbach also credits to a steady listening diet of vintage rockabilly and punk. A notable exception, though, is the track "Little Black Submarines," which displays a Zeppelin-esque grandiosity with its abrupt shift from an acoustic ballad to a monster riff and guitar solo.
"Yeah, that was my jock-rock moment," Auerbach admits with a laugh. "We actually did that song in two versions, an acoustic one and an electric one and spliced them together. I think that the electric half of that song is the closest representation of our live show than anything we've done before."
Canadian fans were given a full dose of that live show earlier this year when the Black Keys were able to do a coast-to-coast trek on the strength of Brothers being certified gold here. Auerbach remains grateful for how Canadian audiences have embraced the band and is looking forward to returning in 2012.
"[That tour] was amazing, the crowds were so much fun," he says. "A lot of times you'll play in a big city and people will just stand around. That always seems to be the thing. You'll go to L.A. or New York City and people will just stand there. You have to go to, like, middle America to find people who want to go crazy. But it seemed it was like that in every place we played in Canada. There was such a great energy in every audience, and that makes it so much more fun for us. It was basically show after show of that feeling."
El Camino is due out on December 6 through Nonesuch.