The Black Keys Burn Rubber

The Black Keys Burn Rubber
Like many midwestern American cities, Akron, Ohio built itself around an industry — it was the one-time home of every major tire manufacturer in the country. If there's any chance of making a pop culture comeback, it will be on the backs of two guys who play the blues as loud and nasty as they can.

The Black Keys' third full-length album, Rubber Factory, is not so much a tribute to their hometown as a further refinement of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney's raunchy guitar/drums concoction. "We never plan things out too much when we record. If we can't get something that sounds good in the first couple of takes we usually move on to something else," Auerbach says. "But being on the road so much in the last few years, we've been listening to a lot of different music so I'm sure there are more influences on this record."

Specifically, Auerbach admits to adding a bit of country to their trademark pile-driving grooves. Just don't call them a garage band, or compare them to that other guitar/drums duo from Detroit. "We weren't really big fans of garage rock, honestly," Auerbach says. "We couldn't relate to that scene in Detroit at all, because in Akron there basically was no scene. Patrick and I got together when we were 16 and started recording on a four-track in his dad's basement. We got our first record deal with that stuff, and we still do everything ourselves. Being from a place like Akron, you grow up with an underdog mentality, so that's probably the biggest influence on our music." It seems natural, then, that Auerbach gravitated to the blues, something that remains the foundation of his songwriting. "When I started playing guitar, I was listening to a lot of old electric blues, so it never occurred to me that you needed more than guitar and drums to make music," he says. "We never want to limit ourselves, but Pat and I feel there's enough creative energy between the two of us that we don't need anyone else."