Black Keys hail from ‘underdog city’Written by Joel Sensenig | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Akron is by no means Memphis.
Not that Patrick Carney ever noticed.
The drummer for Akron-based The Black Keys never let his hometown deter him from playing the brand of gritty dirt-road blues often associated with towns more known for their slow-cooked barbecue than their rubber.
Since 2001, Carney and the Marlboro-voiced bandmate Dan Auerbach have comprised what has become the second largest two-piece blues rock band in the world, next to the Detroit-based unit formed by Jack White.
“I don’t think you need to be from a certain place to play a certain type of music,” Carney said while taking a break in his Akron studio. “Maybe in the 1940s it would have been unusual. … Dan listened to old blues records , and I grew up listening to a lot of 70s blues rock. I think our meeting point is Captain Beefheart.”
Not since the new wave days of Devo and Chrissie Hynde’s Pretenders has the city of Akron been so proudly displayed on the music scene as it has been with the Black Keys’ rise to prominence since their highly acclaimed 2002 debut, “The Big Come Up.”
Carney, whose mother is from Toledo, said Akron has a lot in common with the Glass City, which the band has stopped at regularly through their six-year career. On Aug. 2, The Black Keys hit the Toledo Civic Theatre (Erie Street Market), 237 S. Erie St. Due to high ticket demand, the venue was moved from the originally scheduled Headliners location.
“Like Toledo, Akron’s an underdog city,” Carney said. “There are things going for it, but there’s a lot of things going against it. (Dan and I) have pride in our town, even though at times there’s nothing to be proud of.” Carney and Auerbach both still live in their hometown. “We both would rather contribute something to the city rather than go to L.A.,” he said.
The Black Keys’ latest release caught a lot of attention initially because some of the songs on it were meant to be performed by the late Ike Turner. Carney and Auerbach were approached by producer Danger Mouse (Brian Warner, of Gnarls Barkley fame), who was working on the Turner project. While working on songs for Turner, however, the duo realized they had the foundation for an album of their own.
The result, this spring’s dynamic “Attack and Release,” expanded upon the Keys’ garage blues rock sound to incorporate old-school R&B and a more subdued approach to the raucous grooves they explored on earlier albums.
“We both thought it was important for us to branch out and stop being so insular,” Carney said. “As far as working with Brian, we’ve never really worked with a producer before so I can’t really compare, but for us, he was probably the perfect producer. He was hands off on things that Dan and I felt real strong about, and he was real hands on and into experimenting with things that we had never really considered doing.”
Although the Toledo venue was changed because of high demand (many of the shows on this tour are sold out), Carney said the location doesn’t matter much to the band, which has played venues ranging in size from Frankie’s Inner City in Toledo to Bonnaroo in their career.
“As you play bigger places, it stops being about the venue and starts being more about the crowd,” Carney said. “For us it doesn’t really matter if it’s outdoor or indoor, big or small.”
He does have one stipulation, though. Shows should occur when the lights go out, as one of their songs says.
“It does need to be nighttime, we do know that. It should be dark. We played a festival the other day and it was scorching, bright light. I just don’t think music should be performed during the day. I’m against it.”
Doors open at 9 p.m. for the Aug. 2 show, with all Headliners tickets to be honored. Opening act The Kills are scheduled to start at 9:45 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance ($25 at the door) and are available at all Ticketmaster locations, Culture Clash Records, Ramalama Records, charge by phone (419) 474-1333 or www.ticketmaster.com.
On the Web: www.theblackkeys.com