The Black Keys Get By With a Little Help From Their Friends

In our latest Digital Cover Story, Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney talk writing and recording with Beck and Noel Gallagher, how a burned mix of Liquid Swords led to their lifelong affinity for hip-hop and how their DJ sets became a crucial part of their musical DNA on their 12th and latest album, Ohio Players.

Music Features cover story
The Black Keys Get By With a Little Help From Their Friends

The first band I ever discovered on my own without the influence of my parents or the algorithms of YouTube was the Black Keys. It was sometime in 2013, when Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney took the Staples Center stage at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles to perform “Lonely Boy” with Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. They were nominated as a duo for five awards that night (Auerbach scored his own solo nomination for Producer of the Year), including Album of the Year for El Camino. Someone on the telecast said they were from Ohio and, for five minutes, I’d never heard anything as perfect as “Lonely Boy.” But then I forgot about the Black Keys until April 2014, when I ran into Carney at the Cleveland Guardians’ Opening Day game. After pointing out to my mom that I’d seen him playing drums in a band at the Grammys, I—as any well-intentioned and freezing cold 16-year-old would—bombarded Carney while he puffed on a cigarette just outside of the left field gate, grabbed a picture with him, and then hurried away.

Cut to a month later, when the Black Keys released Turn Blue—what would be their last album together for five years. But nobody knew that then. Hell, Carney didn’t even know that then (“Dan was spun out, he needed a break from the band and didn’t know how to tell me that,” Carney told me back in 2022). I found Turn Blue through a Vine clip that played six-seconds of “Gotta Get Away” and I was instantly hooked. A few days later, I was tossing a CD into my mom’s shopping cart at Walmart. I cheekily popped it into the stereo of her Pontiac and, once the first few notes from Auerbach’s Dobro resonator on “Weight of Love” trickled in, we both held this shared awe. To be 16 and to be 44 and revel in the communal magic of music discovery, it’s a hell of a thing. By the time September 2014 came, she and I were sitting in a sold-out Quicken Loans Arena, watching the Black Keys play a mammoth, 22-song homecoming set. And to this day, when the Black Keys announce a show, she texts me that we’re going. I can always count on that.

But I am often reminded of that night at the Q, as Mom and I shuffled out of the arena and into the neighboring parking garage at the turn of midnight. In the encroaching autumn cold, I caught wind of a few people nearby bemoaning the set. “I preferred when they were a duo,” one stranger said, to which his companion agreed. They gushed for a moment over the set closer “I Got Mine,” the only song Auerbach and Carney performed alone (a trick they still do in 2024, mind you), and I couldn’t quite understand the disconnect. I thought I’d just watched one of the greatest concerts ever assembled on the North Coast. Perhaps the lore—and its ramifications—stretched far beyond just one night of music. Maybe I wasn’t in on the joke, or maybe there wasn’t a joke being told at all. Did I get hip to the Black Keys’ magic too late? Their hiatus in 2015 would certainly suggest as much, but hundreds of YouTube commenters have, over the last 10 years, shared a similar antipathy towards the band’s now-dormant two-piece lineup.

When I press play on the Black Keys’ latest LP, Ohio Players, I immediately remember those two dudes outside the Q and I can’t help but wonder how they feel about the remarkably long, surprising guest-list Auerbach and Carney have concocted for their 12th record. Dan the Automator, Noel Gallagher, Tom Bukovac, Juicy J, Lil Noid and Leon Michels are the top-billed collaborators, but Angelo Petragila, Greg Kurstin, Aaron Frazer (who just so happens to sing lead vocals in the most-watched Paste Session video of all-time), Kelly Finnegan and Tommy Brenneck show up here, too. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the session players present, which come alive like some Nashvillian Wrecking Crew—assembled through the alchemy of Sam Bacco, Andy Gabbard, Ray Jacildo, Mike Rojas, Ashley Wilcoxson, Jaket Botts and countless others. “It’s still our album,” Carney contends, emphasizing the Black Keys of it all despite the laundry list credits sheet.

After the Black Keys finished making Dropout Boogie in the fall of 2021, Auerbach and Carney kept working on music. “We ended up putting down 15, 20 ideas over the next few months while waiting for the record to come out,” Carney says. In April 2022, Beck came through Nashville and stopped at Easy Eye Sound and, according to the guys, “picked up on a couple of the ideas” they were rocking with. Suddenly, they all found themselves writing “This is Nowhere,” which would become the opening chapter of Ohio Players, and “Paper Crown.” Soon, though, Auerbach and Carney would go into tour mode for the summer and fall, and Auerbach is the one who suggested they should work more with Beck and call Gallagher. Once they returned to the studio in December, the guys locked in and were working non-stop until they left for tour the next June, writing and recording three tracks from scratch with Gallagher in London, too, in the same Toe Rag Studios room where the White Stripes recorded Elephant. “We ended up making over 45 songs, finding 30 of them and then paring it down to what is on the album now,” Carney adds.

Since returning from hiatus in 2019, the Black Keys have been slowly trying to find their footing again. “Let’s Rock” and Delta Kream were back-to-basics offerings that sounded more like Auerbach and Carney trying to put a flame back underneath their decades-old chemistry than a semblance of their Grammy-winning heyday. It wasn’t until Dropout Boogie in 2022 that the duo finally felt back and with the same kind of colorful revivalism that’s always made the band’s sound so endearing in the first place (and it doesn’t hurt that we got some quick guest spots from Sierra Ferrell and Billy Gibbons on it, a slight foreshadowing of the collaborative spirit yet to come).

And now, Ohio Players sounds like a return to form so many of us have been coveting—or, at the very least, a return to the form that sold me on them in the first place, when I heard that six-second snippet of “Gotta Get Away” in my childhood bedroom 10 years ago. It’s not lost on me either that a correlation can be made between Ohio Players and the run of records the Black Keys made between 2008 and 2014, that the distance between the production work of Danger Mouse on those projects bares a striking resemblance, at least spiritually, to the precision and intentionality behind the sound of the band’s latest era. As a rebuttal to those strangers outside a Cleveland parking garage, the Black Keys are at their very best when they let other musicians in on the fun.

For anyone who knows that the Black Keys haven’t made an album in Ohio since they laid down part of Brothers in the Buckeye State 15 years ago, the title of their latest might either excite you, intrigue you or do a little bit of both. While it bares the same name as one of the greatest funk bands of all time—the Sugarfoot Bonner-led ensemble from Dayton—Ohio Players came to be in the wake of Auerbach and Carney’s side-hustle record hangs, where they smoke joints, spin obscure tunes at hole-in-the-wall venues until the small hours of morning and get everyone to dance. “[‘Ohio Players’] was the name that came up, and we suggested it,” Carney says. “Then we were doing a record hang in Louisville, and one of the guest DJs put on a 45 by Ohio Players. I just looked at Dan and said, ‘That’s got to be the title of the album.’”

The aforementioned lore spans decades for the Black Keys. Whether it was Carney mixing the band’s first demo in his then-girlfriend’s Oberlin dorm room, Beachland Ballroom & Tavern owners Mark Leddy and Cindy Barber putting Auerbach and Carney onto their first-ever show in 2002 (and later securing them a booking agent), Seymour Stein wanting to sign the duo to Sire Records (it fell through, despite regular assurances from Stein to Carney), blowing their $12,000 advance Fat Possum gave them on rent, or recording Thickfreakness in one session, the Black Keys have lived a million lives to get to Ohio Players—which arrives not shot out of a cannon, but hatched from an incubator running on record crate dust and Rust Belt dreams.

Ohio Players has its own lore, too. Back in the spring of 2003, Sleater-Kinney hand-picked the Black Keys to open for them on the tour they were doing in support of their recently-released One Beat—a massive stroke of luck for a band who’d put out The Big Come Up, Rolling Stone’s “righteous choice for rock debut of the year,” in 2002 and for two guys who didn’t have a credit card and mowed lawns so they could afford a $45-a-month cell phone for their first-ever tour (one that, according to Carney two years ago, only netted them $250 when it was over—and that’s a generous estimate, even by his account). Needless to say, the version of the Black Keys that were riding the highs of The Big Come Up are a shell of the band and their polished, productional brilliance. But, thanks to some internet sleuthing, I stumbled upon a concert review from Sleater-Kinney’s Providence set that was published on a website called Too Much Rock—and the writer (whose name is nowhere to be found within the article) holds so much hatred for the “abject horror” of the Black Keys that I feel inclined to share a paragraph from the review:

“The recent resurgence of bands laying claim on rock & roll’s bluesy roots has gone much too far if the Akron duo of The Black Keys gets any press in forward-thinking music media,” the author wrote. “The band’s stripped-down sound is entirely suburban and it’s obscene to read press that mentions this band in the same sentence as Blind Lemon Jefferson and that revered ilk. The sad truth is the band emulates Stevie Ray [Vaughan] and Johnny Lang, but, of course, even these comparisons are hyperbole. To my evidently unhip ears, the band seemed no more than a second-rate bar band that could be heard any night of the week, in any city, playing “original” songs copied from Hendrix albums.”

One day after that set, the Black Keys found themselves at the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan, playing for a crowd of 3,000 people. A couple of streets over, Jennifer Garner was hosting Saturday Night Live. Beck was there as the musical guest, playing “Lost Cause” and “Guess I’m Doing Fine,” and there was set to be a VIP hang once the goodnights were finished. “After Sleater-Kinney was done, they came into our room and were like, ‘Do you want to go to this SNL afterparty?’” Carney says. “We were like, ‘Hell yeah we do.’ We’d barely been out to New York City in our lives. Dan had been there a few times, because his dad would go there to deal in antiques.” “It was a very different New York City,” Auerbach chimes in.

Auerbach and Carney ended up in “some terrible yuppie bar” that they couldn’t afford any drinks in, but Sleater-Kinney and Beck were friends—though they didn’t know that Carney had had a unique relationship with Beck at the time, too. “I had met him years ago, because my uncle knew him,” he says. “My uncle had arranged for me to meet Beck in, like, 1996—so I met him when I was a teenager. He was the first rockstar guy I ever met. We walk into the afterparty and, after a little while, I go up to Beck and I’m like, ‘I met you a long time ago, my uncle is Ralph Carney and I’m in a band with Dan.’ And I had a promo CD in my pocket and I gave it to him.” That chance meet-up in New York, however, led to one of the most consequential career moves the Black Keys ever had. “Literally two, three weeks later, our agent called us and was like, ‘Beck’s asking if you guys want to open for him on his summer tour of the US,’” Carney adds. “That was our first real big, big break—where we got to get in front of crowds at, like, Red Rocks.”

(I can’t help but hear that story and immediately think of when Devo showed up to an Iggy Pop show at the Agora in March 1977 and got their demo tape to David Bowie (who was playing keys in Pop’s band, but made the Stooges’ frontman screen any demo given to him first), which led to them getting signed by Warner Bros after Pop “flipped out and played it for David,” as co-founder Jerry Casale told me last year. “That’s probably the only time it’s ever worked out—Devo and us,” Carney laughs after I mention the Akron, Ohio kismet.)

The sequencing on Ohio Players can feel like that of a mixtape at times, which feels apt, given just how dense the whole thing is musically and how vibrant and varied the sound gets. The El Camino and Turn Blue-style vocal layering on “Beautiful People (Stay High)” (courtesy of the band’s longtime backup singers Wilcoxson and Leisa Hans) turns into the soulful, rhapsodic melody of “On the Game”; elsewhere, the time-worn “You’ll Pay,” which sounds like a Midwest garage-rock oddity lost to the sands of time (thanks to a co-write from Gallagher), explodes into “Paper Crown,” Beck’s Odelay-Midnite Vultures sandwich that also features Juicy J on the mic. Though Auerbach is something of a production savant by now, and it seems like he basically lives at Easy Eye Sound at this point, the post-production chapter of Ohio Players found him and Carney exhausted at the thought of putting the 25, 30 songs they’d completed in order.

“By the end of recording, when we finally got to the mastering process after all the mixing things that we went through, there were so many songs—more than enough for a double-album,” Auerbach says. “To think about sequencing, it made our heads spin. So, just like we’d done on the record with writing, we reached out to people that we respected. We reached out to David Bither from Nonesuch [Records], who’s been with us since we first went to Warner, and we asked him for some input. It was really helpful, so we gotta give him props for that.” “It’s really the first and only label guidance we’d asked for in any creative capacity,” Carney adds.

Per Bither’s sequencing, it was cosmic happenstance that the song he chose to open the album was, actually, the first thing Auerbach and Carney made for it—the first song they wrote with Beck back in 2022, “This is Nowhere,” which has the pop chameleon’s fingerprints on it. It’s the best Black Keys song that sounds nothing like a Black Keys song. Beck has songwriting credits on half of Ohio Players, and it’s his contributions that set the album aglow more than anyone else’s. While tracks “Live Till I Die” and “Don’t Let Me Go” sparkle, all roads on Ohio Players lead back to the tone-setting, grooving jubilee of “This is Nowhere.”

“All the music was done by Dan and me, for the most part,” Carney says. “Beck came in to help with lyrics and melody. [‘This is Nowhere’], it’s one of my favorite songs on the album, and I think it may be because it was the first one we did. But it felt like what the record is—which is us working with our heroes—you can hear a side of us where we’re producing tracks essentially for not us, but us. You get a different angle of the Black Keys, but you still get the raw, busted-up drums. You can really hear Beck shine, and it’s the song that set our sights on where we could go.”

The Black Keys Ohio Players

Ohio Players was made to mimic, ideologically, the records Auerbach and Carney grew up on, like those 1990s Beastie Boys LPs that sounded like, as Auerbach puts it, “the artist was having fun while they were making it.” You can sense that Auerbach and Carney really found a pocket for themselves to flourish in. Ohio Players is not just another “Let’s Rock” or even another El Camino. It’s a project fastened to the ballast of blues and soul that the Black Keys have long been married to (the William Bell-penned Stax cut “I Forgot to Be Your Lover” is, after all, the album’s midpoint), but with a reverie for hip-hop and psychedelia that dresses the band’s comfort zone up in new clothes—unbothered by where the sound takes them if it means anchoring their heroes to the record’s legacy.

So, when Juicy J and Lil Noid (and Beck and Gallagher) enter the album, they’re not trying to make their verses fit into a Black Keys-sized box. Auerbach and Carney would “build a bed and make a transition” that made sense for the MCs—and, thus, Juicy J and Lil Noid’s language flourish, too. “The intention was always ‘Let’s make [the songs] a place that’s comfortable, where a rap would fit and make sense and not just do it once. Let’s do it twice, so it doesn’t feel like a gimmick,’” Carney says. “The record really started becoming a party album, in our minds. It was a fun record.”

Real heads know that “Paper Crown” and “Candy and Her Friends” are not the first songs to feature the Black Keys’ blues rock on a collision course with hip-hop. Their 2009 album Blakroc, done in collaboration with Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Damon Dash, saw the Akron garage titans making music with everyone from Q-Tip to Mos Def to members of the Wu-Tang Clan and ByrdGang. But years before that, when Auerbach and Carney first started the Black Keys, Auerbach burned a copy of GZA’s Liquid Swords for Carney and it became foundational for them both (and it still is). When they were making Brothers, they were listening to a lot of Cam’ron in the studio.

“When we got the call from Damon to do Blakroc, it was a pivotal moment for us—because we had taken a break for the first time in a few months [after Attack & Release and touring], and it became a moment for us to reset and figure out how to approach music a little differently,” Carney says. ““It allowed us to experiment in a way that we hadn’t done before and not be constrained to just drums and guitar live,” Auerbach adds. “It led us right into Brothers,” Carney continues. “We made [Blakrock] and, three weeks later, we were in Muscle Shoals. When we made Brothers, we were starting pretty much every song with a bass and drums or harpsichord and drums. We had a different approach; we were being a little more economical with the space, time, thinking about the groove, thinking about how things hit.”

Over the course of the year that the Black Keys made Ohio Players, Auerbach remembers getting really heavy into the Memphis rap scene, especially Lil Noid’s 1995 horrorcore tape Paranoid Funk. “I was listening to it constantly, so it was always just going to be a touchstone no matter what,” he says. “[Blakroc] made it possible for us to feel comfortable to just go ahead and do that. It’s kind of wild on the record, and it feels way out of left field, but it’s not like we haven’t done it before. It was really fun, too, and it continued the story of the record.” Making the transition on “Candy and Her Friends”—the only track on Ohio Players where Auerbach and Carney are the only credited songwriters—for Lil Noid’s verse only took Auerbach and Carney an hour or two, and then Noid came to Nashville and followed the same momentum.

“It was us just knowing exactly what to throw at the track to get it to work,” Carney says. “It was one of those puzzles that you enjoy in the studio, where it’s like ‘this is the vibe,’ ‘skip this.’ That’s when it’s most fun in the studio, where it’s having a clear idea but you’re not sure how to get there and you’re throwing shit at it. We were unsure it was gonna work and then, when [Lil Noid] showed up at the studio, we played him the whole track. He sat there and listened to it once and then twice. After two times, he got the mic and wrote his whole double-verse within an hour of being there. It was the fastest I’ve ever seen a rapper finish a track.”

11 years ago, after the Black Keys sold out Madison Square Garden in 15 minutes, CBS did a feature on them for 60 Minutes. In that clip, Auerbach briefly takes us through a record collection of his—a foreshadowing of what was to come for him and Carney, who’ve recently taken their crate-digging enthusiasms and plugged them into the same record hangs that spurred the Ohio Players title. When Auerbach and his side-project the Arcs rolled out their final album, Electrophonic Chronic, in early 2023, they hosted DJ sets rather than play shows (an idea not even considered, given the passing of founding member Richard Swift). Now, he and Carney play the songs “that should’ve been hits that aren’t hits,” hoping to show people music that is not a part of the zeitgeist’s everyday vocab but remains electric and marvelous all the same. “We’ve been obsessed with music since we were teenagers,” Carney says. “To hear your something that you’ve never heard that knocks your fucking socks off 30 years into that journey of listening to music non-stop—maybe once a week I’ll find a song like that now. Prior to that, it’d be like once every three or four months.”

Now more than ever, the way Auerbach and Carney have shared music with each other—from Liquid Swords to, recently, Johnny Thunder’s “I’m Alive” or the Poets’ “That’s the Way It’s Got to Be”—and the energy that radiates from that is as crucial to the DNA of the Black Keys as the Beachland Ballroom. “You learn so quickly that you have to step up your game,” Auerbach laughs. “You can’t just play stinkers, it’ll ruin the whole vibe of the party instantly. So we start focusing on making sure that the records that we’re bringing are the best. The more you search for that stuff, the more addictive it gets trying to find it—but, also, the more satisfying it is when you get to play it and see the crowd react. Just doing that together for the first time, we got really competitive—in the right way, in a good way, in a healthy way. It made us want to create music that felt like those records. We’re not necessarily trying to make old-sounding music, but we want that feeling of when those records are really hitting in a room that’s buzzing. It’s that energy that we were looking to try and get close to.”

That energy comes out on their cover of William Bell and Booker T. Jones’ “I Forgot to Be Your Lover,” the kind of album cut that parallels the Black Keys’ use of Jerry Butler’s “Never Give You Up” on Brothers. Auerbach and Carney were in Los Angeles working on some material at a studio called Valentine in the Valley and, after Carney suggested they cover “I Forgot to Be Your Lover,” they called up Kelly Finnegan and Tommy Brenneck to come lay down some parts. As Carney puts it, the track is a prime example of how Ohio Players came together in-full. “It’s us having an idea together, figuring out how to execute it and doing that with a friend,” he says. “That’s the record. That’s the whole album.”

When talking about Ohio Players, Auerbach has briefly mentioned that he’s never worked as hard on any record like he has this one. It takes me back to the conversation Carney and I had two years ago, when he told me that, after they put out Rubber Factory and Magic Potion back-to-back in 2004 and 2005, they were nearing 30, starting to feel “washed up” and growing fed up with the direction of their career at the time. Back then, the duo came to the realization that the next logical step was to spend more time making a record—and what came of that was Attack & Release, the album that was the best thing they’d made up until that point. This time around, it seems like the Black Keys are having a moment just like that again—as if Ohio Players is spiritually akin to what Auerbach and Carney were making in the mid-2000s. In Auerbach’s eyes, it was the love of the music and hanging out with each other and playing music together that reinvigorated that sense of purpose. “It brought us closer together, in the same way that going down to Muscle Shoals and spending a couple of weeks in the middle of nowhere does,” he adds.

“And, having been through pretty much every experience you can have as a band—from playing small shows to getting Grammys to going through hard times—the things that were relevant and meaningful and are signifiers of success became pretty clear to us, and it was having fun and making music and making songs that resonate with people,” Carney adds. “Everything else was kind of irrelevant. It all just became pretty pure, and it’s felt that way for the last couple of years. Our intention is to please ourselves with stuff we know is the best we can do and, hopefully, other people enjoy it. That’s what success is. It’s not Platinum records or the Grammys. It’s that.”

The Black Keys’ last three records have sent the band back to their two-in-a-room roots, where they’re recording and producing together. A back-to-basics retreat of that magnitude not only reaffirmed Auerbach and Carney’s bond as musicians, but it helped ready them for opening up their blues’d out world to their idols and peers. At the end of the day, the guys are likely not going to make another album that sounds like Brothers—and they don’t want to. They’ve been to the top of the mountain and, instead of overstaying their welcome up there, they’re now more interested in getting their buddies close to the peak, too.

“Us being the ones steering the ship for the last five years, when we got back in the studio, just Dan and I, to make “Let’s Rock” and Dropout Boogie and Delta Kream, we had this revelation that it’s not a producer we’re looking for—it’s collaborators we’re looking for,” Carney admits. “You have to have your ego really in check to get in a room with Noel [Gallagher] and let him do his thing but also make sure it still sounds like yourself. Things just started clicking, where it became not this thing of ‘Let’s show everybody what we can do,’ but ‘Let’s make something with our friends and make it the best that we can.’ It takes a lot of time to get to a place like that.” “Especially if you grew up totally isolated from the industry like we did,” Auerbach adds. “We didn’t know that most records are a collaboration. We thought you just recorded them yourself in the basement and turned them in.”

Being Ohioans, we are always underdogs—no matter how much we win, because those victories often feel more fleeting here than they do anyplace else. Not everyone wants to be a part of that legacy (or curse, depending on who you ask), but having a record like Ohio Players—with Beck and Gallagher and Juicy J and Dan the Automator on it—and welcoming these generational talents and names into our world and asking them to share a celebration with a homegrown guy like Tom Bukovac, it feels like a triumph not many bands can say they’ve earned. “When we say that we still feel like underdogs, people are like, ‘What the fuck are you talking about? You’ve headlined Coachella, you’ve played SNL three times, won a Grammy.’ It’s not about that. It’s about you still feeling like you have to do your absolute best work to be seen. And I think that that’s a good place to be—especially if you’re a band in Akron or Columbus or wherever. If you want to be heard, you have to be better than the best band in New York City or Los Angeles. There has to be a reason because, otherwise, someone’s gonna take that space.”

After you spend 20 years trying to be better than the best bands on the coasts, you get to fly to London and make music with Noel Gallagher. “We worked with Noel because he’s the absolute best,” Auerbach says. “When we sat in the room, we realized that. And when Beck comes in and we really start to flow, it’s incredible.” But the same goes for Bukovac or Kelly Finnegan or Leon Michels, too. “There’s so much magic there, and we just want to be around as much of that as possible. I love being in a place where we’re comfortable to open ourselves up and come out from the basement and interact with other people. It only makes us stronger,” Auerbach continues. “I feel like our biggest hack to this was realizing that, of all the things that we’ve gotten from playing music, the most important thing we had was the agency to reach out to some of these guys and get them in the studio because they wanted to get down. And not everybody can do that. We’re aware of that,” Carney adds.

It’s the only explanation for why a band of the Black Keys’ tenure and track-record would be comfortable taking a massive swing and not settling for another tracklist packed with riffs. Ohio Players upends any and all pre-conceptions of what a Black Keys record can or should sound like in 2024; it’s an intrinsic project adorned with adaptability. 22 years in and Auerbach and Carney can still find ways to surprise even their strongest doubters. But still, I can’t help but think about something Carney told me two years ago—how, while he wished that the Black Keys’ earliest records (The Big Come Up and Thickfreakness, especially) sounded better, they exist as a document of him and Auerbach doing the best they could with that they could afford in 2002.

Now, Auerbach is running his own record label and the Black Keys are working with guys who’ve made some of the greatest records of the last 30 years. But their DIY genesis—of demoing blues tracks in Carney’s basement and being 22 years old and curious about the limitless potential of the music they dreamed so deeply of making—still rears its head here and there. “We’re still searching for the same sounds in our mind, every time,” Auerbach says. “We’ve wanted the same sound to come out of the speakers since we started, and it’s Johnny Thunders’ ‘I’m Alive.’ We want everything to sound like that record. When we get into the studio, we want it all to be a live performance, to try and capture the magic.” But what will happen to the Black Keys once they’ve captured the magic and make a record that sounds like Johnny Thunders’ “I’m Alive”? “Then we can start sounding like ourselves,” Auerbach says with a faint chuckle.

The Black Keys’ Ohio Players is out now via Nonesuch Records/Easy Eye Sound.

Matt Mitchell reports as Paste‘s music editor from their home in Columbus, Ohio.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin