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The Black Keys

The Black Keys is an American rock band formed in Akron, Ohio in 2001. The group consists of Dan Auerbach (guitar, vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums). The group began as an independent act founded after the duo dropped out of college, and they eventually emerged among a second wave of popular garage rock revival artists from the 2000s. Through October 2011, The Black Keys had sold over 2 million albums in the United States.   Their debut album, The Big Come Up (2002), was recorded in Carney’s basement and forged their raw blues rock sound. Over the next decade, The Black Keys built an underground fanbase through near-constant touring of small venues, frequent album releases, and extensive licensing of their songs. In 2006, the band signed with Nonesuch Records and began to receive bookings for large music festivals. The duo released Attack & Release in 2008, their first album produced by Danger Mouse, a frequent collaborator of the band. Their commercial breakthrough came in 2010 with Brothers, which along with its popular single “Tighten Up”, won three Grammy Awards.

Their 2011 follow-up El Camino has received the strongest reviews of the band’s career and peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 chart.   Band members 2.1 Touring musicians   Career   Early history and The Big Come Up (2001–2002)   Guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney first met when they were 8 or 9 years old while living in the same neighborhood of Akron, Ohio. While attending Firestone High School, they became friends, though they were part of different crowds—Auerbach was captain of the high school soccer team, while Carney was a social outcast. Encouraged by their younger brothers, the duo jammed together, as Auerbach was learning guitar at the time and Carney owned a four-track recorder and a drum set. After graduating, both briefly attended college before dropping out and returning to Akron. Auerbach attempted to make a living from performing at small bars in town, but realized he would not be able to book shows in other cities without a demo. To record one, he solicited the help of Carney, who agreed to provide the recording equipment and allow his basement to be used, while Auerbach would recruit the other musicians. However, none of Auerbach’s back-up band showed up on the recording date, as they would “rather get stoned and play video games than come to rehearsal”. Instead, Carney and Auerbach jammed, eventually leading to the duo forming a band and recording six-song demo consisting of “old blues rip-offs and words made up on the spot”. After soliciting the demo to a dozen record labels, they received and accepted an offer from Alive, a small indie label in Los Angeles.   According to an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air the group’s name “The Black Keys” came from a schizophrenic artist named Alfred McMoore that the pair knew; he would leave incoherent messages on their answering machines referring to their fathers as “black keys” such as “D flat” when he was upset with them. The band’s debut album, the lo-fi The Big Come Up, was recorded entirely in Carney’s basement on an 8-track tape recorder and was released in 2002. The album was very successful for a new independent rock band. It spawned two singles released as an EP, “Leavin’ Trunk” and “She Said, She Said”. Both are cover songs, the originals being a traditional blues standard and a Beatles song, respectively. “I’ll Be Your Man” would later be used as the theme for the HBO series Hung. The duo played their first live show at Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom and Tavern to an audience of about 25 people.   Thickfreakness era (2003)   The band released Thickfreakness in April 2003, which was recorded on a Tascam 388 in Carney’s basement in 14 hours. The album was favoured by critics and spawned three singles: “Set You Free”, “Hard Row” which was featured in the pilot episode for the FX tv show Sons of Anarchy and a cover of Richard Berry’s “Have Love, Will Travel”. The other cover was Junior Kimbrough’s “Everywhere I Go”. “Set You Free” was featured on the soundtrack for School of Rock, as well as the 2009 comedy I Love You, Man.   The band released a split-EP with The Six Parts Seven on September 16, 2003, titled The Six Parts Seven/The Black Keys EP and featured one song by The Six Parts Seven and three songs by The Black Keys.   Rubber Factory and first live album (2004–2005)   Rubber Factory, the band’s third album, was released in 2004. During Thickfreakness and Rubber Factory, the band gained recognition and popularity, boosting their career. Rubber Factory was recorded in an abandoned factory in early 2004. The factory was located in Akron, but according to Carney, was torn down in early 2010. The album featured singles “10 A.M. Automatic”, “‘Til I Get My Way”, and “Girl Is On My Mind”, released as an EP. “When the Lights Go Out” was used in trailers for the film Black Snake Moan and was featured in the erotic opening sequence with co-stars Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake. Additionally, “10 A.M. Automatic” was used in Live Free or Die, The Go Getter, the soundtrack to MLB 06: The Show and an American Express commercial. The Go Getter also featured “Keep Me” as did Sons of Anarchy’s Season 1 Episode AK-51 & Old Bones. “Grown So Ugly” was featured on Cloverfield and “Girl Is On My Mind” on Sony Ericsson, Victoria’s Secret, and in November 2010, Zales commercials. Around this time, they also opened for bands such as Pearl Jam, Beck, Radiohead and Sleater-Kinney. The Kinks cover, “Act Nice and Gentle” appears in the eleventh episode of season four of Rescue Me. In the scene where Dennis Leary and Gina Gershon are engaged in coitus, it plays in the background.   In 2005, the band also released their first live video album, Live, recorded at The Metro Theatre in Sydney, Australia on March 18, 2005.   The Moan was an extended play which was released on January 19, 2004, featuring “Have Love Will Travel”, an alternate version of “Heavy Soul,” and two covers.   Magic Potion and other releases (2006–2007)   The Black Keys released Chulahoma: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough, an EP with covers of songs by Junior Kimbrough, a north Mississippi bluesman, whom the band had covered on The Big Come Up and Thickfreakness. The EP was released on May 2, 2006. Four days later, The Black Keys released their second live album, Live in Austin, TX – also known as Thickfreakness in Austin – which was recorded October 24, 2003. Soon after, their fourth album was released; Magic Potion was their first release on Nonesuch Records. The album featured four singles; “You’re the One”, “Your Touch”, “Strange Desire”, and “Just Got To Be”. The latter was featured on the soundtrack to the video game, NHL 08. “Your Touch” was featured on the 2009 film Zombieland as well as the HBO series Eastbound & Down. The Black Keys recorded a cover of “The Wicked Messenger” for the soundtrack of I’m Not There and have recorded “If You Ever Slip”, a song written by Jesse Harris for The Hottest State soundtrack.   Attack & Release and the Blakroc project (2008–2009)

Dan Auerbach performing in East London on March 21, 2008.

Attack & Release, the band’s fifth album, was produced by Danger Mouse and released on April 1, 2008, having leaked onto the internet by March 4. Attack & Release debuted at number 14 on the Billboard 200. The singles from the album were “Strange Times”, “I Got Mine”, and “Same Old Thing”. “Strange Times” was featured in the video games Grand Theft Auto IV and NASCAR 09. “I Got Mine” was named the 23rd best song by Rolling Stone in its list of the 100 Best Songs of 2008. “I Got Mine” is used as the theme song for Canadian Police Drama TV Series The Bridge. “Lies” was used in episodes of Big Love and Lie to Me, and was covered by Kelly Clarkson live on her All I Ever Wanted Tour. “So He Won’t Break” was featured on an episode of One Tree Hill. According to an interview in Pitchfork Media, the band was collaborating on an album with Ike Turner, to be produced by Danger Mouse and released in 2007, but the idea was rendered impossible with Turner’s death in December 2007. “Some of the stuff we ended up recording sounds like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins,” said Carney.   Live at the Crystal Ballroom is a live video album released on November 18, 2008. It was filmed April 4, 2008 in Portland, Oregon at the Crystal Ballroom.   On October 17, 2008, The Black Keys was an opening act for fellow Akron-area band Devo at a special benefit concert at The Akron Civic Theater for presidential candidate Barack Obama. Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, also an Akron native and Firestone High School graduate, followed their set. In November, they toured through Europe together with Liam Finn. On June 6, 2009, The Black Keys performed along with The Roots, TV on the Radio, Public Enemy, Antibalas, and other acts at the 2nd Annual Roots Picnic on the Festival Pier in Philadelphia. They also joined the 9th annual Independent Music Awards judging panel to assist independent musicians’ careers.   On February 10, 2009, vocalist and guitarist Dan Auerbach released his debut solo album, Keep It Hid. During this time, drummer Patrick Carney formed an indie band called Drummer, who are currently signed to Carney’s Audio Eagle Records label. Drummer released their debut album Feel Good Together on September 29, 2009.   Blakroc is a collaborative album featuring The Black Keys and several hip hop artists released on Black Friday. The project was supported and brought together by Damon Dash, who is a big fan of the band. The album features rappers among the likes of Mos Def, Ludacris, RZA, Raekwon, Pharoahe Monch, Q-Tip, NOE, Jim Jones, Nicole Wray, M.O.P., and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard. The album was recorded in Brooklyn, New York. Auerbach said on the official Blakroc site, “Pat and I have been preparing for this record since we were 16.”   Brothers (2010–2011)   The Black Keys performing at SXSW in 2010   The group’s sixth studio album, Brothers, was released on May 18, 2010. The album was produced by The Black Keys and Mark Neill, and was mixed by Tchad Blake. The song “Tighten Up”, the only track from the album produced by Danger Mouse, preceded the album as the lead single, with “Howlin’ for You” as a follow-up single. Brothers sold over 73,000 copies in the US in its first week and peaked at number 3 on the Billboard 200, their best performance on the chart to that point. Furthermore, “Tighten Up” became their most successful single to that point, spending 10 weeks at number one on the Alternative Songs chart and becoming the group’s first single on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 87. The music video for “Tighten Up”, directed by Chris Marrs Piliero, won the 2010 MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Video. The Black Keys also helped judge the 9th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists’ careers. On October 19, The Black Keys released iTunes Sessions which is part of a series of live albums by iTunes and released exclusively on iTunes.   On December 1, 2010, it was announced The Black Keys were nominated for four Grammy Awards, including Best Rock Song for “Tighten Up” and Best Alternative Music Album for Brothers. Rolling Stone placed Brothers at number 2 on its list of the best albums of 2010 and “Everlasting Light” at number 11 on the list of the year’s best songs. Spin named the group 2010’s Artist of the Year. On January 8, 2011, the band appeared as the musical guest on American television sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, performing “Howlin’ for You” and “Tighten Up”.   On February 10, 2011, they released a video for “Howlin’ for You” that parodied action movie trailers. It starred Tricia Helfer, Diora Baird, Sean Patrick Flanery, Christian Serratos, Corbin Bernsen, Todd Bridges, and Shaun White, as well as the band itself in the role of “Las Teclas de Negro”. This video was also directed by Chris Marrs Piliero, and was subsequently nominated for the 2011 MTV Video Music Award for Best Rock Video. The Black Keys were nominated for three Billboard Music Awards: Top Alternative Artist, and Top Rock Album and Top Alternative Album for Brothers. On June 11, 2011 The Black Keys played at the 10th annual Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tennessee. They were a pre-headliner for the four day festival and performed on “What Stage”. On August 6, 2011 The Black Keys performed at the 1st annual Kanrocksas music festival at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. They played on “Stageasaurus Rex” and just before Muse, who was the headlining band for the day.   El Camino (2011–present)

The Black Keys perform at the Virgin Mobile FreeFest in September 2011 The recording sessions for the group’s seventh studio album, El Camino, began on March 3, 2011. Splitting time between touring and recording, the band spent 41 days at Easy Eye Sound Studio, which was opened in 2010 by Auerbach in the duo’s new hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. For the album, Danger Mouse reprised his role as producer and also contributed as a co-writer on all of its songs. Based on the difficulty the band had performing some of the slower songs from Brothers live, they conceived more uptempo tracks for El Camino. The record draws strong influence from early American music and popular genres from the 1950s–1970s, such as rock and roll, soul, and glam rock. Several retro acts such as The Clash, The Cramps, and T. Rex were cited as musical influences.   El Camino was preceded by lead single “Lonely Boy”, which was released in October accompanied by a popular one-shot music video of a man dancing and lip-syncing. The band returned to Saturday Night Live as a musical guest on December 3, 2011, marking the first occasion that a non-hosting musical act performed on the show twice in the same calendar year. The album was released three days later and received wide critical acclaim. In the US, it debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and sold 206,000 copies in its first week, the highest charting position and single-week sales the group has achieved in the country. Many publications, such as Rolling Stone and Time ranked El Camino among the best albums of the year, despite its late release. After a North American tour was announced, their show at Madison Square Garden sold out in 15 minutes.   Band members  Dan Auerbach – vocals, guitar (2001–present)  Patrick Carney – drums (2001–present)   Touring musicians  Gus Seyffert – bass (2010–present)  John Wood – keyboards (2010–present)

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