The Black Keys are simply a band of two college dropouts and good friends with a passion for music. However, with their big sound and catchy songs you can’t help but sing along to, they’ve essentially become Alt-rock royalty. In this Alt-Feature you’ll get a look at where The Black Keys have been, where they are now, and where they are headed.
About the band:
Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are childhood friends who both became college dropouts, who found themselves working in Akron, Ohio as “horticultural technicians”. Needless to say, their life was far from glamourous. From 9 to 5 they may have been mowing lawns, but in their spare time they were The Black Keys. Where they had no passion for college or their mundane jobs, they made up for in their love for their music. After only one year of forming the band, they released their debut album The Big Come Up in 2002. To get their music exposed the took to the road, touring and playing at tiny venues in hopes of getting their music out there. Then, they got fired from their lawn jobs, the last thing the practically broke band needed.
The song “I’ll Be Your Man” from The Big Come Up:
But when you hit rock bottom, you can only go up from there. Despite their lack of funds, The Black Keys continued their tour and soon developed a following, The Big Come Up received 4 stars from Rolling Stone, and The Black Keys slowly began their ascent. In 2003, they released their second album Thickfreakness, which was recorded in Carney’s low-rent basement, and received an offer of $100,000 to license one of the album’s songs for use in an U.K. mayonnaise advertisement. But, fearing that they may be percieved as “sell outs,” the duo rejected the offer.
The album’s namesake song “Thickfreakness”
Releasing several EPs, and still struggling to sell records and get their songs on the radio, The Black Keys released their third album Rubber Factory, which ironically was recorded in an old, abandoned tire factory in Akron. Still album was exactly what the band needed to rise to the top, and songs from Rubber Factory were featured in Nissan, American Express, Sony Ericsson, Victoria’s Secret, and Zales commercials. Around this time The Black Keys also opened for Pearl Jam, Beck, Radiohead, and Sleater-Kinney. Then in 2005, they released their first live album, recorded in Sydney.
Rubber Factory song “Girl Is On My Mind:
From here this only got better, and The Black Keys made their rise to fame in Alternative. In 2006 Magic Potion, their fourth album but first with Nonesuch Records was released, and the song “Your Touch” was later featured in the film Zombieland. Next in 2008, their fifth album Attack & Release, produced by Danger Mouse, was released and debuted at number 14 on Billboard 200. In 2009, Blakroc was released, which was a collaborative album featuring The Black Keys with a number of hip hop artists.
Attack & Release song “Strange Times”:
Then in 2010, the sixth album Brothers was released and the band’s pre-released single “Tighten Up” spent 10 weeks at number one on the Alternative Songs charts. The band continued to gain exposure through song licensing, and were Warner Bros. Records’ most-licensed band of the year. Furthermore in 2010, Rolling Stone placed Brothers at number two on its list of the best albums, Spin named The Black Keys the “Artist of the Year.” At the 53rd Grammy Awards, Brothers and its songs won awards in three of the five categories they were nominated in and received honors for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
Brothers song “Howlin’ for You”
Where they are now:
The Black Keys latest album El Camino, was released in December of last year (2011).
This album, as with all of their music, draws from the influence of early American rock generes such as rock n’ roll, soul, glam rock, and rockabilly to produce a fresh ut still old school sound. The band returned to Saturday Night Live in 2011 for their second time as a musical guest, marking the first occasion that a non-hosting musical act performed on the show twice in the same calendar year. In the U.S., the album debuted at number two on Billboard 200 and sold 206,000 copies in its first week, the highest charting position and single-week sales the group has achieved to date in the country.
El Camino song “Lonely Boy”
This year The Black Keys are on tour through May with the Arctic Monkeys ( be sure to check out my post on their newest song “R U Mine?” ). Love The Black Keys’ music? Ready to see them live? Here are the U.S. tour dates:
03/03 – Detroit, MI @ Joe Louis Arena
03/04 – Columbus, OH @ Jerome Schottenstein Center
03/06 – Portland, ME @ Cumberland Co. Civic Center
03/07 – Boston, MA @ TD Garden
03/09 – Washington, DC @ Verizon Center
03/10 – Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center
03/12 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden
03/13 – Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre
03/14 – Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre
03/16 – Indianapolis, IN @ Conesco Fieldhouse
03/18 -Grand Rapids, MI @ Van Andel Arena
03/19 – Chicago, IL @ United Center
03/20 – Cleveland, OH @ Quicken Loans Arena
03/22 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden
03/23 – Norfolk, VA @ Constant Convocation Center
03/24 – Charlotte, NC @ Bojangles Arena
04/24 – Houston, TX @ Cynthia Woods Pavilion
04/25 – Austin, TX @ Frank Erwin Center
04/27 – St. Louis, MO @ Chaifetz Arena
04/28 – Tulsa, OK @ BOK Center
04/30 – Broomfield, CO @ 1st Bank Center
05/02 – W. Valley City, UY @ Maverik Center
05/04 – Oakland, CA @ Oracle Arena
05/05 – Sacramento, CA @ Powerbalance Pavilion
05/07 – Portland, OR @ Rose Garden Arena
05/08 – Seattle, WA @ Key Arena
05/09 – Vancouver, BC @ Rogers Arena
05/11 – Calgary, AB @ Scotiabank Saddledome
05/12 – Edmonton, AB @ Rexall Place
05/14 – Winnipeg, MB @ MTS Centre
05/15 – Minneapolis, MN @ Target Center
05/16 – Milwaukee, WI @ Bradley Center
Some links to check out:
Sources: http://www.theblackkeys.com, http://www.sweetslyrics.com/bio-The%20Black%20Keys.html, http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/dec/01/black-keys-interview?INTCMP=SRCH, http://theblackkeysfanlounge.com/, http://consequenceofsound.net/2012/01/the-black-keys-arctic-monkeys-add-more-tour-dates/