The Black Keys Rock Their Warm-Ups

They make a lot of noise for just two guys — with their music and their outfits.
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They make a lot of noise for just two guys — with their music and their outfits.
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We hear you guys are addicted to buying track suits.
Dan Auerbach (guitarist-vocalist): We have a huge collection—I’d say we each have 70 of them—cool new throwbacks and vintage finds, too. We still go on tour in a van we drive ourselves, and by the time we get home to Akron, we’re always weighed down with a huge bag full of warmup suits and ’80s-style rap gear. And gaudy gold chains we find in thrift stores.

You never wear warmup suits onstage.
DA: Yeah, the track suits are for backstage. Strictly for our eyes. That’s “eyez” with a “z.”

Do you work out in them?
Pat Carney (drummer): I get up at 5:30 a.m., drive to Starbucks, go to my doctor for some HGH, and hit the mall for some mall walking. In a noisy nylon track suit, so you can hear the legs. Seriously? I wake up at one and, uh, play drums.

What got you hooked on warmups?
DA: We love publicity shots from the Run-DMC era; any of those hip-hop groups had way cooler looks than the band photos you see today.

Your sound doesn’t evoke ’80s hip-hop.
DA: When we wear hip-hop gear, we’re not keeping it real at all. No one wears this stuff in Akron, Ohio. It’s how we entertain ourselves. You need to create an entire universe for yourself in Akron or you end up working at Arby’s.

Any tips on scoring a cool track suit?
DA: Yeah. When you’re shopping for one, go bold. You want to hunt for a power color, like a really rich purple or a deep green. Green’s the color of money and the color of trees. It’s organic and greedy all at once.

The Black Keys are touring in support of their LP Attack & Release, out now on Nonesuch.