An Interview with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys

The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach on minivans, Zeppelin, and Ke$ha.

The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach on minivans, Zeppelin, and Ke$ha.

Your last album, Brothers, debuted at number three and sold close to a million records. Was that a surprise?

Absolutely. I mean, it was our seventh record, so to finally hear our songs on the radio was kind

of crazy, and it opened up the door for other songs to get played. But we’d toured like crazy, and each record sold better than the last one, so we definitely laid the groundwork.

You teamed up with Danger Mouse on this one, and we actually get a Zeppelin vibe on a couple of the songs.

Man, you know what? I never listen to Led Zeppelin. But, I mean, I don’t think Robert Plant or Jimmy Page listen to Led Zeppelin, either. We all prob­ably obsessed over the same old blues records growing up.

What’s the scene like in Nashville, with you and Jack White and the Kings of Leon and all these rock guys living there?

It’s kind of mind-blowing. One minute I’m hanging with the Raconteurs, the next day I’m with Robert Plant, and then Ke$ha is calling me to get drunk. And there’s this his­tory of the country outlaws in Nashville from the ’70s, and they all had kids, and those kids all hang out in the bars of East Nashville. I’ve hung out with hip-hop stars and rock’n’roll guys, but the fucking craziest people I’ve ever hung out with are the country people.

Wait, back up. You’re friends with Ke$ha?

When she was, like, 16 or 17 and not old enough to get into clubs to see us play, she’d always sneak in and then get kicked out. Through the front door, through the side door, through the fucking kitchen. She was always crazy.

The new album is called El Camino, but we’re pretty sure that’s not an El Camino on the cover.

Yeah, that’s actually the Plymouth Voyager that we used to tour in. For years we crisscrossed America in that shitty van; I don’t know if we want to sell it, but we might. We just thought it was ridiculous to call an album El Camino and then have a minivan on the cover.