Hot off the release of their latest studio album Dropout Boogie, the Black Keys spent the night with fans at an exclusive iHeartRadio Album Release Party at the iHeartRadio Theater in Burbank, California on Friday, May 13. The night was hosted by Chris Booker from ALT 98.7 Afternoons With Booker & Stryker and featured a revealing Q&A session that covered everything from important lessons the duo has learned about making music to amusing, and never-before-heard, anecdotes from their childhoods.
When the blues-rock duo of Dan Auerbach (vocals and guitar) and Patrick Carney (drum kit) released their first album in 2003 titled The Big Come Up, they prophesized a decades-long career of smash hits and household-name status. Their 15-song setlist included music new and old, making the album release party a celebration of two friends who have consistently delivered blistering rock songs with a knack for making anyone listening feel like the smoothest star of a rugged action movie.
The Black Keys kicked things off with some serious heavy hitters, opening the show with "Tighten Up" and "Howlin' For You" from their 2010 breakthrough album Brothers and "Gold on the Ceiling" from the successful 2011 followup El Camino. Booker then hopped on stage to get some insight into how the duo's creative process has evolved from early hits like the ones they had just played to their newest material.
"We grew up five doors down from each other so it's always been kind of easy for us," the drummer shared. Yet, it wasn't until Dropout Boogie that they realized they could make the creative process even easier. For the new album, the duo brought in fellow musicians like ZZ Top's Billy F. Gibbons, Reigning Sound's Greg Cartright, and producer Angelo Petraglia to help bring their musical ideas to life.
"It took us 20 years to start doing that," said Patrick. "I guess we're idiots. We make it harder on ourselves! I know why Kanye [West] has 50 writers on his songs, it makes it a lot easier. The next record we're gonna have like 70 writers on each song," he joked. The hitmakers revealed they laid out all of the ideas for the album's songs within 10 days and spent about 7 or 8 weeks in the studio making the record.
A major highlight from the studio sessions was working with Gibbons. "That was cool to get to jam with him," said Patrick. When Booker asked how they wound up collaborating with the storied musician Dan shared, "I heard that he was in town so I texted him and I said, 'Pat and I are gonna be in the studio. You should stop by.' A few hours later I got a text that said, "I'm on my way, amigo." The pair also revealed that Gibbons showed up at the studio with no instruments. Just a bottle of wine and he stayed with them in the studio until it was emptied.
They continued talking about new music, shifting the conversation to one of their latest singles, "It Ain't Over." Pat revealed that the song was birthed while messing with a toy organ called the OPTIGAN. The device gave the duo pre-recorded grooves that, in Patrick's opinion, made the new record sound "lounge... martini lounge or something." By having their engineer "flip" the groove, they found "the basis of the song." The duo proceeded to play the song and followed it up with Dropout Boogie's hit single "Wild Child," which has been at the top of the iHeartRadio Alternative Rock Music Charts.
Dan and Patrick took another moment to discuss this new era of music with their enthusiastic audience. For the "Wild Child" music video, the duo headed to Springfield High School in Springfield, Tennessee to film. The video is in reference to the time they spent reminiscing about their shared high school experience, which sounded pretty hectic, while recording the album. "Every day someone would get thrown down the stairs or something and we were talking about how our kids go to nice private schools and never experience that," said Pat. "At least once a week someone got thrown through the trophy case," added Dan. "I can't imagine anyone throwing you through a trophy case," Booker told Patrick, which prompted him to share a harrowing tale from his childhood.
"I mean, I got beat up by a girl when I was in middle school," Patrick revealed, causing the audience to erupt in giggles. "I was in fifth grade, I was in band. This high school chick rolled up and tried to steal my trombone and started throwing punches at me," he explained, to more laughter. "And I've never shared this story but I had no idea what to do... it was very emasculating. Actually, I'm gonna call my therapist as soon as we're off the stage."
And with that, Booker bid farewell to those listening on the radio airwaves. Fans at the show or tuning into the iHeartRadio YouTube live stream were treated to 30 minutes of nonstop music. The duo dug deep into their discography pulling out the song "Have Love, Will Travel." They've just recently dusted off the Richard Berry cover from their 2003 album Thickfreakness. Before 2021, they hadn't played the song live since 2010. The two other pre-Brothers offerings included setlist linchpins "I Got Mine" off 2008's Attack & Release and "Your Touch" off 2006's Magic Potion.
The only other song played from Dropout Boogie was "Your Team Is Looking Good," with Dan introducing it by saying, "Hopefully you guys have heard this at least once." The two were considerate rock stars, knowing fans may not have had the chance to listen to the freshly released album. They gave some love to their late-2010 albums by playing "Fever" and Lo/Hi," but the Black Keys really prioritized songs that fans have loved for over a decade like "Lonely Boy," "Brothers," "She's Long Gone," "Ten Cent Pistol" and "Little Black Submarines" to close out the night.
Before saying goodbye to their musically-satiated fans, Dan encouraged them to check out the new album Dropout Boogie. The Black Keys have also announced a massive North American tour in support of the album. If you haven't had the chance, you can listen here.