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Dan Aurbach - Black Thoughts

Author: Andrew Weaver
Monday, February 23, 2009

US blues rock duo The Black Keys have been smashing audiences since forming in 2001. 3D’s Andrew Weaver caught up with frontman Dan Aurbach to find out about his debut solo album.

Dan Auerbach may have made a name for himself as the howling, bearded half of The Black Keys, but it’s in solo guise that his attention has most recently been focused. His debut solo work Keep It Hid seems to stand out on its own as, in a way, these new solo tracks have been allowed more room to breathe.

Ironically, while Auerbach is doing interviews to promote his first solo album, he’s on tour in Australia with The Black Keys.

Nevertheless, you’d think that converting his headspace from collaborative thinking necessary for his work with The Black Keys, to the creative freedom one takes on when becoming a solo artist must be relatively. Auerbach asserts that that’s not the case at all. “I’m just me,” he says with a shrug, “so I don’t have to change much.”

As such, putting together a solo record for the first time was not the complex experience that one would expect. “I’m not trying to be something that I’m not when I’m writing with The Black Keys, or when I’m doing my own thing,” the guitarist says. “It’s just a time and place – it’s where you are and who you’re with when I write songs as Patrick [Carney, the drumming half of the Black Keys] and I it’s a musical discussion between the two of us, and when I did the solo record it’s the same idea but with different people, so it’s just a different experience.”

While initial reports had it that Keep It Hid was a completely solo affair, with Dan playing all the instruments himself, he’s keen to debunk that myth and give credit to his new bandmates. “No, no, no, no. There were a bunch of different musicians on the record. Some songs were just me but mostly not.”

Working in the booth alone on Keep It Hid did not see Auerbach placed in territory too unfamiliar. After gaining notoriety as a producer in the early-2000s, the prospect of weeks spent behind mixing boards is a perfectly comfortable scenario. The time that Auerbach was able to devote to Keep It Hid was open-ended, but the process ended up being remarkably similar to the stages of a Black Keys album.

“It’s the same thing,” he says of the differences – or lack thereof – between recording solo and as part of The Black Keys. “I completely invest myself in everything that I do, so I [give] as much attention to a Black Keys record as I do in my own thing.”

Stepping out of the Black Keys and doing something so intrinsically different was a natural step – Keep It Hid is just another aspect of Dan’s musical personality, and he’s the sort of musician who’s always recording and always writing songs. “Three years ago I could have done this, but I never had any time,” he states. “There was just a window of opportunity and I thought ‘what they hell’, and gave it a shot.”

WHO: Dan Auerbach
WHAT: Keep It Hid
WHEN: Out now through Nonesuch / Warner