The Saga Continues

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Black Keys Names RZA as an Inspiration for their Sound.

Ten years ago, The Black Keys hauled their gear up the steps of Used Kids Records and played their first Columbus concert for a handful of fervent underground music acolytes. It wasn’t the humblest way to debut — the show got local press coverage, and lots of upstart bands play to empty rooms — but it still seems quaint compared with the gig the band will play Sunday, when they headline the Schottenstein Center in the thick of their first arena tour.

The Black Keys seemed like an afterthought, late-comers to a wave of guitar-slinging “The” bands heralding a so-called return of rock. Through perseverance and serendipity, Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney have surpassed and transcended bands like The Strokes (defiled) and The White Stripes (defunct).The Keys have survived and thrived long enough to spawn a whole new wave of think pieces anointing them as rock’s last hope, a mantle Carney more or less accepted in a January Rolling Stone interview. positioning the band’s meat-and-potatoes melodic blues bash-up as an alternative to both hipster-baiting indie and knuckle-dragging modern rock. Though they boast countless imitators, in the top-flight pop stratosphere they are a band alone.“It’s crazy. I mean to have this sort of success — you couldn’t ever bet on it in a million years,” Auerbach said. “But to have had this success without having to have come up with a real shtick, it’s pretty awesome.”The Keys’ shtick is, of course, having no shtick.

Auerbach and Carney began making grimy lo-fi recordings in an attempt to emulate Wu-Tang producer The RZA. They worked off the cuff with as few frills as possible.“You’re talking to somebody who made a record in one afternoon,” Auerbach said. “Nobody made records quicker than we did.”They stuck to that approach until taking a sharp turn with 2008’s “Attack and Release,” which featured production from serial collaborator Danger Mouse.

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