2024 Album Preview – The Black Keys

Trending Now

Noel Gallagher, Beck and Alice Cooper are on the guestlist for the duo’s “party record”


PATRICK CARNEY: Dan makes a lot of records for Easy Eye, and when he does those, he’s always writing and collaborating with the artists. But the only other person we’d written with [in The Black Keys] was Danger Mouse. So this time we decided to go a little deeper into our Rolodex and call some people we’d been talking about working with for a long time. Beck was the first one, because we’ve known him for two decades, and the timing just worked out perfectly. He happened to be in Nashville so he came by Easy Eye for a couple days and we knocked out a few songs, one of them being the first song on the record, “This Is Nowhere”.


DAN AUERBACH: Beck is very prolific with his writing, especially lyrical content – it’s like turning on a faucet. So whenever we get him in the studio, we just hit the ground running and we’re making songs as soon as we can.

CARNEY: It came out so easy that we were trying to think of other people that we could throw in the mix, and the person at the top of the list was Noel Gallagher. Everyone was like, “Noel doesn’t really write with other people.” But he agreed to meet us in London. We booked some time at Toe Rag and recorded two songs with Noel in three days. With Beck, most of the time we’d have the music there by the time he showed up, so we were just looking for words and melody. But with Noel, we started the songs from scratch. Noel is hilarious and we hit it off instantly. It couldn’t have gone smoother. He was very meticulous about finding the right transitional chords for each section, it was amazing. Dan started calling him the ‘Chord Lord’.

AUERBACH: In that particular instance at Toe Rag, we were all in the room: Pat with the drums, I was playing bass, Noel had his 335, and our friend Leon [Michels] was on keyboards. We were just in a circle in this tiny room, recording live, working up songs in real time, literally figuring out chord changes and melodies. Every song that we got with Noel is a live take, “On The Game” is a live take that we cut. It just felt really good.


CARNEY: We embraced the idea of getting out of our comfort zone, which is Dan’s studio. We were trying to have an adventure while we made the record. So we booked a few sessions out in LA: we worked at Valentine in the Valley, and in Sunset Sound. We got in a room with Dan The Automator, we did a track with Greg Kurstin as well. While we were out there, we’d do these record hangs where we’d invite a friend or two and bring our 45s and basically spin records for four hours.

AUERBACH: These record hangs were a huge inspiration for the album, they really helped shape the overall feeling. I think the record is almost like a party record, in a way. And it’s because we were having so much fun – we were travelling together, hanging out, getting obsessed with 45s, watching how the crowd was reacting. It was really fun to have that going on simultaneously while we were making the record.

CARNEY: My neighbour was Alice Cooper’s agent for a long time, and every time he’s in town we squeeze in a round of golf. We were out on the course, so I asked him ‘Do you wanna pop in the studio and get on this song we have?’ And he came in the next day.

AUERBACH: He came in in full regalia too, he had all the make-up on. The song’s called “Stay In Your Grave”, we wrote it with Greg Cartwright, and there’s a character in it that has a couple of lines… he’s essentially the devil. When Pat mentioned that Alice was in town, I figured who better to play the devil than Alice Cooper? He graciously came in and nailed it instantly, he knew exactly what to do. It was perfect – perfectly gruesome!

Now read our 2024 Preview interviews with The Weather Station, the MC5 and Ride.


Latest Issue