In Akron, Ohio, Patrick Carney played guitars and drums, and kept a drum set and a four-track recording system in his basement. His goal was to entice drummers to come and jam, so he could play the guitar. Dan Auerbach spent most of his free time listening to a wide variety of guitar players, practicing their licks and finding his own sound. Their older brothers were friends an suggested that Pat and Dan get together to play, so they did. As young teens, the two jammed every month or so, and recorded their efforts — all covers that Dan had adjusted to suit their rough, garage-band style.
A few years later, both were still making music, both had expanded their skills and knowledge, and both had dropped out of college. Pat was struggling to start a music career and asked a few friends to meet at Dan’s basement “studio” so he could record a demo. The friends were no-shows, Pat played drums to Dan’s guitar and recorded the results — and their duo was born. They became the band to hear in Akron, Ohio (not the music capital of anything), put 300,000 miles on a Ford van going from gig to gig, sent out a demo tape to eight producers, and in 2002 got a record deal with the Indie label, Alive. They just had to write 12 songs. So they did.
They knew the Black Keys was a career when Rolling Stone reviewed that first album, The Big Come Up, giving it four stars. Still, for the first ten years, they were one of those more regionally known bands that kept writing and recording music, driving to gigs, and undertaking a few side opportunities to keep things going. Then, in 2010, their single, "Tighten Up" made Billboard's Top 100 and spent ten weeks at number one on the alternative songs chart. In 2012, the band released the album, El Camino, with the single, "Lonely Boy," and the Black Keys played at Madison Square Garden, and headlined at Coachella.
The Black Keys, have released a total of 11 studio albums, headlined at amphitheaters and music festivals, won a Brit Award and an MTV Music Award, and earned five Grammy Awards. Now, they live in Nashville where they are active music producers, and where Dan has a real studio, Easy Eye Sound. They continue to write, record, and perform, and released their most recent album, Drop Out Boogie, in May of 2022. They released two singles from that album, “Wild Child” and “It Ain’t Over.”
While their sound may have changed some over the years, the Black Keys still create great lyrics, vocals, insistent drums, excellent guitar solos, and a grown-up garage band, alt-rock, blues-tinted sound that appeals to a variety of music lovers.