The Black Keys can wait. Dan Auerbach has all this other sh*t to do.
With their drummer injured, Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach has recorded an album with his side-project, The Arcs – influenced by fake porn, female mariachis and teenage bike trips...
Talk about a lucky break.
We’re not saying it’s a good thing that Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney had his shoulder dislocated by a rogue wave while holidaying in the Caribbean this January. Still, if there is a silver lining to be found, it’s that the forced hiatus that followed the accident has allowed Dan Auerbach to focus on his long-running side-project The Arcs, and sign off the stockpile of eclectic material they’d accumulated as debut album Yours, Dreamily. “We’ve been playing together for years,” says Auerbach of his loose gang of compadres. “We had, like, 75 songs just sitting there. And it was like, ‘We’ve got to put this out…’”
How much of a fun project is The Arcs, and how much of an escape from The Black Keys?
“I mean, it’s all of that. But, like, good music is always an escape – for me, anyway. When I’m enjoying it, it’s like there’s nothing better. There’s nowhere I’d rather be than in the studio creating. And these guys are some of my favourite people in the world. Not even just musicians, they’re some of my best buds, y’know? Leon [Michels] and I, we go on family vacations together and stuff.”
What is it you can do with The Arcs that you can’t do with The Black Keys?
“I could record anything with the Keys. It’s not going to be the same thing though. So, I mean, it’s really all about these guys and their personalities and the way that Homer [Steinweiss] drums, the way that [Richard] Swift drums – y’know, those guys with Pat are, like, my three favourite drummers in the world. And only those guys can do those things that they do. They’re not, like, textbook drummers. They’re all self-taught. They play weird drum beats, and I love that about them so much.”
So why The Arcs? Obviously, there is a song by that name, but other than that?
“The song came first, then we had to search for a band name, and it’s the most ridiculous thing, looking for a band name. It’s ridiculous. But we just liked The Arcs. We liked how it sounded, we liked how simple it was, four letters. We liked what it meant. It seemed right for the project. You know, the thing is, some band names are great. Some band names, though, are terrible, but they become great because of the band – like The Beatles. That’s not a good band name, but The Beatles were a great band and they made the name bigger than what it was. So, when I found myself sitting around obsessing about band names, I realised, like, it really doesn’t matter so much. There are only so many great band names. All the other ones are just kind of okay, it’s just the band makes it good. So that helped me when I finally just went and picked The Arcs.”
So far, every article about Yours, Dreamily refers to it as a “weird, experimental thing”. How weird is this album to you, really?
“It’s not weird. It’s just what it is. I mean, it may be weird to somebody, but it’s not necessarily weird to me. I think the thing about it is that there were no rules, so we could pick and choose pieces, y’know: ‘We like the low end from this dub record and we’ll take that. And we also like the stringy guitar from this Travis Wammack song, we’ll take that. And then, like, the Dusty Springfield strings – we’ll take those and put them all together.’ I love being able to do that, and with these guys we can, y’know? It’s fun.”
The whole album is about interweaving songs, like in a jam, or on a trip or a dream. Hence Yours, Dreamily?
“There you go, [laughs] you just figured it out. Yeah, it’s supposed to flow like the scenes of a movie, maybe, like there’s a story. I wanted it to be interesting, like an interesting movie. Like, there’s a beginning and there’s an ending, and all these little twists and turns in between. That’s what I wanted to do, essentially. I wanted it to feel cohesive like a record, but I wanted it to go all over the place and take you on different little trips.”
Did you have a specific movie in mind, though?
“No, not really. We just sort of let it all unfold naturally. But we always kept that in mind. It had to be dreamy. We had to push ourselves a little bit to keep it dreamy.”
Including some eroticism or porn as well?
“Oh, yeah. Including some porn. Some fake porn.”
**Come & Go sounds like 70s exploitation. That sort of thing?
“Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, Come & Go. Yeah, those are some old tapes that I had [laughs].”