The Black Keys continue to kill it. The dirty-blues duo cleaned up at the 2013 Grammys with Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song and Best Rock Album. April 28, they play their first arena show in Kansas City at the Sprint Center, with special guest opener the Flaming Lips. Drummer Patrick Carney recently took some time out to chat with The Pitch.
The Pitch: How did the Flaming Lips end up on tour with you this year?
Carney: We've been a fan of the Flaming Lips for a long time, and our schedules just synced up pretty well for those tour dates. Right now we're in the studio making another album. I think we'll be hopefully done with the album later on, by the time this tour starts. We'll be recording at least through the middle of April.
Will you be working with Danger Mouse on this album?
He's coming to Nashville in a couple of weeks. We've been working on writing songs this past year, with the exception of going to L.A. for the Grammys. It's starting to come together, I think. We've written about 15 songs, and there are probably nine that we're going to keep. And we'll probably have to write another 10 more to make an album.
You helped produce Tennis' sophomore album. How did that project come about?
They basically just e-mailed and asked me if I was interested in helping them make an album, and I was. I like working with bands that have that kind of pop aesthetic but are still coming from a different direction. I try not to do that much production work. But for them, it kind of worked out perfectly because they came to Nashville, and we made the album in, like, 10 days in my garage.
They're going to make another album soon, and I think I'm going to hop on. You don't really know how it is working with a band until you've made more than one record with them and have a good understanding and trust. It takes a lot of time. I think that's why Danger Mouse is such a good producer for us. We've been working with him off and on for six years, so when he says something, we know it's a valid and honest assessment. We might disagree with it, but we'll make a compromise. It's never his way — or our way — or the highway. We'll find a middle ground. I think that's what making music is all about.
Do you want to continue pursuing production side projects in the future?
I recorded the first four Black Keys albums. I kind of got into it that way. Recording is fun for me to do, and I enjoy it, but at the same time, it's a very taxing process. It's always fun helping a band record, picking their songs and mixing them. But the problem is dealing with the label and the budget and making sure everything happens on time. You end up too involved and seeing things through the eyes of the label. It becomes completely disheartening. So that's why I try to do it on a casual level with people I'm friends with.
And Dan [Auerbach, Black Keys guitarist and singer] and I have never had to deal with a label. Every label we've been on has been super-cool, or we had so few records with them, we were still able to leave pretty quickly. A lot of it just comes from experience. Dan and I have been doing this for a long time, and our manager has been working with us for most of our career.
On Record Store Day, you released a 7-inch split with Iggy and the Stooges' "No Fun" on one side and your cover of that track, from 2002, on the other side. Can you tell me more about this?
Our version of "No Fun" was never on a 7-inch, and we thought it sounded amazing to have a split with the Stooges. And this is the third time we've done a split for Record Store Day. We did a split with the Flaming Lips in 2009 and also with Devo in 2010.
You guys had a guest appearance on Anthony Bourdain's Kansas City episode of No Reservations. It was interesting to see a band from Akron, Ohio, meet Bourdain in Kansas City. Are you really into barbecue or something?
Dan and I are huge fans of Anthony's, and he asked us to be on the show. And there was only one opportunity for us to be on it before we went on tour, and that was in Kansas City. The night before, we played a show in L.A. and we flew last minute to KC — mainly because we wanted to hang out with Anthony Bourdain. But I've tried a lot of barbecue there because our bass player, Gus Seyffert, is from Kansas City. He's taken us to Gates and Arthur Bryant's.
The weird thing about Kansas City is that we never played there until 2010. Of all the cities in the U.S. that you normally hit on tour, that's the only place we'd always miss. So now we've been there three or four times, but we've only played twice. We've actually been to KC more in the past two years than we have in most cities in the U.S., which is kind of strange. But I get it. I know if I was watching a show about Akron, and they had a band that wasn't from Akron on the show, it would feel very strange to me.