When singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach is usually performing, he's joined by lanky, bespectacled drummer Patrick Carney as the blues rock duo The Black Keys. Carney won't be towering over his drum kit on Saturday night, however, when the epically bearded Auerbach takes to the El Rey stage in support of his solo debut, Keep It Hid, which was released last month. Black Keys fanatics need not fret, though, because while Carney’s stomping beats are on leave, Auerbach's soulful, gospel-tinged vocals and dirty, crunchy guitar riffs remain intact on the new album. Keep It Hid takes on a full-figured sound with the addition of bass guitar, glockenspiel, and an assembly of other instruments that Auerbach explores. In advance of his Los Angeles stop, Auerbach spoke with Decider about naming albums, writing music with his father, and his new recording studio.
Decider: There can be musical limitations to being in a duo. Did you have more freedom by making Keep It Hid on your own?
Dan Auerbach: Well, when The Black Keys make a record, I never really feel limited. To me, it seems the possibilities are always endless. The big difference has been playing live and being able to recreate every little part of the record. I only play drums on a couple of songs [on Keep It Hid] because [on] most of the other songs I had other musicians play, but it’s just fun, and I don’t really try to be too perfect with it.
D: Does the title track “Keep It Hid” have any particular meaning to you?
DA: You know, I think [I picked it] because all the other song titles don’t seem like album titles. “Trouble Weighs A Ton,” is just too serious. I tend to name albums after one of the songs. It’s just something I do. I mean, I've been recording on my own all the time so this isn’t new to me.
D: You collaborated with your father on the track “Whispered Words.” How did that collaboration come about and how did it end up on the record?
DA: Yeah, I did. He’s got a bunch of songs that I have recorded over the years and that one in particular made it on the record. My dad just writes the lyrics, so all of the instrumentation is [from] me, which is fun. I’ll sort of take his lyrics and work on my own, finish the song, and bring it back to him. He really gets a kick out of it.
D: You recorded this album at your new studio, Akron Analog, in your hometown of Akron, Ohio. What is it like to finally have a studio of your own?
DA: It’s a studio that I built from the ground up and it’s kind of like everything that I would ever want in a studio: The live room is acoustically correct. The sounds are perfectly balanced so you can record by playing live. It has the tape machines I want, the recording console that I want, [and] the microphones that I want. I could stay in there all day, sometimes. I just love the sound and the idea of playing in a room with other people, which is what the majority of the record is. That’s what I wanted.
D: Are you and Patrick Carney hometown heroes in Akron? What's the scene like at one of your hometown shows versus being on tour?
DA: Yeah, of course. The biggest difference is that when we’re home, the guest list is out of control because there is so much family. It's really overwhelming.