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Interview:
Black Keys frontman on an upswing with the Arcs
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

The Arcs is not something Dan Auerbach has to do.

After all, the singer and multi-instrumentalist is a co-founder of the Black Keys, with eight studio albums, six Top 10 rock singles and seven Grammy Awards to his credit -- including Producer of the Year, Non-Classical in 2013. The laurels are there to be rested on.

But for the Akron-born Auerbach, the Arcs is something he both wants to do and, as he talks about the group over the phone from his current home in Nashville, something he feels he HAS to do as well.

"Everything that I've ever been part of kind of represents who I am and what I'm capable of, and the Arcs is no different," explains Auerbach, 36. "It's part of who I am, and the sounds is basically a representation of the core guys in the group and what our record collections sound like, so it's all over the place. If you wanted to dissect it, you would get music new and old out of it.

"And together...I really don't know how to describe it. I wouldn't really want to describe it -- and that's what makes it exciting."

It's been a busy year for Auerbach and the Arcs. The sextet -- which also includes multi-instrumentalists Leon Michels and Richard Swift, bassist Nick Movshon, drummer Homer Steinweiss and guitarist Kenny Vaughan -- released its widely praised debut album, "Yours, Dreamily," during early September and an EP, "The Arcs vs. The Inventors," a collaboration with Dr. John and Los Lobos' David Hidalgo, for Record Store Black Friday. But while it appears to be something of a "new" group, its roots go back six years or so as Auerbach used the players on albums he produced for artists such as Dr. John, Ray LaMontagne and others.

"We've always done this recording; it was not really for anyone or anything in particular," Auerbach explains. "We'd just get together and record songs, and that's what the Arcs are. It was like a year ago we decided we should start to share some of this music with people instead of leaving it on our hard drives. We realized we had 75 songs just sitting there, and it just felt like such a waste. So we decided that everything we do from that point on was for the album."

Both before and after that determination, Auerbach says the Arcs have operated with the same creative philosophy. "It's about capturing the moment," he explains. "We really don't know or plan or talk about what's going to happen. I think the most important thing is that we're there recording. We've just had songs that have happened so quickly, before we even know it we had a song and we stop playing and listen to it and go, 'Holy s***, that's It! We did it!

"They just happen like that, which is part of what's so exciting and what's so addictive, that feeling that you get when a song just happens like that. You want to be in the studio all the time to get that."

The Arcs are, in fact, "almost done" with a second album, which Auerbach calls "still dreamy" but has "a new consistency" that sets it apart from the eclectic "Yours, Dreamily." Meanwhile, the group has taken its act on the road, too, and is establishing itself as a performing entity. And Auerbach has been pleased that he hasn't had to fend off calls for Black Keys material.

"Not once -- and they've been singing along to the Arcs songs, even the ones that we haven't released yet, which kind of freaks me out," reports Auerbach, who says the Black keys are "taking a little break" after a dozen years of constant work but have definitely not broken up. "I'm starting to feel like it has its own audience, because we haven't relied on my name or the Black Keys name to sell this thing. It IS a very different thing. The way I'm playing guitar, the way we're singing, it's very different to what I do in the Black Keys.

"I really do feel like people are getting it. I made a conscious decision to let it be its own thing.. Some people would take the easy route and use that (Black Keys notoriety) to sell records and fill those seats. But I didn't want to do that. So it's nice to let it breathe and give it its own room to kind of grow, and I'm really excited to see it grow more as we keep going."

The Arcs

Sunday, Dec. 6. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave.

Tickets are $49.50 and $35.

Call 313-961-5451 or visit thefillmoredetroit.com.


Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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