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October 30, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney never wanted to play drums | Concert preview

\When Patrick Carney was 15, he lied about his age to get a job washing dishes at a local restaurant. His mom told him that if he saved half his money, he could spend the other half on anything he liked. At the time, Carney was taking guitar lessons, and he figured the best way to increase his chances of joining a band was to become the easiest person to make music with.

So in the summer of 1995, he blew his savings on all the equipment needed to start a band: a $150 drum set, a $200 bass, microphones and a four-track recorder. He set up shop in dad’s basement in Akron, Ohio, and invited friends over to play music. There was just one problem: Nobody wanted him to play guitar.

“Because I wasn’t that good,” says Carney, who plays KeyArena Saturday with the Black Keys. “I always got slowly pushed to the drums here and there, but I always resisted it.”

It wasn’t until two years later, when Carney started jamming with a local guitarist named Dan Auerbach, that he finally submitted himself to the instrument. Playing drums with Auerbach was different. While the rest of his friends wanted to play fast, technical tunes, Carney says he and Auerbach both shared a love for classic rock and blues that required feel over proficiency.

“I just wanted the drums to sound like a Russell Simmons beat,” he says, “a cool, in the pocket thing.”
The pair formed the Black Keys in 2001 and released their debut LP — a sparse, gritty blues statement called “The Big Come Up” — the next year. They’ve since become one of the biggest rock bands in the country. Supporting their new album, “Turn Blue,” Carney and Auerbach are two of the rare rock ’n’ rollers under the age of 40 who can fill arenas in the United States.

Along they way, they’ve filled out their sound and expanded their palette, bringing extra musicians on the road to join the band on stage. They’ve also worked repeatedly with Brian Burton — aka Danger Mouse, of Gnarls Barkley fame — who co-produced the band’s last three albums and shares songwriting credit on the last two.

But thrift has remained a hallmark of the band. The Black Keys are still a duo, and Carney still saves at least half the money he earns.

“Well, I have a complex about it now,” he says. “So it’s a little bit sick.”

The Black Keys

8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, KeyArena, 305 Harrison St., Seattle; $31-$71 (206-684-7200 or

Comments | More in Blues, Rock/Pop | Topics: "Turn Blue", Black Keys, Concert Preview


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