In February 2013, Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney accidentally walked into the (virtual) fight of his life, inflaming Beliebers — the many, devoted followers of Justin Bieber — when a TMZ cameraman outside L.A.'s Chateau Marmont asked him if the pop superstar should've felt snubbed by not scoring a Grammy nomination. Carney's wife begged him to walk away, but instead he replied, "Grammys are for music, not for the money, and he's making a lot of money. He should be happy." A fairly harmless comment, but Bieber's tweet the following day — "The Black Keys drummer should be slapped around haha" — declared war. "I really wanna kill you NOW" said one Belieber. "You are some one hit wonder. JB has been doing it for YEARS," wrote another. Carney: "True."
"Justin Bieber, like a fucking irresponsible asshole, sicced 40 million Twitter followers on me because I paid him a compliment he didn't understand," Carney tells Rolling Stone's Patrick Doyle in our new issue, on newsstands now, growing a little defensive. How exactly was it a compliment? "I'm saying that he should be grateful that he has a fucking career in music. And he shouldn't be fucking telling his followers to slap me, and then also be doing anti-bullying bullshit. It's so irresponsible."
Still, Carney engaged with dozens of Bieber's fans over several weeks. "I just started getting called a faggot, you know? All these kids who don't know what they're saying are saying all of these things that are actually wildly inappropriate. And these kids are just dumbasses.
"I mean, Justin Bieber is a fucking moron," Carney continues. "And that's the gist of what I was saying. And then he goes and says I should be slapped? Honestly, I feel bad for him. Every single person who works with him should fucking be embarrassed that they don't. . . No one is doing him any favors, you know? And honestly, I don't dislike his music. I don't listen to his music, but he needs to not conduct himself that way. Like, really, you make millions of dollars playing music, you should feel fucking lucky."
The situation got Carney thinking about mind control (his friend Harmony Korine suggested he watch Michael Rubbo's weird 1985 film The Peanut Butter Solution, about a teacher who kidnaps children and uses mind control to force them to make magic paintbrushes).
"If you're a 34-year-old fucking loser like me, and you go on Justin Bieber's Twitter account like a total pervert every time that he gets in trouble, you should look at his tweets the next day. It's always like, 'I love you guys so much, always believe, never stop believing.' He's feeding them the Kool-Aid more and more," he says. "He pours it on heavy, though. It's so manipulative! And whoever taught him that that was OK, whoever's watching him and is like 'that manipulation is acceptable,' should be really ashamed of themselves."