Black Keys/Arcs frontman Dan Auerbach is writing a soundtrack album to accompany Murder Ballads, a comic book series described as a "rock 'n' roll noir story about the music industry and redemption." Though he isn't finished with the final mix, Auerbach told Vulture the LP will be "shorter than a double LP and longer than eight minutes."
According to description from publisher Z2 Comics, Murder Ballads will follow Nate Theodore, a record label owner who stumbles upon two two musician siblings, Donny and Marvell Frontweathers, who play a "raucous brand of doom-laden country blues." The series, planned for release in fall 2016, will be written by Gabe Soria and illustrated by Paul Reinwand.
The soundtrack, composed and performed by Auerbach, will feature lyrics based on characters and plot details from the comics, with music inspired by the story's country-blues foundation. Other musicians, including cult artist Mick Collins (the Dirtbombs, the Gories) will contribute.
Auerbach met Soria through a mutual friend in the Black Keys' early days, and the two have been plotting their collaboration for years. "I wasn't so much into comics, but where we kind of met up was on the music front," the musician told Vulture. "We were kind of addicted to records, and that's how we bonded early on … [The comic concept] was pretty fully formed in Gabe's mind. The music that he was talking about seemed – well, I could wrap my mind around it. He knew I was really big into northern Mississippi music, so I understood the reference points when he was talking to me about it."
Auerbach is still strategizing how to pair music with a printed comic, but he prefers to absorb the projects individually. "I can't personally listen to music that has lyrics and read at the same time," he said. "That's like doing two yo-yos at once. Absolute insanity. So I know how I'm gonna enjoy it: I'll do them separately, but they'll be connected in my mind."