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The Black Keys Producing, 'Flushing Money Down the Toilet'

Plus, Rod Stewart Focusing on Final 'Songbook' and Conor Oberst hosts a fiesta in Mexico City

Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach arrive at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York.
Ray Tamarra/Getty Images
May 29, 2008

If you worship the Black Keys as much as we do – and you agree that Attack & Release is the best album of '08 so far – you should be stoked to know that drummer Patrick Carney and singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach have put their fingerprints on a slew of upcoming albums. Carney is producing fellow Akronites Houseguest, Knoxville's Royal Bangs ("they're kind of the shit") and another Ohio band called Beaten Awake. "Those guys are, like, 33, but they live like they're still 18," says Carney, "which is acceptable as long as you don't have a kid." Meanwhile, Auerbach is readying records by Buffalo Killers (rockers from Cincinnati), Hacienda ("Mexican-Americans who are obsessed with the Beach Boys"), the low-fi Southern duo Black Diamond Heavies and youngster Jessica Lea Mayfield ("superdark and gloomy – what I like"). In summary, Carney says, "We're just puttin' out records, flushing money down the toilet. Unless these bands agree to wear the neon-green outfits I pick out for them, they'll never be popular."

Rod Stewart is as obsessed as we are with the Black Keys, and the S.S. has slowly but steadily been trying to hook up the duo with the Mod so that they make some sweet music together. "That would be one nice thing to do," says Stewart, who will hopefully catch the Keys at their gig at London's Astoria in late May. Stewart told us he has gotten out of doing a holiday album for J Records ("Clive [Davis] wanted a Christmas album, but I'm not into that so much") and would instead prefer to focus on his fifth and final Great American Songbook collection, an album of obscure R&B covers and a country record. But the label is not feeling the latter idea. "Everybody's against that, which makes me want to do it even more," Stewart says. "Apparently, the idea didn't 'test' well, whatever the fuck that means." Bottom line: Rod is ready to work. "I want to do records for my peace of mind," he says. "So when I do kick the bucket, I can say, 'I did that.'"

Given the fact that Conor Oberst's favorite cuisine is Mexican, it makes perfect sense that the Bright Eyes frontman would pack up his recording equipment and move south of the border for two months to a mystical mountain in the state of Morelos. "There's a lot of UFO sightings down there," Oberst tells the S.S. "And we were near a pyramid that was pretty magical. We found a house that was perfect in its remoteness — beautiful, warm, and nobody minded us making noise." With friends in the band, and songs like "Valle Mistico," Oberst created his solo album (not Bright Eyes, he says, because cohort Mike Mogis didn't play on it), and though his Spanish is "poor," he managed to incorporate phrases like "Claro que sí" and "El cielo es azul." At the end, they had a fiesta: "We invited all the people from the town and friends from Mexico City — we even had fireworks!"

This story is from the May 29th, 2008 issue of Rolling Stone.


 

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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