Before the coronavirus slammed the country, Dan Auerbach says he had a sense of what was coming. In late January, on the way back home to Nashville after the Grammy Awards in L.A., the Black Keys singer-guitarist donned a mask on the plane. “I’d heard about all this stuff kinda early,” he says, “and I wore a mask, and everyone was calling me crazy. So I was kind of quarantined already.”
Since the lockdown, Auerbach has been hunkered down at his Easy Eye Sound studio, wrapping up a few projects that were already in the can. Last month, his Easy Eye Sound label proceeded with a release of a comeback record by honky-tonk legend John Anderson. Auerbach had also just completed a new album with soul singer Robert Finley, now awaiting release. Last week, the Black Keys postponed their summer tour, which had been scheduled to start in July. Depending on the dates, opening acts would have included Easy Eye artists Yola, Marcus King and Early James.
“Everything’s been ground to a halt,” Auerbach says. “There was a lot going on. We’d made all these records that were all fresh out.” Auerbach is also using the time to work on a project his bandmate Patrick Carney teased on Instagram last week – a 10th anniversary expanded edition of the Keys’ album Brothers. “Look out for more info on that,” Carney added.
Since the lockdown and those plans, Auerach had largely been at home. “It’s been a lot of taking care of the kids, because there’s no school,” he says. “It’s really strange.” He’s heard some of the ideas about the return of concerts, including holding them at drive-ins. “I personally love that idea,” he says. “But that’s because I’m an old man. Or maybe,” he adds jokingly, “we can just send third parties to watch the shows, like when you send someone to pick up groceries.”
But what would it take to get him back on the road? Auerbach mulls it over. “Hmmm … a vaccine,” he says. “But I think I could go back to work in the studio with testing.”