On November 18th, the Black Keys will release Live at the Crystal Ballroom, a sick live DVD shot at a particularly raucous April gig in Portland, Oregon. “I like how the floor shakes there when the kids are pogoing,” says drummer Patrick Carney. There are many other wonderful things happening for the Keys: They’re flying out to L.A. soon to work on ZZ Top‘s new album (Rick Rubin is producing). “The idea is to get Dan [Auerbach, the Keys’ guitarist and singer] and me in the same room with Billy Gibbons to jam,” says Carney, who just finished producing an album for Lana Davies, Dave Davies’ daughter. And after they tour Australia in January, the Keys will get crackin’ on a follow-up to Attack & Release, which gets the S.S. vote for the best album of ’08. “We just went in the studio in San Diego and made up five good songs on the spot,” Carney says. “I’m most excited about our next shit.”
When Ben Harper took the stage at the Chevrolet Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, on October 29th — as part of the Beastie Boys‘ swing-state tour — he debuted a brand-new band, Relentless7. The four-piece, including guitarist Jason Mozersky, drummer Jordan Richardson and bassist Jesse Ingalls, busted out a cover of Queen and David Bowie‘s “Under Pressure” and originals like “Fly One Time” and “Lay There and Hate Me,” which will both appear on the band’s upcoming set, White Lies for Dark Times. “It’s absolute, unapologetic rock music,” Harper says. (Keep your eyes peeled for tiny club gigs next month.) But what about Ben’s other band? “I’ll always be with the Innocent Criminals,” he says. “It’s just time to do something else.”
We’re stoked that Hank Williams Ill’s new punk-country album Damn Right Rebel Proud debuted at Number 18 on the Billboard chart, his highest position ever. Kicking off the disc is “The Grand Ole Opry (Ain’t So Grand),” in which Williams claims that it’s “fucking bullshit” that his legendary grandpa hasn’t been posthumously re-instated into the home of country music, after being expelled in 1952 for his boozy antics. “He was a little too mouthy,” says the Third, who is a bit of a hillbilly hell-raiser himself. “He would sip on Seven and Sevens, and just kind of tell it the way it is. But when it came to showtime, he would always do his thing: Make people smile.” Hank III contends that the Opry continues to exploit his grandpa’s image without offering a proper tribute to the genius, who defined modern country with killers like “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Says Hank III, “We have a petition that anybody can sign [at reinstatehank.org]. Spread the word!”
This story is from the November 27th, 2008 issue of Rolling Stone.