Dan Auerbach squints over a PDF of a faded, handwritten note. Laughing, he reads the first line: "We the Black Keys have put this demo together for you, we hope you like it." The rest of the note says the fresh-faced band is "young, naive, and road ready," claiming to have already played gigs throughout Ohio. This note, sent to numerous record labels, was accompanied with a blatant lie -- but it paid off. Now, sold out tours, eight albums, and various awards later, The Black Keys can look back on their early days with a laugh.
Earlier this year, Rolling Stone started a documentary series called "Mastering the Craft." Dedicating 10-15 minutes to artists such as Willie Nelson, Tegan and Sara, and Major Lazer, the series dives into the histories of these musicians and how each got their start. Now featuring The Black Keys, viewers get an inside look into how they got so big, and how it was largely by accident.
Auerbach and fellow band member Pat Carney met at an early age, but briefly lost contact after high school. When the two met back up, they planned a jam session but the rest of Auerbach's band "never showed up." The duo instead decided to jam together, and the result was their first demo tape. The Black Keys' first live performance was in 2002 at Ohio's Beachland Ballroom and it felt just as clunky. They had a luke warm turn-out and a nervous Carney had never played drums in front of an audience before, but once again, none of that mattered.
The band's raw talent and stage presence impressed the venue's owner, Mark Leddy, and soon the word spread about the duo from Akron, Ohio. Within the following year, The Black Keys were touring with bands such as Sleater-Kinney and Beck, and in 2006, the band joined Radiohead on tour.
The documentary gives intimate interviews with both Carney and Auerbach, as well as the guys' parents, Mark Leddy of the Beachland Ballroom, and Patrick Boissel of Alive Records. For more information on the Black Keys, check out their Zumic artist page.
Listen to the band's first full-length album, The Big Come Up, released on Alive Records in 2002 via Spotify:
Source: Rolling Stone