This is a guest post by Dante from the band Hacienda. Hacienda and Patrick Hallahan formed the ‘Fast 5′ – Dan Auerbach’s backing band on his solo tour. Hacienda’s new album ‘Big Red & Barbacoa’ is available here. Dan Auerbach produced Hacienda’s debut album, Loud Is The Night, and Big Red & Barbacoa.
This whole Dan Auerbach/Black Keys connection with me and the rest of the dudes in Hacienda down here in Texas started a long ass time ago. Somewhere around 2006 really. Dan got a hold of a demo with about 6 songs on it.
There’s a whole bunch of downtime when we are playing shows, so the laptop is essential. A friend of mine recommended this site, and I really dug it right away. I thought it was cool to be asked to tell a Black Keys tale or two.
First time I met Dan and Pat was at Emo’s in Austin watching another Fat Possum band during ACL festival. The club was pretty dead and I was hitting on a girl that was so drunk she could barely stand. Pat walked over to us leaned in and told me “Dude, trust me, that’s a bad idea”. I heeded his warning and struck up a conversation with those dudes. I think it went something like “Uhh, hey, uhh uuh uuh uhh my name is Dante and I play the guitar too uh uhhh uhh uhh uhmm.” In retrospect, I don’t know what Dan was thinking continuing to hang with us. We were about as nobody as it gets. At least that’s what it felt like being from Nowhere, Texas.
He emailed us about a month later and said keep sending me songs when their done. So we did, and things kept snowballing from there. Dan invited us to open a show in Austin for The Black Keys and Dr. Dog. After the gig, he told us he’d just finished building a studio and we were going to be his Guinea pigs. The Hacienda dudes and I stopped going to our jobs, got fired, and worked on songs. Next thing we new we were headed to Akron, a friendly town with all kinds of strange historical stories of its residents.
We recorded the record and have been close to Dan and the family ever since. That’s the skinny on how it all started.
The Dan Auerbach and The Fast Five thing was amazing! You’d have to ask Dan what he was thinking when it came to that tour. You see, we had no idea that would ever happen. We had heard the record as it was being made, but I dont think Dan ever thought “Keep it Hid” would come out or be a big release.
That tour changed my life for sure. I was playing more guitar than I ever had, and next thing I knew, I starting feeling like a pro. I was meeting big time musicians, and I felt I could hold my own. Not to mention the crowds were great. I had never experienced walking on to a stage and everybody already dug you. For so long I was used to walking on stage and the audience has their arms folded yelling “prove it to me!”
That tour took us all over the world and it was the time of my life. I met some special people on that run, and I made some life long friends as well. That’s very rare.
Dan likes to play loud. So getting the opportunity to turn up the volume was very exciting to me. Dan’s voice is better than everyone else right now, period. I learned that you cant just sing, you have to feel something. I can’t sing like the dude, but you better feel it, or else, whats the point? On guitar he go’s for it every night. Sometimes he’ll miss a riff or a chord, but its because he’s not afraid to go for it. I used to be technically proficient and never wanted to make a mistake. I realized that live, that’s no fun. I’m gonna try to do all riffs as down and dirty as possible and lets see if they land. Either way they’re gonna sound tough.
I dont know why we got picked. It might have been our availability, our playing, maybe our clothes, hell, maybe becasue we were cheap. Honestly I don’t care why it happened, I’m just glad it did. Best year ever!
The Black Keys are consistent. That is rare. You can put they’re records up against each other and they all make sense. The sounds vary but its all the same band. That’s important. If I could give you one anecdote about how they get their sound from a somewhat insider’s perspective it would be this one.
A year ago today, August something. Hacienda is recording in Akron. Dan says, “Hey dudes, I’ve got some Black Keys stuff going on today so we’re gonna have to cut it short” No problem we thought. “What are you up to, man” I asked. “Well Pat is gonna come over and we’re gonna work on some new songs for the next record. You know we start recording the new Keys record in a couple weeks” he answered.
So sure enough in about an hour Pat comes over. When he arrives he finds the Hacienda guys watching Eastbound and down on TV. We we’re talking about going to play basketball or something. I was probably talking some shit about how I can smoke everybody in the paint and I’m deadly from 3 or some shit. Dan walks in as Pat’s talking about some old baseball exploits and jumps right into the pissing contest that is any conversation regarding sports.
Next thing I know Pat says “Fuck it! What’d you say we hit the batting cage?” Dan takes about a millisecond to respond “Its on homie” or something like that. Sure enough Hacienda and the Black Keys are on their way to the batting cage. We spend about 2 hours swinging at pitches, talking about other bands, and generally shooting the shit. Dan then suggested we hit Dairy Queen for some blizzards and then we headed back to his place where his family was working on preparing dinner. Pat says his hellos to the family, shakes Dan’s hand and says, “This record’s sounding great, lets work on it again tomorrow.” I remember thinking “Genius! Batting cages and ice cream, thats how I’m gonna write all my tunes from now on.”
The point I guess I’m trying to make is: they dont need to worry about pressure. They know what they’re capable of. They take it seriously, but at the end of the day, its music. And they know how to make it. Why do anything differently because more people are listening. They are the same dudes they’ve always been. You can do pre-production for a year, if you want. The minute the red light comes on the studio, those two guys are gonna sound like the Black Keys. So why not enjoy yourself? Be who you are all the time. When its time to make music, if you’ve go the talent, and you know what you’re doing, it will be there.
Favorite Album – “Rubber Factory” and “Keep it Hid” (Of course)
Favorite Song – Grown So Ugly
Favorite Cover – Act Nice and Gentle
Favorite guitar – That Goldtop Les Paul Dan let me borrow.
Favorite Fast Five show – Bimbo’s 365 in San Francisco/ Bill’s Place out in the woods in Austin, TX during SXSW