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ALEX COHEN, host:

Back now with Day to Day, and musician Dan Auerbach.

Mr. DAN AUERBACH (Musician): Dark movies, dark novels, you know, it's just sort of what I'm into. I don't know. I always say I don't trust happy people. I don't know why.

COHEN: As half of the band "The Black Keys," Dan Auerbach has been making dark bluesy music for several years now. He recently released his first solo album. It's called, "Keep It Hid."

(Soundbite of music)

COHEN: Dan Auerbach recently joined us from a studio in Akron, Ohio. That's where he recorded "Keep It Hid." He told me most of the songs on the album were original tunes. He composed while on tour with the Black Keys, except for this song. It's called, "I Want Some More."

(Soundbite of song "I Want Some More")

Mr. AUERBACH: (Singing) You got to care. Listen. I've been searching for. Oh, oh, oh, I want some more...

Mr. AUERBACH: That's an old tune. That's the one cover on the record besides the song my dad wrote. That's an older song, and - but it's a brand new arrangement, and we just kind of locked into a groove, I guess, and I just wanted it to be really kind of hypnotic, you know? I think we achieved that.

(Soundbite of song "I Want Some More")

COHEN: Dan, let's take a listen to that song that you recorded with your dad and wrote with him. It's called "Whispered Words (Pretty Lies)."

(Soundbite of song "Whispered Words (Pretty Lies)")

MR. AUERBACH: (Singing) How you were? Pretty lies. I don't want the tail for guitars...

COHEN: So you wrote this song with your dad. What was that process like?

Mr. AUERBACH: Basically, he writes the lyrics, and then it's open to my interpretation. I can do anything I want with those lyrics, and so that melody and the arranger was mine, and the words were his.

COHEN: So when he first heard the music that you had put together for the lyrics, he wrote, how did he react? Did he like it?

Mr. AUERBACH: Yeah, he loved it. He totally loved it, because he's not musical. He doesn't play an instrument. So, you know, I think when he's writing, it's a basic, almost like a poetry kind of - he's just writing with a little beat in his head. But when he hears a song of his completely flushed out with melody and instrumentation, it really bowls him over.

(Soundbite of song "Whispered Words (Pretty Lies)")

MR. DAN AUERBACH: (Singing) How you were? In my sleep. (Unintelligible) never keep...

COHEN: A number of songs that you've done as half of half of the Black Keys have wound up in films and in TV shows and even video games. The tune "Strange Times" appeared on the radio station in Grand Theft Auto IV. How do you feel about your music winding up in these places?

Mr. AUERBACH: I think it's cool. I mean, you know, they don't play music much on the radio anymore, you know, not major radio. Getting our music out there anyway possible, it's the way to go, and video games are pretty huge, although I can't really play video games. I don't know. The modern video games kind of - they're too three dimensional. Have you ever played the...

COHEN: Yeah, I can't do them, either. I get really nauseous.

Mr. AUERBACH: Yeah, I get sea sick.

COHEN: Yeah. Well, it's OK. If you could have your wishes and one of your songs could appear in any film, TV show, or video game, what would you like to see your music show up in?

Mr. AUERBACH: (Soundbite of laughter) Wow. Maybe like a Martin Lawrence movie, Martin Lawrence's big come back film.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. AUERBACH: Well, he had that television show, called "Martin," remember that? (Laughing)

COHEN: Right. I do.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. AUERBACH: "Martin." Yeah, right. He worked for WZUP, waz up?

(Soundbite of laughter)

COHEN: And hey, it just so happens, they're playing a Black Keys' song.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. AUERBACH: Exactly.

COHEN: Finally, Dan, I'd like to play a really sweet tune from your album, "Keep It Hid." This is called "When the Night Comes."

(Soundbite of song "When the Night Comes")

MR. AUERBACH: (Singing) When the night comes...

COHEN: It reminds me a little bit of the song "Stand By Me," where it seems like the kind of song that could be sung to, you know, a sweetheart or your best friend at the same time. Did you have someone in mind that you were singing that to?

Mr. AUERBACH: Yeah, I mean, I always have someone in mind. I'm not going to tell you people. But...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. AUERBACH: You know, there's always someone in mind when I'm writing. You know, it's all comes from somewhere inside.

COHEN: Such a big part of that song is your voice, and I'm wondering if there's anything that you strive for when you sing a song like that.

Mr. AUERBACH: I used to be really nervous when I sang. Like, when I was a kid starting young, 18 and 19, and my dad really had to sort of pushed me to start singing in front of people. Ever since I got out there and really started doing it, the only thing I've ever tried to do is just sort of is be myself, you know, never put on a voice. Sing naturally. And that always seems to work best for me.

COHEN: Can I put that to the test? Would you mind singing a little bit of that song, a capella for us, (Soundbite of laughter) please?

Mr. AUERBACH: Oh. Yeah. Can you keep a beat for me or something?

COHEN: Sure.

Mr. AUERBACH: Do you have a guitar there?

COHEN: I don't. (Soundbite of laughter) I don't usually carry one in the studio. Let's see. I could beat on the table. We could try that. How about that?

(Soundbite of song "When The Night Comes")

Mr. AUERBACH: (Singing) When the night comes. And you lay your weary had to rest. No more trials, no test. When the night comes...

Mr. AUERBACH: That kind of thing.

COHEN: Dan Auerbach, thank you for putting up with my really (Soundbite of laughter) miserable drumming. My rhythm section was lousy, but you sounded great.

Mr. AUERBACH: I just felt like I was on "American Idol."

(Soundbite of laughter)

COHEN: Well, even if Simon were here, he would put you through to Hollywood for sure.

Mr. AUERBACH: You think so? I don't know.

COHEN: I think so.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. AUERBACH: All right.

COHEN: Dan Auerbach's new album is called "Keep It Hid." He kicks off a tour later this month. Thanks so much, Dan.

Mr. AUERBACH: Thank you.

COHEN: You can hear tracks from Dan Auerbach's album, "Keep It Hid," at nprmusic.org. Day to Day is a production of NPR News, with contributions from Slate.com. I'm Alex Cohen.

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