Do it yourself - The Black Keys

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The Black Keys new album El Camino is out today. Drummer Patrick Carney tells us how to sell two million albums The Black Keys way. 

Ignore your hardcore fans
There’s a Black Keys fan lounge and the people who frequent it are, like, super fans – ultra-critical of everything we do. They’re always referencing our first three records. Cos those were obviously our best, right? They don’t realise we were, like, 23-year-old kids bullshitting our way into music. Our new single [‘Lonely Boy’] came out today and they fucking hate it. [Vocalist/ guitarist] Dan [Auerbach] and I were glad. We were, like, “At least we’re progressing”.

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Forget about radio play
Up our last record [2010’s Brothers, their 6th] we never got played on the radio. So the biggest exposure we could get would be to have a song on HBO. We've had songs on Victoria's Secret commercials. Don’t sit on a hit, sync the shit out if it. Selling out? When you're an indie rock band worried about that shit I think you're giving yourself a little bit too much credit.

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Release your album in the one month the entire music business shuts down
There's a rule you release albums in February-March, then you tour the summer. Then there's the September-October schedule. Our new album is out on December 6. I asked the label for a list of major rock bands that had released albums in December. In the last 10 years there’s maybe four. But our manager said it's a shame more bands don't, 'cos it would force the industry not to shut down. So we're going to try it.

British festivals : who needs them?
We can sell 18,000 tickets in London, and we can't get the Reading and Leeds festivals to make us an offer, yet they pay £1m for Metallica. Fuck knows why. I really don't fucking care. We've been to Reading. We played there in 2003 for £200. We were on the smaller stage. It was a fucking anxiety attack. Everyone in the audience was on drugs.

Brother knows best
We had two choices for our new video. The label didn't want us to use one, but we used it anyway. There's a small group of people who we rely on to tell us if something we're doing is bad. My brother’s one of them. He does all our artwork. He wasn't completely sold on calling the album El Camino. I mean; he's not right all the time. He took a photograph of the same model minivan we used to use on tour. That image looks like most of [our home city] Akron looks. A busted up parking lot with a busted up car.

Remember: MTV are idiots
When we won Breakthrough Video for ‘Tighten Up’ at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2010, instead of ‘The Black Keys’ our statues were printed 'The Black Eyed Peas'. It’s fucking insulting. They said we could either keep those awards or send them back and get real ones. We were tempted, but I just didn't want that shit in my house. I mean; I'm sure it was an innocent mistake but fuck… you’d think someone at MTV could double-check.

Go goofy
Bob Odenkirk [actor best-known for playing morally reprehensible, shiny-suited criminal lawyer Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad] is in a spoof YouTube ad for our new album, playing a car salesman. We've been a fan of his for a long time. He always plays those creepy, weird roles. We try to have fun with our campaigns. If you don't do stuff that's tongue-in-cheek or goofy in rock’ n’roll, you end up looking like you take yourself way too seriously. That's a put-off I think. Try and at least look like you’re having fun.

El Camino is out now (Nonesuch)

Photograph by Danny Clinch

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