Black Keys frontman talks joining the all-star jam and Grohl's backstage thoughts
For fans of all-star finales at rock shows, you'd be hard pressed to top a 10-minute rendition of "Rockin' in The Free World" with Neil Young, the Black Keys and Foo Fighters. In an interview this week, Keys frontman Dan Auerbach told Billboard how the all-star jam that wrapped up last Saturday's Global Citizen Festival in New York's Central Park came to be.
"Neil Young came into our dressing room and said, 'Why don't you guys come out and play 'Rockin' in The Free World' with us. I think it would be good for the crowd," Auerbach said, adding that when Young requests something of you, it doesn't matter what it is - the answer is always "Yes."
Immediately following the Black Keys' set, Auerbach darted backstage for some last-minute preparation. "I got on the Internet and looked up the tabs to figure out the song," he recalled. "Then I did a quick practice run."
Auerbach added that playing with Young is definitely at the top of his career highlights. "What an honor!" he said. The singer/guitarist admitted to being a bit overzealous on stage, however.
"I tried to shred his face off with my guitar playing. I thought I did really well but then one of my friends said that they didn't even have my guitar coming out of the speakers in the front," he joked, pointing out that Young got so engrossed in the jam that the legendary rocker stepped on his foot mid-solo. "We were really going for it and doing this nerdy twin guitar solo thing, hopping around, and he just stomped right on my foot. I don't know if it was an accident or if he did it on purpose or not [Laughs]. I just went with it. He's Neil Young though; he's not that heavy."
Earlier at the festival, Dave Grohl bummed out the crowd of 60,000-plus when he mentioned that there would be no more Foo Fighters dates for quite some time.
"He seemed stoked that he's done touring for a while," Auerbach said, noting he got the impression that the Foo Fighters star was looking forward to taking a break to pursue other endeavors. "He's got a whole bunch of projects he's working on. Those guys have been at it so long, I think that taking a year or two off is sort of normal for them."
As far as the rest of 2012, Auerbach says The Black Keys plan to wrap up the year on tour. "We go down to Arizona and we go to Austin, Mexico City, Australia, New Zealand, and back to Western Europe for a little bit," he said.