The Black Keys are primed to dazzle audiences with their second Fat Possum/Epitaph album, "Rubber Factory.” The 13-track set was recorded at an abandoned tire factory in the rock duo's Akron, Ohio, hometown, and its cover sports a collage of such area landmarks as Tangier's restaurant and a giant tower referred to by locals as "Rex's Erection."
"Last time, we had a bunch of songs we'd been playing and we knew exactly what we were going to do," guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach says. "This time, we went in with basically nothing. I'd written a lot of songs and had worked stuff out on my own, but me and [drummer] Patrick [Carney] hadn't played anything together. It took us a couple months to get it all working right."
Without turning their back on their blasts of gritty blues-rock, the Keys did allow for the use of additional instrumentation this time around. "I play some lap steel and fiddle," Auerbach reveals. "We've got some handclaps and percussion. I play a marching band bass drum and Pat plays some congas for about half-a-second."
Tracks include "When the Lights Go Out," "10 A.M. Automatic," "The Lengths" and "The Desperate Man" The set is rounded out by covers of the Kinks' "Act Nice and Gentle" and late bluesman Robert Pete Williams' "Grown So Ugly."
The group will spend the bulk of the fall on the road, with a North American tour that runs through an Oct. 9-10 stand in Cleveland. A 12-date European trek begins two weeks later.