Black Keys' Dan Auerbach Discusses Side-Project The Arcs, New Album: 'We Are Killing it All the Time'
"We are killing it all the time," Auerbach said with a laugh in a recent interview. "No B-sides, all A-sides."
All hyperbole aside, the roster includes multi-instrumentalist Richard Swift, saxophonist and producer Leon Michels, drummer Homer Steinweiss and bassist Nick Movshon, and features country guitarist Kenny Vaughan, pedal steel player Russ Pahl and the all-female Mariachi Flor de Toloache.
Their debut album to be released Friday, Yours, Dreamily, is a funky, synthesizer-heavy collection of garage rock songs as varied as the musicians involved.
The Associated Press talked with Auerbach, Swift and Michels, all longtime friends and collaborators, at Auerbach's Easy Eye Sound studio in Nashville, Tennessee, one of four places where the album was recorded over a two-week period. The answers have been edited for brevity.
AP: How did you find time for this project?
Auerbach: We all have very busy schedules and that's why the recording schedules were all over the place. Because it was just as simple as whenever at least two of us had a day off and were in the same city, we would get together. So it was born out of that. It wasn't about time. We make the time because it's fun and we enjoy it.
Swift: We've all got our own studios, too, so it's just really easy to walk in and not worry about being on the clock. Not worry about conflicting schedules. Dan and I are on the same schedule because I played the bass in The Black Keys for the last couple of years, so that made it easier.
Auerbach: Honestly ever since we gave it an identity and it became a real thing, it felt like everyone's excitement got a little bit more and everyone's dedication got a little bit more.
Michels: And the sound got more focused, too.
AP: That's a lot of skilled musicians in one place. How did it not end up becoming a big jam session?
Michels: There were like 40 songs recorded. We were just constantly making music. There was never that much pressure to record the record. We were just recording. And then like they said, it finally found a voice. But there's like 30 songs that didn't make the record.
Auerbach: We'll slowly release some of that stuff or work on it some more. We have a ton of things still to release. It's exciting.
AP: How did you share producing duties?
Auerbach: When we're together, everyone is a producer. And everyone is equal on everything. And everyone has a voice and a real strong voice and that's what makes it interesting. Everybody does their own thing really well. We've all made records together. That's so much a part of this band, being in the studio.
Michels: When we've worked with Dan on records he has produced, all of us trust each other enough that any idea is good. Or worth a shot. So that's kinda how we work.
AP: What did the all-female mariachi band bring to the album?
Auerbach: It definitely added some depth to the music... It's a special thing that they add. And it's hard to define, which makes the music that much more difficult to define, which I think we all really like. We didn't really get into this to make a particular style. Or particular type of record. We just wanted to entertain ourselves. And pulling in more of these influences that we love just feels like the better it becomes.
AP: What has been the fan reaction?
Michels: That first show, there were like 60 people there, but they all loved it.
Auerbach: It was a big 60, a large 60.
Michels: Felt like 80.
Auerbach: Any photo that you see online of the group, we took it. Any video that you will see, we worked on it with our friends. It's been fun. We're keeping our expectations very low and trying our hardest.
AP: That phrase should be stitched on a pillow or something.
Michels: That's at the merch table actually.
Auerbach: Good idea. It's trademarked already.