The Black Keys Considering January Studio Return

The Black Keys
 Danny Clinch

"I don't want to go somewhere too pre-planned. We always want to go somewhere different," says the group's Patrick Carney.

The Black Keys are certainly looking forward to getting their North American tour underway on Sept. 5 in Columbus, Ohio. But given their druthers, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney wouldn't mind logging some studio time sooner rather than later to start making a follow-up to their chart-topping Turn Blue, which came out in May.

"I think if it were up to Dan and I, and we didn't have to consider the fact that we need to complete the full tour circuit, we'd probably be back in the studio in January," Carney tells Billboard. "I think by the time this record came out we were ready to make another one. We started the band because we wanted to make albums. We wanted to make one record, and then we found out we had to tour. We didn't play our first show 'til after our first record was recorded, so it's always been about making records, and it's been a process in growing to become good performers."

The duo might actually get to hit the studio in January, however. Its tour wraps up Dec. 21 in Kansas City, and the group's next European trek doesn't get under way until mid-February in Zurich. So that leaves a window to do some work, though Carney is quick to add that "it's not like we have an idea of what direction we want to go in or anything. I'd like our next record to be... I don't want to go somewhere too pre-planned. We always want to go somewhere different."

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The Black Keys spent the summer in Europe playing mostly festivals, so Carney says the group is now ensconced in putting its own show together for the 48-date North American run. "There's two lighting designers and we let them do what they want, but we just told them we wanted to keep it classic," Carney says. "So it'll be a lot of really weird 70's par cans and stuff mixed with some moving screens and kind of super-contemporary video stuff. The main thing is we want to look cool but not be pretentious. And we didn't want any lasers."

The duo (and its additional touring band members) will certainly find an audience anxious to see it live and hear the new songs from Turn Blue. The album did, after all, debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, a first for the Keys. And in doing so the group beat out Michael Jackson's Xscape, though Carney notes that came only after SoundScan eliminated 6,500 copies from Jackson's tallies because they had been distributed as free premiums rather than actually sold.

"We almost got f***ed on that, but it worked out right in the end," Carney notes. "Having a No. 1 record, it's a cool thing to have on the Wikipedia page, but it's also a bittersweet thing for Dan and I because so many of our favorite bands deserve that s*** more than we do and never got it. You've just got to take it for what it is -- it's just a sales number, and it has no reflection on the quality, obviously, of the music and has no other significant importance."