Patrick Carney

May 14, 2014

I am Patrick Carney of the Black Keys. Ask me anything.

My band The Black Keys released an album, TURN BLUE yesterday. Here’s a music video for the single “Fever”. We’re going on tour soon. I’m in NYC doing promo for the new album, maybe you saw us on The Colbert Report last night. Anyway, I’m here for an hour with Victoria from reddit in NYC and happy to answer your questions.

Thanks for writing. This concludes our 3 week promo trip. I'm heading to Alabama to play Hangout Festival. Then going home to play video games. I'll see you guys on tour hopefully. I hope you guys like the new album and I hope to come back.

Is your belly button an innie or an outie?

[edit] thanks for the reddit gold, stranger! I've never had this before. I didn't know it came with this weird smell...

I've never seen an outie except for on a baby. I've only seen a handful of belly buttons up close.

If they made a movie about your life, who would play you (other than yourself)?

Whoever played Ralph on the Wonder Years.

Hi Patrick,

Big fan of your Sirius show. First, thanks for playing so much Pavement. My question - if you could choose one artist to have a devoted station (a la Pearl Jam, Billy Joel, etc.) who would it be?

That's a good question. I mean, it's shocking the Beatles don't have their own station. I tried to play a whole show of Beatles music, but for some reason Sirius doesn't have the licensing to allow that. I don't listen to any of the stations that are exclusively devoted to one artist, I find them obnoxious.

Hey man! I love the new album! Seriously every single song! Just wondering how was it to tour with the Arctic Monkeys? Also when you guys are writing an album do you ever throw in songs or ideas that you originally started working on a long time ago, or is it all fresh ideas?

Thank you. Arctic Monkeys we've known fora long time, they're really cool dudes. One of the most fun tours we've ever been on. They're extremely funny and really good at ping pong. And there's a couple of ideas that have been floating around with Dan and I musically for over a decade that we still haven't been able to correctly use. There's ideas that we've never been able to figure out how to actually make it work into a song. And whenever Dan and I run into a situation like that, we find it easier to start over. So most ideas are fresh, or what we think is fresh.

what is the best song to listen to on repeat after a friend breaks your heart and trust and you feel like crap?

Oh man. Like a friend, or a boyfriend / girlfriend?

like friend..good friend..

Sorry buddy. Maybe listening to Will.I.Am's version of the ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT theme song will put you in a better mood. Good times are out there.

Have you ever considered taking drum lessons from a true bro, YOLO SWAG musician like the Biebs?

P.S. I'm loving Turn Blue.

I've considered this past year taking some lesson from a jazz drummer. But I realized, well I second-guessed it, because I'm comfortable being shitty.

Patrick, I'm a huge fan. You inspired me to get into music, so let me ask you this: what made you want to get into music?

My dad. Played me the Beatles and Led Zeppelin. And my best friend growing up Steve. Who got an electric guitar when we were in sixth grade, and I wanted one because he had one, I thought he was such a cool dude.

Are you still friends with Steve?

Edit: Thanks for gold, random stranger!

Sadly he passed away in 2004.

Hey Patrick,

Huge fan, already love your new album. My question is, I heard you and Dan bonded over the Wu-Tang -- who's your favorite member?

Hmm. I don't play favorites with Wu-Tang. Every single member that we've met has been awesome.

2 questions:

What can you tell a high school senior whose only aspiration in life is to be a drummer in a rock band?

Whats was it like going from two dudes making music in a basement to two dudes in one of the worlds biggest names in rock music today?

The Black Keys are my favorite band, and i look forward to seeing you at all your shows in Texas, thank you.

It's surreal sometimes. It's just surreal.

But my advice is just to go in the basement and play music and as long as you're having fun doing that, that's the most important thing. Dan and I ended up making a lot of decisions that I wouldn't advise other people to do, like dropping out of college. The only reason I was allowed to drop out is because my grandpa has a PhD, and he said it would be ok if I took a year out of school.

Who wins in a fight: Bruce Jenner or turkey jello? Love Turn Blue, it's one of my favorites!

Turkey Jello and Bruce Jenner are both nonviolent. Everyone wins!

I have a drumstick of yours, how do I get it back to you?

You're allowed to keep it. I could not think of anything clever to write on my drumsticks, so that's what I put on it.

To suck up, love the new album and loved you on The Colbert Report! What was your favorite video to do? Mine has to be "Howlin' for You".

Edit - Is it true I received gold from Patrick Carney?! Best day ever on Reddit! Thanks!

Thank you! Making Tighten Up was the most fun we'd ever had. But also the video shoot for 10 Am Automatic was really exciting because we were young, and we'd never met any of our heroes before really, comedy heroes, and we had gotten David Cross from Mr. Show to direct it. So we got to hang out with him.

fav jello+meat combo?

Honestly, my mind is blown by most. What's yours?

Why is Justin Bieber such a jerk?

If I was 20, and had millions of dollars and no mentoring, I'd be an asshole too.

What was the biggest obstacle in your path to becoming a renowned Jello aficionado?

The biggest obstacle, here's what it is: reaching a point of pure boredom. It took a long time for me to finally search Jello Meat. And once I crossed that threshold, I became an aficionado.

Hey man! What made you decide to have a tom to the left of your snare? I haven't seen a setup like that before. Thanks for all the great music, you guys are what inspire me to keep practicing!

When we were making the first record, we were covering a song by Junior Kimbrough called "Do the Rump." And I couldn't play the drumbeat, so I moved it to my left and for some reason I could play it only cross handed. But it just stuck, so I've left it there. More comfortable playing it there.

Hi. I'm a huge fan.

You have the weirdest instagram account ever. What's up with the masks and jello dishes?

Actually, I don't know. I really don't know. I just post the stuff I love.

Where did the inspiration for the song these days come from

We made that song in San Diego, summer of 2008, it was the first song that we recorded for the record that became Brothers, and I don't know where the lyrics came from, but I do know that we had just been on tour all summer and were extremely tired.

Pat, who is your favorite muppet? this is a real important question man

Oh. Hm. Shit. Kermit the Frog, definitely, for sure.


Greetings from West Akron! Love your music and everything you have done to put our city in the Limelight. What's the craziest thing that happened to you guys when you finally "made it"?

edit: Thanks for the Gold kind stranger!

I don't really know. I mean, like when we played SNL this past week, when I find out people like Charlize Theron listen to our music, I can't actually tell if they are bullshitting me to this day. But the craziest thing that's ever happened to me? Getting into a fight with Justin Bieber, straight up. An internet argument with Justin Bieber.

what kind of sticks do you use? Also Hello!

I use wood-tip 5A's. And I use a brand called Vic Firth.

What prescription are your glasses?????

I don't know but I have really bad eyesight.

If you could only eat at Luigis or Swensons for the rest of your life what would you choose?

edit: thanks for the gold!

Luigi's. Just cuz there's more variety. I'd be dead within 2 years at either choice.

Being a two piece band, do you prefer playing live or playing in a studio? Ya know, since one guy can't really play two instruments at the same time.

Recording records is our favorite thing to do. But touring and playing in front of an audience is something we've grown to love just as much.

What is your favourite Star Wars?

It's a trap.

What is the most annoying thing someone has ever done at a show?

The most annoying thing that happened at a show was Leicester, England, and a woman jumped onstage who I'm sure had no idea who we were, I'm not sure why she was even at the show, and literally attacked Dan, but in a real aggressive way with her fingernails. Our tour manager grabbed her and took her outside. Also, throwing bottles is fucking obnoxious.

Was John Stamos actually involved in any of the songs? I heard that rumor before.



He played the drums on this record.


You don't mince words when you ridicule the music industry and certain musicians that rub you the wrong way. Could you please elaborate on what you think are the biggest problems plaguing the music industry today? And what, if anything, can be done to correct them?

Thanks. The new album is great by the way.

Edit: I've gotten gold three times in this thread! There's a "Gold on the Ceiling" joke in there somewhere.

Yeah, I just tell people how I feel and I don't filter out. Which can be a big problem, especially for my Twitter account. But yea, I don't know. If I knew how to fix whatever problems are in the music industry, I would be doing those. Instead I'm playing the drums in the Black Keys.

Is it your belief that Jack White is downvoting these questions?

[edit] Another kind stranger!! Remind me to clean out your ears with my tongue next time we meet (that's what gold users do, right?).


whats your favorite film?

Das Boot, or Major League.

Favorite food for breakfast?

Cheeseburgers. I don't eat breakfast.


Me and my friends need a band name, can you give me some suggestions?

I need to know more about the band.

What is the most life changing musical performance you have ever played??

Maybe we played a show in Oxford, Mississippi, the summer of 2002 and cleared the entire room and got offered a record soundtrack by Fat Possum that night, so it could be that. Or it could be headlining Lollapalooza in 2012, that was surreal.


Dan's the internet denier.

It's his birthday.

Why wasn't there a cover of the Entertainment Tonight song on the new album?

Whenever Dan, Brian and I make a record we all have to agree on what goes on the record. And I had some arguments. There's some unsettled business still. The song will be coming out though.

Please explain your fascination with Bruce Jenner, the Microsoft Zune, Justin Bieber, and Jello.

Edit: Holy shit did I just get gold for that? Thanks, I guess haha

These are the things I like.

Which of your albums is your favourite?

I mean, I don't have favorites. They all were fun to make and they're also all fun to not listen to once we make the next record.

Big fan! Who came up with the idea to make a trailer/movielike music video for "Howlin' For You"? I think it's brilliant, but also a bit twisted :)

Edit: Wauw! Thank you!

Dan and I are really terrible at coming up with video ideas, so we let the directors write the treatment and make the video and that video was directed by Chris Marrs Piliero, so it was all his handiwork.

Any chance of a return to Argentina or South America with the new tour?


Hey Patrick! What was it like fighting RZA kung-fu style?

Actually, that video was one of the more fun videos to make. Forgot about it.

I remember watching one of your earlier interviews and you said you couldn't even keep a beat when you and Dan first started. How have you improved since, and where would you say you are compared to when you first started playing the drums? Moreover, do you think you can get even better?

I'm better. But I still have a lot to learn. See, drumming's like golfing. And I don't know why, but I just know I suck at both and am trying to get better. My grandfather golfed for 30 years, but never improved, but he always felt like he did, so maybe that's what's drumming's like.

What is your favorite cereal?

Smurfs cereal was my favorite cereal growing up.

What is your favorite type of Aspic?

I was just in Germany, and they had Aspic on the menu. My favorite meat jello is lime jello with shrimp, tuna salad on the top, and a crown of pineapple.

Will you guys plan to play in Akron anytime in the near/distant future?

So we have no plans to play there cuz we're playing Cleveland in September. But yeah, hopefully we get to play some sort of show in Akron. I'm back there all the time visiting my family, I love it there.

This is the first time I've made it to an AMA just as it starts (for an artist I absolutely love at that) and I have no questions. FML.


Currently listening to Turn Blue, and it has become my favorite Black Keys album! What inspired the change in sound and what did you do differently in the studio to achieve that sound? Will there be a new Drummer album? What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Mint chocolate chip. Everybody in Drummer lives in a different city now, so probably now. And every time we make a record, we make it in a completely different way. Early on we made our records in my basement, and each record sounded different even then because we were constantly getting new equipment cuz my equipment kept breaking. And this record we recorded the same way we've recorded the last few records, just slightly different microphones. You can hear the sound of a really classic room on this record more than any other record we've ever made. Sunset sound, studio 2.

Hey pat, what is what you miss the most from your non-celebrity days?

I mean, I don't consider myself a celebrity. But I miss being able to express my thoughts and not have hundreds and thousands of teenagers attack me.

Why do you only come out with good albums? All I hear is good music, which is always great

Thank you. We're going to change that when this ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT theme song comes out.

I have a friend that thinks you guys are a "New" band. Should I punch him in the face, buy him all your old stuff, or stop being his friend?

I remember hearing Nirvana for the first time in 1992, and through that, being introduced to Sonic Youth when their record Dirty came out, and I thought they were a new band then, and they'd been around for a decade. So if someone punched me in the face when I was 12 for just discovering Sonic Youth, I might not be in the band the Black Keys today.

When you go to Swenson's, do you have a go to burger or meal?

2 cheeseburgers with everything and fried zucchini with ranch.

Love you guys, been following ya for over 10 years. What's been the craziest encounter on any of your tours? Cheers.

I had a really interesting encounter in a rest area in Northern California in the middle of the night once, I won't go into detail, but it was terrifying.

I had a really interesting encounter in a rest area in Northern California in the middle of the night once, I won't go into detail, but it was terrifying.

Okay in 2002 Dan, my brother Michael and I were driving on our first tour from Portland to San Francisco. And we stopped right near Eureka or something, right near the Oregon & California border, so Mike and I could go pee. We walked into the rest area, into the bathroom, and some guy was standing against the wall glaring at us, and another guy was in a stall with his pants around his ankles moaning.

We ran. We ran away.

I think there was something definitely consensual going on. That was implied. But we weren't supposed to be walking in there.

Growing up in Akron, what did you do for fun?

I read comic books, I watched Terminator 2 a lot. And eventually I started playing music.

If you could only have one snare, which would you choose?

A Ludwig Black Beauty.

Hey Señor Carney. I remember reading that you consider yourself a bad drummer. As a self-taught drummer it's refreshing to see someone with an unorthodox style make it big. I think you've proved that having soul and an ear for music trumps flashiness, especially when it comes to rock n roll. That being said, how do you like your burritos?

Thank you. And yeah, I guess with carnitas, white rice, black beans, lettuce, salsa, sour cream and cheese. No guac. I get shit for that all the time, I don't dislike it either, but the texture with sour cream...

Who are your biggest inspirations right now?

Actually, a lot of visual artists. There's an art show up right now in NYC by a man named Mark Flood, I highly recommend it. it's called the Insider Art Fair. 548 West 22nd Street, Zach Feuer Gallery.


I think the first CD I ever owned was a Led Zeppellin 2 that my dad got from the library. That was the first CD I ever listened to on repeat, but only for two weeks, I had to take it back.

do you prefer clean shaven Dan or Jesus-beard Dan?

I have beard envy cuz I can't grow one. So I kind of resent beards. So the shorter the beard, the better.

When will El Camino and Turn Blue be available to stream on Spotify?

Eventually, I'm sure.

how do you not get bored playing the the same setlist every night during a long tour? How do you keep it interesting and not start hating the songs? (My band mates and i would love to know because we often get sick of our songs when we play them too much) I love your drumming by the way ;)

I've never been bored playing a concert. But mostly because I'm usually just scared, or tired. But yeah, I don't know, I don't know why I don't get bored.

If I painted you a picture of a rooster would you put it in your room?

No. Honestly, I wouldn't.

I'm a student at Ohio State, and we're all really sick of hearing Seven Nation Army at football games. How should we go about getting "Ohio" to replace that?

Also, you guys rock!

I dunno what could top Seven Nation Army, I actually get a kick out of hearing it at games. I prefer it to "Hang On Sloopy" the state rock n roll song of Ohio.

a while ago someone asked you if you'd rather eat dan or get eaten by dan but you gave them a very vague answer. so, which would you rather?? (also what's the best food you had in the uk??)

I mean, I'd rather eat Dan, because that would imply I would get to live. And I know Dan would eat me. Usually when we're on tour in the UK we eat strictly Nando's or Wagamama.

My fiance and I are getting married August 9th... will you come to the wedding?

Congratulations. But no. I won't be able to attend.

Hey Patrick! Could you talk a little bit about why you chose to record Rubber Factory in the abandoned coal burning power plant in Akron?

It actually wasn't a coal burning power plant, although it's confusing because there's a photo of that on the record cover. When we were looking for a place to set up a studio, the only place that we could find where we could make music loud was an old General Tire rubber factory that was really scary. And we set up on the second floor, where the offices were. And the downstairs was a giant open factory, and there was a laboratory next door to our room. And when they tore it down a few years later, it became a giant Superfund site because it was completely toxic, it was really bad. I remember walking up the stairs in that building, and having trouble breathing the next day.

Why is the band called The Black Keys? Does it have a meaning or is it just a catchy name?

There's an artist that Dan's father and my father were friends with and helped take care of in Akron named Alfred McMoore. He was schizophrenic, and lived in a halfway house, and really liked to draw with crayons and pencil on 5 foot by 50 foot scrolls of paper, and he was constantly calling both of our houses when we were kids, asking our dads to bring him pipe tobacco, diet coke and crayons. And he would always end the message with "Don't be a black key. Don't be a B-flat." it was his way of saying that the Black Keys sounded dissonant, or insulting someone. He was totally nuts, but a really sweet guy. He used to cry constantly. He passed away in 2009, and Dan and I set up a non profit in his name in Akron that helped take care of him in that halfway house. The service that they provide takes people who have mental disabilities and it helps them pay their bills, makes sure they're insured, that the government doesn't provide services for like that.

I just want to say my wife and I are huge fans!

When I heard The Black Keys and RZA were making a song together I was skeptical but The Baddest Man Alive turned out surprisingly good. Do you have plans to collaborate with any other artists in the future, or is there someone you'd like to work with specifically?

EDIT: Also is it weird that we see you everyday?.

Oh that's Mr. Brainwash! That's one of my favorite posters. Mr. Brainwash did that for one of the Staples Center shows. I'm glad you like the collaboration with RZA. It's always intimidating making music with one of your heroes. There's tons of people that Dan and I would like to make music with but are afraid to ask.

Hey Patrick, What do you do most that bugs Dan?

Smoke. Cigarettes.

When will you guys come to Norway???

Hopefully next year. We'll be doing another European tour in 2015.

If you could back in time and punch one historical figure in the face, who would it be and why?

I mean, you kind of have to say Hitler, obviously. But I would like to punch Chester A. Arthur in the face just because he has fucked up facial hair. Just for his fucking beard, I want to punch him in the face.

what is your preferred brand of toothpaste?

No preference.

No preference.

When I was a kid, I really liked Aquafresh. I just liked the colors. But do you remember when they made Bubble gum toothpaste when you were a kid? Yeah, I used to eat that, it was fucking delicious, but don't eat it. That goes right along with something that someone just brought up, Norway, and toothpaste, and half the food they eat in Norway comes in tubes.

who do you like more, Paul Rudd or TJ Miller?

I just prefer this.

What's your favorite type of jello? Also waffles, pancakes, or French toast?

edit: thank you stranger for the reddit gold!

Vegetable. Celery.

I would order french toast.

what's your favorite non-musical activity?

I really enjoy playing video games. I have 250 Nintendo games. And a couple times a year I will sit down and test my patience, but I usually play Xbox.

Have you ever worked in a bakery? What's your favourite pastry snack?

I've worked in lots of restaurants. Never a bakery, although I did consider taking Bakery as a vocational educational program in high school, i went to high school in Akron and watched them make donuts for 3 hours. I wasn't that into it when I found out that bakers had to wake up at 5 AM in the morning. Cookies.

Do you like Orange Tic Tacs?

Yeah. Totally cool with those.

I've heard you have an obsession with socks. What kind of socks do you wear?

EDIT: Thanks for the Gold!! Nice blended socks! And don't burn your pizza :(

I do. I have my Turn Blue socks on. Taking a photo now.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I invest in a sock company. I co own this company called Richer Poorer Socks. I love socks so much that I invested in a sock company. Link.

I do. I have my Turn Blue socks on. Taking a photo now.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I invest in a sock company. I co own this company called Richer Poorer Socks. I love socks so much that I invested in a sock company. Link.

Do you prefer the Godfather I or II?

I don't know, I prefer to watch the entire trilogy in one sitting.

Did John Stamos drum on a track?

I can neither confirm nor deny. But confirmed.

Any chance you will add a San Francisco area show to the Turn Blue tour? I promise it will sell out.

Yes! California dates coming soon.

Have you ever thought about employing brushes more often?

I hate playing with brushes. I don't appreciate them.

Hey Patrick! I'm go to the University of Akron, and I just wanted to ask if either you or Dan have seen this sign they put up in front of Lock 3. Can't wait to see you guys play at the Q in a few months!

Yes! My mom works right down the street from that sign, and my dad just retired from working just across the street from that sign at the Akron Beacon Journal. It's really cool that Akron put that sign up, we've played at Lock 3 before, and at the Spider across the street we played some of our earliest shows. But I think it would be more fair if there were 2 more signs for Devo and Krissy Hynde.

Six hours. Three bands. Two musicians. Coachella 2012: the first time I ever saw you two live. I waited at the rails as three other bands came at went, with each audience member crushing me as they tried to go check out someone else. But I didn’t budge. There was no one else that I wanted to see more. You two took the stage, and, in fashion, began straightway with the set. Your foot pounded away at the bass drum as the colossal disco ball’s descent signaled “Everlasting Light”. A slight rain pattered your kit, as well as the rest of the stage, engraving that moment for the rest of my life.

Here’s my question for you:

With so many albums out, it seems that you and Dan have always been one cohesive entity, when it comes to music. I’m wondering how your relationship with him was during The Big Come Up, when he first showed up to jam? You had seen him as the popular soccer star around school, while you made a name for yourself as most unique. Was there a tension in your basement between you two, when Dan heard that none of his crew was going to make that legendary practice?

And, if you have time:

At one of your shows at the Honda Center of Anaheim, you covered the entire center of the audience section in a black tarp. The security guard said it was at the artist’s discretion and gave me complimentary tickets. Is there a specific reason you like having the center covered?

Dan and I have always been friends since we were kids. But we didn't hang out that much. But we both liked music. We had that in common. It's something we bonded over. There was never any tension when we played. Our relationship is very brotherly.

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Patrick Carney conducted on Reddit on 2014-05-14. The Reddit AMA can be found here.