All Access: The Black Keys

Nov 10, 2010 6:26 PM, Photos and Text By Steve Jennings


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The Black Keys—guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney—have had a pretty packed few years. In addition to working on the highly acclaimed Brothers album (released in 2010), last year saw Auerbach creating his solo debut and Carney playing bass in his own combo, Drummer; they also fulfilled their Black Keys touring commitments, which included a two-night stay at Oakland, Calif.’s Fox Theater, where Mix caught up with the band.


Black Keys 2010 Tour Photo Gallery

As the tour is not carrying production—nor a monitor engineer—production manager/front-of-house engineer Jason Tarull is working with house-provided consoles and P.A.s; at the Fox Theater, he mixed on a Yamaha PM5D. Tarulli does have his own mics and racks (an Alesis HD24 as they are multitracking every night, as well as Klark Teknik Square One splitters). “I also carry a rack of outboard gear—some analog stuff, mostly compressors,” Tarull adds. “There’s a Summit DCL 200 that I sometimes use on the main outs (usually when the desk is digital) and I like to use the dbx 160As on snare drum, bass guitar and vocals.

Production manager/FOH engineer Jason Tarull

Production manager/FOH engineer Jason Tarull

“We generally run about 24 inputs: A few DIs and a few mics, and we’re ready to rock,” he continues. “We’re looking into carrying our own production, including an Avid digital console at FOH. Having a different P.A. and console setup every night keeps me on my toes. We also don’t tour with a monitor engineer, which on occassion can stretch our our soundcheck.

“To tune the P.A.,” he continues, “I’ll play a few tunes that I’m familiar with and work with the in-house audio tech and, if needed, work on some crossover settings, do a line check and then do a full soundcheck with the band.”

Patrick Carney’s drum kit takes Shure Beta 91 and Beta 52 on kick; SM57 and Beta 56 on snare bottom and top, respectively; Shure KSM 137 (hi-hat); Sennheiser e 604s for rack and floor toms; SM81s on ride and crash cymbals, which are miked from underneath using LP claws; and an SM57 on cowbell.

Backing on keyboards and percussion is Leon Michels. His keyboards include a Moog Little Phatty and a Farfisa, which are amped by a Fender Super Reverb miked with an SM57. Both keyboards go through Countryman DI boxes. A Beta 57 is on hand for tambourine.

According to backline guitar/drum/keyboard tech Dan Johnson, guitarist Dan Auerbach plays a 1960s-era Harmony H75, a ’60s white Supro Belmont, a ’60s National Newport in black and a Harmony Stratotone. Johnson built the pedalboard, which comprises a Russian Big Muff fuzzbox, a Rosac Fuzz wah, Shinee Japanese Fuzz wah, Sitori echo unit, Electro Harmonix Small Stone Phaser, Analog Man–modified Boss tremolo, Radial Switchbone and Ernie Ball VP Jr. “The spools of tape, solder and sharpie are to keep him from stepping on buttons that he shouldn’t,” Johnson says.

Auerbach’s Fender Quad Reverb (miked with a Shure SM57 and SM7) and 50-watt Marshall (SM57) amps rest on two large tires. The Marshall is a reissue JTM 45 head into a vintage 8x10 cab.

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