Black Keys’ Patrick Carney Says Sean Parker is a Crook and Discusses Road Life, Spotify Vs iTunes, Mixtapes + More


The overdue rise of The Black Keys in the last couple of years has elevated them to arena rock status. Earlier this month the Akron, OH duo embarked on their biggest tour so far, bringing along English indie rockers Arctic Monkeys as support. We caught up with Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney before their show in Grand Rapids, MI to talk about the tour, possessive fans, his disdain for Spotify’s Sean Parker and more.

To add an interesting side note, we had to wait a few minutes for Carney because he and vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach were in a heated game of ping pong with their road crew. It was very entertaining to watch – and intense.

You guys have embarked on the biggest tour of your careers so far. It’s kind of crazy because we were driving up to the venue and saw semis. Six years ago it was just a van and a trailer. How has the tour been so far? Is it everything you expected?
It’s actually easier to tour now than it was then. Six years ago I had to get to the venue and set up my own drums. Then after the show take them apart and pack them in the van. Now I just have to play a concert. It’s not very difficult.

Some fans get very possessive of their band and when they start to get bigger, old school fans get kind of angry. Have you been confronted by that at all?
The real hardcore Black Keys fans from the first album have been upset with us since 2007 when we worked with Danger Mouse for the first time. You get that. We’ve been a band for 10 years making records every 18 months. In the course of doing that, hopefully your taste is going to kind of change a little bit. You’re going to evolve as a musician and you’re not going to be wanting to make the same record over and over again. What happens is when you pick up certain fans at certain points, there’s something about a sound that resonates with them. When you change, sometimes you leave some fans behind.

You and Dan have stated before that it’s not really monetarily beneficial for artists to stream their whole albums on services like Spotify. Sean Parker, who started Napster and is a board member for Spotify, said at SXSW that Spotify will generate more revenue for the music industry than iTunes in just two years. Do you believe him?

How come?
Because he’s an a——. That guy has $2 billion that he made from figuring out ways to steal royalties from artists, and that’s the bottom line. You can’t really trust anybody like that. The idea of a streaming service, like Netflix for music, I’m totally not against it. It’s just we won’t put all of our music on it until there are enough subscribers for it to make sense.

Trust me, Dan and I like to make money. If it was fair to the artist we would be involved in it. I honestly don’t want to see Sean Parker succeed in anything. I imagine if Spotify becomes something that people are willing to pay for, then I’m sure iTunes will just create their own service, and they’re actually fair to artists.

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