More from Dan Auerbach

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

In advance of tonight's show at Newport Music Hall, here are some more snippets that didn't make it into my Dan Auerbach feature. At the end of our interview, we discussed Auerbach's teenage protege Jessica Lea Mayfield, who will open tonight's show. We also talked about Blakroc, the Black Key's collaboration with hip-hop exec Damon Dash and a slew of rappers including RZA, Jim Jones and Mos Def.

How did you get hooked up with Jessica?

My dad actually gave me her demo. He got it somewhere locally in Akron. And I just got in touch with her and said I wanted to make some music with her. And we got together, and from like day one we were recording. She came in, brought her acoustic guitar, her old Gibson. She was like 16 years old, and we just started recording tunes. And that was it, you know? And we've been friends ever since. She's been really working her ass off. She's touring all over the place.

We ended up making the record kind of the same way that I made my record, in between Black Keys tours, over the course of like a year, year and a half. And then all of the sudden we had this group of songs that were really cool, and I loved it. I love her songs. I love the way she sings. I love her phrasing. I love her lyrics. I love how f---ing dark it is. I put it all together, and I paid to have it mastered, and then no one would bite on it. I couldn't get any record labels to get interested in it. And I just couldn't believe it because I thought it was really good. So I ended up putting a record label together myself with a friend from Nashville and put out her album, and it's done amazingly well.

Yeah, I really enjoy that record.

Yeah, me too. She's really talented. Her family's talented. Her brother's a really good musician. He's in a band called Cadillac Sky. They're kind of based in Nashville. They're a bluegrass band, sort of. Kind of like — I really don't know how to describe it — it's out there. Some of the songs on their new record sound like Band of Horses, but it sounds like classical instrumentation, you know? Violins and stuff.

How did you end up working with Damon Dash?

He called us out of the blue and said I'm a big fan of your and I just want to work with you guys, whatever you want to do. So we said we'd try to make some music. And then we did. We flew to Brooklyn, booked some studio time, started recording, brought in some MCs and it was like, we just started rolling. From the first two days we were in the city, we had like three songs. So that was it, man. That's how it happened. Eleven days in the studio we had an entire album.

Were you coming up with the music on the spot?

Yeah. Me and Pat go in early in the morning, and we started recording, and generally in a day we can get at least four songs done instrumentally, some of them with vocals on. And that's how we do it. And then later in the evening MCs come in. That's the process so far.

So is the record all ready to go?

It's all finished. It's coming out the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Is there going to be a live component to this?

We're going to do Letterman. We might do Fallon. We're working on that right now because it was such a studio project, so we're going to have to figure out how to do it.

The fact that Dash approached you for this project seems to show just how broad your band's appeal is.

I don't really know. It's just cool. I'm glad that he did. I mean, Pat and I, the real reason that we got together in the first place to start recording was because we loved Liquid Swords and Wu-Tang 36 Chambers. We wanted to make a demo that had that sonic quality. And I remember being like 18 years old and making a demo, and every song had samples on it. We wanted those gritty drums. We didn't know how RZA got them, but we wanted them. It was amazing to have started that way, and then all of the sudden here we are with RZA in the studio making music.