Dan Auerbach’s Secret: Don’t Be Too Good a Player
Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach discussed the challenge of wanting to be a good guitarist, but not too good, in order to keep a feeling of freedom in his music.
His comments came in a new interview with MusicRadar, in which he was asked about his reaction to ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons having complemented his “sense of abandon.”
“You have to let go,” Auerbach said. “It’s a weird person that wants to get good at something, but not too good … that’s sort of always in me! I love people like Lightnin’ Hopkins and Link Wray, but understand that if either of those guys had ever been taught any musical theory, it probably would have fucked their whole sound up.”
He added that "it’s like, ‘How much do you really wanna know? What are you trying to accomplish in your life? Do you wanna be a jazz teacher? What do you want to do?’ My heroes were always so simple, in a way, that I always stayed well away from that kind of stuff. I’m happy to just use my ears.”
Auerbach reconnected with Black Keys colleague Pat Carney for their ninth album Let’s Rock, which was released last month and represented a deliberate return to focus on guitar.
“There’s not a single keyboard on the record,” Auerbach noted. “‘Walk Across the Water’ has a synth sound, but it’s built into the drum machine that we were using, so even that wasn’t on a keyboard. And, yeah – it was on purpose. We wanted to make a rock ’n’ roll record. … We just stripped it down and approached it the way we approached the first couple of records – just the two of us, just sitting down and seeing what happened.”