Black Keys Rolling Stone Cover

As you can see up top, Black Keys will cover the January 19th issue of Rolling Stone on the strength of their new LP, El Camino, and its critically positive reception. Given that shine, Keys drummer Patrick Carney doesn’t disappoint. An excerpt:

Rock & roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world,” he says, blowing cigarette smoke out the window of his rented East Village loft a few days ­before the band heads to L.A. “So they became OK with the idea that the biggest rock band in the world is always going to be shit – therefore you should never try to be the biggest rock band in the world. Fuck that! Rock & roll is the music I feel the most passionately about, and I don’t like to see it fucking ruined and spoon-fed down our throats in this watered-down, post-grunge crap, horrendous shit. When people start lumping us into that kind of shit, it’s like, ‘Fuck you,’ honestly.

(via Rolling Stone)

First Spotify, now Nickelback? Is nothing sacred? But, seriously, an interesting point: 2011 was a pretty dire time for rock as many will point out. I appreciate the sentiment, at the very least, even if I feel some of that’s a touch misdirected (like, who is lumping in the Black Keys with Nickelback?). The candor is admirable. Sidenote: I am reading the absolute shit out of that story about Snoop from The Wire.

Comments (112)
    • You don’t have to scroll down actually, links you right to my comment. I’m sorry Stereogum, this is all my fault, show me the door and I will be on my way.

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  2. The NY Times article was an interesting read, but I’ll go one step further and say that not only was mainstream rock kind of dull in 2011, but so was indie rock. In the mainstream sense, I think a lot of listeners have latched themselves onto the current and putrid dance rave trend (i.e. Skrillex, Deadmau5). In the indie spectrum, pop and electronic music like Bon Iver, St. Vincent and M83 dominated. Guitar-driven rock needs a revision, because hardcore and punk (while really good right now) isn’t going to win over the masses.

    • Agree to disagree, i don’t think you should confuse the relatively slow tempo’d work in Bon Iver, Bon Iver; Days; Father, Son and the Holy Ghost (i would say the top 3 indie albums of the year) for dullness. I think this years trend was more about bringing space back into songs, and that usually means an overall more mellow experience.

      My point is that I don’t think that makes it any less engaging, or exciting for that matter.

      Throwing Hurry Up, Were Dreaming in that boat just offends me too. That was probably one of the least ‘dull’ albums of the year in my opinion.

      • …but I think you’ve misunderstood the meaning of “dull” in relation to what the NY Times article had written, Patrick Carney’s statement and my point. We’re talking about rock music here (i.e. harder, electric guitar-driven music) and Bon Iver and St. Vincent are just not something you can rock out to (unless Annie Clark is covering Big Black.) As you noted, they’re more spacious, mellow listens and sure, you can certainly dance your socks off to M83′s “Midnight City.” In this context, I’m not saying the music is bad or boring — I’m just saying it isn’t rock ‘n roll. It’s pop and electronic.

        • Absolutely disagree. I’ve cleaned my fridge to both the new St Vincent album (two weeks ago) and The Stooges “Funhouse” (6 months ago) and neither were dull experiences, unless you count the fact that I was cleaning a fridge, which is inherently dull.

        • I think you misunderstood what you were listening to. Bon Iver is definitely indie folk. Not rock.

          • Right, yes… Again, maybe you’re misunderstanding my point. I’m not saying Bon Iver is rock, or that M83 or St. Vincent are either. I am saying they are very popular artists who represent styles of music that also popular (much like awful rave dance music is exploding) — but they are ultimately not rock bands. My point that seems to be ignored or not being seen clearly is that people are not listening to a great deal of rock music right now, and that is why 2011 on a surface level seemed like a dull / dire year for rock in the grand scheme of things. If Fucked Up, Liturgy, Trash Talk, Touche Amore, JEFF the Brotherhood, Mr. Dream, Iceage and The Men were as popular (that’s the key word here: popular = #1 debut album and big sales, Grammy Awards, SNL appearances, #1 album on Pitchfork, etc.) we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all.

          • The biggest reason though that none of those bands are up for said awards, or hit #1 is because of the marketing machines that the major labels have, and the sad fact that the ‘higher ups’ at these major labels refuse to deviate from the pattern of modern pop music because of the simplicity, the catchiness, and it’s ability to be sold/used in movies, commercials etc. They go with mass appeal as opposed to musical quality. Nickelback appeals to those MANY people who are only exposed to equally shitty bands like Seether and Puddle of Mudd because those types of bands are the only rock bands on ALL the major rock stations across the USA. If bands like Iceage, Fucked Up, Trash Talk etc. got the same radio play the rock bands from the early 90′s did, it would be culture shaking. But instead we get watered down mass appeal garbage because it’s easier to sell and serves the most for the least amount of investment. Basically put: The wrong people are in control of what America enjoys as far as rock music is concerned.

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    • Couldn’t agree more. Too much elecro pop, synth-pop, chillwave, dominating the mainstream AND the Indie scene. It’s not so much that, that music is bad, it’s just that’s all I hear. I agree, there’s PLENTY of Great Post-Punk, Garage, hardcore-punk, guitar-driven music right now that just ins’t getting the recognition it deserves. Too many copycat rinse-repeat M83, Bon Iver, James Blake types.

    • There were several good indie rock bands that emerged in 2011: Yuck, City Reign, and the Whiskey Saints (the LA band, not the cover band from the Midwest) were some of my favorites. Wilco’s new record had about 5 rock songs on it, as well.

      They’re not “indie,” but Foo Fighters and the Get Up Kids put out guitar-driven rock albums in 2011.

      I love the Black Keys, but they don’t own a monopoly on good modern rock music. Rock is far from dying; you just have to look for it.

      • I love Yuck. I haven’t really listened to City Reign, or Whiskey Saints. I’ll check them out. Wilco seems iffy to me, but if they had 5 rock songs on the record, than that’s cool.

  3. i hate nickelback, unfort I think they had one of the most played songs of the naughts.

  4. Nickelback blos indeed…but Patrick is talking out of his ass. Who lumps them together? Sounds like someone’s insecure about becoming mainstream…

    • agreed, Nickelback is probably the easiest target out there. This makes the Black Keys look pretty lame IMO.

      Also doesn’t the below sentece make it seem like the writer is trying way too hard to make them seem cool.?

      “blowing cigarette smoke out the window of his rented East Village loft”

      Basically, they need to accept the fact that they are mainstream, leave Nickelback alone, and possibly stop smoking b/c it is really bad for you.

      • Well, to be fair plb, you’re referring to a Rolling Stone writer.

        Blowing smoke out a window, for one of them, is like drinking Absinthe in a back-alley bar in Venice where adjunct alley walls are drenched with hour-old bloodstains. And inside the bar is a mix of a slew of unsavory, surly working-class Italians and faux-bohemian foreigners talking politics and culture and changing the world.

        Were it not for Billboard magazine, I would as soon take Rolling Stone writers as the least-intelligent music-journalists available.

    • The NYTimes article Corban linked to also sort of lumps them together with Nickelback. The writer talks about both bands in consecutive paragraphs, and even though he says the Keys are not as bad as Nickelback, he is still negative about them and basically says their new album is one of the reasons this was the worst year ever for rock.

      In other news, I heard The Black Keys were shorted on their last royalty check from whatever ads they’re putting their music in now. They really want their Nickel Back!

    • I think the fear people have with the Black Keys is not that they’ll become the next Nickelback, but that they’ll become the next Kings of Leon.

  5. “Rock & roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world,” he says, blowing cigarette smoke out the window of his rented East Village loft a few days ­before the band heads to L.A.”

    Pretty pretentious.

    • It’s pretty true. Think about it. Nickelback, while being regarded as the worst band pretty much ever by anyone who actually listens to music, had the number TWO highest selling album of last year. For every person that hates them there is someone who loves them as much. People have become accustomed to the bland, stagnant, unexpressive music that is constantly on the radio. Personally, I’d rather just listen to Jagger than have “moves” like him. Rock is dying and the space is being filled by dubstep. The Black Keys are one of the last real rock bands. It’s a sad story, but true.

      • I strongly dislike Nickelback, I don’t want anyone to think otherwise.

        I wouldn’t say the Black Keys are one of the last real rock bands. They’ve always had a very proper electric blues bent to them. And there are a lot of “real rock bands” out there. They are just well known acts. Actually, who eve knows what “rock band” means anymore. Bill Haley and the Comets were the first rock band, and thank god nobody sounds like that anymore. Rock and Roll has evolved to something perverted.

        I’m a Black Keys fan, not a huge fan of the last two records. Live, those songs are great., just not a fan of how they were recorded. Huge fan of Auerbach’s solo record though.

    • I think the most offensive part of the article is that smoking cigarettes is still considered “cool” and “rock n roll”.

  6. Nickleback: the more you hate them, the more powerful they become.

  7. The mainstream embraced a crappy band? Shocker!

  8. I love the black keys but what is Patrick Carney talking about?
    Everyone knows 311 is the biggest rock band in the world (ever)

  9. Unfortunately, these days saying that the Black Keys suck is way cooler than saying that Nickelback sucks.

  10. comment on side note, if you like snoop and the wire check out her biography, shit just gets more n more crazy and you admire her all the more for it

  11. I get why Patrick Carney would hate to be lumped in with Nickelback and I think it’s actually good for music that Carney speaks about this. It’s not two equal bands fighting with each other. I really doubt there exists anyone who equally likes a genuinely good rock band like The Black Keys and a band that writes sad blingee soundtrack dribble.

    • Nicelback is crap but The Black Keys are hacks, too…just in a different way. The whole 2-person fuzzed-out wannabe old blues bullshit is so played. There’s nothing innovative about what they create, they suck live, and they bitch about articles that mention they almost sold as many records as Nickleback.

      Grow up and face the reality that you’re not special, Patrick. No need to get all uptight, enjoy it while it lasts.

  12. I get frustrated about discussions about “real” rock and roll in the 21st century. I get this way because bands such as Red Fang, Colesium, Torche and Big Business never come up. Do you think rock is dead? Then you haven’t heard these guys.

    • None of those bands get radio airplay though, so therefore a majority of people who rely on magazines like Rolling Stones or Grammy Awards have no clue they exist. It’s also a matter of (as I mentioned) current listening trends, and right now, rock music isn’t being paid attention to. People want to throw glo-sticks around and shit or listen to music played in quiet, seated theatres where you can hear a pin drop between each song.

      • I didn’t know Nickelback was still a band, as I neither listen to radio nor watch VH1 or MTV, so I don’t know if my opinion of “popular” rock music matters. Regardless, both Rolling Stone and the Grammy Awards haven’t been relevant in over a decade, so I don’t know if that’s a good guidepost for determining what rock music is (didn’t Jethro Tull beat Metallica for best hard rock album?).

        So, not knowing anything about “airplay,” I’d have to argue that the “rock” music most indie-types listen to has been survived in the underground for years (with the exception of a brief period from 1991-1997ish). Early Sonic Youth, early Dinosaur Jr., Pixies, early Meat Puppets, Gang of Four, and Wire never got “airplay,” just as today’s bands that are keeping rock music “edgy” (e.g., The Men, Women (please come back), Liturgy, Trap Them, Iceage, Trash Talk, Hot Snakes (so happy they reunited)) never get airplay, at least not to my knowledge.

        I think the argument here is one of genre. Sure, assrock like Nickelback will forever live on, but so will great music that most nobody’s ever heard.

        So I wouldn’t go so far as saying people aren’t paying attention to rock music or that rock music is dead as much as I would say that Nickelback being huge is just more of the same.

  13. Picking a fight with Nickelback is like kicking the retarded kid.

  14. I don’t accept statements like “2011 was a bad year for rock music” as if the public’s music consumption is limited to FM radio or Rolling Stone. There are just too many ways for people to discover the music they want to listen to. Go online. See a show,. Hell, ask a friend. Personally, determine if your year of discovering music was a bad year. Stop blaming MTV. People can go as shallow or deep as they want.

    I’m writing this listening through King of Leon’s Because of the Times. And I’ve seen the Black Keys live. Sex on Fire aside, they aren’t more “rock” than KOL. So I hope Mr. Carney and co. enjoys his new loft, meets a Victoria’s Secret model, and have a good tour in 2012.

  15. There’s nothing wrong with being mainstream. It’s not like you have to lose your artistic credibility if you sell a million records one year. I’m getting pretty tired of the “bad hipsters” who go back on their opinions after a band has tons of followers. They fucking worshiped Odd Future when they first were getting noticed. Then Tyler released Goblin and everyone hated them, despite that the album wasn’t all that great, and Left Brain kinda assaulted a photographer. But their just one example.

    I think Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse summed it up pretty well in an interview with the A.V. Club…

    “Figuring out ways to pay the rent isn’t really a tough decision. Around the time we did the beer commercial and the shoe commercial, I thought, “Am I compromising my music by doing this?” And I think not. I like keeping the lights on in my house. People who don’t have to make their living playing music can bitch about my principles while they spend their parents’ money or wash dishes for some asshole. Principles are something that people are a lot better at checking in other people than keeping their own. My rationale behind the beer commercial was, “I like drinking MGD! I like beer probably more than I should, probably more than is healthy.” I was hoping I could get a lifetime supply out of the deal, but I guess I’ll have to buy it with that big ol’ check. [Laughs.]”

    While I agree that Nickelback is an awful band, people need to stop claiming rock music is getting awful, because as long as you’re willing to look a little bit harder for some decent tunes you can still find them. And hell, there’s a lot of great mainstream rock bands out there, people just write them off instantly because they sell a lot of records and have a song or two in a commercial.

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    • I actually think that Brock’s rationale is a terrible one though – it’s delusional for any artist to think they are entitled to some sort of compensation for their art. It’s art. You made it because you have something to say and something to share, but it’s an egotistical thing. There’s playing in a wedding band or cover band – there’s being a member of an orchestra or a big band – being a studio player – and then there’s being Modest Mouse. They aren’t the same thing. When you play for an orchestra you’re a hired gun – making a living as a hired gun musician is the no-brainer: you do whatever you can to make whatever you can. Of Course!

      Being Modest Mouse…well, dude, it absolutely compromises your music. Money is a corrupting force. You can rationalize it all you like, and it’s a fair thing to say “I want to feed my family” but to say it isn’t compromising…what does he think he’s doing? Does he think he’s an electrician? Guy, you’re a lead singer in a rock band. Absolutely selling your compositions to a corporation is compromising. That is the definition of compromising.

      • To sum the above – if you sell songs you wrote to a corporation, then you sold songs to a corporation. It happened. You can pretend it didn’t happen all you like, but it’s what you did. Do you like having money? Does it pay for touring expenses? New Equipment? Rent? Sure, probably. Is that bad? Good? Whatever, it could be both.

        Mozart didn’t compose for free.

        • Isn’t being in a band also a job? If what you’re saying is true, why wouldn’t ALL musicians find a minimum wage job (just enough to get by) and then record songs in their spare time? Whether they care to admit it or not, most musicians want their music to be heard by as many people as possible and if the by-product of that is more money, then cool.

          rock n roll was never intended as “art” — It’s entertainment and entertainers make money. It’s their profession.

          • I wholeheartedly agree, besides the rock and roll isn’t art comment. I would characterize more as entertainment-art.

          • 1) Most musicians have to find a minimum wage job to get by, in fact, that is pretty much the norm.
            2) Sure songwriters want people to hear their music, but they also have control over how their song is heard, and some songwriters choose the vehicle of “advertising” to get their songs heard.
            3) It isn’t cool to sell your song to an advert. It definitely gets you money though.
            4) That is a very simplistic view of music. How could that definition not be applied to everything? Painting was never intended as art. It was cave drawing at first. Painting is communication and communicators make money. It’s their profession?

          • Honestly, anyone who says they wouldn’t let a corporation use one of their songs in one of their advertisements is either insane or lying. I would license one of my songs in a heartbeat if I got the chance. People really don’t realize how many musicians have licensed their songs to corporations. Look at Apple, they use so many songs from indie bands (who all apparently hate commercialism), and nobody complains.You know why? People (especially hipsters) like Apple, and their lifeless white backdrop commercials. But when the Flaming Lips let a car commercial use a song, or Modest Mouse lets MGD use one of their songs, everyone criticizes them. So, in the end, no one should really give two fucks. People want to make money, and I don’t blame them. I would do the same exact thing, but the difference between me and so many other people is that they’re afraid to say the truth.

          • No, some people have integrity and believe it or not there are people in this world who have turned down licensing deals because they don’t support the company involved, or don’t support the use of their music in advertising in general. nd your argument boils down to “if people make money then its okay. And who’s to say otherwise?” What?

  16. Wait, wait: How did I miss this? ” … a recent Rolling Stone on the coffee table and, oddly, two matching copies of ‘The Hunger Games.’”
    I’m pretty into The Hunger Games right now. Addictive shit.

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  18. This is wonderful. Nickelback is shit and I’m glad that there are legitimate artists out there calling them out on it.

  19. I don’t understand why everyone always hates on Nickelback!

  20. Biggest Rock band in the World in 1972: Led Zeppelin

    Biggest Rock band in 2012: Nickelback

    Oh how the world has become so much shittier in the last 40 years…

  21. Not to turn this into another best of thread, but let’s look at but a smattering of the killer 2011 rock* albums in no particular order…not sure how we can define the year as bad for rock* music, at least from an “indie” perspective:

    The War On Drugs: Slave Ambient
    Wild Flag: Wild Flag
    Beach Fossils: What a Pleasure
    Cymbals Eat Guitars: Lenses Alien
    Dom: Sun Bronzed Greek Gods & Family Of Love
    The Drums: Portamento
    Dum Dum Girls: Only In Dreams
    Girls: F,S,HG
    The Kills: Blood Pressures
    Moon Duo: Mazes
    The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart: Belong
    Papercuts: Fading Parade
    Real Estate: Days
    Cold Cave: Cherish the Light Years
    Shimmering Stars: Violent Hearts
    Young Galaxy: Shapeshifting
    Unknown Mortal Orchestra: UMO

    I don’t know…these and tons of other artists produced excellent music in 2011, especially if you consider stuff that wouldn’t necessarily be considered rock, at least from the classic definition of rock (M83, EMA, Austra, Zola, Hooray for Earth, I Break Horses, Beach House, John Maus, Twin Sister, La Sera, Neon Indian…)

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  23. Rock n Roll isnt dying. It’s just being more evenly distributed.

  24. Calm down. It’s perfectly OK if rock ‘n’ roll goes away for a while. Everybody needs a vacation. Eventually, we will have some sort of rock ‘n’ roll comeback with all sorts of good bands and it will probably be awesome.

  25. Black Keys suck live. Used to be a huge fan, saw them live and cannot see them the same.

  26. Denis Schröder  |   Posted on Jan 5th, 2012 0

    Rock is dying? Sleigh Bells want to have a word with you!

  27. Don’t forget about Yuck.

  28. I hope Snoop is ok.

  29. i’ve seen nickelback’s house on cribs so they must be good.

  30. in 5 yrs time, some new dick is going to be on the cover of RS saying how lame that period was when everyone was fawning over post-white stripes blues revivalism. and he’ll be right.

    he will do all of this while blowing smoke from his Ecigarette out a window.

  31. Remember when the Black Keys were good before they “Nicklebacked” and sold out? Starting with Brothers, and now this “watered-down, post-grunge crap, horrendous shit.” that is El Camino. Take a look in the mirror Patrick.

  32. Not to play the sell out card, I would take his comments more seriously if they didn’t hock their tunes to sell beer and cars and HBO promo clips

  33. nice sensationalism yet again, stereogum. other things in the article that were entirely more controversial than carney’s nickelback riff:

    - more details on the black keys’ feud with jack white
    - referenced the keys’ 2010 rolling stone article, where carney told personal details surrounding his divorce, prompting an angry 5,000 word response to salon from his ex-wife
    - michael bublé’s new christmas album, which blocked el camino from getting the #1 billboard spot, would be great music to soundtrack a suicide

  34. it doesn’t make sense to blame all rock problems on the success On the success of nickleback and I feel it is like dissing fans of nickleback not dissing the band itself and I don’t like their snob attitude although I love their last album
    http://musicvideosforme.blogspot.com/

  35. this is seriously hilarious. i completely agree, nickelback has WAY too much credit for being the garbage rock band that they are. black keys ftw. speakin da troof ;)

  36. I’m not a big fan of the Black Keys, but I couldn’t agree more with that quote. Modern rock music in general sucks, that’s why I stick to metal and indie

  37. The Black Keys look so cool. They look so awesome, and they look like great musicians! That must mean they’re great musicians right?

    No… the fact that they are considered “great” rock artists shows how delusional pop culture has become. The Black Keys are ugly barbie dolls trying to play instruments. They’re musicianship is awful in a live setting. Even their drummer has admitted that he can’t play drums. Close your eyes and listen to their music, pretend your in a bar listening to some unknown band… yah they’re alright for sure, but really, are they worth all the trash talk they do? Bashing Nickelback and Bieber all the time… maybe they just hate Canadians because its uncool to actually try to do something well. The cool way is to just get hella rich off doing a shitty job at something you suck at, and having rolling stone writers describe you smoking out a window. Shit anyone can do that….

    Real bands across the world should be pissed that these guys get the glory when real musicians get obscurity….

    But thats nothing new right?

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