The Black Keys trotted off to Alabama to record their spring-released sixth album, “Brothers,” at the legendary Muscle Shoals sound studio. But it wasn’t because the urbane blues duo, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, wanted in on Muscle Shoals fabled history as the place where The Rolling Stones hit their earthy stride or Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett tapped into primal soul.
“I base my studio on designs made in the mid-’50s to mid-’60s, and Muscle Shoals fell into that category,” says Auerbach, a noted analog gear head, whose Easy Eye Studio in the Black Keys’ hometown of Akron, Ohio, is where they usually record. “I just made a list of studios I wanted to see and it was the one we chose.”
Simple, except that there isn’t much of the original Muscle Shoals studio left. There’s no recording equipment; the band trucked in their gear. It’s a museum, quite literally.
“We recorded in a place that was not a working studio anymore,” Auerbach laughs at the irony.
“There were pictures all over the wall,” he says of the artifacts of a bygone time. “I made them take down all the pictures, because I didn’t want to feel like I was in a museum. It’s literally just an old cinder block building in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.”