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The Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney on finding joy on the duo’s latest album, “Dropout Boogie,” and at home in the Old Village

The Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney on finding joy on the duo’s latest album, “Dropout Boogie,” and at home in the Old Village
July 2022

Find out how Carney and his wife, singer Michelle Branch, fell in love with Charleston

Carney says the COVID break allowed him and singer Dan Auerbach to slow down and have fun.

Growing up in Akron, Ohio, as a fan of Cleveland sports teams, Patrick Carney isn’t accustomed to feeling like a winner.  “I like winning, but I’m a real good loser,” jokes the drummer. As half of the rock duo, The Black Keys, Carney has a stack of Grammys; two children with his wife, singer Michelle Branch; and as of May, an 11th album with his bandmate, Dan Auerbach. Most people would say he’s pretty good at winning.  

In 2020, Carney purchased a home in the Old Village. “Living in Nashville, we’d been told for years that we should check out Charleston,” says Carney. “When we finally came down in July 2018, it was so hot.” 

Despite their uncomfortable introduction, the couple gave the city another chance, staying at the Wentworth Mansion in late 2019, and falling in love within three days. At the onset of the pandemic, they decided to put down roots and bought their home. “There’s something about Charleston that really resonates with both of us,” says Carney. “I can’t put my finger on it, really, but it’s my favorite city in the world. I love the grimy parts of it, and I love how historic it is, and how in five minutes you can be on Sullivan’s Island, on the peninsula, or on James Island.”

(Left) Patrick Carney, drummer for The Black Keys, bought a home in the Old Village with his wife, singer Michelle Branch, in 2020; (Right) The Black Keys’s latest album Dropout Boogie came out in May. The band plays its first show in Charleston in August.

On August 30, The Black Keys will play their first concert in Charleston, at Credit One Stadium. They’ll highlight songs from Dropout Boogie, which follows the loose hard-rocking formula that’s made them international stars. 

The leadoff “Wild Child” is a radio-ready thumper, and “Good Love”—a co-write with Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top—rolls like a blues joint after sundown. Carney and Auerbach typically write songs on the spot in the studio, but for several of Dropout Boogie’s tracks they turned to friends like Gibbons for inspiration. The result eases up on the tension heard in albums like Turn Blue and El Camino, instead continuing the more relaxed rock felt on their 2021 collection of hill-country blues classics, Delta Kream. That product of the COVID break allowed Carney and Auerbach to slow down and have fun playing again. “This album comes from a place of real enjoyment,” says Carney. “Our mind-set has been that we don’t need to take it all so seriously.”

Another album highlight, “Your Team Is Lookin’ Good,” takes its refrain from a 1970s recording of a high school cheer squad in northern Mississippi. “You beat everybody, but you won’t beat us,” bellows Auerbach. Carney drives the song without a hint of hesitation, laying a booming beat with all the confidence of a natural winner.

Listen to "Good Love" from The Black Keys's latest album, Dropout Boogie: