Rubber Factory, the Black Keys' third full-length release, gets more than just its name from Akron's industrial decay. The CD, recorded in a former General Tire R&D lab, includes liner notes that look like an old "Operations Manual," with song lyrics scribbled out on "Shift Notes." Dan Auerbach's soulful groans and lonely serenades echo the pain of a city that's seen its title of "Rubber Capital" all but blow out in recent decades. His raw, fuzzed-out guitar squeals with rage and loss. Patrick Carney's stark drumming pounds onward like feet hitting crumbling pavement. It's blues so guttural, so down-and-dirty, that the Black Keys must've absorbed the Akron grime straight through their pores.
Yeah, pretty much.
"We'd both have full-blown cancer if we lived there," Carney says of the recording space. "There's completely weird particles floating around the studio and the hallways. The building itself is like the size of a city block and is three stories tall. And nobody occupies it except for somebody that burns stuff below us and somebody else that melts stuff. We were in there about a month and a half before we started recording. And the more I think about it, we both felt sick the whole time we were recording it, inhaling this disgusting shit. That's probably why there's so many slow songs on our new record, because we were being poisoned."
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