Auerbach and Carney grew up in the same neighborhood in Akron Ohio, and both went to Firestone High School. They weren't good friends, but did jam a bit in Carney's basement toward the end of their high school careers. They both went to college but dropped out, and they formed The Black Keys when they found themselves each kicking around town trying to make music. They were both destitute, and took odd jobs where they could. Auerbach found out he was allergic to grass after taking a lawn mowing job one summer - his eyes and nose became itchy and he felt like he had hay fever.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney slammed Nickelback, saying "rock and roll is dying because people became okay with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world." In response, Nickelback mocked Carney on Twitter, writing: "Thanks to the drummer in the Black Keys for calling us the Biggest Band in the World in Rolling Stone. Hehe."
Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney's Uncle Ralph is also an accomplished musician. Ralph Carney got his start playing with Tin Huey and went on to play the saxophone with artists like Tom Waits, The B-52's, Elvis Costello, and They Might Be Giants.
Dan Auerbach also had a relative with a musical background. His second cousin once removed, the late guitarist Robert Quine, was a former member of proto-punk band The Voidoids. He also worked with Lou Reed in New York (notably on 1982 album The Blue Mask), where his idiosyncratic style gained him the sobriquet "The King of Skronk Guitar."
Black Keys were supporters of Barack Obama when he was the US president. The band played a benefit show for Obama's campaign in 2008, sharing the stage in their hometown Akron, Ohio with fellow Akronites Devo and Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders.
In 2010, Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney's personal e-mail account was hacked. The hackers sent out messages stating that Carney was stranded in the UK and needed money to get home. After receiving dozens of texts from friends and family, Carney was able to shut down the account without any financial repercussions.
Although their music has appeared in several advertisements, the Black Keys are picky about which companies use their music. Early in their careers, the band was offered a six-digit sum to put their music in an English mayonnaise commercial, but the duo turned it down because they didn't want to alienate their fan base.
The duo's hometown of Akron, Ohio, had a thriving music scene in the late '70s, with Chrissie Hynde, Devo, Pere Ubu, The Bizarros, and many other acclaimed acts emerging from the city. Auerback and Patrick don't have many kind things to say about their city, and relocated to Nashville to make music. When asked in 2011 what he missed about Akron, Auerback replied: Nothing.
Patrick Carney had some rough times in 2009 when he went through a nasty divorce. After he made some public statements about his ex-wife, she responded with a detailed online article talking about their marriage. Carney spent some time in therapy dealing with personal problems around this time.
Carney said to The Guardian of his enduring relationship with Auerbach: "I'm the goofball younger brother and that's the way it's always been. I feel like I'm 16, I act like I'm 14."
Why The Black Keys? Patrick Carney explained on a Reddit AMA: "There's an artist that Dan's father and my father were friends with and helped take care of in Akron named Alfred McMoore. He was schizophrenic, and lived in a halfway house, and really liked to draw with crayons and pencil on 5 foot by 50 foot scrolls of paper, and he was constantly calling both of our houses when we were kids, asking our dads to bring him pipe tobacco, diet coke and crayons. And he would always end the message with 'Don't be a black key. Don't be a B-flat.' it was his way of saying that the Black Keys sounded dissonant, or insulting someone. He was totally nuts, but a really sweet guy. He used to cry constantly."
"He passed away in 2009, and Dan and I set up a non profit in his name in Akron that helped take care of him in that halfway house," Carney added. "The service that they provide takes people who have mental disabilities and it helps them pay their bills, makes sure they're insured, that the government doesn't provide services for like that."
Asked in an Uncut interview how Akron has affected his music, Dan Auerbach replied: "It's an old factory town. So people are blue-collar. They've got their 'factory' mentality. Pat and I, as soon as we decided that The Black Keys was going to be a band, we worked every single day. It was like clockwork. And then, just like the way that we would tour, ir was still kind of relentless. I still treat music like it's a job, the whole Brill Building idea: 'I'm going to work and write a song.'"