We here at ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY like to think of our jobs as highly specialized. (Not just anyone can push that little voice-recorder button while simultaneously asking questions and nodding wisely, you know.) But when the Black Keys said they wanted to be interviewed by Danny McBride, how could we refuse? After all, the platinum-selling, Grammy-sweeping rock duo just released their eighth studio album, Turn Blue, and will be dominating festivals and headlining arena shows from Croatia to Cleveland this summer. We asked McBride, 37 — so memorable as egomaniacal pitcher Kenny Powers on HBO’s late, lamented Eastbound & Down and as himself in last year’s star-packed apocalyptic meta-comedy This Is the End — to man the tiny microphone for us. While he and drummer Patrick Carney, 34, already knew each other socially, singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach, also 34, hadn’t met McBride before our EW photo shoot. Soon enough, the duct tape appeared, the pants came off, and a friendship was born. Of course, bondage is one thing; hard-hitting journalism is quite another. Does McBride feel up to the task of conducting his first cover-story interview? ”To be on this end of it,” he says with Powers-like confidence, ”that’s the easy stuff, right?” Well, actually, no. ”I will be the judge of that!”
Danny McBride ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY wants us to kick this off by talking about the first time we came across each other’s work. I’ve been along since the very first album. I was unemployed, living at my parents’ house. I was the person always telling all my friends, ”The Black Keys, the Black Keys!” Then we set up our show, Eastbound & Down, and you guys’ music is all that we scored our pilot with.
Dan Auerbach That’s weird. We have something in common. Because when we made that record, we were unemployed, living at our parents’ houses too. [Laughs]
McBride So I sense kindred spirits! No, you guys’ music was pretty influential on our show. It was mainly R.L. Burnside and you that we were using to find the tone. And then at the end of the pilot, Kenny comes to school to accept the job and we used ”Your Touch.” That was the moment we felt like we’d found who Kenny Powers was. You did that!
Auerbach We love that.
Patrick Carney Yeah. We used to watch Eastbound & Down on tour all the time.
McBride I might have illegally downloaded your first album, but I’ve paid for all of them since then. Your new one, Turn Blue, was announced via a tweet by Mike Tyson. Who approached him?
Auerbach We had just let him use a couple of songs for a documentary. He actually called to thank us and said, ”If I can ever return the favor, let me know.”