Dan Auerbach is a productive man: that much is evident from just a quick glance through his recent discography. If he’s not busying himself with writing a new Black Keys record or locked away producing with Lana Del Rey, he’s working on something, and – if his newest project is anything to judge by – it’s at rapid speed.
“Eight months ago,” comes the straightforward reply to the question of when The Arcs first really began. “That was when Leon [Michels] and I got together and saw how many songs we had.”
The first steps of The Arcs – the most recent musical endeavour that Auerbach has become involved in – have been at many points over the last decade or so. Born out of, quite simply, a bunch of musical friends getting together to casually write songs, it was only earlier this year that the group realised that maybe making music that no one would ever hear wasn’t all it was cut out to be.
“Once we had given it the name The Arcs, we had a thing,” he emphasises, as he sits in a West London hotel room, wearing his trademark leather jacket. “Everyone took it so much more seriously. There was more focus and the work got better and the songs felt better. That really helped us.
“Other than Pat [Carney] in The Black Keys with me, these are my oldest musical friends,” he offers up, of the band’s other members: along with Auerbach and Michels, the line-up is made up by Richard Swift, Homer Steinweiss, and Nick Movshon. “I’ve been making records with these guys for five, six, seven years. So, whenever we had free time, we would get together and record just for fun, for ourselves. Basically, that’s what The Arcs are; there were born out of those sessions. We gave it a name this year, compiled an album and now we’re kinda off to the races. We’re just letting it do its thing and its interesting to see which way it takes.”
"We gave it a name this year, compiled an album and now we're kinda off to the races. We're just letting it do its thing and its interesting to see which way it takes.”
— Dan Auerbach, The Arcs
With a name in place, things could really begin. Taking inspiration from their old recordings, the band set to work creating a whole new raft of songs and would spend a few days at a time recording. “It was the kind of kick that we needed to realise that we were kinda squandering this thing by recording and then just leaving it on a computer,” he admits. “We realised we should release some of the music because it's fun. We'd always have fun when we record, we'd always talk about doing a record and then we always end up working on somebody else's, you know?
“Everyone has a natural thing that they do, or a natural thing that they're good at,” he goes on, touching on each of the elements brought to the table during the process. “Everybody has a different thing; Swift does a particular thing and Leon does a particular thing. When we get together, our own personalities are somewhat clouded but what happens is we start to have a sound, and together we start to make something that's an identifiable sound. The more we record, the more we figure that out. It's been fun, all of that kind of adventure and discovery.”
Thus, 'Yours, Dreamily' was born. “There's not really a narrative throughout the whole story,” Auerbach ponders, “but the artwork is definitely tied together and helps to tie the music in too. That wasn't really completely intentional, it kinda just happened. I saw Omar [Juarez]'s artwork - his Boxer character - and I reached out to him and we became friends. When I was in LA, we'd go record shopping and when I was talking about starting The Arcs and wanting to do some artwork, it was natural. I wanted to use his Boxer character and wanted to release two songs about boxing on the Mayweather-Pacquaiao day and it was kinda perfect. The next 45, we wanted to have Rosie because that's this other character that's really strong. We put them together on the album cover and continued to play with the whole idea. It took on a life of its own.
“It wraps around the music appropriately,” he continues, “it comes from the same place I think; a love of sci-fi, old soul records and Blaxploitation films. It all comes from the same heartbeat so that's why it works so well together, I think. We didn't know that ahead of time, though!”
"It all comes from the same heartbeat."
— Dan Auerbach, The Arcs
Now that their debut has been out in the open for two months, the band are setting their sights elsewhere: the live show. “We played our first show a couple of months ago in east LA,” he explains. “We only played about six songs, but it was great. I mean,” he laughs, “you know, some of it sucked, but we did good!
It's this coming week that the band will be making their UK debut, when they perform at The Forum in London, and it's set to be the full blown Arcs experience. “I mean, we rehearsed in New York City with all eight of us and it's a very tight fit! There's the mariachi girls, we've got two drums, it's cool. It's really fun, it's exciting to see how quickly we've progressed over such a short amount of time and it's really exciting to think where the band could go.”
If anything's evident, Auerbach's creativity shows no signs of slowing down; whether in his production work or his newest group, the ball is set to keep on rolling. “We're fully going! We have an EP done and another album is done. We're moving right now, we're just going with the flow. We're all having fun and playing together has been a blast.”