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Black Keys, ZZ Top To Write Together

The Black Keys will head to Los Angeles this weekend for songwriting sessions with ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons and producer Rick Rubin, in the hopes of creating material for the latter group’s upcoming, Rubin-produced album.

“There are so many people who love them and what they did,” Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach tells of ZZ Top, with whom Rubin is planning to make a more back-to-basics blues rock album. “Billy came to our show in Columbus, Ohio, and played us some new songs, but this will be the first time we’ve gotten together in a musical way.”

“I’m such a big fan of those guys … it makes total sense,” Gibbons said earlier this year of the Black Keys. “And that’s pretty down and dirty, which is good for ZZ Top.”

The Keys are briefly off the road, having played a Democratic party fund-raiser on Oct. 17 in their Akron hometown, alongside fellow Akronites Devo and Chrissie Hynde. The evening concluded with all the acts onstage together covering the new Pretenders song “Break Up the Concrete.”

“It felt like that once-in-a-lifetime experience — something so Akron-centric,” Auerbach says. “I’d walked by Chrissie in a bar in downtown Akron before but I never said hi. She knew who we were. Both she and (Devo’s) Mark (Mothersbaugh) were saying the nicest things, about how we made them feel proud of Akron again. It was a heartwarming experience.”

In tandem with the Keys upcoming European tour, the band will on Nov. 18 release a concert DVD, “Live at the Crystal Ballroom,” taped April 4 in Portland, Ore. The film was directed by Lance Bangs, who also handled the video for the Keys’ “Strange Times.”

“Lance basically said, ‘Hey, do you mind if I bring some cameras and shoot?’ And we said, ‘Sure!,'” Auerbach says. “This was the only one we filmed, so it’s a warts and all performance and is pretty raw.” The DVD is rounded out by footage of the Keys recording their latest album, “Attack & Release,” with Danger Mouse and three music videos.

Also on the horizon for Auerbach are production gigs with Hacienda and Buffalo Killers at his Akron studio.