That show in Paris was on the day of the terrorist attacks in 2015. Is it true you were originally scheduled to perform at the Bataclan that evening? What are your memories of that day?
Oh, that’s insane. We had the same promoter as the Eagles of Death Metal, and we were booked at the Bataclan first but then he switched us at the last minute. He didn’t even really know why. He just said, “I felt like maybe you should be in this place and they should be in that place.” It was heavy. We played the show, and it was incredible, and it wasn’t until we got off stage that any of us found out what had happened. It was the last time I was in Europe.
Is that because of some kind of trauma?
The Arcs haven’t toured since then. And with The Black Keys, we’ve gotten a bit more picky-choosey with our touring. We’re just touring less these days in general.
It took you five years after Richard Swift’s death to put out the new album . . .
We were all busy doing our own things, and the music just sat there. And consequently, we never really spoke about Richard’s death, and we never really dealt with it properly. Opening up these tapes and listening to these old recordings and hearing Richard’s voice, hearing him laughing, hearing him playing, that was very helpful for me. I know it was helpful for Leon, too, to have some sort of closure.
Were you close?
We were like brothers, you know? I knew I could always look to him for real guidance, and he was endlessly supportive and the funniest person I’ve ever met in my life. He was a comedian. And it’s just a great tragedy that he’s gone.
How unique a musician and producer was he?
He was a savant, a musical genius. He could sing like a bird, he could play drums like Al Jackson, he would get on the keyboards and play beautiful melodies, and he could play the piano like Harry Nilsson. He was sickeningly talented, and I loved being around him.