"Radiohead—tell me about opening for Radiohead." That's how I wanted to start the interview with Dan Auerbach. But I thought that would be rushing things. Auerbach is the singer, guitar player, and lyricist for the Akron, Ohio-based voodoo-rock duo the Black Keys. He is also not much for small talk.

So instead I ask him if he sold his soul to Satan. To which he says nothing. There is a skeptical silence. Finally, in a fed-up way, he asks, "What?" I backtrack, explaining that his voice and songs truly evoke and connect with that sinister crossroads myth of the Delta Blues where Robert Johnson made his deal with the devil. Johnson is said to have traded his eternal soul for his extraordinary talents. Auerbach replies, "No, man, I didn't do that."

Popular myth holds that Robert Johnson died from poison and somehow in Mississippi, he has two graves. Maybe black magic was involved, maybe not. The Black Keys, however, have two members, and their fourth full-length release, Magic Potion, and they are very much alive and well.

Magic Potion comes out September 12 on Nonesuch Records and is a follow-up to the hugely successful 2004 album, Rubber Factory. Seattle is the first show on a tour schedule that keeps them on the road until December.

Recorded and produced in Akron by Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney, Magic Potion is a possessed group of boom-box rock hymns. Ingredients include: guitar and drums, mixed with R. L. Burnside, Zeppelin II, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and barbecue.

Auerbach says his music might seem dark or possessed because it's urgent. "We only do two or three takes on anything. I improvise the lyrics, so it's spontaneous. It sounds urgent. We've learned not to be too critical. We leave the mistakes in. I hate perfectionists. That's not music; that's insecurity. It's gotta be raw."

In "Strange Desire" off Magic Potion, the guitar riffs bellow out warm and fierce. The drums stomp and jut. Auerbach's voice wails and pleads, "I don't want to go to hell, but if I do, it'll be cause of you/Any young man is gonna make mistakes, till he hits the brakes/My heart's on fire, I've got a strange desire." On the other hand, in "You're the One," the doubled vocals are longing, relaxed, and serene, "Now I'm old and wise/When I see your eyes/You're the one I adore." Such contrasts underscore why Auerbach is one of rock's most compelling frontmen.

The Black Keys are filming a video in Akron with a director from Austin, Texas, but Auerbach would not divulge the details of it. "There's not a lot of music on television anymore," Auerbach observes. "Those boy bands and fake-ass rappers, I hate that shit. It's not genuine. Those people are puppets."

"There are still real people out there making real music, though," Auerbach says. He mentions Radiohead. While touring with Radiohead, they had some time off in Chicago. Auerbach found a hole-in-the-wall record store to look for music. When he walked in, he saw that Radiohead guitarist Johnny Greenwood was already there. "At a certain level," Auerbach says, "You'd think it might get boring, you might get sick of music. But not those guys. And that's cool to see."

Auerbach says touring with Radiohead, "Was a nice experience. We didn't hang out with them all the time or anything." He was low-key about it, even though Thom Yorke had specifically asked for the Black Keys to accompany them.

"In Europe," Auerbach continues, "sometimes the type of music we play is met with disdain. There is such a negative feeling toward America and the blues over there right now. But we're not doing blues. We're just rock and roll."

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Obviously, there is not too much European disdain for the Black Keys if Thom Yorke is requesting them to be his opener. You guys are practically knighted, I tell Auerbach. Again, he greets that thought with skeptical silence. Then I ask about the Fabergé egg on the cover of Magic Potion. "Oh, that's a painting by Pat's brother," Dan said.

Why Fabergé? "Isn't it obvious?" Auerbach answers. No. Then he asks, "Well, what is a Fabergé egg?" I said, "It's beautiful and delicate." "Yeah!" he says. "Beautiful and delicate, just like the Black Keys." And for the first time, I hear him laugh.

editor@thestranger.com