Like the sole survivors of the early-aughts “The _________s” retro-rock revivalists, The Black Keys (R.I.P The Vines, The Hives, et al), El Khatib has shown an uncanny ability to nestle his music into the world of corporate sponsorship. Another Will the Guns song, “You Rascal You” soundtracked a TV spot for Captain Morgan Black. Last month, El Khatib curated an art show called “Family” (also the name of a single from his Dan Auerbach-produced LP,Head in the Dirt) at the Heavyweight Gallery in L.A. The event was put on “with gracious support from Converse.”
But talking to El Khatib, or listening to his music, it’s impossible to think of him as a corporate hack. His music, an assimilation of great American music traditions like garage rock, blues and folk, coupled with Khatib’s tattooed and pomaded throwback bad boy chic, makes for great marketing material because it is a rare bird—something both “retro” and authentic at the same time. An obvious heir to The Black Keys in sound and, sometimes, ethos, he’s simply been savvier about harnessing the power of capitalism to facilitate his art than they were; it took the Akron duo nearly a decade to start landing the kind of placement El Khatib started getting by accident.