IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Danger Mouse goes from ‘Grey’ to ‘Crazy’

Three years ago, Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, was the toast of the Internet thanks to his wildly popular, highly unauthorized and completely brilliant mash-up of the Beatles “White” album and Jay-Z’s “The Black Album” — “The Grey Album.”
/ Source: The Associated Press

Three years ago, Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, was the toast of the Internet thanks to his wildly popular, highly unauthorized and completely brilliant mash-up of the Beatles “White” album and Jay-Z’s “The Black Album” — “The Grey Album.”

Though many music aficionados knew the 29-year-old Danger Mouse for his eclectic collaborations with rapper-friends like MF Doom and Jemini, it’s safe to say that “The Grey Album” put him on the mainstream musical map.

But Danger Mouse never wanted that album, a fun side project for his friends, to be his musical landmark. As he worked hard on two upcoming projects, he hoped he wouldn’t always be defined as that mash-up guy.

It paid off. One of those projects was the platinum-selling Gnarls Barkley, the groovy, retro-rock soul duo he created with Cee-Lo, which had perhaps the most infectious, perfect jam of last year with the trippy “Crazy.” It’s nominated for record and song of the year, two of Gnarls’ four Grammy bids at Sunday’s awards ceremony. Danger Mouse was singled out for another nod in the producer of the year category.

(Oh, and that other project he was working on? Last year’s record of the year nominee, “Feel Good Inc.,” by the Gorillaz. He also recently wrapped up work on the self-titled debut of The Good, The Bad & The Queen).

AP: You’ve done many different projects and collaborations over the years. What was it about Gnarls Barkley that made it such a mainstream success?

Danger Mouse: I guess it’s Cee-lo, that voice of his is amazing. It hit people instantly, that song. You never know when a song like that is going to come around. ... it worked out pretty good.

AP: Had you intended for Gnarls Barkley to be a permanent band?

{
  "type": "Slideshow",
  "element": null,
  "html": null
}

AP: Even though Gnarls Barkley is nominated for multiple awards, you guys were shut out of the best new artist category. Did that surprise you?

Danger Mouse: No, I don’t know that that would have really worked out. Neither one of us is really a new artist. That always weirds me out when there’s a best new artist and I have three of their records before that, so I don’t think that was a mistake.

AP: Do you plan to continue Gnarls Barkley or was this a one-time thing?

Danger Mouse: We’ve already started actually, we’ve gone into the studio a couple of times. ... Once we were on tour and everything and playing to all these people, we were like, ‘Oh, we’ve got to do this again.’

AP: With your success, you must have record companies and artists whispering in your ear to make the next hit. How do you fight the temptation to become that producer who churns out a lot of hits?

Danger Mouse: You didn’t make it sound very appealing (laughs). The way you’ve just described it, it doesn’t seem like a hard thing to turn down! ... What I do is definitely different. I’m a little bit selfish with the world that I’m in I guess, and I kind of want people to come into my world as opposed to going into theirs ... I don’t want to necessarily do the next so-and-so record and hope that it’s good.

AP: Will we ever see a Danger Mouse solo CD?

Danger Mouse: You know, everytime I think about doing a solo CD, the first thing I think about is who I’m going to get on it (laughs). It’s not really that interesting to me, I like working with people with music much more than I do just working with myself.