Given his overstuffed and eclectic list of projects – which includes Gorillaz, Gnarls Barkely, Beck, The Black Keys, Norah Jones, and U2 – it's hard to imagine that Danger Mouse has time to prioritize his favorite collaborators, much less choose them. But the songwriter and producer who catapulted mash-ups into the popular consciousness with "The Grey Album," his blend of Jay-Z's "Black Album" and The Beatles' "White Album," confesses that Broken Bells, his ongoing partnership with Shins front man James Mercer, ranks high on that extraordinary list.
"I’d been waiting a long time to do the second album," Danger Mouse, whose real name is Brian Burton, told Indiewire about "After the Disco," Broken Bells' sophomore release. "It's like my main gig, so I was kind of waiting to put myself creatively all of the way into it."
And now that ambition has attracted film talent as well. Burton and Mercer kicked off the launch of the album, due January 14, 2014, with a series of music videos, including "The Ghost Inside," starring Christina Hendricks, and "After the Disco," starring Kate Mara and Anton Yelchin. Burton indicated that the duo's collaboration on the follow-up took him by surprise. "When I'm producing, things are a little bit different, but this was just getting a bunch of stuff out musically," he said. "When it came down to doing the lyrics and everything, it wound up being more personal than I thought it was going to be.”
Burton hired filmmaker and former classmate Jacob Gentry (who co-directed the acclaimed indie horror film "The Signal") to help realize that vision for a video series to accompany the album. "I wrote it down and let James read it and James liked it, and I had been talking to Jacob about doing something else since James did so much on the last one," he remembered. "And the visuals were starting to come together on this one and they were kind of in line with where we were."
Although Burton and Gentry worked together on "The Ghost Inside," Gentry said that the two of them fell quickly into creative lockstep on "After the Disco."
"I pitched them this idea of this science-fiction mini thing I had in my head, and we had a great time working together," Gentry said. "We were trying to create a whole universe for the band and the album – the concept, the artwork, it's all kind of one big universe that's outside of just music and movies."
Gentry built on Burton's original idea. "Brian came to me with this story he came up with, and I really thought it was great and it articulated a lot of the themes of the album," Gentry said. "So I just really did the work of trying to flesh it out to a narrative script and go from there."