February 5, 2009 / 4:43 PM / 10 years ago

Just a Minute With: music producer Danger Mouse

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Music producer Danger Mouse is perhaps best known as the non-singing guy in the chart-topping duo Gnarls Barkley, which enjoyed a worldwide hit in 2006 with their debut single “Crazy.”

Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley performs at the Virgin Festival in Baltimore, Maryland September 23, 2006. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The infectious tune helped their album “St. Elsewhere” sell 1.4 million copies in the United States. In 2007, Danger Mouse (born: Brian Burton) and singer Cee-Lo (Thomas Callaway) won a pair of Grammys.

Last year’s follow-up album “The Odd Couple” sold about 227,000 copies. It was rush-released after leaking online, and did not generate a big hit. Still, it will compete for three Grammys on February 8, and Danger Mouse received an additional nomination for producer of the year.

Q. How do Grammy wins help an artist’s career?

A. “In a way, I guess, they’re cool to help get the heat off you ... The labels kinda back off you creatively maybe a little bit.”

Q. You won two Grammys in 2007, but received five nominations. Were you disappointed that “Crazy” lost record of the year to the Dixie Chicks?

A. “I used to play a lot of sports when I was younger so I am kinda competitive, but you definitely don’t want that to creep into music you make. You don’t want to be in a situation where you forget even for a second that whether something wins an award or not has nothing to do with really how much it affected people, how much you really got what you were trying to do. The only time I get concerned is when I feel like even for a minute or two that I forgot that.”

Q. Do you have thoughts about album of the year?

A. “I keep being told to listen to the Robert Plant-Alison Krauss thing (“Raising Sand”). I actually do have it, but I haven’t got a chance to listen to it yet. I’ve definitely got the Radiohead record (“In Rainbows”), and I really love that record.”

Q. “The Odd Couple” was rushed out after it leaked, and sales fell short of the first album. What went wrong?

A. “I learned a lot from watching that whole situation. There was definitely a lot of confusion and stuff. Basically when the record leaked there was a bunch of different approaches as to how to handle that. That was already kinda of a not-so-great situation that got turned out to be made worse. It didn’t turn out to be a hit, and why those things happened, I don’t really know. You very quickly realize that you can either spend time trying to figure it out or make those things happen. Or you can just get on with what you’re doing and that’s kinda what I prefer to do.”

Q. Will there be a third Gnarls Barkley record?

A. Yeah, I’m pretty sure. We both, after we were done with this last one, we’re definitely taking some time right now to go do some other things ... I think we feel like the second record finished a thought based on the first one. The two of them feel together because we made them similar as far as time was concerned. But I feel like we want a separation between those two records and the third one.”

Q. Are you coming to the Grammys?

A. “I don’t know. I’m working on a couple of records. I don’t know. If I’m not working, maybe I will. But it depends on whether I’m working or whether I’ll even be in town.”

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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