While recording Electric Guest's debut album Mondo, which comes out in April, singer Asa Taccone took several weeks off to recover from a bout of shingles. The condition had been brought on by the stress of finally recording his passion project, which included sifting through over 100 song ideas amassed during years of producing hits like "Dick In A Box" for his brother Jorma of The Lonely Island, with whom he grew up in the Bay Area along with members Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer.
Luckily, Taccone found salvation through bandmate Matt Compton and a longtime friend, producer Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse. Taccone and Compton met while living in a house in Mt. Washington that played host to a revolving cast of musicians, including Burton, whose room Taccone took over. On Mondo -- a soul-tinged pop project with hints of indie rock -- Taccone sings in a falsetto so effortless that it sounds disembodied. Ahead of their residency at the Echo which begins tonight, Electric Guest talked to us about working with The Lonely Island and recording their debut with Danger Mouse.
Tell me about the house you were living in where you and Compton first met.
Taccone: Matt was friends with the kids that lived in the house, so after we met, I'd have him come over anytime I needed him to play bass or drums or whatever. It was kind of a disgusting house but every room had some cool shit in it and it was just kind of built for music. There was a studio in the basement and the whole house was set up weird. There was this crazy pink grand piano in the living room and organs everywhere. We did that for a while though and then he ended up moving in and we just played all the time.
Prior to moving to LA though, what type of projects or bands had you worked with?
Compton: I played everything, but the bands I always toured with I was on drums. I've worked in TV and stuff and written other things, where I would have to play everything though. So when I started playing with Asa, it was kind of the same thing. I would do bass, I would drums, guitar, whatever.
Taccone: It was like all hip-hop in the Bay, so that was mostly what I grew up on. I ended up working with friends and random Bay Area rappers, but I got so burnt out on it and started playing more stuff on my own. Inevitably I branched away from it, but you can still hear a lot of it in the drums. I still try to make things hit in a certain way to where people can still feel how much I like hip-hop.
Is that something you and Danger Mouse were able to bond over?
Taccone: Yeah, because I think we both have a similar history. He grew up on a lot of hip-hop too, even though he was a lot more open to different stuff growing up. He liked a lot of psychedelic '60s music and stuff. He and Matt exposed me to a lot of new stuff only in the last six years though. Hip-hop was hard for me to let go of.
How did you and Danger Mouse initially meet?
Taccone: He was sort of like my mentor for a while. I played him tracks for years and finally he was like you should do an album and we should do it together, but there was a chunk of years between us saying that and it actually happening. I met him maybe eight years ago. He was friends with my brother and I would just call my brother to play him my beats over the phone. One day he said, "Hold on. I want to play it for my friend," and he put Brian on the phone.
And this was before the Grey Album, but he had still done stuff for Jemini
Gemini, this hip-hop group I was a fan of. And he just told me to keep sending him more stuff. So I kept up with him throughout the years and ended up moving in to his old room in that house in Mt. Washington, and then he suggested the album idea. We worked for years on it, like five and half years, and there are tons of songs that didn't get used, literally over a hundred.