Gnarls Barkley

Danger Mouse and co. do it Slow (Food)
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PREVIEW Many a gnarly happening has occurred since I last spoke with Danger Mouse, né Brian Burton. If memory serves, at that time in 2004, around the time he remixed The Beatles ("The White Album") (EMI, 1968) and Jay-Z's The Black Album (Roc-A-Fella/Island Def Jam, 2003) into The Grey Album, the grounded DM was easily forthcoming about his standard-setting, electronic civil disobedience–inspiring endeavor and waxed rhapsodic about art house cinema. The years — and, no doubt, experience as a prolific collaborator (Gorillaz, Van Dyke Parks, and rumored future projects with Sparklehorse and Black Thought) and producer (Beck, the Rapture) — have left Burton more reserved. Regarding Gnarls Barkley — DM's project with Cee-Lo Green, which recently released the acclaimed The Odd Couple (Atlantic) — Burton chooses to simply rough out the partnership as that of hometown buds from the Atlanta area. "We knew a lot of the same places growing up," Burton says from Athens, Ga., where Gnarls Barkley concluded a recent tour. "I'd try to sneak in with people, and I'm sure he was already walking right in the front door."

But affection for late rock 'n' roll pioneer Ike Turner brings the Mouse out of his shell. Burton wanted to produce Turner and enlisted the Black Keys to serve as the backing band and songwriters. "We did some demos for some of the songs, but it didn't quite go in the direction we wanted," Burton says. "Ike's voice was so deep and so heavy — it didn't really fit as much as Dan's." So instead DM agreed to produce the Keys' kudo-clad Attack & Release (Nonesuch). Turner even got to hear the finished product, and plans were in the works for the Keys to write fitting songs in varied styles for the musical elder before he died. Now Burton tells me he'll try to work with some of the Turner-Keys tracks, and he'll remember the man, who "randomly" stepped in to play on the last Gorillaz release, as a longtime friend who was "very honest. I don't know what he was like when he was younger, even though he told me many stories. But he made you humble."

GNARLS BARKLEY with Ozomatli, the New Pornographers, Medeski Martin and Wood, and Lebo at Slow Food Rocks. Sat/30, 11 a.m.–7 p.m. (Festival continues Sun/31 with Phil Lesh and Friends, G Love and Special Sauce, John Butler Trio, and London Street.) $10–$160. Great Meadow, Fort Mason, SF. 1-877-655-4849, www.festivalnetwork.com/sfr

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