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Monday, March 10, 2014

Broken Bells: ‘There's Really No Reason To Stop’

James Mercer, left, and Brian Burton, a.k.a. Danger Mouse are Broken Bells. (

James Mercer, left, and Brian Burton, a.k.a. Danger Mouse are Broken Bells. (

Broken Bells has a new album out, called “After the Disco.” It’s the second album for the group, which is a collaboration between James Mercer of The Shins and and Brian Burton, a.k.a. Danger Mouse.

Broken Bells perform in Boston on Mar. 5, 2014. (Jeremy Hobson/Here & Now)

Broken Bells perform in Boston on Mar. 5, 2014. (Jeremy Hobson/Here & Now)

Burton formed Gnarles Barkley with CeeLo Green and has produced the Gorillaz, The Black Keys, Portugal. The Man and U2. Broken Bells is a project he’s been focusing on with James Mercer since 2009, when the two were working on the first album, “Broken Bells.”

Mercer and Burton are on tour, and when they stopped through Boston last week for a show, Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson sat down with them in the green room at the House of Blues.

He asked whether there are a lot more albums in the band’s future. Both said yes.

“We work well together, we work quickly together and it’s fun. So there’s really no reason to stop,” Mercer said.

Interview Highlights: James Mercer & Brian Burton

On the album’s name

Mercer: “It was me trying to phonetically sound out stuff when I was riffing melodies, and it sort of sounded like I said, “After the disco’ … And then we just fell in love with it. It just seemed to sum up this melancholy after the party. And it became symbolic to us, a little bit, like after your youth.”

On whether they write for a particular audience

Burton: “James and I seem to just kind of write for each other and impress each other and just kind of make something we like … I definitely don’t think what we did this time was typical.”

Mercer: “Really we’re just in the studio, experimenting, playing around until we find something cool, and we grab onto it and try to elaborate.”

On producing a record

Burton: “It’s trying to bring a vision of something from the beginning to the end. If you’re lucky, the people you’re working with, you have similar visions. And sometimes if you don’t, you have to convince them. And sometimes if you do, it still doesn’t always go as great. But you’re still trying to get a finished record with a certain feel.”


  • James Mercer, lead singer-songwriter for The Shins and one half of the band Broken Bells.
  • Brian Burton, musician, songwriter and producer, better known by his stage name Danger Mouse. He’s the other half of the band Broken Bells.

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