Not Just ‘Crazy’: Gnarls Barkley Work On Topping Grammy-Winning Debut

Danger Mouse picks projects carefully; Cee-Lo says five or six Gnarls songs are in the bag.

When Danger Mouse — the producer behind two of the biggest hits of the past couple of years (Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and Gorillaz’s “Feel Good Inc.”) — says he “gets calls,” you can only imagine the talent requesting his services.

But unlike, say, Timbaland, Danger Mouse politely turns them all down.

“I have always been focused on the projects I want to do, and I work with the people that I want to get those things done,” explained the producer, whose Gnarls Barkley project with Cee-Lo just earned him a pair of Grammys (see “Timberlake Rocks; Blige Weeps; Chicks, Chilis Clean Up At Grammys” ). “And I haven’t run out of those things to do, so I’m still doing them. The stuff I’m working on now is the stuff I’ve been working on before these successes or whatever. I’ll continue to do those, and that’s kinda what I want to do. And, of course, I always like doing whole records with people if I can.”

Danger Mouse is hesitant to talk about his projects, knowing how long some take to finish and release — even Gnarls were five years in the making (see “Who Is Gnarls Barkley? Well, He Likes Hash Browns, Owes Cee-Lo $35″ ) — but he confirmed a collaboration with Mark Linkous, frontman for Southern alt-pop group Sparklehorse. “Dangerhorse has already started,” he said, referring to the working title. “We don’t know what we are going to call it altogether yet, but that’ll be a whole album. We’re just not sure when it will be finished.”

Danger is also working on an album with Daniele Lupi, the Italian soundtrack composer who played on Gnarls’ St. Elsewhere, and recently produced the just-released debut from the Good, the Bad & the Queen, a sorta-supergroup featuring Daman Albarn of Blur and the Gorillaz, Paul Simonon of the Clash, Simon Tong of the Verve and Tony Allen of Africa 70.

“I love that record,” Danger said. “I still listen to it, and I don’t usually listen to records that I produced or anything like that. Damon is probably my favorite songwriter right now and definitely the person I learned the most from musically. … I’m just really happy to have been part of it.”

Unlike Gnarls, though, Danger Mouse is not touring with the Good, the Bad & the Queen. “There are four bandmembers that play just fine without me,” he said, laughing.

Besides, his first priority is touring with Gnarls Barkley and recording their follow-up (see “Gnarls Barkley Gear Up For An Even Crazier ’07: Peppers Tour, New LP” ).

Danger refused to reveal anything about the new music, but his bandmate, Cee-Lo, opened up a bit before the Grammys. “We already have five or six new songs, so the new record is off to a good start and we’ll see where it goes,” Cee-Lo said. “It’s not a totally different direction. I’m going back and redoing some things that I didn’t get a chance to complete, so it’s definitely a continuation.”

Danger and Cee-Lo have been recording in studios across the country on off-days from their tour, using some of Danger’s ideas as groundwork. “I think the success [of St. Elsewhere] maybe will influence the reception a bit but not the creation of it,” Cee-Lo said. “There’s still so much I haven’t said, so I can still pull from those genuine places to do the music.”

Meanwhile, the video for Gnarls’ latest single, “Smiley Faces,” recently hit outlets. Robert Hales, who helmed “Crazy,” returned as the director.

“We have always been very proactive about making sure people knew this group and this album wasn’t summed up by ‘Crazy’ alone,” Cee-Lo said. “It’s actually a solid piece of work all the way through, and we would like people to be certain of that.”