Dan 'The Automator' Readies 2004 Triple Assault

Producer dropping solo LP, Handsome Boy album, new project.

LOS ANGELES — Dan "the Automator" Nakamura is going to need a refueling come spring.

The prolific producer, best known as Damon Albarn's partner in Gorillaz, is in the final stages of three projects due early next year: his first solo album, the second Handsome Boy Modeling School record, and his latest endeavor, Head Automatica.

The latter, a side project with Glassjaw frontman Daryl Palumbo, just finished recording last week in New York with a session featuring guest vocals from Rancid's Tim Armstrong.

After introducing the Streets at Sunday's Shortlist Music Awards (see "Irish Singer Damien Rice Wins Shortlist Music Prize"), the Automator described the album backstage as a rock record with hardcore and electronic elements.

"What we are trying to do is kind of pick up where Big Audio Dynamite maybe would have been if they were coming out today, or some of the Clash, but more, like, with the combination of the hard drums, hard guitars and the electronic elements," Nakamura said. "I think we came up with something pretty interesting. It should be a fun record."

Nakamura began mixing the album this week and is eyeing a February release, a month or two before he and Prince Paul will drop the follow-up to Handsome Boy Modeling School's So ... How's Your Girl?

All the Automator would reveal about that album is that it'll be influenced by both his and Paul's other work since their 1999 acclaimed debut and might include some of those collaborators.

"Generally we're gonna try to make it not every man's record, but a record that every man should be listening to," he said. "It's a hard call because we need to make sure we keep the correct balance [of underground and commercial appeal], but we don't want to go and push it all to one side or make it too handsome and intimidate the people."

Once the album is released, Handsome Boy Modeling School plan to hit the road for a tour of sorts.

"It's going to be an artistic endeavor of a different style than what people are used to seeing," Nakamura said. "We're probably gonna work on incorporating our video series 'Handsomeness of Steel,' and that might take a little while, and maybe we'll just do more on the infomercial tip. Or we might hook up one of those Tony Robbins-type tours or something. It's hard to say. It might be a speaking engagement thing."

As for the Automator's long-awaited solo debut, Omakase was pushed back from the summer to early next year when MCA recently folded into Geffen Records.

Nakamura hinted Sunday that Beck has joined a list of Omakase guests that includes Busta Rhymes, the Neptunes, Maceo from De La Soul, Black Rob, Beenie Man, Mike Patton, DJ Q-Bert and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto (see "Dan 'The Automator' Plans Busta Rhymes/LeAnn Rimes Duet, Nabs Iron Chef For LP").

"I think we tend to make good songs together, and hopefully we'll continue to do so," Nakamura said of Beck, who has long been rumored to be making an album with the producer.

The Automator released the solo EP A Better Tomorrow in 1996 and re-released it with additional material as A Much Better Tomorrow in 2000. He dropped the mix album Wanna Buy a Monkey? last year (see "Gorillaz, Black Rob Rarities Comped By The Automator").