James Mercer and Danger Mouse (Brian Burton), who record together under the name Broken Bells, were just interviewed by NPR's Robin Hilton and Bob Boilen about After The Disco, their first album since their 2010 self-titled debut. The duo spoke for 25 minutes about their collaborative process and the differences between this record and the last.
Mercer said a major change has been his improved chemistry with Burton, as he "hadn't really collaborated like this with anybody" before Broken Bells' first album. He believes that After The Disco is a better record simply because he and Burton have been able to get to know each other better. Burton echoed this sentiment, praising the way Mercer would critique his drumming, and admitting that, as a result, "the drums were much more interesting to me on this record."
One thing Hilton noted about the new album was the feeling that there were "three or four songs in one song." Burton agreed, and said, "The one thing that holds it together is that it still came from the same bed of music," with the rough structure of each song inspiring several melodies, most of which ended up being thrown into the mix or "tagged on at the end."
Recently released single "Holding on for Life" was also a point of discussion, with both hosts trying to lump it in with Arcade Fire and Daft Punk's recent disco revivalism. Burton imagined it differently, thinking "it sounded like a Dre or Ice Cube record from the early '90s or late '80s." Further disassociating After The Disco from actual disco, Burton said: "There's nothing disco about the album. I didn't think there was, anyway. It's just nothing we ever would have done." The title, according to Burton, has more to do with the album's "after the party" mood.