When Shins frontman James Mercer and producer Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) launched Broken Bells in 2009, it was curio of a combination that resulted in a Top 10 self-titled debut.
But Mercer says the duo hopes this year's "After the Disco" offers proof that Broken Bells is truly a band and a going concern rather than a project.
"It is good to have a second record," says Mercer, 43. "We always felt it was (a band). We just looked at it as, 'This is a cool idea.' We really fell in love with the whole concept that evolved during the making of the first record.
"So for us it was a certainly we would work again and do another record. We're surprised that people are so surprised about it, really."
Mercer adds that collaborating with Burton (Gnarls Barkley, the Black Keys) has "made my career a whole lot more interesting," and he went into "After the Disco" -- which debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 in February (and No. 1 on the Alternative and Rock Albums charts) -- with a design to build on what they'd started on that 2010 debut.
"I wanted to do something that was upbeat -- uptempo, at least, and dancey," he explains. "That's a place where I haven't spent a lot of time, and Brian knows how to do that. I just wanted to see what could happen if we got a little more beat oriented and so on.
"So I was kind of angling for that, and Brian, I think, was really letting things just flow. He didn't have an agenda per se; he really just sort of listens and follows his ear in the studio, and he heard where I wanted to go and made sure we did it right."
Broken Bells and Elf Power perform Wednesday, June 18, at the Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30.50. Call 313-833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.
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