“Your band fucking rocks!” hollers the skater dude as he rolls past Electric Guest’s Asa Taccone (vocals) and Matthew Compton (drums) on a warm winter’s day in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. They nod a gracious but casual thank you in response, like they get this kind of thing all the time. Local heroes already, this sparkling electro-soul duo are about to get kerbside adoration in streets far beyond those of their adopted hometown.
With Haim as their backing vocalists, longtime pal Danger Mouse in charge of production, and Damon Albarn as a fellow partygoer – “He was like, ‘So you’re the one with the falsetto…’” says Asa, in a terrible English accent – anything less than the big-time for this unashamedly commercial, self-confessed pop band would be baffling, even if Asa is surprisingly vocal when it comes to his hatred of their band name. “It’s kinda fucking generic,” he frowns. Well, you’re stuck with it now, we counter. “I know. Oh my god! I know!”
Despite their connections and credentials, the whole project seems to have been a happy accident. Matthew was raised on West Coast punk and Asa on Bay Area hip-hop. “We didn’t have a ton in common musically, but it threw things off in a good way,” explains Asa, who adds that their insanely catchy debut LP ‘Mondo’, which is crammed with high-gloss Gnarls Barkley-style shuffles like ‘This Head I Hold’ and ‘Awake’, was never meant for public consumption. “Even after doing the album we had no plans to release it,” he says. But with the gentle persuasion of Danger Mouse, their radio-friendly chart-candy was thrust into the spotlight.
Over the past year, the pair’s ascent up the slippery flagpole of fame has seen them play some very odd gigs – from flash Cannes Film Festival concerts, to sketchy club shows where girls tried to slip Asa ecstasy, to stuffy industry events on LA rooftops where the tedium was only broken by the rowdy Haim sisters. “It was a bunch of the worst people imaginable, but they were in the front, rocking out,” grins Asa.
They’re already writing the follow-up to ‘Mondo’, which gets a proper UK release in April, and Danger Mouse is set to produce again. It makes sense – Asa and Matthew look like being the kind of guests who stick around.
NEED TO KNOW
Based: Eagle Rock, Los Angeles
For fans of: Gnarls Barkley, early MGMT
Buy it now: Debut album ‘Mondo’ is released in the UK on April 29
See them live: They’re currently on tour in the UK with Darwin Deez
Believe it or not: Asa’s brother Jorma is currently appearing in Girls as arrogant artist Booth Jonathan. “I don’t know if I’ll watch it,” says Asa of the scene in which his sibling is naked and mid-shag. “He told me it’s pretty intense…”