Gnarls Barkley is an American neo-soul band, consisting of lead vocalist/songwriter Brian Joseph Burton (aka Danger Mouse) and guitarist Thomas DeCarlo Callaway. The band made its UK debut in 1985 and gained popularity through their singles “Don’t Worry” (based on the Back to the Future theme) and “Hooked on a Feeling”. Both single and album have been a major hit worldwide and have been inducted into the British Rock Hall of Fame. Brian Joseph Burton has also worked with artists such as Kanye West, Paul McCartney, En Vogue, and Mary J. Blige.
The band’s first single, “Hooked on a Feeling”, was produced by longtime producer Brian Ensworth. The band was self-titled, when they decided to record the song at Enustell’s studios in London. They were not signed to any major record labels at this time. This is the band’s only recorded song. The single “Hooked on a Feeling” was released in the United Kingdom, but the band’s debut album was not released in the United States until sometime after their second album, Gnarls Barkley Vol. 3, was released in early 1993.
Two weeks later, the band released its third album, Gnarls Barkley III. The album was a collaborative effort between the band members themselves, along with producers such as En Vogue’s Stuart Price and engineer Rob Bailey (of Kasabian). In the end, the album was a huge commercial hit, which led to the band collaborating with a wide range of producers, including the Fugees, Madonna, and others.
The Rolling Stone Magazine sought to rank the best producers in the music during the 2008 music year. The Gnarls Barkley was ranked number one. In that same year, the band was also named to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. It is quite likely that their self-titled album received some consideration for that honor.
In the months leading up to the release of their second album, the band was trying to find a new label to distribute their music. During this process, their label mates, such as Run For Cover, decided to move forward with their own record label, titled Eagle Vision. Instead of waiting for Gnarls Barkley to find a label to record their follow-up, they decided to give it to them. This is how the band ended up with their name attached to the band’s August 2008 release, titled We Are Alive II.
While touring with their debut album, guitarist and singer Scott Storch developed a musical relationship with bassist Aaron Strauss. He would become the primary musical producer for the band. The musical side of the band is better represented by Storch and bassist Tommy Lee. During the making of the second album, Aaron and Strauss were also tasked to produce their own music.
When touring with their sophomore album, the band decided to once again collaborate with their main producer, Aaron Strauss. This time, they contacted former We Are Alive band mate Scott Storch. This collaboration allowed them to release their third album, entitled A World Without End. Although the band is once again touring, they have now released two separate albums. With their first album, they were unable to get signed to a major label. As a result, they have now released as three separate albums, and are once again collaborating with Aaron Strauss.
Brian Jackson and his brother, Gnarls Barkley, have made an independent album, entitled Brian Jackson: Thriller, available to fans. This album was released in the summer of 2010, and featured guest spots by We Are Alive’s Brian Kennelly, who was also a member of the band. No further plans for a full-on reunion have been announced. A Brian and Gnarls Barkley DVD was also released, focusing on the early days of their career. In between albums, the band has also released several music videos for songs, including “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”, “Mystery Train”, and “Praying Mantis”.
Photo Credit: Posted by Julio Enriquez at https://www.flickr.com/photos/julioenriquez/2621282813/