Last month, New York's art rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs reunited to perform at a benefit concert for victims of Hurricane Sandy at the Union Pool, an intimate club in Brooklyn.
The trio, led by charismatic singer Karen Orzolek (better known as Karen O), unveiled a new track, Despair, from their then untitled fourth studio album, to a crowd of 70 people.
This week Yeah Yeah Yeahs announced that the hotly anticipated follow-up to 2009's excellent It's Blitz! will be called Mosquito. The album was mostly recorded in Texas with acclaimed producers Dave Sitek and Nick Launay, working separately, with one track produced by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy.
As the band prepares to fully emerge from the shadows, guitarist Nick Zinner says the band went through a turbulent time between albums.
"We went through a super dark time after we made It's Blitz! and finished touring that record," he says from Los Angeles before joining Karen O and drummer Brian Chase on stage in Pomona, California.
"We weren't really sure what our next steps were individually and collectively. There was a long period of doubt and we are trying different projects.
"Karen and I were jamming a lot from 2011 and I think we knew and felt we still wanted to do another record as a band," Zinner says. "It was about waiting for the time when we all felt ready."
The guitarist travelled to Australia three times last year for various projects, including 41 Strings at the Sydney Opera House, and to act as musical director for Karen O's "psycho opera" Stop the Virgens.
Zinner says the band is like family. He lives five blocks away from Karen O in New York City, where Chase also lives. The trio met in 2000 at the Mars Bar, a now-defunct Lower East Side dive bar.
Soon after they started jamming together, the trio scored support slots for super-cool acts, including the Strokes and the White Stripes.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs' debut album, 2003's Fever to Tell, which channelled the likes of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Pussy Galore, reintroduced art rock to mainstream audiences. The band mixed sensual female energy with raw rock'n'roll, a potent mix that earnt them three Grammy nominations and a legion of fans.
"When we were practising for that Union Pool show a few months ago we were playing songs that we hadn't played in two years and it sounded great. It felt special and right and we each felt connected," Zinner says. "We have so much history."
A vegan who dubs himself a "little vampire" on his Twitter account, Zinner quit smoking on January 1 this year and says he is done with the bad habit. "I got sick during these holidays and I really thought I have to get better. It's a compulsion I have kicked. It's definitely a positive."
He reveals he has an eye condition that prevents him from being able to drive but can still put his sight to good use taking photographs.
Zinner has released four photography books so far and plans to release another.
"I have been taking pictures of crowds at all of our shows over the past 12 years and I definitely want to release a book of them," he says.
While at the time of the interview Zinner was not allowed to reveal too much about the album, Yeah Yeah Yeahs announced the title and some other details this week via their label, Modular.
"We took a more playful, lo-fi approach to songwriting," says Karen O, who now sports blonde hair, in the media release. "Much of the music was demoed in our little basement studio in Manhattan with drum machines, a s .. sample keyboard and tons of delay, which we called the soup.
"I think this record has more moodier and tripped-out songs than you've ever heard from us," she continues. "You might catch some roots reggae and minimalist psychedelic influences in there."
Mosquito, which features an appearance from Dr. Octagon (aka Kool Keith), will be released on April 12 in Australia. Fans can expect to hear new songs when Yeah Yeah Yeahs play the Big Day Out, kicking off tomorrow in Sydney.
Zinner says he is looking forward to catching up with Flea and Josh Klinghoffer from Red Hot Chili Peppers. He last saw them in Ethiopia last September when they took part in Damon Albarn's musical project, the Africa Express.
"It was the craziest and most mind-blowing experience I have had in a long time," Zinner says. "We played four-hour shows every night."
In Ethiopia, he met 26-year-old British singer Kyla La Grange. Zinner joined her on stage to play her song, To Be Torn, and the next day they hired a studio to record a new version.
"I never take my life I have for granted," Zinner says of the opportunities he's had since Yeah Yeah Yeahs shot to fame.
'We were playing songs that we hadn't played in two years and it sounded great. It felt special and right and we each felt connected.'
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