When the Yeah Yeah Yeahs got down the business of making their April 16 album, Mosquito, “I had some serious nostalgia for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in the early 2000s,” Karen O says. “I had some nostalgia for why I fell in love with the idea of performing in the first place. Frontmen like Jon Spencer and Lux Interior, and PJ Harvey. Strong, fun people who ignite some sort of fantasy with their charisma and the sexuality.”
In our March cover story, arriving online and via iPad this week, Karen O, Brian Chase, and Nick Zinner take SPIN from New York to New Orleans to Texas, from a Brooklyn-bound “Subway” to “Under the Earth,” explaining the journey that’s led them to their fourth album. The band tells us how Kool Keith, James Murphy, and a 24-piece gospel choir landed on the disc. They bitch about their lyrics constantly appearing wrong in online aggregators. They explain how Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy inspired the 11-track LP. They open up about their creative process — and reveal which of Zinner’s favorite possessions he had to let coproducer Dave Sitek destroy.
“I don’t want to come across as some really bad spokesperson,” Karen says, “but when I was 14 and I was getting high in a basement with my friends, this is the record that I’d have listened to. I want the kids in the basements with their bong to listen to this.”
In the massive profile — the group’s fourth appearance on the cover of SPIN — the trio also take a very candid look back at their earliest days as a band and reflect on where they might be headed in the future.