Beyonce, Jay-Z and Diddy are fans, but who is Gnarls Barkley? “If I saw him, I’m not sure that I would recognize him,” jokes Cee-Lo, one-half of the duo that records under that name. Then, paraphrasing Patrick Swayze’s 1987 Dirty Dancing ditty, he sings, “Gnarls Barkley is like the wind. I’m just a fool to believe I have anything he needs.”
Since topping the U.K. charts for nine weeks with their single “Crazy,” Cee-Lo, 31 (of Goodie Mob), and Danger Mouse, 28 (who produced the mash-up The Grey Album), have been catching on with U.S. fans, who got to see one of Gnarls Barkley’s costumed performances when the duo performed as Star Wars characters at the MTV Movie Awards.
PEOPLE recently caught up with the movie-loving duo:
On what makes the guys crazy:
Danger Mouse: “I can’t touch certain textures, like magazine covers that are kind of like matte-finished. It drives me nuts, touching them or even watching someone read them. I get chills. It’s like nails on a chalkboard.”
Cee-Lo: “Someone who considers themselves so certain. This life is left up to chance and fate and destiny and things of that nature. I myself, I anticipate adversity.”
On the band’s chameleon-like style:
Danger Mouse: “Gnarls Barkley himself never really plays live. It’s always a different band name whenever we do a full live show. When we play and dress up differently, it’s a different attitude going in each time.”
Cee-Lo: “Gnarls is not as professional about showing up to do shows. He’s a star, baby.” On naming their album, St. Elsewhere, after the TV classic
Danger Mouse: “Obviously it was a TV show, but the objective was that the record was a place to go to.”
Cee-Lo: “There wasn’t any pun intended. It was just kind of fitting the departure from music as a whole and also a departure of what we had done prior.”
Cee-Lo on his daughter Sierra (who appeared on MTV’s My Super Sweet 16) wanting to go into the business: “That’s all she wants to do. She don’t want to do no chores, no school, no nothing. She wants to get on the TV. I tell her she can’t do it until she does them chores and gets that homework done. She’s actually pretty talented though. She can sing. She’s a trip. She’s her own sitcom.”
The singer tells us which songs he’s crazy about right now.
“Planet Caravan” by Black Sabbath: “I don t know what the f– Ozzy is singing about. He’s singing about something and it sounds like he’s sincere. It’s dark and it’s evil, but it’s still righteous.”
“Tamborine” by Prince: “Super duper funky. I was young (when the song came out in ’85), but we knew what kind of innuendo he was speaking of.”
“Mistake Number 3” by Culture Club: “I felt like Boy George was really talented. It wasn’t just a gimmick. He had a genuine voice.”