You know the feeling: You recognize a band, their music sounds so familiar, but you’re not quite sure where you’ve heard them before. Was it a commercial, a TV show, a late night talk show appearance? Or did you catch them during a summer music festival? Maybe you just came across one of their songs on a Spotify Discover playlist. Whatever the original circumstance, the tune is undeniably catchy and you’re curious for more.
Electric Guest checks off all the above boxes. The Los Angeles-based duo, Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton, released their first album Mondo in 2012. The debut song, “This Head I Hold,” was a retro-sounding, dance-inducing electronic R&B ditty produced by Danger Mouse. It was a best-selling single in France that year and hit No. 30 on the U.S. Billboard Alternative Songs chart.
Five years later, Electric Guest continues to inspire Hollywood and media creative execs looking for stand-out soundtrack fodder. More importantly, the band has established a doting audience, as evidenced by a recent string of sold-out shows in New York and beyond. The guys’ latest album, Plural, is out now and gaining accolades for songs like “Dear to Me” and “Oh Devil.” Both tunes boast noteworthy videos featuring amusing cameos from musical guests and comedy friends.
A quick study of Asa Taccone, 33, takes us behind-the-scenes with the band’s mostly silly — and sometimes semi-serious — lead singer.
1. He’s the Younger Brother of Comedy Writer/Actor/Director Jorma Taccone
Probably best known for writing Saturday Night Live sketches with The Lonely Island comedy troupe (including Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer), Jorma Taccone is also the co-writer and co-director of comedies like MacGruber and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. He’s popped up on TV shows, too, including Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Parks and Recreation and Girls (as Marnie’s crush Booth Jonathan). Asa has composed music for a number of his brother’s projects.
2. He Wrote the Infamous SNL Digital Shorts Songs “Dick in a Box” and “Motherlover” performed by Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg
Not only did Asa Taccone write the music for the SNL classic sketch “Dick in a Box,” he won an Emmy for it. Seriously. “I did songs for those dudes pretty much all seven years they were on SNL,” Taccone tells PEOPLE. “But ‘Dick in a Box,’ ‘Motherlover’ and ‘3-Way (The Golden Rule)’ were definitely stand outs because of Justin [Timberlake] being involved. For all the songs we did, I’d be in L.A. and they were in New York. I’d send them a bunch of instrumentals, and then I’d call them and they’d put me on speaker phone and go through each beat. It was semi-terrifying having Justin listen to my stuff. I was a kid back then. I’m sure the stuff I was playing was mostly terrible.” Legend has it, Jorma paid his little bro $60 for the Emmy-winning track.
3. He’s Neighbors with HAIM
Taccone is buddies with the popular sister act HAIM. “Yeah, those are our girls,” he says. “Alana lives down the street from me so we can walk to one another, which is rare in L.A. We’ve talked about doing some real songs together, and Este always says we need to do a tour together called the ‘Pregnancy’ tour because people will go home and get pregnant immediately after watching us.” The ladies (and Taylor Swift squad members) guest star in the video for “Dear to Me,” along with Andy Samberg.
4. He’s Inspired by the Bestselling 1970s Pop Psychology Book The Road Less Traveled
“That’s my bible right there. I swear it should be mandatory reading for all humans,” Taccone tells PEOPLE. “Damn near all the album’s lyrics were influenced by reading that book. The book is all about how real freedom lies in a constant pursuit of trying to view oneself as objectively as one can. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve felt that the main discrepancy between people is those that have a narrative about reality that they commit to more and more, and those that are open to new information and who keep asking the question: ‘Who am I?’ I’m less and less interested in inherited, conventional belief systems.”
5. His Love for ’80s, ’90s and Early Aughts Pop Culture Inspired the ‘Oh Devil’ Video
Fans might recognize the storyline of Electric Guest’s latest video, as well as the pool boy cameo (Will Forte) at the end. “We wanted to make a video like the ones we watched in the early 2000s: Something fun and a bit lighthearted,” says Taccone. “Videos have gotten so exclusive these days. Like, when did everyone become a model? Culturally, I think we’d all benefit from having more moderately attractive people on screen. Everyone in the video was either a friend or a fan. Moi Langlois who styled all our videos from this album had the idea for the Sandlot moment, but gender-flipped. We both love older movies and music. I have a lot of ’90s anime, and both Matthew and I love ’80s music.”
Electric Guest is on tour now. Click here for dates and tickets.