March 2, 2013


Yeah Yeah Yeahs Talk Near-Death Experiences, Almost Breaking Up, New Album

Dan Martensen
Dan Martensen

On April 16 the Yeah Yeah Yeahs will release Mosquito, their much-anticipated fourth album and follow-up to 2009's It's Blitz! Naturally, we’re beyond excited for its release—have you heard their first single "Sacrilege"? It's nuts! 

The New York City trio sat down with Billboard writer Nick Haramis over a meal at a Chinese restaurant in Manhattan's Lower East Side to discuss their new album, near-death experiences onstage and nearly breaking up. Check out the four best highlights below and read the full cover story here.

1. Karen O Could Have Died Onstage a Decade Ago in Sydney: 

In 2003 the frontwoman "fell headfirst off [Sydney's Metro Theatre] stage, thwacking a guardrail on her way down. The monitor that she'd been clinging to toppled with her, collapsing onto her head." O powered on, finishing the gig with the band's hit song "Maps," but afterwards she "felt like I'd been hit by a truck," O explained. 

"It was a pivotal moment for me. My insanity onstage had been escalating and the more I hurt myself, the more the crowd enjoyed it. I was like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. After that, I basically had to clean up and figure out a way to entertain without that grotesque spectacle of recklessness."

2. The YYYs Almost Broke Up While Recording 2006's Show Your Bones:

"That was a really hard time," drummer Brian Chase said. And the tension nearly caused Karen O to quit on numerous occasions. "It crossed my mind a lot of times," she said. "But I felt like I had to finish the record, even though it was really difficult and we were going through intense hardship."

She added, "[Guitarist] Nick [Zinner] and I were on really bad terms. We were forced to support the record, and we had to be around each other a lot—at the shows, on the bus. It was like alchemy. And now we're still here to talk about it."

3. Mosquito's Sound Blends Optimism and Rage:

"The vibe is definitely up, but it wouldn't be a Yeah Yeah Yeahs album if there wasn't some sort of confrontation or aggression," Karen O said. Zinner added, "It's about expelling those angry feelings."

4. Fashionista Karen O’s New Look Is More Sophisticated:

"With Karen, it goes beyond, like, ‘I'm gonna shoot fire from my tits,'" said Christian Joy, the designer behind Karen O’s stage outfits. "It's not about looking crazy for the sake of looking crazy—even though I know Karen looks nuts most of the time." 

Karen O certainly digs the new look. “When I put them on, I feel like a half-Korean, half-Polish-American pimp," she said. "It's like sailing right past self-empowerment and going to the next level. I feel like Elvis when he got to Vegas and started wearing jumpsuits—minus the drugs and stuff."