Late last year, hip-hop/rock trio N*E*R*D announced that they were recording a new disc, to be titled “Instant Gratification,” with a female singer named Rhea. The project was scrapped (along with Rhea, the would-be Fergie of N*E*R*D); today, a new disc, “Nothing” was released in its place. Click Track talked with Pharrell Williams, one third of Click Track (and, of course, one half of the affiliated production duo The Neptunes) about their lost album, their new collaboration with Daft Punk, and the leak of “Nothing,” which happened shortly before the interview took place.
Click Track: It’s the weekend before the album’s release. What’s this time like for you? Is it nightclubs and glamorous parties, or are you sitting at home?
Pharrell: No, we’re working. It’s important to get the word out to everybody. The leak is great in a weird way, because everyone’s online checking it out, and freaking out over the music….Once it hits the plant where they [make the albums], it gets out.
CT: The Daft Punk track [“Hypnotize U”] was interesting. You don’t seem like the type to work with outside producers.
P: Well, we bumped into them and it was all good. It was great. They played me a track and I was like, “whoa.” I played them the N*E*R*D album and they played me the “TRON” record and I was like, “Damn, we gotta do something.” It was an honor to truly collaborate.
CT: You’ve talked about plans to collaborate with your tourmates in Gorillaz. Has that happened yet?
CT: Can you characterize the results, or do you want to leave it mysterious for now?
P: Yeah, I don’t wanna say too much. But Damon [Albarn] is a genius, and I was honored.
CT: Before “Nothing” there was “Instant Gratification.” Did that album sort of morph into this one, or are they two totally separate things?
P: No. “Instant Gratification” was good, but you know, good is not good enough. What we opted to do was just put it aside and start all over with nothing. And that’s where the title came from.
CT: You’ve said acts like John Fogerty and America were influential on the making of this album. Is that reflective of what you’ve been listening to lately?
P: No. That’s just where we ended up musically, because I’d been working on the “Despicable Me” score at Hans Zimmer’s studio, and he had this poster up of “Once Upon A Time In The West” and I was like, “Man, I wonder what that would sound like with 808s under it.” It started there. I started [listening to] the Doors, the Crosby, Stills & Nash harmonies. It was just one of those things.