Earlier this year, Little Dragon was slowly building an underground U.S. following thanks to their 2009 release, "Machine Dreams," and the small tour supporting it. Soon after, the electro-indie band was jamming out on arena stages around the world as support for Gorillaz.
With the help of their management, the Swedish outfit was able to catch the attention of Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn when they stopped by Gorillaz's recording studio last year and penned a couple of tracks with the alt-rockers. A few months later, it was confirmed that both songs Little Dragon wrote with Albarn and his crew, "Empire Ants" and "To Binge," would appear on Gorillaz's 2010 release "Plastic Beach." Little Dragon was the only collaborator to appear twice on the set.
"We weren't expecting it at all, but we were really excited about it," says Little Dragon frontwoman Yukimi Nagano.
Nagano and Little Dragon bassist Fredrik Wallin hit the road with Gorillaz for the U.S. leg of their world tour, accompanying the group each night on both "Empire Ants" and "To Binge." The rest of Little Dragon joined the tour in Dublin on Nov. 11, and the group stayed on as support as the trek reached Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
"It's been amazing being with the Gorillaz -- just playing at so many just huge arena shows is definitely not what we're used to," Nagano says, "but we're excited to be with our own band again."
Little Dragon hopes the tour has raised the band's profile as they finish mixing the follow-up to "Machine Dreams."
"The [new] songs will be more soulful," explains Wallin of the new set, which the group hopes to release in the spring. Like their previous albums, the still-untitled release was recorded and produced by the band in their home studio in Gothenburg.
On Jan. 6, Little Dragon will kick off a 24-date headlining trek across North America in San Jose, Ca. To help prepare for their solo tour, Little Dragon has been collecting tips from their Gorillaz tour mates and fellow collaborators. "We shared the bus with Bobby Womack," Nagano says, "and [it was] a learning experience because we just absorbed so many words of wisdom."