They're sitting on one of 2006's most hotly awaited albums, the sexy, dark, insanely great Except Kelly Clarkson. "Dude, she so freaks me out," says Karen O, the New York doll who sings lead for the Yeahs.
Karen O's a tough customer, the firecracker who conquered the world in ripped fishnets, smeared lipstick and black leather gloves, not to mention the Corona she uses to start beer-sloshing fights with the crowd.
They didn't exactly have a conventional sound – Nick Zinner's mutant guitar fuzz, Brian Chase's thundering drums, Karen O's soulful moans and orgasmic squeals.
"I've gotten a little alienated from some aspects of the Karen O persona," she says."I put myself into Karen O so I could explore all these different parts of me – all that sexuality, all that angst.is emotionally messy, like everything else the band does, but it's gloriously confident.Their different styles mesh – Chase, 28, likes to talk about the new songs in terms of avant-garde composers like John Cage, while Karen O, 27, is more likely to just say "rad." The 100 Best Songs of the Aughts: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Maps" Karen O is one of rock's most intense singers, coming on so badass you'd swear the devil sold his soul to her.But she got the fear when she heard Clarkson's smash "Since U Been Gone," which features the guitar break from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Maps" – not a sample, just a precise replica.
Says Karen O, "It was like getting bitten by a poisonous varmint." I try to argue that the Yeahs should be honored to share Clarkson's mall cred, but they're not sure. "If it wasn't her, it just would've been Ashlee Simpson." Only a few years ago, the Yeahs were bashing their sex-and-death guitar noise in dingy New York bars.