The Crystal Method Biography
Launched with the momentous first single “Drown in the Now,” The Crystal Method’s infectious collaboration with mic master Matisyahu makes a unique and memorable musical statement. Elsewhere, “Kling to the Wreckage” is equally breathtaking, albeit remarkably different, as She Wants Revenge frontman Justin Warfield puts his fiercely awesome delivery atop an exhilarating soundscape.
In the five years since The Crystal Method unearthed its acclaimed disc Legion of Boom, Jordan and Kirkland have been busy building their state of the art studio, Crystalwerks, keeping audiences entranced with their high energy DJ sets, rocking the airwaves of the recently defunct Indie 103.1 with their weekly ‘Community Service’ radio show which seeded two mix albums of the same name and steadily constructed what can only be deemed the album of their career.
Notorious over the last ten-plus years for enduring dancefloor anthems (“Now Is The Time”, “Keep Hope Alive” and a dozen others), airwave smashes (“Trip Like I Do”, for one), a willingness to collaborate with an array of talent – including rock’s vocal elite, like Scott Weiland and Filter’s Richard Patrick – the duo also managed to succeed in the remix, film soundtrack, television, gaming and advertising worlds. Their platinum-status debut album Vegas (released in 1997) is one of the biggest selling electronic albums of all time. They scored the film London, as well as the themes for TV shows “Bones” and “Third Watch” and were the first act to work with Nike for their running soundtrack series, but it’s Divided By Night that takes TCM to all new heights.
“We’re always trying to improve on what we’ve done before,” says Ken. “We’re always trying to challenge ourselves. We don’t really like to work with formulas. We really like working with a diverse group of people. I think that works out really well. Because the songs have really different presentations, but because of Scott and me, they also have something essential in common.”
It’s a point asserted by the assortment of high caliber guests on Divided By Night, which – in addition to Matisyahu and Warfield – also counts New Order bassist Peter Hook (on the groove-ladden “Blunts & Robots”), Metric front-woman Emily Haines and drummer Samantha Maloney, formerly of Hole and Peaches, (on the hook-injected “Come Back Clean”), indie chanteuse Meiko (on the atmospheric “Falling Hard”), one-time Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle (on the optimistic “Slipstream”) and hip-hop up and comers LMFAO (on the party anthem “Sine Language”).
If the perception is that Jordan and Kirkland spend much of their time obsessing over the small details of their art, it’s partially true. “We are sort of mad scientists in the studio,” Scott laughs. “We delve into minutia at times, tweaking sounds on synthesizers or whatever, but that’s what we’ve done from the very beginning.”
“At the same time, we’re to the point that we’re so familiar and comfortable in the studio that it makes getting those ideas out a lot easier than it might have once been,” Kirkland continues. “Over the last year we’ve come up with a lot of great ideas for songs. Each song has a different background and genesis, but the challenge is to make each of these different ideas coalesce into a great album.”
Whether it’s bringing in live drums or lining up collaborations with talents from the vast spectrum of pop sub-genres, The Crystal Method – veterans of world famous festivals like Coachella, Rothbury and the Ultra Music Festival – has managed to put a distinctly American face on the European-dominated electronic movement. It’s the duo’s live presence that wound up spearheading the single, “Drown in the Now”.
“We met Matisyahu at a festival in British Columbia last July,” Scott explains. “His tour manager approached us about him joining us onstage for a song and we thought it was a cool idea. He came by our trailer and we played him “High Roller” off Vegas [the duo’s 1997 album] and he thought it was great. He came out with us about an hour later and his performance was magical. From there we knew we wanted to work with him. He delivered something unique that helped create a great vibe for the rest of the album.”
That vibe helped cast Jason Lytle in a new light on the winning “Slipstream,” even if the former Grandaddy leader wasn’t entirely sure he was a good fit for the project. “It took a little time to convince him,” Ken says. “He knows what he wants to hear and he hadn’t done a lot of collaborations. He went away with the song and recorded on top of it. When he came back with it we were just blown away by his vocal.”
Equally stellar is “Black Rainbows,” an uplifting song augmented by the beautiful pipes of Warfield’s wife, Stefanie. “We just fell in love with her voice,” Scott says. “When we were first talking to Justin, we thought it would be cool to bring a little brightness to that track. And I could see the wheels were turning when he took it and the music for what became “Kling to the Wreckage” back to his studio. When he gave it back to us with Stefanie on it, it was such a wonderful surprise, because we weren’t expecting it to turn out like that.”
Speaking of expectations, the band promises its 2009 global initiative will also offer its share of surprises. “This new tour is going to be a completely new look,” Ken assures. “It’s like tearing down your house and rebuilding it.”
For The Crystal Method – who have always managed to go draw beyond the typical electronic audience – adapting to new trends has always helped them stay ahead of the curve. An example of that is their own label, Tiny e, which the band has utilized – in partnership with Universal – to get its music into the hands of fans. “We’ve always been forward-thinking, and our own label just kind of came from necessity,” Ken says. “But it’s become more and more useful and more and more serious. We keep ownership and control of our art.” Or as Scott puts it, “We’ve built our own little empire of sound.”