Not content with releasing an artist album every year, The Crystal Method returned to the clubs for a series of DJ gigs, culminating in the release of their first mix CD, Community Service back in January 2003. The mix shows the band's love for breakbeat and electronica as they selected tracks and remixes from the likes of The Plump DJ's, Meat Katie and Orbital. Community Service also included highlight tracks from the group's Tweekend album with artists like Koma & Bones remixing "You Know It's Hard" and Hybrid remixing the lead single "Name Of The Game" and The Crystal Method added in their own remixes of well known artists like Rage Against The Machine's "Renegades Of Funk".
2004 sees the Crystal Method release their latest album, Legion Of Boom, an album which sees them following similar formulas they explored back on their previous albums. Collaborations this time around took place with John Garcia, the ex-frontman of California desert rockers Kyuss, Wes Borland the one time lead guitarist for Limp Bizkit to appear on the lead single, "Born Too Slow" and Roots rapper and beatboxer Rahzel for "The American Way". The duo has won three coveted Dancestar USA music awards for Best US Act, Best Album for Legion Of Boom and Best Single for Born Too Slow.
The band are currently in the middle of a 56 show US tour lugging their gear, equipment and one John Garcia around to play sold out shows with the likes of UK's DJ Hyper playing support. TCM's Scott Kirkland took some time out from his busy schedule to chat with RA about the new album and the tour.
- Firstly, congratulations on winning the Dancestar music awards for best album (Legion Of Boom) and best single (Born Too Slow). How did it feel to accept such an award?
It was very cool to receive the award, Ken and I were very surprised but we pulled off a good performance with Born Too Slow.
- When Vegas first dropped back in 97, it was one of the first albums classed as nu-skool breaks/West Coast breakbeat amidst a huge Big beat explosion. How would you classify your sound now that it’s been 7 years since Vegas?
In the generic sense, electronica has worked for us, however terms like “rocktronic” have been floating around.
- How does it feel to hear Keep Hope Alive being played every week as the theme song to Third Watch? Do you always go… “Damn! We made that!”
It’s kind of a strange feeling. The show has been going on for a few years now and the producers of the show tend to lean toward the aggressive and progressive when it coes to music. The first episode featured a lot of electronic music.
- On the release of “Murder”, you had to change the name to “You Know It’s Hard” during the time when 9/11 struck. Did you feel it was the right thing to do?
We were on the road for 11 weeks doing a tour at the time when the World Trade Centre got hit. In fact we were in New York the week before it got hit. Basically our record label and distribution company requested that if it was going to be released as a single that we change the name, as it would have been deemed insensitive in relation to the events that happened at the time. The record company felt that it was the right thing to do and so we changed it.
- OK confess… whose blow up dolls were the ones used in the video clip? (and you can’t say they were Scott Weilands’)
I never got a chance to hang out with Scott (Weiland) after the shoot so I really can’t say… someone else must’ve brought the dolls in.
- You did the reworking of Trip Like I Do with Filter for the Spawn soundtrack, did this play a big part in shaping the Crystal Method’s sound to incorporate more of a rock feel?
We’ve always loved rock as much as we were always into R&B and soul! We felt that the collaboration with Filter would work out really well. After we wrote the lyrics we all went into the studio and made the track, but I wouldn’t say it was the reason as to why we did the rock thing.
- What is it about rock that makes you infuse it with electronica and breakbeat? Are you trying to reach out to a wider audience?
It was natural for us. Growing up in the States, rock was a very big part of our lives. I grew up listening to AC/DC and groups like New Order so rock guitars and electro were big influences on me.
- Is there a story/hidden message behind Born Too Slow?
The story behind it is of someone burning the candle at both ends a bit too much. John Garcia came up with the lyrics and he contributed very powerful vocals to the track. There’s no hidden message behind it though.
- How did you manage to team up with Wes Borland (ex Limp Bizkit) and John Garcia, the lead singer from Kyuss to produce the track?
We started on getting the guitar part down with Wes and he recommended that John do the vocals for the song. Wes sent him the song and John really liked it. We felt that it worked out well as he has a lot of soul in his voice.
- War on terrorism has opened up many topical issues, one being “the American way”. Is this what prompted The American Way on your latest album?
The basis of the track started out with that Regan-esque vocals saying “The American Way”. Rahzel took it to a different direction.
- What did you actually get Rahzel to do for the track? Beatbox or rap?
We got him to rap and beatbox on the track. His album MTM 2000 shows him creating great effects just by using his vocals and we just had to get him on our album.
- Your studio is known as the Bomb Shelter is that just a fancy name or is there actually a story behind it?
The studio itself is in a 2 car garage in front of a house in Glendale, California. The owner setup a bomb shelter in the front yard during the Cuban missile crisis. When we first moved there we thought we could do something with it, but it was so water damaged it wasn’t suitable for anything.
- What tools, instruments and equipment is the bomb shelter stocked up with?
We have a lot of Macs, plenty of synthesisers and samplers, have about 20 to 30 different guitars and effects pedals… you know like distortion, digital delays, etc. There’s also a lot of antique stuff and vintage stuff in there too.
- Are you big fans of using editing and production software like Protools when making tracks?
Yes, we’re currently using a program called Digital Performer but it’s set up on Protools hardware.
- You’re in the middle of a 56 show US tour for your latest album, Legion Of Boom, what memorable experiences have you come across so far?
There’s been a few memorable ones, there’s definitely been a lot of big shows. Last night we played a sold out show in a place called El Paso which is situated on the border between Texas and New Mexico. Even though it was a rainy night we managed to get 4000 people in the place.
- Who and what comprises the Crystal Method live experience?
There’s obviously the Crystal Method, which is Ken and I. We set up our gear in front of the stage and there we do a lot of sampling throughout the show. We even brought John out to do Born Too Slow
- You’re also touring with the UK’s DJ Hyper, a man who’s labelled as one of the best breaks DJ’s in the UK. What differences, if any, are noticeable between the US and UK in terms of breakbeat?
There’s a lot of talented producers making music right now in the UK, Europe and even guys like Nubreed, Infusion, EK and Kid Kenobi in Australia. For the most part though, the majority of breakbeat has been coming out of the UK. Over here the scene is not as strong but there’s great artists like Uberzone.
- Are you planning to take the Legion Of Boom tour to an international level?
We’re hoping to expand the show and come to Australia to do some press for the album and some DJ-ing. Next year we hope to bring the live show with us.
- I’ve been witness to the Crystal Method live experience when you toured here for the Big Day Out in 2002, how do you manage to get so much sound out of the speakers?
We practice and prepare our set for a few months before we do our shows and we make the songs work in a live environment.
- What can audiences expect to hear from you when you perform live?
We do a lot of stuff off our records, while we plan to showcase Legion Of Boom there will be a few songs off Tweekend and Vegas that we like to perform live as well.