The Crystal Method
The Crystal Method
When the Crystal Method arrived on the music scene, the popularity of electronic music, also called electronica, was gaining popularity. Groups such as Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers had brought the genre to mainstream popularity in the United States from Britain, but the Crystal Method was the first American electronica group to reach success in the mid-1990s. Hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, the duo of Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland moved to Los Angeles, where their music rose up through the underground scene into national notoriety.
Kirkland and Jordan met at KUNV, the college radio station for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where Jordan was a deejay and later music director. At the time, the radio station frequently played such artists as Depeche Mode and New Order. The two friends developed an interest in music production and recorded some low-fidelity demos with a female lead vocalist. From there, the duo’s interest in music blossomed, and Kirkland took guitar lessons from singer Mark Slaughter of the rock group Slaughter to further develop his musical skills. During the early 1990s, Jordan realized that his dream of making music could not come to fruition in Las Vegas, so he moved to Los Angeles. Not long after the transition, he took a job as an assistant producer, during which time he contributed to recordings by Edie Brickell and Michael Penn. Jordan convinced Kirkland to make the move as well, and the birth of the Crystal Method, or TCM, soon followed.
The partners built a studio in the two-car garage of their home in Glendale, California, which they christened the “Bomb Shelter.” They wrote and recorded their first song, “Now Is the Time,” which made them a Los Angeles underground club sensation. As the local buzz generated around the sounds of the Crystal Method, the duo caught the attention of Outpost Records and signed a record contract. By this time, acts like Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers were already gaining ground in the mainstream, and with the comparisons to these groups in the clubs and in the press, the hype around the Crystal Method took off before their debut even hit the stores.
Despite their roots in electronica, the Crystal Method incorporated their rock ‘n’ roll ancestry into the mix, a decision that added an element not often found in electronic music at the time. “I guess we’ve never really been afraid to let the influences that we grew up with come through in our music,” Scott Kirkland told Brandon Barber at RollingStone.com. “When I was growing up, my parents were listening to different music all the time. They were listening to K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Led Zeppelin, and stuff like that. The idea of the ‘song’ has been with me forever.”
In 1997, the Crystal Method released their debut CD Vegas, named after their hometown. The release included the singles “(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do” and “Busy Child.” A version of “Trip Like I Do,” which included a collaboration with the band Filter, also appeared on the soundtrack for the film Spawn. Once Vegas was on the shelves, the Crystal Method embarked on a tour that lasted about two-and-a-half years. The itinerary included a headlining spot on the Electric Highway Tour. In 1999, the duo toured with Limp Bizkit, Korn, and Staind on the Family Values Tour.
With an album out and a tour underway, the Crystal Method were taking the electronica genre to a whole new level of popularity. “It’s cool because people are opening their ears more to new sounds,” Ken Jordan told Mike Prevatt in University of Southern Calfomia’s Daily Bruin. “It’s not like anyone who’s been making this kind of music is really doing anything to cross over to the mainstream. Is it because everyone has home computers and [is] less afraid of technology?”
After the Crystal Method’s tour came to an end, Kirkland took a break to record two songs, “Narcotic” and “Spun,” with former Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee for his debut album, Methods of Mayhem. Then, Kirkland and Jordan headed back to the Bomb Shelter to create their sophomore release, Tweekend. The CD took several years to record to the duo’s satisfaction. According to the band members, the time spent reworking each of the tracks on the recording resulted in the title. “We were just constantly tweaking the songs and mixes,” said Jordan in the group’s biography on the Crystal Method website. “We were almost thinking it was going to take another five years to get it done.”
Members include Ken Jordan, keyboards; Scott Kirkland, keyboards.
Duo collaborated in Las Vegas, NV, early 1990s; moved to Los Angeles, formed the Crystal Method, mid-1990s; recorded “Now Is the Time,” signed with Outpost Records, 1996; released Vegas, 1997; released Tweekend on Interscope Records, 2001.
Addresses: Record company —Interscope Records, 2220 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404. Website—The Crystal Method Official Website: http://www.thecrystalmethod.com.
Not quite that long in the making, Tweekend, which included the single “Name of the Game,” was released on Interscope Records in 2001. With this release, Kirkland and Jordan took a slightly different approach. They invited Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, and Beck’s DJ Swamp to contribute to the recording. Morello also produced several songs on the album. Weiland sings and plays guitar on the song “Murder.” “The thing with Scott Weiland goes back three years, when we were doing a radio festival and he was supporting his solo album,” Kirkland told Steve Baltin of Rolling Stone. “After we finished our show, we found out that he had written a song to do with us onstage.” Weiland ended up collaborating on the song for the Crystal Method’s next CD. But instead of playing it with them as originally planned, he recorded his parts and sent them to the group through the “magic of technology,” since his schedule prevented him from joining them in the studio.
The contributions of Weiland, Morello, and DJ Swamp added even more of a rock ‘n’ roll element to the Crystal Method’s style, and Tweekend was referred to as the group’s rock crossover album. “TCM may be electronica, but they eschew the genre’s stereotyped cold, dehumanized feel,” Daina Darzin wrote in the Hollywood Reporter. “Instead, TCM picks up on the emotional approach of rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop, creating an intense hybrid powered by muscular, resonant beats that bodes well for the band’s crossover to a bigger audience.”
Following the release of Tweekend, the Crystal Method hit the road again on the Seven Day Tweekend tour. Their version of electronica continued to grab the attention of audiences throughout the United States. As one reviewer wrote on RollingStone.com, “Crystal Method’s relentless rhythms, subterranean synthesizer moans, and echoing whirs and flanges all swirl together into what could be the soundtrack of a futuristic vision of nightlife—a nightlife filled with drama and intensity.”
Vegas, Outpost, 1997.
(Contributor) Spawn (soundtrack), Sony, 1997.
Tweekend, Interscope, 2001.
Daily Bruin (University of Southern California, Los Angeles), August 25, 1997.
Entertainment Weekly, September 26, 1997, p. 78.
Hollywood Reporter, August 31, 2001, p. 11.
Rolling Stone, March 3, 2001; May 22, 2001; July 30, 2001.
Crystal Method Official Website, http://www.thecrystalmethod.com (September 15, 2001).
“The Crystal Method: Tweekend,” E! Online, http://www.eonline.com (September 15, 2001).
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